Tartar, sometimes called calculus, is dental plaque which has hardened on the surface of the teeth and gums. Tartar gives plaque more surface area on which to grow and a much stickier surface to stick to, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar can also form at and underneath the gum line and can irritate gum tissues.
Tartar build up can often be noticeable on teeth. Tartar is more porous than plaque and absorbs stains more easily. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, or if you smoke, it is especially important to prevent tartar build up.
How Do I Know if I Have Tartar Build Up?
Unlike plaque, a colourless film of bacteria, tartar is a mineral build up which can be seen if it is above the gum line. The most common sign of tartar is a yellow or brown colour on teeth and around the gum line.
How Can I Prevent Tartar Buildup?
Effective toothbrushing and flossing or using interdental toothbrushes to remove dental plaque from all surfaces of the teeth will help prevent tartar build up. Toothbrushing with a gum health toothpaste will also help to reduce dental plaque build up in between toothbrushing.
Once tartar has formed, only your dental professional can remove it. The process of removing tartar is called scaling. Your dental professional uses special instruments to remove tartar from your teeth above and below the gum line.