Wendy Parker RDH
Ever heard your hygienist use the words, “build up” or “calculus” while they were cleaning your teeth? Ever wondered what that was, exactly, or what they were talking about?
Growing up, most of us heard about plaque and the importance of removing it daily, but nowadays we hear about bioflim and calculus. What is this all about? Well, my friends, read on and you’ll find out.
In the dental world, dental plaque has been changed to the term “Biofilm.”It is a more accurate term than plaque. It is more than just the soft fuzzy stuff on your teeth. Biofilm is everywhere in our surroundings and can form on just about anything. Ranging from clogged drains, to slippery coated rocks, and in your mouth. Biofilm is bacteria’s home. Millions of bacteria stick together in biofilm which adheres to surfaces in moist environments. Biofilms excrete a slimy glue-like substance that sticks to all kinds of materials, including your teeth! Dental plaque IS the yellowish biofilm that builds up on teeth and is composed of a complex baterial community that causes gingivitis, in the mild form, cavities, and periodontal disease, in the more advanced cases.
Typically, you can remove this biofilm, a.k.a. plaque, with your fingernail in the early stages where it still feels like the soft fuzz-like feeling on your teeth.
However, within 48 hours, if undisturbed, it begins to harden and causes gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissues).
If still undisturbed, about 10 days later, it becomes calculus (a.k.a. tartar), which is difficult to remove. But don’t worry, we know a few good hygienists that can take care of that for you!
If, by some chance, the calculus stays there for a long period of time, the bacteria that is making it’s home in your mouth, then begins to affect the surrounding tissues, causing periodontal disease (bone and gum disease).
So now that we KNOW what and how we get biofilm and calculus, how do we get rid of it? The solution is something that we already know and that we have been hearing from the beginning of time. There is no new shocking treatment, but it’s simple…you have to disrupt the bacteria from forming in your mouth and the best way to do this is to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist/hygienist regularly. If you wear some kind of appliance at night, like a nightguard or retainer, be sure you are brushing it and soaking it regularly. Be sure to let us help you with any issues or needs you have to keep your smile working for you!
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