Lora Cook, RDH
What is calculus and what dangers does it cause to the health of your mouth.
Calculus or tartar, same thing is calcified plaque. Plaque is the soft sticky film that will start to form twenty minutes after you brush your teeth. Another name for the soft sticky plaque is biofilm. This is basically a bacteria that grows in your mouth, a “slime layer”. Plaque is white or pale yellow soft, sticky, slimy stuff. This is what makes your teeth feel “fuzzy” when you first wake up and at the end of a long day. So do all these pleasant descriptions make you want to go brush your teeth yet?
So where does calculus come from? Calculus is calcified plaque. When plaque is allowed to stay hiding in your mouth for twenty-four hours or more is has the opportunity to harden and turn into tartar. Calculus/Tartar, same thing, this is calcified plaque. Once this soft sticky substance (biofilm) becomes hard it will attach itself to the tooth surface, then you will not be able to remove it yourself with your tooth brush or your floss. Calculus will form above and below your gum tissue.
The calculus will be a physical irritant to your gum tissue, causing inflammation. The calculus also becomes a source that harbors bacteria that causes harm to the tissue and bone around the teeth. This aggressive bacteria may lead to periodontal disease. What is periodontal disease? In short, it is bone loss around the teeth. This bone loss may range from slight to moderate, to severe. Some people will build up tartar more quickly than others, and some people are more prone to the bacteria that causes periodontal disease (bone loss).
So this brings the questions; What can I do to prevent calculus build up?
USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH: electric tooth brushes have been proven to be more effective at cleaning than manual brushes. Use the rechargeable electric brushes, not the battery spin brushes.
CHANGE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH EVERY THREE MONTHS: Do not go longer than three months with the same tooth brush or tooth brush head. Once the bristles start to wear out they cannot do a good job for you.
TIME YOUR BRUSHING ROUTINE: Brush for at least two minutes, preferably two to three minutes. Sometimes just adding more time to your routine can make a big difference, most people will brush for only forty to sixty seconds. So try timing yourself, you will be surprised. Two minutes feels like forever when you are brushing.
FLOSS DAILY: You don’t have to floss two times daily, once a day is sufficient. Make flossing part of your nightly routine. Flossing techniques are important, because some techniques are more effective than others. It is important to floss under the gum tissue where everything likes to hide, not just in between the teeth.
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