Dental calculus, also known as tartar, is a hard, mineral deposit that forms on the teeth, typically along the gum line. It is a mixture of bacteria, food particles, and minerals that harden over time. Dental calculus is a common problem that can lead to a variety of oral health issues if left untreated.
The main cause of dental calculus is poor oral hygiene. When teeth are not brushed and flossed properly, plaque, a soft, sticky film of bacteria and food particles, can form on the teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden into calculus over time. Other factors that can contribute to the formation of dental calculus include:
• Dry mouth: Saliva helps to wash away food particles and bacteria, so a lack of saliva can increase the risk of calculus formation.
• Smoking or using tobacco products: These habits can stain the teeth and make it harder to remove plaque and calculus.
• Certain medical conditions: People with diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that affect the immune system may be at a higher risk of developing calculus.
Dental calculus can cause a number of problems, including:
• Gum disease: Calculus can irritate the gums and lead to inflammation, bleeding, and receding gums.
• Tooth decay: Calculus can trap bacteria and food particles, increasing the risk of cavities.
• Bad breath: Bacteria that live in calculus can cause an unpleasant odor
Dental calculus is typically removed by a dental professional, who will use special instruments to scrape it away from the teeth. It’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine to prevent the formation of calculus, by brushing twice a day, flossing daily and using an antiseptic mouthwash. In addition, regular professional cleaning or scaling is recommended to remove any calculus or plaque that may have formed.