It was 10 in the morning. I just finished my case and was waiting for the next patient. A 35-year-old male patient slowly walked into my chamber and has occupied the patient chair. During the examination, he asked me an interesting question about tartar on teeth.
Patient: Doctor, I brush twice daily. But still, have a lot of calculus on my teeth. Can you suggest some solution?
Patient: I had my teeth cleaned one month back.
I think many of you have a similar situation. Hence, in this article, we are going to reveal the complete guide in managing dental calculus.
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WHAT IS TARTAR OR DENTAL CALCULUS / DENTAL PLAQUE?
Dental tartar is calcified debris that gets attached around the teeth. The sticky food debris usually mixes with salivary proteins to form dental plaque. This plaque gets attached around the tooth and slowly gets mineralised due to deposition of calcium and minerals from saliva. Such a mineralised or solidified structure is called Tartar or Calculus.
BLACK AND GREEN TARTAR
Tartar has more affinity to food stains. Hence they are always seen in different colours ranging from yellow to greenish brown tint. In patients with a smoking habit, the tartar usually takes black colour. This black tartar is due to deposition of smoke dust at the time of calculus formation.
Green tartar is a presentation in children, which usually appears dark green colour. The reason for this colour is due to chromogenic bacteria. Professional scaling helps in removing such tartar.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE GET MORE TARTAR, WHILE OTHERS GET LESS?
The amount of tartar formation depends on many factors.
The composition of saliva has a profound effect on the rate of tartar formation. Patients with more minerals in their saliva tend to have more tartar formation.
Patient’s lifestyle will also affect the rate of calculus formation. Many of my patients say that they have the habit of drinking milk or coffee before going to bed. Sticky foods such as sweets and milk products tend to get attached to the tooth quickly. During night time, the cleansing action if saliva is nill. It is the correct time for dental plaque to get connected to teeth easily. Hence patients with such habits usually have more rate of tartar formation than others.
WHY DO I HAVE MORE CALCULUS ON BACKSIDE OF MY TEETH?
Usually, a large amount of calculus is formed or seen on the back of teeth in the lower front tooth region. The reason behind this is simple. Large amounts of saliva stagnate in between tongue and floor of the mouth. As a result, there is more change for debris to calcify in this region.
BEST TOOTHPASTE FOR TARTAR REMOVAL?
Generally pastes with more abrasives tend to remove tartar in a better way than conventional pastes. But they also produce severe damage on the surface of teeth. Hence I would say that there is no better toothpaste for tartar removal. The best treatment option will be a visit to the dentist for professional scaling.
HOW CAN I PREVENT DENTAL PLAQUE FORMATION ON TEETH?
We can prevent tartar formation by following these few steps
Brush twice daily
Twice brushing a day can have a profound impact on dental plaque formation. Brushing before going to bed is more important than morning brushing.
Use dental floss along with brushing.
Dental floss can decrease tartar formation between teeth. As the initial tartar formation starts between teeth, using floss will have a strong negative impact reducing dental plaque formation.
Avoid eating food before going to bed.
My strong recommendation to every patient is, not to have any food (precisely milk products and sweets) just before going to bed.
High Fiber food
High fibre food can help in tartar prevention to some extent. Fibre in the diet, produce friction while chewing, resulting in indirect cleaning of teeth.
Patients with xerostomia [less saliva in mouth] should be more cautious. Regular intake of water with good oral hygiene can prevent tartar formation.
Dental plaque removal at home [Home remedy]
Occasional brushing of teeth with kitchen salt or baking soda can also prevent tartar formation to some extent. But it should be done with caution. I have seen many patients following such home remedies. But most of them come to me with some trauma or sensitivity of teeth after such activity. Hence be careful while doing such activates. Never overdo them. It can cause injury and lead to severe ulcerations [traumatic ulcer] on gums. The excess activity can also produce early wearing of teeth resulting in increased sensitivity of teeth.
WHICH TOOTHPASTE IS BEST FOR TARTAR REMOVAL?
There is no specific toothpaste exclusively for removing tartar on teeth. Regular brushing and oral hygiene maintenance aid in preventing calculus formation.
TARTAR ON TEETH. HOW TO REMOVE?
Here are a few steps that help in understanding the treatment options of treating tartar on teeth
Very mild Tartar/dental plaque
Mild tartar requires extensive brushing. Yes! deep brushing can remove tartar to some extent. But it requires some patience and time.
Mild to moderate Tartar/dental plaque/calculus
Usually, a single sitting scaling is enough. Your dentist or dental hygienist do it in the clinic.
Severe Tartar/dental plaque/dental calculus
Treating severe tartar includes scaling with root planing. In severe cases where the bone is observed to be lost, then scaling should be accompanied by gum surgeries like Flap surgery.
Your dentist will take the final decision on suitable treatment for your teeth.
TARTAR BUILDUP IN TODDLER/ CHILDREN
Calculus formation in children is a severe problem. Poor oral hygiene, lack of parental guidance while brushing, eating chocolates and sweets at the wrong time can result in more tartar formation. Poor oral health with more calculus formation can result in severe gum disease.
WHY SHOULD TARTAR BE REMOVED?
The distance between the gum line and bone [which is present below gums] is constant and is called the biological width. Hence if the gum line moves down, then the bone also moves down. If such a thing happens, then the teeth in that region become mobile. This condition is called periodontitis. Calculus formation usually occurs around teeth resulting in the inferior displacement of the gum line, thus aggravating periodontitis.
The tartar formation occurs at various levels around the teeth. Calculus above teeth is called “supra-gingiva calculus”. Such calculus can be cleaned using regular professional scaling.
Calculus below gingiva is called “subgingival calculus”. It is more dangerous and requires sub-gingival curettage or flap surgery.
CAN TARTAR PRODUCE HEART PROBLEMS?
The answer is yes! Tartar can quickly enter into the blood and can get deposited into heart valves. The tartar fragments contain colonies for many dangerous bacteria. These bacteria indirectly infect heart valves through blood, and produce “BACTERIAL INFECTIVE ENDOCARDITIS”. Hence patients with heart problems or with defective heart valves should be cautious with teeth calculus. Prompt removal of calculus at regular intervals from the oral cavity is advisable.[su_box title=”THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE ” box_color=”#1ea3be”]TIP1: Brushing twice a day along with some interdental aids like floss can help in managing Dental calculus
TIP 2: Professional scaling [dental cleaning] every six months is advisable.
TIP 3: Usage of home remedies like salt/baking soda/vinegar for cleaning tartar can damage your tissues. Overdoing such activities can hamper the natural health of gums and teeth. Hence BE CAREFUL! Always consult your dentist before doing them.[/su_box]
These are a few questions that my patients ask me regularly. If you find this article to be interesting and meaningful, please do share it with your friends.
Do you have any question? Let me answer it. Kindly post your subject in the comment section.
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