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Calcium buildup on teeth is an unpleasant nuisance that many people deal with continuously. These deposits can often be prevented by regular brushing, but you’ll need the help of your dentist or dental hygienist to remove them once they decide to stick around.

How Does Tartar Form?

Calcium buildup, or tartar as it is commonly called, occurs when the accumulated soft bacterial film that forms on teeth every day picks up calcium and other mineral elements from saliva and the foods you eat and then hardens on the tooth surface. Tartar is typically found on the inner surface of the lower front teeth and on the outer surface of the upper molars next to the cheeks. The reason for this is that there are salivary duct openings in those areas that continuously feed saliva (which includes calcium) into the mouth.

Tartar, which dentists call calculus, can form anywhere on the tooth surface and can be especially troublesome when it builds up between the teeth, where many people neglect to floss. Tartar irritates the gums and serves as a rough surface where disease-causing bacterial plaque can collect. It’s a vicious cycle!

Removing Calcium Buildup

Calcium buildup on teeth can only be removed by scaling the teeth with instruments specifically designed for this purpose. These can be traditional metal-tipped hand instruments or ultrasonic tools that use specific wavelengths to remove tartar and stains. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited a dentist, scaling may take more than one visit. Also, if the tartar on the tooth surface is deep below the gumline, removing it with a deep cleaning may be done with local anesthesia to ensure your comfort.

Scaling is typically done by dental hygienists who are college educated trained and are knowledgeable with working with patients and provide optimal oral health preventive care. You should never try to scale your teeth at home, whether with store-bought dental kits or household objects like toothpicks. The dental hygienist uses an ultrasonic cleaning device and sterilized scaling tips and instruments during the dental hygiene appointment.

Preventing Calcium Buildup

As long as people have teeth, they will have bacterial plaque forming on them, and for many people this will become tartar. The best way to prevent calcium buildup on teeth is to keep them smooth by thoroughly brushing and flossing every day and by having your teeth cleaned professionally at least twice a year. Because of body chemistry and individual differences, some people build up tartar more quickly and need more frequent cleanings. As a professional dentist, I need to get my teeth cleaned every three months to remove the tartar in spite of what I would call excellent home care! According to Consumer Health Digest, rapid tartar buildup can also indicate low levels of certain vitamins or even an increased risk of heart disease, so be sure to share any health concerns you have with your dentist and doctor.

Brushing with a toothpaste helps prevent plaque, gingivitis, tartar buildup, cavities and bad breath. Faithful daily oral hygiene practices and regular visits to your dentist will help minimize dental problems and keep your mouth healthy.