Calculus, or tartar, is a deposit found on teeth. It is made up of plaque (which is mainly a bacterial film) that has hardened and yellowed. Over time, calculus develops a rough surface, making it the perfect place to catch more debris and food particles, which leads to further buildup of calculus on teeth.
Calculus build-up is a significant cause of periodontal disease, as it can cover the gum-line and prevent the removal of plaque beneath the gum line. The longer plaque is left on teeth, the more painful the teeth and gums become and the more serious the periodontal disease becomes.
Calculus cannot be brushed away so the removal of calculus, and the subsequent plaque, requires the expertise of a dentist or dental hygienist.
Plaque and Calculus Removal Procedure
The procedure for the removal of calculus is called scaling. During the procedure, an ultrasonic instrument is used to gently chip the calculus away and leave the tooth smooth.
If the calculus has moved below the gum line, a different technique will be required to remove the plaque. This procedure involves using root planing to remove the plaque that has made its way into the roots of the teeth. This will be performed by a dental technician or hygienist. The scaling and root planing procedure will take place simultaneously, with the severity of the calculus and plaque build-up determining how many appointments you will require.
Causes of Plaque and Calculus Buildup on Teeth
Oral plaque is made up of bacteria and the substances that these bacteria create. It feels like a sticky piece of film and it can be brushed away if you are vigilant. However, if plaque is allowed to remain on teeth, it can build up and turn into calculus. As mentioned above, the rough surface attracts food particles meaning teeth are subjected to further contact with harmful debris and bacteria.
How to Avoid Calculus Build-Up
A good oral health regime is the best way to avoid calculus build up and periodontal disease, that means brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Getting a professional clean by your dentist or hygienist at least twice a year is also a good idea as this will help to remove any calculus build-up before it can under your gums and cause serious problems.
Book an Appointment with Dr George Olstein
If you have any questions about your dental health, or would like to book an appointment for a scale and clean with our dental hygienist in Melbourne, all you have to do is call 03 9510 1644—our friendly team is ready and happy to assist. Alternatively, complete our easy online booking form to lock in an appointment time today.