A Guide to Tartar & Plaque Removal with a Dental Pick

A patient having their teeth cleaned by a dental pick

Maintaining good oral hygiene is vital for a healthy smile, and one of the key aspects is keeping tartar and plaque at bay.

In this article, we’ll explore effective ways to remove tartar and plaque, focusing on the use of a dental pick. Additionally, we’ll delve into alternative methods, such as electric plaque removers and ultrasonic tooth cleaners, to provide a comprehensive guide for achieving optimal oral health.

Understanding Tartar and Plaque

Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a hardened form of plaque that accumulates on teeth over time. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and can lead to various dental issues if not removed regularly.

A dental hygienist holding a dental pick

What is a Dental Pick?

A dental pick is a small handheld tool used by dentists and dental hygienists during dental examinations and procedures. It typically consists of a slender metal handle with a sharp, pointed tip at one end.

Dental picks are used to remove plaque and tartar buildup from teeth, as well as to probe and explore dental surfaces for signs of decay or damage. They are also useful for removing debris from between teeth and along the gumline. Dental picks are an essential tool in maintaining oral hygiene and preventing dental problems.

Using a Dental Pick for Tartar Removal


Choose the Right Dental Pick

Select a dental pick with a fine precision tip. Ensure it is designed for at-home use and made from materials safe for dental applications.

Softening Tartar

Gently brush your teeth to soften the tartar before using the dental pick. This will make the removal process more manageable.

Gentle Scraping Technique

Hold the dental pick at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface. Use a gentle scraping motion to remove tartar build-up. Avoid applying excessive pressure to prevent damage to the enamel or gums.

Exploring Electric Plaque Removers

Electric plaque removers are convenient tools designed to enhance plaque removal. They typically come with interchangeable heads, including scaler tips for effective tartar removal.

Teeth Scaling at Home

Teeth scaling, the process of removing tartar and plaque, can be performed at home with the right tools. While dental picks are suitable for small amounts of tartar, for more extensive scaling, consider professional dental scaling or alternative methods like electric plaque removers.

Ultrasonic Tooth Cleaners: Are They Safe for Home Use?


Dentist Recommendations

Many dentists recommend the use of ultrasonic tooth cleaners for effective tartar removal. However, it’s crucial to use them correctly to avoid potential harm.

Safety Considerations

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using an ultrasonic tooth cleaner. These devices emit vibrations to break down and remove tartar, but improper use may lead to enamel damage or gum irritation.


Research suggests that ultrasonic tooth cleaners can be effective in tartar removal when used as directed. However, individual results may vary.


Maintaining a plaque-free and tartar-free smile is essential for oral health. While a dental pick can be a valuable tool for at-home tartar removal, it’s crucial to consider alternative methods such as electric plaque removers and ultrasonic tooth cleaners.

Always follow proper techniques and, if unsure, consult with your dentist for personalized advice on achieving the best results in your oral hygiene routine.

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