East Los Angeles Dentist
(323) 263-2125
4975 Whittier Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022

What is Tartar and Why is it Bad?

Tartar, which is also called calculus, is a mineralized form of plaque. Tartar forms when plaque, a sticky biofilm full of bacteria, is left on teeth too long. Both plaque and tartar tend to form at and underneath the gum line, and they irritate the gum tissue. Once plaque hardens into tartar, it gives bacteria more surface area on which to grow, and this can lead to more serious dental health problems, including gum disease and cavities. Tartar is also unsightly. While plaque is colorless, tartar is a porous, mineralized substance that easily absorbs stains, so it can be quite noticeable especially if you smoke or drink coffee, soda, tea or other staining beverages.

You can spot tartar build up most commonly right above the gum line. It is usually yellow or brown in color and has a rougher texture than teeth. You cannot remove tartar at home. You must have a professional cleaning. At the cleaning, we will perform a procedure called a scaling. The hygienist uses a special instrument to remove the tartar from your teeth. Ultrasonic instruments may be used to loosen the buildup. These instruments can be used above and below the gum line to remove the mineralized tartar. Once all tartar has been removed, your teeth will be polished to remove the stains.

Removing plaque properly every day will reduce the risk of tartar buildup. Brush using fluoride twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. If you are prone to tartar buildup, consider using anti-tartar toothpaste. Clean between your teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Call our office to schedule your next dental cleaning or to learn more about protecting your teeth from tartar.

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