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What Causes Plaque Buildup on Teeth?

A dental hygienist friend of mine recently confessed that most Americans ignore the cleaning needs of their mouth and teeth, which makes it easier for plaque to turn into tartar, and then gum disease and bad breath.

She said it would be much easier to keep the teeth clean at home provided one has the right dental tools and dedication to do it several times a day.

During our two-hour long lunch and brunch break, she explained what causes plaque and why it can turn into tartar if left untreated. I encouraged her to go to dental school because she knew so much about dental health and the right techniques to use daily to remove bacteria that can lead to bad breath, cavities, gingivitis, tooth decay, and gum diseases.

I have divided this article into several sections to make it easier to read and follow. Towards the bottom, I will be evaluating dental cleaning tools anyone can use at home to get rid of plaque and tartar, which ultimately leads to fresher breath and sparkling whiter teeth.

What is Dental Plaque?

What is Dental Plaque?

Every food ingredient you consume will deposit tiny substances on your teeth and within your gums. If the food particles are not totally removed on time, they will develop into bacteria, which is the initial phase of the development of plaque.

Initially, the plaque will appear colorless and sticky. The bacteria that causes plaque will find comfort on the teeth and along the gum lines of your mouth. Fortunately, plaque can be effectively removed and treated with the right type of flossing and brushing techniques.

Does Plaque Turn into Tartar?

If you find yourself too busy to floss and brush your teeth the right way to remove the germs that could cause plaque, most of them will harden and become tartar. The tartar is sometimes referred to as calculus or hardened plaque, and it will become attached to your gum line and the enamel of your teeth.

If you’re still stubborn or just too busy to pay attention to your dental health, the next progression of the bacteria is to cause gum inflammation, gum disease, and tooth decay.

By this stage, you should be experiencing different types of toothaches, which might lead to the beginning stages of your tooth falling out one by one.

What Can Cause Plaque to build-up on Your Teeth?

The list of causation factors can be quite long depending on your lifestyle choices. Those popular foods and drinks you like to consume on a daily basis have the power to do major damage to the health of your teeth if you do not remove the residue completely on a timely basis.

So, what causes plaque buildup on teeth can be traced to the drinks and foods we eat every day. You should know that there are millions of bacteria in your mouth and they love the ingredients found in foods containing carbohydrates and sugars.

Right after every meal, the deadly combination of the germs and the food particles will become acidic and start attacking to the surface and enamel of each tooth. The net progression of the bacteria is to attack the gums of your teeth and erode the bone holding it in place.

The power of the bacteria to cause major damage within a short period of time will be boosted if you smoke or drink alcohol of any kind. That is why it is advisable to thoroughly floss and brush your teeth after every meal or drink that is if you want to maintain your complete set of teeth into old age.

Signs and Symptoms of Plaque and Tartar

Signs and Symptoms of Plaque and Tartar

What you eat on a daily basis can lead to the development of plaque due to the ingredients. The residue from your food or drink will grow in strength when they meet up with the germs present in your saliva.

It is possible that the initial signs of plaque problem might manifest itself in the form of cavities. It is also possible for the plaque to not cause cavities but create tartar build up all around your teeth, which might require the help of a professional dentist to remove the right way.

Plaque can also be detected by colorful films around each tooth in your mouth, and it is also possible for the yellow residue to remain despite using an electric toothbrush. Plaque formation accumulates over time to become tartar.

Other signs of plaque and tartar buildup will include severe bleeding while brushing your teeth, swollen gums, and bad breath. In the later stages, the person with unremoved tartar will have gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

How to Prevent Plaque and Tartar Buildup

While most people will spend a fortune for the right type of skin tone, it is your mouth and teeth that provide the right gateway to your emerging social status. Stained teeth and bad breath will not get you far in any dating or social interaction.

If you find yourself getting passed over for promotions, perhaps your dental hygiene is to blame for your lack of upward mobility. If you find people leaving your presence as soon as they arrive, or they constantly hold their nose, your breath might stink.

I have come to realize that only the people that care about you and are not afraid of hurting your feelings will come out and tell you about your foul smelling breath. At least, bad and stained teeth can be seen in the mirror if you care to look closely.

A – You should floss and brush your teeth every time you eat and drink. Every minute the residues from what you just consumed are allowed to remain on your teeth and gum line gives the bacteria time to establish the right defenses to thwart your flossing and brushing efforts. You should thoroughly brush your teeth once you wake up and that should be the last thing you do before bedtime.

B – Limit your consumption of intoxicants and high sugar food ingredients. Sweet snacks, drinks, coffee, beverages, etc., are all capable of degrading the quality of your dental health over time.

C – You should get a dental professional cleanup at least twice every year. As you age, increase your professional teeth cleaning trip to your dentist to every three months. Each dental cleanup will cost you less than $100 but can be looked at as a wise investment that will allow you to keep you sparkling white teeth far into old age.

Teeth Cleaning Tools for Home use

Unless you pay the right attention to your dental health you’ll be spending a portion of your retirement fund with a dental surgeon trying to correct years of abuse from neglect of basic hygiene principles.

The same people that claim they have no time to floss the right way will spend hours on social media sites doing childish things. If your dental health is important to you, make time to take care of your teeth the right way on a daily basis.

The following dental tools are required if you want to keep plaque at bay and keep your sparkling whites far into old age.

1 – You Need a Sturdy Toothbrush

My dental hygienist friend told me most Americans do not even bother to change their toothbrush on a regular basis. How about you? When was the last time you changed your toothbrush, or the brush head if you’re using one that is designed to use electric power?

It is a fact that every brush stroke weakens the power of the bristles found on your toothbrush to reach and eliminate germs and other food residues. Anyone using a manual toothbrush should replace it very month or two, depending on the brand.

While an electric toothbrush will be more effective at plaque removal and last longer, the brush head should be changed every three months or less, based on the usage and maintenance instructions from the manufacturer.

Manual Toothbrush Brand

Dr. Collins Perio Toothbrush

Dr. Collins Perio Toothbrush

In the world of manual toothbrushes, there are those you can buy from the dollar store, and the optimum brands with soft and durable bristles you buy from your local drugstore or online from Amazon.com.

This toothbrush from Collins Perio is designed by a doctor, and the soft bristles are quite effective at reaching in between gums and teeth, to remove plaque and tiny food particles.

Dr. Collins Perio toothbrush can be used for better oral hygiene, which ultimately leads to no cavities and refreshing breath.

Electric Toothbrush

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Electric Toothbrush

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Electric Toothbrush AA5SCVFDGH

If you truly want to reduce the problem of plaque and keep tartar from developing, you should invest in a robust electric toothbrush like the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean. It is available for purchase in four different colors.

Even a well-designed manual toothbrush cannot come close to matching the brushing power of this product. The uniquely designed brush head guarantees to reach all those hard to reach areas of your mouth to get rid of bacteria and tiny food particles.

This sonic electric toothbrush from Philips Sonicare is able to whiten your teeth, while also helping to enable healthier gums. Among the most impressive features are five cleaning modes and pre-set timers, which helps you to stick to the recommended brushing time by the dental association.

2 – A Good Toothpaste is a Must

A toothbrush would be of no use to you if you do not have a toothpaste to go with it. There are dozens of brands to choose from, with some promising the most effective plaque protection for better dental health.

I am not a fan of any toothpaste that contains fluoride, simply because it has been established it can cause more harm than good. You’ll also have to decide if you want your toothpaste to contain whitening agents to sparkle your pearly whites.

Crest 3D Whitening Toothpaste

Crest 3D Whitening Toothpaste


The Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White toothpaste is the king when it comes to getting your pearly whites whiter. It is able to remove almost all the surface teeth stains with an exclusive technology that can also prevent future stains from occurring.

This toothpaste from Crest 3D is safe for your teeth enamel but contains fluoride, which some might consider a deadly carcinogen. It is a powerful toothpaste that will get rid of bacteria that can cause bad breath, while also whitening your teeth.

Tom’s of Maine Natural Fluoride Free Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Natural Fluoride Free Toothpaste


If you want a great toothpaste that can remove germs and make them whiter without fluoride, this natural brand from Tom’s of Maine is the way to go. Even without the active ingredient fluoride, it is powerful enough to prevent plaque buildup with regular brushing.

The inclusion of Zinc citrate will help prevent any plaque from becoming tartar. Despite the all-natural formula, this toothpaste contains silica, which is a well-known whitening agent. The Tom’s of Maine natural toothpaste is available for purchase in four flavors and four different sizes.

3 – Consider a Flosser Your Friend

A dental product you can use to floss your teeth is just as important as your toothbrush. As long as you enjoy some of the most delicious dishes the world has to offer you’ll need to floss afterward.

Those tiny food particles that most people falsely believe can be flushed down with a glass of wine or beverage can cause more damage if left unchecked for hours.

Flossing after every meal is the key to great dental hygiene. There are many different flossing products you can buy, but I have found the following two to be the most effective at removing hidden food particles from the teeth.

Plackers Micro Mint Dental Flossers

Plackers Micro Mint Dental Flossers

The design for this flosser that you can use just about anywhere is quite unique. Plackers Dental Flossers can be used to remove those tiny food particles stuck between your teeth, and it will refresh your breath as well.

It is better to use one right after you eat anything, especially before the food particles get a chance to connect with the bacteria in your saliva. The dental string has a minty flavor, which means clean refreshing breath feeling after every use.

Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser WP-660

Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser WP-660


A dental flosser on a string will not be able to reach deep in-between gums to get rid of the tiny food particle, but this Waterpik electric flosser can. Using the WP-660 is the most effective way to floss right after every meal.

The Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser WP-660 comes with various tips, which means you’ll find the ideal one to use even if you wear implants, braces, periodontal pockets, or crowns. This water flosser product is available in both black and white color.

The included 10 pressure settings make it one of the most effective products to use to remove plaque before they can calcify into tartar. If you want better dental health, this is the water flosser to get and use on a daily basis.

Other Dental Products for a Cleaner Teeth

I have listed the essential dental cleaning tools you should have at home to help prevent plaque from residing permanently inside your mouth. Other dental tools with merit include:

Mouthwash – Do not underestimate the power of a well-formulated mouthwash to help flush out the hidden germs inside your mouth before they can do any major damage. There are different types of mouthwashes, but you should be looking to get the brand that comes antiseptic or antibacterial powers.

Tongue Scrappers – It would be naive of me to ignore the merits of using a tongue scraper to remove some of the bacteria that can cause bad breath. It can be used to scrape off the muck from your tongue every time you brush or floss your teeth.

Dentists Tools Kit – I am not a fan of getting a dental tools kit because of the higher learning curve. It is quite easy to damage your gums trying to master how to use the various instruments found in any kit. You would get better results if you leave in-depth teeth cleaning to trained dental professionals.