Only a dental professional can remove tartar once it has formed, according to WebMD. Dental Fear Central describes the professional cleaning process as beginning with an ultrasonic instrument that knocks loose large pieces, followed by small hand tools that apply gentle amounts of pressure to remove littler tartar pieces.
Tartar prevention is key to good oral hygiene, WebMD states. Brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft bristle, focusing on the rear molars, can help prevent plaque buildup. Some studies have concluded that electronic toothbrushes are more effective at preventing tartar buildup than regular ones. Many toothpastes also include fluoride, which helps prevent enamel damage and prevents plaque from hardening into tartar. Regular flossing helps remove plaque from teeth before it can turn into tartar. Consumption of sugary and starchy foods should be limited, because they facilitate the creation of plaque, triggering the bacteria in the mouth to release harmful acids.
Tartar can form in as little as one day, and in some cases, its presence can prevent effective teeth brushing and flossing, leading to cavities and tooth decay, WebMD notes. If it forms above the gum line, it can lead to gum disease. In worst-case scenarios, tartar creates pockets between the gums and teeth that get infected.