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Calculus 101

In dentistrycalculus or tartar is a form of hardened dental plaque. It is caused by precipitation of minerals from saliva and gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) in plaque on the teeth. This process of precipitation kills the bacterial cells within dental plaque, but the rough and hardened surface that is formed provides an ideal surface for further plaque formation. This leads to calculus buildup, which compromises the health of the gingiva (gums). Calculus can form both along the gumline, where it is referred to as supragingival (“above the gum”), and within the narrow sulcus that exists between the teeth and the gingiva, where it is referred to as subgingival (“below the gum”).

Calculus formation is associated with a number of clinical manifestations, including bad breathreceding gums and chronically inflamed gingiva. Brushing and flossing can remove plaque from which calculus forms; however, once formed, it is too hard (firmly attached) to be removed with a toothbrush. Calculus buildup can be removed with ultrasonic tools or dental hand instruments.

Having trouble with tartar? Are you at risk for Periodontal Disease? Read more about how we can help with our Periodontal Savings Program

Flossing and Your Dental Health

Proper flossing removes  plaque  and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach — under the gumline and between your teeth. Because plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended.

To receive maximum benefits from flossing, use the following proper technique:

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
  • To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth

What Type of Floss Should I Use?
There are two types of floss from which to choose:

  • Nylon (or multifilament) floss
  • PTFE (monofilament) floss

Nylon floss is available waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. Because this type of floss is composed of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points. While more expensive, single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth, and is virtually shred-resistant. When used properly, both types of floss are excellent at removing plaque and debris.

Contact Info

989 Langworthy St.
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

Phone: 563.583.2681

Fax: 563.583.6303

Email: info@langworthydental.com

Hours

Monday: 7:30 am - 5 pm

Tuesday: 7 am - 6 pm

Wednesday: 7 am - 6 pm

Thursday: 7 am - 2 pm

Friday: 8 am - 12 pm (Call First)

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