Clean teeth and a healthy smile are a great formula for self-confidence. But if unsightly calcium deposits on your teeth have you hiding your smile, it doesn't have to be a permanent condition. While a toothbrush is ineffective against this buildup, commonly referred to as tartar, a professional cleaning done at your dental office will have you grinning ear to ear again.
Elements of Tartar
A sticky film of bacterial plaque continually forms on your teeth, but you brush most of it away daily. If you miss brushing some areas of your teeth, however, calcium phosphate, a component of your saliva, adheres to the plaque. Once the calcium phosphate hardens into tartar, you cannot brush it away. Tartar on the teeth becomes the perfect surface for the accumulation of more bacterial plaque. As more calcium phosphate is deposited and hardens, the tartar becomes heavier.
Professional In-Office Cleaning
The only way to remove tartar from your teeth is to have them cleaned in the dental office. Your dentist or hygienist will use instruments or an ultrasonic cleaning device to scrape away the tartar. After all of the tartar is removed from above and below your gum line, your teeth will be polished with a paste to smooth and shine them and to clean away any remaining stains.
Root Planing and Scaling
Over time, an accumulation of tartar on your teeth and under your gums causes gum disease. Your gums become red and bleed easily, and eventually the bone and supporting structures of your teeth are damaged. The first step in gum disease treatment is root planing and scaling, or what is often called a deep cleaning. This involves scaling all of the tartar from your teeth and making sure the root surfaces are clean and smooth. Your dentist will give your gums time to heal and reevaluate the progress at a follow-up appointment.
Home Care for Preventing Tartar
Because you cannot remove a buildup of calcium deposits with a toothbrush, you’ll want to prevent it from forming on your teeth. This requires a good home-care routine. Brush thoroughly at least two times a day, as recommended by the American Dental Association. If you don’t floss your teeth regularly, now is the time to start. Flossing once a day will help you attack the plaque that hides between your teeth. Tartar-control toothpastes can help prevent tartar formation. Ask your dentist which toothpaste might be best to use.