I seem to build up tartar quite easily on the inside of my lower middle four teeth. As far as the usual suspects go... I take 4000 IU/day of vitamin D3 and have a blood level of 55 ng/mL. I supplement vitamin K2 daily using LEF's Super K (1 mg K1, 1 mg K2 as MK-4, 0.1 mg K2 as MK-7) and also consume 3-5 tablespoons of pastured butter per day. I don't take in much calcium, but it seems the US RDA is too high for people who have their other variables in line.
I did realize today that I am probably not taking in enough magnesium, which I understand to be an important factor in bone/tooth health, so I plan to fix that. I have been supplementing 140 mg of magnesium malate per day for quite a while (I believe I started this a few years ago based on some discussion on imminst.org regarding the best magnesium supplements), but as I look at lists of good magnesium sources, it seems my daily avocado is the only significant contributor of magnesium.
Any comments from anyone who has experienced some tartar buildup despite eating paleoishly, or who noticed the appearance/disappearance of tartar with some specific change of variables, would be a big help... thanks!
Edited to add that this is a relatively new problem- I don't think I had it more than two or so years ago. I think it may have been roughly three years ago that I started supplementing with D3 and K2, although I'd probably have to check some records to be sure of that.
asked byFrankZovko (90)
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on March 17, 2012
at 03:51 PM
Hello. I'm a newbie to the Paleo lifestyle so I will not attempt to discuss the connection between eating Paleo and tartar(calculus) bulid-up in your mouth. But I am a registered dental hygienist(for over 20 yrs now) so I think I can contribute some info to this post. The soft plaque(the yellowish goo) we all accumulate in our mouths needs to be removed from the teeth with a soft toothbrush and from in-between the teeth with dental floss on a daily basis. The more plaque you remove from your mouth,the less "tartar" build-up you will get. The soft plaque calcifies(or hardens) changing into tartar within 24 hrs.,for some people it is less than that. Once it has calcified on the tooth, it is difficult for you to remove with a toothbrush or floss. That's why we use our "scalers" to remove the hardened tartar when you come in for your check-up. Now, the reason why some people have more build-up then others is based on a few different factors. How often you brush and floss and your technique makes a HUGE difference. The PH level in your mouth tends to be a factor too. The more acidic your mouth is, the faster your plaque will harden or turn into tartar. Genetics do play a part in the PH level of your mouth but so does what you eat,drink and medications you may be taking. People with acid reflux problems tend to have a lower(more acidic) PH level in their mouth and tend to build-up faster than people without. Whenever you eat anything with sugar or breaks down into sugar(carbs),that will lower the PH level in your mouth, acidic fruits will do the same thing. Acid in your mouth is not healthy because acid causes erosion of the enamel(decay). Now, your PH level will rise again back to neutral after eating these things but it takes time and if you are a person that "sips" on soda or sports drinks all day, your PH level will stay acidic and you're basically bathing your teeth in acid all day long. Same is true if you chew gum or eat hard candy through out the day.
Another valid reason to remove as much plaque as possible is that it is loaded with bacteria. I won't get into the microbiology of this but this not the good kind of bacteria. This "bacteria" causes periodontal disease(the destruction of the tissue and bone support from around your teeth) and has also been linked to heart disease.
on November 07, 2010
at 12:47 AM
From wikipedia: "[Tartar] is caused by the continual accumulation of minerals from saliva on plaque on the teeth."
Tartar forms most readily at the bottom front teeth because that is the location of the sublingual salivary glands. Those front teeth are continually awash in saliva. The relatively fast tartar formation is sign of a well-mineralized saliva, which is a sign of a well-mineralized person.
While too much tartar causes gum inflammation, the mineralization that causes tartar is also necessary for the tooth enamel to rebuild itself.
I've read of salivary gland stones as a complication of heavy vitamin D and K supplementation. But I don't know how to determine when one is actually at risk. I think the complications are paradoxically the result of not enough calcium and magnesium. Not sure that helps you any, but hey... just so you know.
Sorry I don't have a better answer. I don't think there is a definitive one. As long as the tartar is not being allowed to build up enough give your gums problems, just chip & scrape it off on occasion and don't worry too much about it. At least, that's what I do.
on November 07, 2010
at 03:31 PM
I've noticed as I've moved around the country that I get a lot more tartar when I live in a place that has hard water (more calcium carbonate). The tartar reduced significantly when I had a water softener installed in one particular location that had hard water.
Tartar itself isn't bad, but when it builds up it becomes a hospitable place for unfriendly bacteria to congregate and attack our teeth and gums, protected from the good bacteria and the acidic environment of our saliva.
on March 17, 2012
at 02:49 PM
Read this: "The systemic theory of dental caries"
http://www.agd.org/publications/articles/?ArtID=9892 It talks about John Leonora who discovered that hypothalamus makes the parotid gland secrete a hormone that causes an outward fluid flow within the tooth. That fluid also nourishes the tooth. But sugar inhibits that hypothalamic signal. It says that oxidative stress in hypothalamic mitochondria causes that signal inhibition. I don't understand it technically, but what it says is use antioxidants and zinc. At least that's what I understood. Well, read it and maybe you'll figure out more than me.
on September 06, 2011
at 10:55 AM
Late to the party, but it seems that pure baking soda helps. Either mixed with your favorite oil or with water. Baking soda is abrasive and disrupts the layers of tartar. I use it once a week and it keeps tartar in cheque just fine.
on October 13, 2014
at 01:17 AM
I am a registered dental hygienist and I am interested in finding out why some people build tartar more quickly than others. I know it has a lot to do with what is in your saliva. I was interested to read the above post about pH levels. I have a full understanding of how pH can contribute to decay and demineralization, so I guess it makes sense that it can influence the mineralization of tartar aka calculus. To the above comment about tartar not bearing any impact to the actual health of your teeth...it has a very negative effect on your gums and bone that support your teeth. The tartar binds to your teeth and creates a very rough surface and perfect environment for gram negative bacteria to colonize which when broken down creates endotoxins that can break down your periodontal ligament (what holds your teeth in place) and break down your supporting bones that anchor your teeth in place. That is essentially what gum disease is. You can build tartar under your gums, and this is the area that causes the most problems. SO FLOSS! But, what is interesting to me is the number of patients that I have who are religious flossers (2 or more times per day) and great brushers (using electric toothbrushes) and they still build up tartar like crazy.
I want to share two stories with you all...
I had a patient that I had been seeing for about 2 years and he never had much tartar, just some grainy tartar on his lower front teeth (which is fairly common). He came in for his 6 month check up and had TONS OF TARTAR. I asked him, "what are you doing differently?" He responded that he had started eating a low carb, high fat, high protein diet. To this day, he build up so much tartar.
I had another patient who flossed 2xs daily and had terrible gingivitis (bleeding gums) and deep pockets (the tissue around her teeth was not as tight as a healthy mouth). She was getting cleanings every three months and I had no idea what advice to give her to make her condition better. She came in and had no bleeding and her pockets were healthy. I asked her, "what are you doing differently?" She responded, I am eating a low carb, high fat, high protein diet and have eliminated all dairy. So in her case it helped to control inflammation (which makes total sense).
So I am very intrigued to see how this whole paleo thing affects dental health. Personally, I see no difference in my mouth. I have never build much tartar or had gum issues. I will continue to research this and any additional comments would be helpful!
on September 01, 2012
at 11:18 PM
I'm sick of tartar build up!! I get it, my sister gets its...so it must be in our genes!! Ruining my life!! Charmaine
on September 06, 2011
at 02:27 PM
Yeah, I do. According to the dental hygienist I tend to build it up pretty badly, and that hasn't changed despite being low-carb for a number of years and more or less Primal/paleo recently. Mildly bummed about that. Extremely hard water here, but I what I drink goes through an RO filter, so ... I get the impression (from what I know about greyhounds as well as people!) that some have a tendency to develop more, some less. I go to the dentist for cleaning 3x/year. Part of the problem may be that I find flossing repulsive and it makes me gag (floss gets caught in my tight teeth and shreds) so I rarely do it.
I don't think tartar bears any relationship to the actual health of your teeth that minerals might impact -- it's on the tooth, not part of the tooth. Maybe the chemical composition of your saliva makes a difference.
on November 07, 2010
at 03:25 AM
I asked my hygienist about it. She didn't seem too concerned, and just said to run a toothpick along the gumline now and then to disrupt tatar forming process. Some people just make more tatar. But regular dental care is important, so don't skip the cleanings.