Calcium deposits, also known as tartar or calculus, are hardened plaques that form on teeth. Dental plaque is a naturally occurring layer of bacteria found on tooth enamel. If allowed to stay — like when you don’t have good dental hygiene — it can develop into visible calcium deposits.
Tartar usually appears in hard-to-reach areas of the teeth, especially the gum line and between the teeth. Even if you pay close attention to your smile, calcium deposits can still form, which is why you need regular dental cleanings and checkups.
Once calcium builds up on teeth, it cannot be removed by brushing, and if left untreated, it can lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay is not the only dental problem to consider. Read on to learn what causes calcium deposits, how dentists can remove them, and how to prevent calcium deposits in the future.
This photo contains something that some people might find graphic or disturbing.
Signs and symptoms of calcium deposits
While plaque and tartar buildup may be asymptomatic at first, it’s not just an aesthetic problem, it can lead to a range of health problems. The main signs of calcium deposits are:
- pale yellow, brown or dark
- Texture and/or blurring when the tongue slides over the teeth
- chronic bad breath (called halitosis)
- Bleeding, red and/or bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
Also, if left untreated, more serious dental problems can develop, including:
- Gingivitis (gum disease)
- periodontitis (gum infection)
- Gingival recession
- tooth loss
- Tooth abscess (infection)
remove calcium deposits
Brushing and flossing removes most plaque and helps prevent calcium deposits from forming. However, once they form, only your dentist can remove them. This is one of the main goals of a typical tooth cleaning. Dentists rely on several procedures to remove tartar:
- Scaling: Scaling is the use of specialized tools to physically remove calcium deposits and plaque from teeth. Today, dentists and dental hygienists often use an ultrasonic scraper—an instrument that vibrates at a very high frequency and sprays water to remove tartar.
- Polishing: After your teeth have been scaled and cleaned, your dentist or hygienist will smooth out rough areas of enamel and provide a final deep clean. Not only will this improve the appearance of your smile, but it will also remove rough areas that might attract bacteria to build up.
- Scaling and root planing: In more difficult cases, the dentist will need more extensive work to remove calcium deposits below the gum line and around the roots and bones of the teeth. This more invasive job, also known as deep cleaning, requires local anesthesia.
don’t try this at home
While you may be able to find dental tools for sale online, you shouldn’t try to remove tartar at home. Not only can you not see inside your mouth like a dentist, but using dental instruments without training can damage your own teeth.
prevent calcium buildup
The key to preventing calcium deposits is proper dental hygiene. Regular and effective dental care can remove plaque and stop it from developing into tartar. what can you do? Here is a breakdown:
- Brush your teeth properly: Brush your teeth thoroughly and properly at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Electric toothbrushes are generally more effective at removing plaque.
- Floss: Floss your teeth at least once a day. Be gentle but thorough as you pull food and plaque from surfaces brushing can’t reach.
- Diet: A balanced diet helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Cutting back on snacking between meals – if you do, make sure to brush your teeth afterwards – can also help. There are also benefits to staying away from sugary sodas, candy, or other sweets.
- Water Irrigation Systems: Water irrigation systems, like the Water Pik, work to remove plaque and bacteria around the gum line. Water flossers are especially helpful for those who are reluctant to use wire.
- See your dentist regularly: Even a good level of oral hygiene can’t prevent calcium deposits from forming in certain areas. Your goal should be to have two inspections per year.
what you can expect from a dental exam
Calcium deposits, also known as tartar or calculus, occur when the plaque on the teeth hardens and thickens. In addition to causing visible yellow, brown or black deposits, they can also cause bad breath and bleeding gums. This, in turn, can lead to gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth decay, tooth loss and other dental problems.
Brushing and flossing alone cannot remove these deposits, so dentists use procedures such as scaling and polishing to remove them. Preventing tartar includes brushing your teeth properly, flossing daily, having regular dental checkups, and avoiding snacking.
In addition to affecting the smile, calcium deposits on the teeth can also become a serious problem. As with any dental health issue, the sooner you get care, the better the outcome. Complications of tartar can be treated or even reversed, but the process can only begin after you’ve settled into the dentist’s chair.
If you’re concerned about calcium deposits or have any other issues, don’t hesitate to get the help you need.
Facts You Should Know About Oral Health
Frequently Asked Questions
Are calcium deposits bad for teeth?
Especially if left unchecked, calcium deposits can be extremely damaging to your teeth. They can cause tooth decay, tooth loss, gingivitis (gum disease), periodontitis (gum infection), gum recession, and bad breath (chronic bad breath).
Can I get rid of calcium buildup on my teeth at home?
While there are many things you can do at home to deal with tartar-forming plaque, once it’s formed, only dental tools can remove it. While you can find these tools for sale online, you shouldn’t try to withdraw your deposit at home. Without proper training in this technique, and if you try to work on your own mouth, you can damage your teeth and gums.
Does tartar removal hurt?
Tartar can appear above and below the gum line. Generally, the scaling and polishing procedures used to remove calcium deposits are not painful. However, if the gums are diseased, or if a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) is required at the root of the tooth, local anesthesia is required.