Have you ever taken a closer look at your teeth and noticed streaks of yellow or brown? Even when you brush them, they won’t go away. What you see is a hardened bacterium known as calculus; it’s responsible for tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Obviously, you want to get rid of it—the question is, how do you do it?

What causes calculus?

Bacteria will inevitably form in our mouths; all we can do is be diligent about cleaning them away. Any time we eat food or drink beverages, plaque forms on our teeth. Calculus, also known as tartar, is the result of built-up plaque. When plaque is left on the teeth, it begins to calcify over the next 2-3 days. It mineralizes due to the calcium in our saliva. Now you know why dentists encourage you to brush twice a day—it’s the only way to prevent the formation of calculus. Even though plaque is a natural part of life, that doesn’t mean we should let it be. Calculus poses serious health concerns for both your oral and overall health.

How will calculus affect your oral health?

The more calculus that’s on your teeth, the greater risk you have of developing cavities. When calculus forms beneath the gum line, it puts you in danger of getting periodontal disease. These tissues are what hold our teeth in place; if they’re infected, it can cause gum recession and tooth loss. In addition, tartar is more absorbent of stains due to its porousness. When you drink beverages that stain the teeth (red wine, tea, coffee), it will be more visible due to calculus.  

Have you ever brushed or flossed your teeth and noticed that your gums are inflamed or bleeding? This is because the tissue is irritated from tartar by the gums, which is a recipe for gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. One health concern is that bacteria can travel from the gums into the bloodstream, increasing one’s risk of blood clots and strokes. Our mouths and our bodies are interconnected; we need to take good care of both to be in the best health. If you notice calculus on your teeth, the next question is, what can you do about it?

How do you remove calculus?

The best way to deal with calculus is to prevent it from forming in the first place. This means brushing twice a day for  two minutes each time. A toothpaste that contains fluoride will give your teeth extra protection. To get the plaque that’s between your teeth, floss routinely. Use an antiseptic mouthwash for extra plaque-fighting powers. Finally, take a closer look at your diet. Bacteria love starch and sugar. Try cutting down on sweets and breads. It helps to limit your intake of acidic sodas, too. Even better, replace those foods with raw vegetables. Not only are they healthier for you, but the fibers in them can actually help remove plaque.There’s no at-home remedy to remove calculus; it’s dangerous to attempt to do so on your own. Regular visits with your dentist will prevent calculus from damaging your teeth—they have the specialised tools to remove this hardened material. WestSide Dental is a Charleswood dental clinic. Next time you need your teeth cleaned, give us a call!