Plaque, Tartar and Dental Cleanings

We are all familiar with the common enemy of a healthy mouth: plaque. And we know that we need to brush and floss to keep the plaque at bay, and with it cavities and decay. But the processes at play when it comes to decay and deposits on our teeth are more complicated than many realize. And this complication is why regular cleanings at the dentist’s office are important.

Plaque is a product of bacteria in our mouth and the carbs we eat. We can keep these plaque-producing bacteria at bay with brushing and flossing, but remember that it is a constant battle. In fact, plaque begins building up on our teeth even minutes after we finish eating. And over time, tartar can begin to form, which is the calcified form of plaque.

Unfortunately, no matter how good our brushing and flossing are, tartar (also called calculus) can form on teeth in different areas of the mouth. This is because certain parts of the mouth can’t be reached or even seen. Tartar often forms on the bottom inside portion of our front teeth, and underneath the gums of the back teeth.

Removing tartar is something that we really aren’t well equipped to deal with on our own. We need an experienced dental hygienist or dentist. It is very hard to remove without the help of dental instruments and dental training. And since most of us will have plaque or tartar build-up in unseen or hard to reach areas in our mouth, a trip to the dentist twice a year is very important.

A dental hygienist or dentist will use various tools to remove the calculus, like an ultrasonic that uses water and small quick vibrations to make the experience more comfortable. A polishing procedure will also take place, which both cleans the teeth and takes off the bacterial layer of your teeth.

This dental cleaning is also important because it gives your dentist a chance to have a close look at all of your teeth, to find problems in their early stages, such as gum disease and tooth decay.

Gum disease is an important and prevalent problem. Recent research has linked gum disease to other systemic illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease. Research has shown that since gums and teeth supporting bone are connected to the rest of the body through our blood vessels, bacteria from gum disease is able to enter the blood stream and cause inflammation leading to other problems in our overall health.


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