What is tartar and why do I have it?
This has to be one of the greatest mysteries to many of my adult and teenage patients alike. Every 3-6 months they come in and we are scraping away, yet most people have no idea why it is there, what it is, and why brushing and flossing habits still are not preventing it.
Tartar is clinically called calculus, latin for small stone. It's an incremental/layering of mineral deposits and organic/bacterial cells, forming the fastest in areas of greatest spit/saliva in the mouth. Under the gumline, the bacteria cling to your tooth, then fossilize, which in turn mineralizes into a cement-like coating on your tooth. This is what causes the inflammation and bleeding along the gumline. Where-ever the saliva flows, it is more prone to build up. Also, it should be know that the amount of calculus deposit is affected by everything from age and diet to medications and tobacco use. It is what we call multifactorial.
Brushing and flossing disrupt the continuous layering of the deposits so areas of greatest buildup are truly in need of the greatest daily attention. Flossing is the greatest tool for it can disrupt the build-up between the teeth and under the gumline. Focus on where the floss goes creating a wrapping “C”shape around the tooth. Proper technique and follow-up with our hygienists will keep the accumulation of tartar to a minimal keeping your gum tissue healthy.
Lastly, kinds of toothpaste that have been shown to be beneficial in disrupting the bacteria that cause plaque and tatar are ones with added ingredients like zinc citrate, stannous phosphates, and stannous fluoride. Just read the labels – most will say antiplaque or antigingivitis. Good luck and we hope at Highgrove Dental Care that your next cleaning is a pleasant surprise.