We all know that a dazzling smile can make or break a first impression, and a set of bright white teeth can go a long way towards nailing any first meeting. If you struggle with plaque and tartar buildup, you may find yourself searching for a quick and easy solution.
While dentists often scrape the tartar and plaque off your teeth at a regular cleaning, it may not be easy to undertake the same task at home. Nevertheless, many individuals may want to try it, if only to save money without a trip to the dentist’s or just to get the benefits of a cleaning from the comfort of their own home.
As a general rule, cleaning your own teeth is probably not the best idea unless you have the skills and training required to do it safely. We’ll get into more detail below, but for the most part, you really are just better off letting someone else take a crack at your teeth for you!
Dangers of Scraping Your Own Plaque or Tartar
The biggest danger of scraping your own teeth really comes down to equipment. When you go to visit your dentist, the dental hygienist usually uses a specialized plaque scraper to smooth over your teeth and leaving your smile a little bit cleaner.
If you have a plaque scraper at home, it’s still pretty dangerous to use. The main reason for this is that it’s far more difficult to scrape your own teeth in front of a mirror than it is to reach into someone else’s mouth and use both hands to brace yourself and scrape their teeth.
If you don’t have a plaque scraper, you may be tempted to use whatever sharp or semi-sharp object you have on hand to get that same polished-smooth feeling. In either case, putting a sharp object in your mouth is pretty much always a bad idea.
Any injury to your gums, tongue, or palate will heal quickly, but it will also hurt. Injuring your mouth means that you may struggle with tasks as simple as eating, drinking, or touching certain parts of your face without a significant amount of pain.
On top of that, the human mouth is full of bacteria, no matter how religiously we clean our teeth. An injury inside the mouth runs a much higher risk of infection than an external energy, and the risk really is not worth the reward of a cleaner-feeling smile.
Tools Used for Home Dental Scraping
In general, the same tools that dental hygienists use to clean your teeth at the dentist’s office can be found at your local store. While this doesn’t mean you should use them, they’re still usually pretty easy to find.
When it comes to removing the buildup on your teeth, the most commonly-used tool is a plaque scraper. Although we touched on this tool briefly above, you may not recognize it at first glance at your local pharmacy or drugstore. A plaque scraper mostly looks like a small, thin hook with a sharp point.
Some stores also offer plaque scraping kits. This will usually include some of the other common sights from the dentist’s office. You may see a small mirror on a long handle or another scraper with a broader, flatter head.
If you are going to scrape your own teeth, the mirror tool is one of the more important pieces of equipment. While you may be able to scrape your front teeth while standing in front of a regular bathroom mirror, the dentist’s mirror will allow you to see what you’re doing as you scrape the teeth in the back of your mouth.
Finally, if you are still planning on scraping your own teeth, you may want to use a broader tool rather than the sharp traditional scraper. This will allow you to remove tartar buildup while slightly reducing the risk of cutting your gums.
Dental Cleanings Can Be Expensive Without Insurance—Is There Any Way Around This?
Obviously, we all want to take care of our teeth to the best of our ability, but sometimes the cost can be too prohibitive. If you don’t have dental insurance, something as simple as a routine cleaning can still be pricey enough to make you reach for one of those home scraping kits.
Pricing and general phobia of dentists are two of the biggest reasons that people may not be in a hurry to get their teeth cleaned. While the latter may not be easily fixed, at least there are some safe and simple ways of getting around the former. Again, a professional cleaning is always safer than an amateur cleaning.
If you live nearby a dental school, try checking with the administrators at that institution to see if you can find a more affordable solution. Because the students in school are still in the training stage of their career, you may be able to get a high-quality cleaning at a far more affordable rate than you would find at a traditional practice.
If that still sounds a little too risky for your tastes, try talking to your local dentist. While you probably won’t be able to get an enormous discount, your dentist may be willing to work with you in order to find an affordable way of cleaning your teeth without having to sign up for a costly insurance policy.
Brushing Your Teeth: the Slow and Steady Way to Remove Plaque and Tartar
At the end of the day, teeth cleanings and home teeth-scraping kits are popular because they provide a “quick fix”. It’s easy to walk out of the dentist’s office feeling like your teeth are the cleanest they’ve ever been, and that may even be partially true!
However, when it comes to at-home treatments, at the end of the day, the best way to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth is by brushing your teeth, not scraping them.
While it may be far slower and feel significantly less dramatic, establishing a healthy and regular tooth-brushing routine will go a long way towards preserving your beautiful smile and making sure that you won’t have to worry about teeth cleanings or teeth scrapings in the future.
If you want to take your tooth-brushing routine up a notch, you may want to try gargling with a diluted mixture of hydrogen peroxide. Not only will this noticeably brighten your teeth, but it can also kill off some of the “bad” bacteria in your mouth that would otherwise lead to gum disease and other conditions.
Whether you’re fighting a long-rooted distrust of dentists, hoping to save a little bit of money, or just don’t have the time to spare on a trip to the dentist, it can be tempting to try and clean your own teeth at home.
However, for the most part, your dentist will be able to do a cleaner, quicker, and safer job on a routine teeth cleaning than you will. Your smile is one of the many things that make you stand out from the crowd, which means it’s too important to risk for the sake of convenience or pride.