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Understanding Tartar: A Comprehensive Guide by Gentle Care Dentistry in Hornsby

Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a common dental concern that affects many individuals. At Gentle Care Dentistry in Hornsby, we believe in educating our patients about dental health issues that can impact their overall well-being. Understanding what tartar is, its causes, effects, and prevention methods is crucial in maintaining optimal oral health.

What is Tartar?

Tartar is a hard, calcified deposit that forms on teeth and can contribute to various dental problems. It originates from plaque, a sticky, colourless film of cteria that continuously forms on our teeth. When plaque accumulates and is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar within 24 to 72 hours. Unlike plaque, tartar is a mineral buildup that's much harder to remove and requires professional dental care.

Causes of Tartar Formation

The primary cause of tartar formation is the lack of proper oral hygiene. When teeth are not cleaned thoroughly and regularly, plaque builds up and eventually turns into tartar. Factors that can contribute to tartar development include:

  • Inadequate brushing and flossing techniques

  • Irregular dental check-ups and cleanings

  • A diet high in sugars and starches

  • Smoking and the use of tobacco products

Effects of Tartar on Dental Health

Tartar buildup can have several adverse effects on oral health, including:

  • Tooth decay and cavities due to the protective enamel being eroded by the acids produced by bacteria in tartar.

  • Gum disease, starting as gingivitis and potentially progressing to periodontitis, a more severe form that can lead to tooth loss and other health issues.

  • Bad breath and a discolored appearance of teeth, as tartar can stain easily.

Preventing Tartar Buildup

Preventing tartar formation begins with maintaining excellent oral hygiene practices. Gentle Care Dentistry in Hornsby recommends the following preventive measures:

  • Brushing teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and using a soft-bristled toothbrush.

  • Flossing daily to remove plaque from areas your toothbrush can't reach.

  • Using an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce plaque bacteria.

  • Limiting sugary and starchy foods and beverages that can contribute to plaque and tartar formation.

  • Quitting smoking and avoiding tobacco products.

  • Regular dental check-ups and cleanings every six months, or more frequently as recommended by your dentist.

Professional Removal of Tartar

Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a dental professional. Gentle Care Dentistry utilises specialised tools in a process called scaling to carefully remove tartar from above and below the gum line. For patients with extensive tartar buildup, more in-depth treatments like root planing may be necessary to restore gum health.


Tartar is a preventable condition that, when left unchecked, can lead to significant dental health issues. By understanding its causes and effects, and by implementing diligent oral hygiene practices, you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Gentle Care Dentistry in Hornsby is committed to providing personalised care and education to prevent tartar buildup and protect your oral health. Remember, regular dental visits are key to detecting and preventing tartar accumulation, ensuring a healthy smile for years to come.


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