Two dental cleanings and exams a year are usually enough to help you avoid a heavy buildup of tartar — or calcium deposits — on your teeth. Besides the fact that buildup looks unsightly, there are some health reasons for getting it removed on a regular basis.
You might be surprised to learn that cavities have nothing to do with it.
What Is That Calcium?
The mixture is actually bacteria that are calcified (hardened) into a cement-like substance with minerals found in your saliva. Calcium phosphate, to be precise. This conglomerate debris is more technically called “calculus” in the dental setting. You might know it as tartar.
You can’t necessarily control the rate at which you form calculus. But you have some control over how heavily it develops. Frequent brushing and flossing will remove that plaque before it has time to harden and calcify.
How Calculus Affects Teeth
Once a layer of calculus forms on tooth enamel, not much can happen to the tooth. The cavity-causing bacteria inside calculus are dead and immobile so they won’t be able to produce acids that wear away teeth.
Even though tartar does not cause cavities, it can seriously irritate your gums. The rough texture of calcified bacteria provides the perfect hiding place for living colonies of bacteria. The kind that cause problems like gingivitis and periodontitis.
So those biannual teeth cleanings don’t just keep your smile sparkling. They help you avoid a buildup of calculus that can negatively impact your gum health. Without professional cleanings, your gums can develop an infection that results in losing your teeth themselves.
Do yourself, your teeth, your gums, everyone a favor by visiting your dentist regularly to remove that “tartar!”
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