Ask the Dentist: how to prevent tartar build-up

Lucy Stock, Dentist at Gentle Dental Care, Belfast on what causes tartar build-up on your teeth and how increasing calcium and vitamin K2 in your diet can help fight it

Dental tartar or calculus is the hard yellow scale that forms around teeth
Lucy Stock

ARE you one of the unlucky ones whose teeth are covered with an avalanche of tartar in the blink of an eye no matter how much you clean?

If so and you’re wondering how to change your luck

and slow down the tartar torrent, here are a few tips to turn the tide in your favour.

Dental tartar or calculus is the hard yellow scale that forms around teeth. It happens when the soft white plaque hardens by the addition of calcium mineral salts.

The calcium is deposited from our saliva onto the plaque. Calcium is also deposited into our teeth and bones. So if we can encourage the calcium to be deposited more into our bones and teeth instead of onto the plaque then we can help reduce calculus build-up and have stronger teeth and bones; keeping teeth feeling sparkly clean for longer.

When calcium is needed it's transported via the saliva and blood and then deposited into the teeth, bones, nerves and muscles. For the 'calcium train' to work it needs many other substances – let's call them passengers – to be available before it leaves its station.

One of these essential passengers is Vitamin K2 which switches on other proteins that in turn signal the release of the calcium train. So if you don’t have enough Vitamin K2, the calcium remains in your blood and saliva instead of going to its preferred destination of the bones and teeth to harden them.

It's not enough just to take calcium and vitamin D tablets if you want to improve the hardness of your bones or teeth. If you don’t have enough vitamin K2 you will not get the benefit of the calcium.

In the same vein, if calcium lingers in the blood, arteries harden up. However, a landmark clinical trial using a long-acting form of vitamin K2 has demonstrated significant reductions of arterial stiffening in humans.

Numerous studies have shown that populations with higher daily vitamin K2 intake (more than 32 mcg) have a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those with low intake.

It has also been documented that vitamin K2 can assist in significantly reducing dental decay.

If you notice you have a fast build-up of calcified dental plaque:

:: See your hygienist.

:: Check your vitamin D levels.

:: Consult with your doctor before taking a supplement that contains all three forms of vitamin K.

:: Increase your food sources of vitamin K2 – grass-fed cows, liver and other organs, as well as egg yolks.

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