If you had to name one of the steps in professional dental cleaning, you would probably say scaling. Having said that, do you know what exactly tartar is and why it needs to be removed? Carrefour Dentaire de Montréal explains everything you need to know about scaling.
What is tartar?
To get the answer, you first have to understand what dental plaque is. Thanks to the oxygen and glycoproteins in our saliva, our teeth are an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria that are accumulated when we eat. A high amount of bacteria causes plaque, a sticky biofilm that is often responsible for cavities and gum disease.
The calcium phosphate in saliva can cause the plaque to mineralize, which creates tartar. Tartar looks like a solid deposit that is mostly found at the roots of the teeth. It is usually light yellow, although it can also be black or orange.
The consequences of tartar are not only cosmetic: It can cause inflammation, bleeding and recession of the gums, sometimes leading to serious diseases such as periodontitis. In addition, it causes bad breath and can damage the enamel.
How does scaling work?
Tartar buildup is firmly stuck to the teeth and thus cannot be removed by simple brushing. Only the dentist has the expertise and equipment to clean teeth below the gum line. During scaling, the dentist uses devices like a scaler and curette to remove plaque by hand. He also uses ultrasound devices with vibrating metal tips that are combined with a jet of water to gradually eliminate it. Although the sensitivity of your teeth can make scaling uncomfortable, it is rarely painful.
Plaque and Tartar Prevention
As with any other oral condition or disease, tartar can be prevented by healthy hygiene habits, including brushing and flossing. The electric toothbrush is an interesting solution since it is specially designed to fight this problem. Some models even have a timer to help you stick to the recommended brushing time. Finally, smoking poses an increased risk of tartar buildup, so it’s best to break off that habit now.
The best way to prevent and remove tartar is to visit the dentist for a cleaning every year. Your dentist will take care of the tartar before it can develop and do a scaling if necessary.