We spend a lot of time discussing ways to prevent plaque from forming in your mouth. However, what happens if you allow that plaque to build up on your teeth? Calculus! Calculus is a formation of tartar that is calcified into a mass that adheres to your teeth. Many times, you only realize you have a case of calculus once you’re in your Raleigh dentist’s chair cringing as your hygienist scrapes away at your teeth. But it’s important that we treat calculus immediately, as left untreated, calculus can lead to gum disease and teeth loss. With that in mind, today we’ll discuss how to prevent and remove plaque, tartar and calculus buildup.
What is the difference?
You likely recognize that plaque, tartar and calculus are bad when it comes to your oral health, but do you know the difference between the three? While plaque, tartar and calculus buildup are similar, let’s discuss their differences.
The main reason your Raleigh dentist spends so much time reminding you to brush and floss daily is plaque. As you eat and drink throughout the day, plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, will continuously form on your teeth’s enamel as your saliva spreads around your mouth. Brushing and flossing is the only way to get rid of it. Therefore, if you neglect to brush or floss properly for too long, plaque can turn into tartar, which can turn into calculus buildup. This can lead to gum disease. Therefore, without even going onto tartar, we should all want to avoid plaque. Luckily, plaque is relatively soft and easy to get rid of.
Building on the previous point, if you let plaque continue to form on your teeth, it will harden and turn into tartar. Tartar is much more difficult to get rid of than plaque, and it can give way to tooth decay and all the problems that follow. Furthermore, if you have a gum infection, tartar buildup can make it worse. Unlike plaque, you’ll need the assistance of your Raleigh dentist to remove tartar buildup as brushing and flossing at home will be ineffective.
Tartar and calculus are actually the same thing, but did you know that plaque can harden into calculus in as little as four to eight hours. While calcification times can vary from person to person, depending on the pH levels, amount of calcium and other substances in their saliva (which is why some people’s teeth are more prone to cavities than others); once calculus forms, it will then attract even more plaque, which over time can become another layer of calcified material.
Why is it important to prevent calculus buildup?
Calculus buildup is quite rough, making it nearly impossible to remove at home with only a toothbrush and dental floss. It can also have an unsightly appearance, oftentimes presenting itself as a yellow or brown stain that is hard to look at. If you are regularly seeing your Raleigh dentist, chances are that you may have a few spots of tartar or calculus buildup on your teeth (especially if you have a permanent retainer on your lower teeth). Your dental hygienist will make sure that any buildup is removed during your visit. Unfortunately, the removal process can be painful. But, it’s important to remove it because any amount of calculus buildup attracts more plaque, which can contribute to tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease.
Fortunately, plaque, tartar and calculus buildup can be prevented. Stay tuned for the next post on how to remove tartar and prevent it from returning. Also, be sure to call Dr. Katherine E. Garrett and schedule an appointment as soon as possible if it’s been a while since your last dental appointment.