Dental calculus is a hard layer of mineral deposits and is generated on the surface of our teeth. Except the fact that it offers a totally unaesthetic appearance to our teeth,tartar facilitates the accumulation of dental plaque, and causes irritation to the gums, as well as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Bacteria in plaque produce toxins as a byproduct of their metabolism. This creates an acidic environment in the mouth and causes the loss of calcium ions from enamel (the outer layer of the teeth). Calcium and phosphate and other minerals which are present in saliva are absorbed from plaque and gradually stiffen its structure. Finally, the stregthening od dental plaque is causing the formation of dental calculus.
- Teeth calculus – tartar on the visible part of the tooth above the gum is the most common form, and less dangerous because it can be easily removed.
- Subgingival calculus – tartar that is formed below the gum line is the most dangerous since it creates pockets between the teeth and gums that trap the subgingival plaque and its removal is very difficult.
Problems caused by tartar
- Microbes and plaque easily adhere onto the rough surface of tartar, rather than on a clean and glossy tooth.
- Food remnants and germs can be trapped more easily under the tartar.
- The removal of the plaque becomes difficult.
- Tartar irritates the gums and cause gum recession.
- The presence of calculus on the teeth significantly increases the risk of caries and periodontal disease.
- The appearance of the teeth worsens, not only from the existence of calculus, but also due to discoloration caused by easier absorption of pigments in the rough structure of tartar.
Dental calculus is very hard and it is strongly attached onto the tooth. For this reason it can not be dissolved or be removed by brushing.
Only the professional cleaning of teeth by a dentist can remove the tartar from our teeth. The dentists use special ultrasonic devices or special tools (scrapers) in order to remove calculus.