Dental tartar issues have plagued humankind for at least 400,000 years, the age of the earliest archeological examples in prehistoric teeth. This calcification of saliva and food particles can create serious problems, from painful gum irritation and abscesses to tooth loss and systemic infections.
The more you understand about this stubborn, commonplace threat to your dental health, the more successfully you can take the proper steps to keep it under control. Discover four things everyone ought to know about tartar.
1. Tartar Begins as Plaque
As saliva combined with food in the mouth, it leaves a sticky film called plaque on the teeth. Plague may accumulate both above and below the gumline. This substance attracts bacteria, which become part of the accumulated film as the bacteria consumes the sugars and starches in the plaque.
The longer plaque remains on the teeth, the greater the odds that it will harden into tartar. Over time, the minerals in your saliva can calcify. This process forms a tough yellow or brown crust on the tooth surfaces. If you see these deposits on your teeth, you need to schedule professional dental cleaning and tartar removal.
2. Tartar Buildup Leads to Periodontal Disease
The bacteria in plaque signal the immune system to mount an inflammatory response. Unfortunately, this response does more harm to the gum tissues than to the bacteria it actually targets. The gums become red, puffy, and painful as a result. Dentists refer to this early stage of gum disease as gingivitis.
The transformation of plaque into tartar turns the temporary, reversal problem of gingivitis into a chronic threat to your gums, a problem called periodontal disease. This chronic inflammation enlarges the pockets of tissue around the teeth, destroying ligaments, loosening the teeth, and eventually leading to tooth loss.
The same bacteria that inflames and damages your gum tissue can also create deeper infections. The germs may find their way into the root canals of the teeth, causing painful dental and jawbone infections. They can also use the bloodstream to move into the heart, brain, or other organs if you let the condition go untreated.
3. Tartar Removal Calls for Professional Techniques
Tartar does not come off with normal brushing or flossing. Once tartar has adhered to your teeth, only professional dental care can remove it safely and efficiently. Your dentist can remove the tartar that has formed both above and below the gumline (beyond the reach of toothbrushes) using a device called a scaler.
Once the dentist has removed all the tartar from your teeth, polishing the enamel can make the tooth surfaces smoother, giving plaque and bacteria a more difficult surface to cling onto. As a final step, the teeth may receive a fluoride treatment to strengthen their enamel.
4. You Can Minimize Your Tartar Problems Between Dental Visits
While you should always schedule regular professional cleanings to remove the tartar that inevitably accumulates over time, you shouldn’t confine your tartar-fighting efforts to the dentist’s office. Even if you can’t remove tartar at home, you can minimize its accumulation by brushing and flossing to get rid of plaque.
Dietary modifications can also aid you in your battle against plaque and tartar. Since bacteria love starches and sugars, make an effort to reduce your carbohydrate consumption. You can steer clear of candies, chips, and cookies while still getting your daily value of healthy carbs elsewhere.
Accent Dental can help you and your loved ones gain the upper hand over tartar buildup and its effects on your health and wellness. If you’ve never visited us before, contact us for an appointment and download our convenient registration forms today.