Tartar: what is it?
Tartar is the thickening and hardening (mineralization) of dental plaque. Plaque is a sticky film made up mainly of bacteria, but also of saliva proteins, sugars and acids, which accumulate on the teeth. Tartar is most often found in the lower incisors, on the side of the tongue, but also on other teeth in case of poor oral hygiene. Tartar is formed more or less quickly depending on the individual, depending on the quantity and quality of saliva (pH variation) produced. Saliva helps to clear food particles and bacteria from the mouth.
The accumulation of plaque and tartar promotes:
- Dental caries.
- Gingivitis: inflammation and bleeding gums.
- The periodontitis: destruction of the ligaments and bones that support teeth, often leading to tooth loss.
- Bad breath (halitosis).
- The abscess and pain to the teeth.
Eventually, untreated gum disease may increase risk:
- Respiratory diseases. The bacteria in the plaque can migrate from the mouth to the lungs and cause infection or aggravate an existing lung condition.
- OF preterm labor or underweight babies born. Bacteria present in the mouth during gingivitis or periodontitis may contaminate the placenta or amniotic fluid 3.
People with diabetes are more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease. In turn, these diseases can make diabetes more difficult to control because of the increased presence of blood-borne bacteria, which results in elevated blood glucose levels.
Dental hygiene and cardiovascular diseases
For nearly a century, numerous studies have shown that people with periodontal disease are more at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as arteriosclerosis and stroke (CVA). The bacteria involved could spread into the circulation and cause heart problems. However, research over the last 20 years has shown that the direct link between these two types of diseases is rather controversial.
However, a recent report by the American Heart Association (2012) has analyzed more than 500 articles published in scientific journals since the 1950s. The researchers conclude that these two conditions share the same risk factors. For example, they are common in the elderly, smokers and people with diabetes, arthritis or obesity.
However, there is no evidence that dental infections lead to or increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Although treatment of tartar or gum infections reduces the signs of inflammation in the body and allows better overall health, it would not reduce the risk of heart problems. Given the very high incidence of these diseases, further studies are needed to elucidate their possible link. If preventive measures are advocated, they could have a strong impact on public health.
Symptoms of Tartar (Descaling and plaque)
- A whitish layer forming most often at the level of the lower incisors, on the side of the tongue, but also on the other teeth.
- The supra-gingival calculus: visible to the naked eye, usually whitish in color but can take brownish shades following the consumption of coffee, tea or tobacco.
- The subgingival calculus is deposited on the root of the tooth, protected from the gum, in the periodontal pockets. Often darker, this tartar is the most damaging to the teeth.
People at risk for Tartar (Descaling and plaque)
- The elderly.
- People who experience dryness in the mouth or low saliva production (xerostomia).
- The medications, such as antidepressants and anticholinergics, inducing a decrease in saliva production, which leads to increased development of the plate.
- Exposure to certain treatments involving radiation (radiotherapy).
Prevention of tartar (Decalcification and dental plaque)
|Tartar buildup on the teeth promotes the occurrence of multiple periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, as well as bad breath and pain in the teeth.|
|Can we prevent?|
|A good dental hygiene and a healthy diet are the main measures that prevent the buildup of plaque and therefore the formation of tartar.|
|Measures to prevent the appearance of tartar and complications|
Medical treatment of tartar (Descaling and plaque)
Unlike plaque that can be dislodged by good oral hygiene, tartar can only be removed by specialized instruments from a dentist. It is recommended that you regularly consult a dental professional who will check your teeth and gums and clean them to remove tartar deposits.
Anti-tartar toothpastes can be helpful for people with tartar tendencies to form quickly.
Some people may be advised to use daily antimicrobial mouthwash to more effectively kill oral bacteria.