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Plaque and calculus

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Many times your dentist might have prompted you to brush your teeth properly and ensure that you maintain a good oral hygiene. Why so? The answer is to protect your teeth from accumulation of food particles, bacteria and minerals. In medical terms, such deposits are collectively known as plaque and calculus.

What is plaque and calculus?

Plaque is a sticky mixture of bacteria and their secretions. They form a colourless film on your teeth. Plaque starts forming after 4-12 hours of brushing. That’s why you need to brush your teeth twice daily accompanied by flossing.

When you do not brush your teeth properly, the plaque hardens to form calculus, which is also known as tartar. This crusty deposit stains the teeth and can be removed only by a professional dentist.

What causes plaque and tartar?

  • Lack of proper brushing and flossing is the prime reason behind plaque build up. It’s more common in individuals who do not brush their teeth after last meal of the day.
  • You also need to rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwashes. If you are not doing that, then your oral hygiene is compromised. Furthermore, not using fluoride based toothpaste is also one of the reasons behind poor teeth and gum health.
  • Check your nutrition. Are you having plenty of fibrous and natural enzyme containing foods like carrots, papaya, cucumber, apples, guava, etc? If no, then you are vulnerable to plaque and tartar.
  • Is your sweet tooth extra active? Are you consuming chocolates, candies, cakes, flour and starchy foods too often? Remember bacteria thrive on sugary substrates.
  • Lastly, if you are not getting your tooth cleaned by a professional dentist at least once in six months or avoiding dental check up, then tartar or calculus deposition is inevitable.

How can they affect oral health?

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Plaque and calculus are warning signals of gum disease (periodontis).

The bacterial film contains acids that can infect your gums and damage the enamel of your teeth. When you don’t take proper care of your teeth, the acids secreted by the bacteria can also cause tooth decay.

A greater damage is caused when your neglect the plaque build up. Eventually, the film hardens and mineralization takes place over and in between your teeth. Calculus is so strongly bonded with the teeth that it cannot be removed by flossing and brushing. It goes on piling, rendering your teeth an ugly appearance. Pockets and cavities form in and around your tooth and gum which harbour bacteria. If not treated it progresses to serious gum diseases, which ultimately leads to tooth loss.

What is the remedy for plaque and calculus?

Tartar or calculus does not show up when you take proper care of your teeth. So the primary care involves the following:

  • Holistic dental hygiene that involves 3 steps – brushing, flossing and rinsing. You need to do it correctly. Make sure your toothbrush reaches every corner of the mouth and you scrape your tongue as well.
  • Rinse your mouth properly every time after eating. You can use a fluoride rinse or simply do it with saline water. Avoid alcohol based mouthwashes and use fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Avoid eating too much sugar and starch rich foods. Make your diet is rich in probiotics, fibres, vitamin C, calcium, folates, etc. Include lots of citrus fruits and crunchy vegetables in your diet. You can chew a clove every day.
  • Visit your dentist periodically. If calculus formation has taken place, then make sure you get them cleaned by a dentist.

You just need to follow the simple dental care regimen we have mentioned above to protect your teeth from plaque and calculus. After all who doesn’t vie for squeaky clean teeth and a bright smile?

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015

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