Dental Calculus or Dental Tartar is a yellow or brown layer of mineral deposits on the teeth surface created by hardened dental plaque.
Tartar control is important for your oral health, because besides the cosmetic problem, dental plaque that is accumulated on calculus causes inflammation of gums, and can lead to gum recession and gum disease.
How dental calculus is created ?The bacteria of dental plaque produce acids that cause the loss of calcium from the tooth enamel (demineralization).
Calcium, phosphorus and other minerals from saliva form crystals and harden the plaque structure. The main ingredient of this compound is calcium phosphate. It is a hard insoluble material that bonds to the tooth enamel along the gum line.
Tartar's calcium deposits on teeth, make the surface of the tooth rough providing an ideal medium for further accumulation and growth of dental plaque.
The repeating new cycles of acid production, calcium loss and calcium phosphate composition result to the build-up of new dental calculus layers on teeth.
Types of dental calculusCalculus above the gum margin (supra-gingival calculus) is the most common. This form of dental tartar is less harmful as it is visible and can be identified easily allowing us to visit our dentist early.
The below the gums type (sub-gingival calculus) is more dangerous as it forms pockets between teeth and gums, harboring plaque under the gum margin and preventing it from being brushed off. As it is hidden, we might be unaware of its existence until suddenly some serious dental problem as periodontitis reveals it.
How to check for calculus / tartarInstead of dental plaque that is an almost invisible thin layer, supra-gingival dental tartar deposits are easier to detect.
Look for yellowish and rough areas along the gumline and between teeth.
Usually tartar starts to accumulate on the lingual (inside) surface of the bottom front teeth (incisors) and on the outside of the upper, anterior molars.
But be aware that the most harmful sub-gingival (below the gums) dental calculus is very hard to detect without a visit to the dentist.
Related dental problems and treatments:
How to Prevent Dental Tartar BuildupProper brushing and flossing are necessary to reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
Regular dental cleaning visits to the dentist should also be scheduled.
Preventive tooth scaling once a year is recommended if you teeth tend to accumulate tartar.
Use Tartar Control toothpastes
Tartar Control ToothpastesTartar Control toothpastes can help in reducing new tartar build-up but they can't remove the already formed tartar.
The special ingredient of Tartar Control toothpastes are the pyrophosphates.
Pyrophosphates as Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate (TSPP) are water-softening agents that bond to the calcium phosphate in the saliva, creating a soluble compound that is dissolved by water and washed away during brushing.
By this way calcium phosphate is removed from the saliva and it can't create calcium deposits on teeth forming new tartar.
Most of the tartar control toothpastes also contain fluoride and antibacterial agents to fight the root cause of the problem, the bacteria of dental plaque.