Plaque is a sticky, soft film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth, dental fillings, gums, tongue, dentures and crowns.
When multiple layers of plaque combine with minerals present in your saliva, it hardens into a white, chalky calcified substance called tartar.
It create a breeding ground for the oral bacteria that feed on sugars from the food you eat. Plus, it forms acid during this process that breaks down the tooth enamel, leading to dental cavities. Bacteria also produce toxins causing various periodontal (gum) problems.
Several factors contribute to plaque buildup, such as improper oral hygiene, bad brushing technique, poor food choices, heredity and lack of professional care.
Maintaining dental hygiene is key to preventing plaque and tartar buildup. You should:
- Brush your teeth with a good toothpaste at least two times a day. Use a soft, nylon brush with rounded, polished bristles. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line.
- Make sure you brush your tongue as well because it supports growth of bacteria leading to plaque buildup.
- Use dental floss regularly to clean your teeth and gums.
In addition to regular dental hygiene, you can use some natural remedies to remove plaque and tartar. Remember, once the tartar has mineralized on your teeth, it is extremely difficult to remove. However, if you regularly remove plaque, it can help prevent permanent tooth decay.
1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an age-old practice that supports oral health and helps remove plaque from teeth. Extra-virgin coconut oil is great for oil pulling because it is high in lauric acid that has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.
A 2015 study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal suggests that oil pulling with coconut oil is effective at reducing plaque formation.
- Swish 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Spit it out. Do not gargle with it or swallow it.
- Brush your teeth as usual.
- Repeat daily, in the morning before eating anything.
Plus, you can massage a few drops of coconut oil on your gums daily. You can also do oil pulling with warm sesame oil.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, is a great home remedy for removing plaque. It neutralizes acids in the mouth, thereby reducing the amount of harmful bacteria. It also helps whiten and brighten your pearly whites.
A 2008 study published in The Journal of Clinical Dentistry analyzed five clinical studies and concluded that baking soda paste or powder can more efficiently remove plaque than non-baking soda products.
- Put a small amount of baking soda on the bristles of your wet toothbrush and brush your teeth with it. Rinse your mouth and teeth thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Alternatively, mix 1 teaspoon of salt with 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Dip a dampened toothbrush in the mixture. Brush your teeth with this powder gently.
- Another option is to mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Use it to brush your teeth and gums, spit it out and rinse your mouth thoroughly.
Use any of these remedies once or twice a week.
Note: Do not use baking soda in excess as it may damage the tooth enamel over time.
Both guava fruit and leaves are considered excellent antiplaque agents to help remove plaque accumulated on the teeth and gums. Plus, they have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help reduce swelling and pain in the gums.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences showed that guava leaf extract causes a reduction in the adhesion of early plaque. It has excellent antibacterial and biofilm-inhibition activity against Streptococcus mutans that cause dental plaque.
- Wash some tender guava leaves and chew them thoroughly, then spit them out. Do this daily to reduce the risk of plaque formation on the teeth.
- Take a piece of unripe guava, sprinkle salt on it and chew it slowly. Do this 1 to 2 times daily for a few days.
- You can also use a mouth rinse containing guava leaf extract.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is effective at dealing with gum disease caused by plaque and tartar. Being an antimicrobial, it kills the bacteria that cause plaque buildup. Plus, it fights bad breath.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Oral Health and Dental Management found that aloe vera demonstrates a similar effect on plaque and gingivitis compared with the benchmark control chlorhexidine mouthwash.
- Slit an aloe vera leaf and extract the pulp.
- Rub the pulp directly on your teeth and gum line.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water.
- Use this remedy twice daily.
Ground cloves have been widely used for ages as a home remedy to relieve toothaches. It can also be used to fight microbes in your mouth that may cause plaque and tartar.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology notes that an herbal mouth rinsecontaining clove, tea tree oil and basil reduced the microbial colony forming units, making it an effective antiplaque and antigingivitis agent.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered cloves and a little olive oil. Apply this mixture on your teeth. Wait a few minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this twice a day.
- Also, chew 1 or 2 cloves on a regular basis to support oral health and reduce bad breath caused by the bacteria in your mouth.
6. White Vinegar
White vinegar contains acetic acid that can help prevent demineralization of enamel as well as prevent and reduce accumulation of plaque. It also has antibacterial properties.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Advanced Health Sciences suggests that a significant amount of dissolution of plaque dextran was observed in vinegar (4 percent acetic acid) as compared to distilled water and glycerin.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt in ½ cup of warm water.
- Rinse your mouth with this mixture once or twice a day.