Dental calculus (or tartar) is a common dental problem but one that is extremely easy to prevent with good oral hygiene.
What is Calculus?
Calculus, often referred to as tartar, is hardened plaque that forms on the teeth and gum line. This mineral build-up is impossible to remove by brushing alone and can cause a wealth of dental problems as well as having a serious effect on overall health. Calculus has a very porous surface, consequently staining very easily and often becoming a yellow or brown colour.
What Causes Calculus?
Poor brushing and flossing will lead to plaque build-up because of the present bacteria, which then turns to calculus. Once you brush your teeth, plaque already starts to form again in 24 hours. It only takes two or three days for this plaque to start to harden into calculus.
Does Everyone Get Calculus?
Everybody will get plaque on their teeth at some point because it starts to form so quickly after brushing due to the bacteria in our mouths. Therefore, calculus is a very common dental problem, and it is predicted that around 68% of adults will have tartar at some point.
The Difference Between Plaque and Calculus
Plaque is a sticky film on the teeth where bacteria thrive. If not brushed properly, these bacteria will release acids onto the teeth which cause tooth decay and gum irritations. Left untreated, it can turn into Gingivitis and Periodontal disease. Plaque can be removed with regular brushing, but if left to harden, it turns into calculus which will then need to be removed by a dentist.
While plaque cannot be easily detected, calculus is made evident by its yellow and brown properties often seen between teeth and at gum lines. Plaque (and subsequently calculus) can be prevented by brushing twice daily and flossing daily.
Treatment and Removal Methods
If you suspect you may have calculus on your teeth, then make arrangements to see your dentist as soon as you can as only they can confirm that it is calculus and remove it. This is done with ultrasonic instruments specific hand tools. The ultrasonic tool will use high frequencies to remove calculus without harming the tooth. Then, hand tools are used to scrape off the residue and polish off the tooth to make it smooth again.
This process is usually straightforward and not painful at all, but if the calculus is severe and goes below the gum line, then some anaesthetic may be needed.
Importance of the Removal of Calculus
Calculus is a hardened area, creating more surface for plaque to thrive on. This can lead to periodontal disease, gingivitis, more cavities, and even worse effects on overall health such as cardiovascular disease and even strokes.
Preventative Measures to Reduce Calculus
It is incredibly important to brush twice daily for at least two minutes to keep plaque from growing and hardening into calculus. Use a tartar control toothpaste to help keep plaque build-up at bay. This needs to be combined with a daily routine of flossing and rinsing with a good mouthwash to get between the teeth where brushing alone cannot always get to, which is why the areas between the teeth are the most common areas for tartar build-up.
In addition, make sure you attend regular 6-month check-ups with your dentist so they can check for calculus, tooth decay, and ensure you maintain exceptional dental health.
JC Dental is a reliable dentist in Southport Park Village. Our dentists can offer advice, preventative services, and calculus treatments, as well as other services ranging from regular check-ups to emergency appointments.
Contact us today to arrange an appointment with our fantastic dental team.