Drink milk, so your teeth and bones are strong! This is what we were told as kids. Am I right? Milk has a high amount of calcium in it, and it is used by our bones and teeth! However, what can happen if we get calcium buildup on teeth, and what causes it? Let’s dive in!
Every time you see your dentist or dental hygienist, they tell you to make sure that you are brushing and flossing your teeth daily. Oral hygiene plays a huge role in preventing calcium buildup and dental plaque formation.
This is where many people struggle with their oral hygiene. If I had a dollar every time a patient told me that they brush but don’t floss, Elon Musk would not be the richest man in the world!
Brushing but not flossing is like wiping your butt cheeks but not cleaning the crack! It ain’t clean! Hope that was a good visual for you to motivate you to floss more often.
The most important time to floss is right before bed. There are many dental products out there to help you floss, and SNOW makes an activated charcoal floss that can help.
After you are done flossing, you want to rinse your mouth out. For this, you can simply use water or mouthwash. There are certain mouthwashes that are designed to help prevent tooth decay and prevent calcium buildup.
You rinse really well and spit it out into the sink. Now, you can visually see all of the gunk that was stuck in between your teeth that you were able to remove by flossing.
Using a soft bristle toothbrush and light pressure, you want to make sure you are brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, as recommended by the American Dental Association. Again, the most important time is right before bed.
You can use a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush, like the SNOW LED Electric Toothbrush.
The vibrations from an electric toothbrush can significantly improve removing food particles from teeth, preventing calcium buildup on teeth.
After brushing, spit out the toothpaste but DO NOT RINSE! You want to leave the toothpaste on your teeth. Why? Most toothpastes have fluoride in them and to properly allow time for the fluoride to absorb into your teeth, it is best to leave the toothpaste on your teeth for as long as possible.
WHAT CAUSES CALCIUM BUILDUP ON TEETH?
Let's say you don’t have regular brushing habits or maybe you brush but don’t floss; why is that so bad? Well, let me explain!
When you don’t maintain proper oral hygiene, you compromise your oral health. You only have to brush and floss the teeth you want to keep.
Dental plaque is a sticky film that is on your tooth surface. As you eat and drink foods, this sticky film becomes thicker and thicker. Over time it becomes difficult to remove tartar.
This can look like “mushy mashed potatoes”, as I explain it to my patients. It is typically soft and easy to remove by simply brushing and flossing.
It is filled with bacteria. Bacteria are naturally found in your mouth. However, if a specific bacteria starts to outgrow the other bacteria in the mouth, this can be really bad! There needs to be a balance with the bacteria in your mouth, and this imbalance is what causes cavities.
When you don’t brush and floss your teeth or when you have long intervals between your dental care visits with your dentist, many dental problems can begin to form.
Remember all of that milk you drink for strong teeth? Let’s talk about how that calcium, found in milk, actually works!
Your saliva is packed with calcium phosphates! Your saliva helps to remineralize your tooth enamel.
Demineralization is when the sticky plaque and the bacteria within the dental plaque, begin to produce acid. As you eat and drink your food, the bacteria are also eating all that food that is stuck on your teeth. As it eats, well, it needs to poop. So it poops out acid. This acid is what starts to break down the outer layer of your teeth, also known as your enamel.
Once you have demineralization on your enamel, you can start to see some enamel defects such as white spots on your teeth. The calcium phosphates in your saliva help to remineralize and “repair” these areas. However, with the amount of sugar we consume in the present day, it is extremely hard for the calcium phosphates to keep up with the amount of demineralization.
Fluoride toothpaste was designed to help combat this issue. Fluoride makes your enamel more acid-resistant, which means it takes a lot more acid before the enamel begins to break down.
Now, let's say you don’t brush and floss your teeth and you have all if this calcium floating around your saliva; what can happen?
CALCIUM DEPOSITS FORM
The soft and mushy dental plaque continues to get thicker and thicker. It can build up along the gum line causing gum disease. Your gums can become inflamed and bleed easily. This is called gingivitis. Your dental hygienist will remove this plaque, and your gums will return back to a healthy pink color.
Let’s say you haven’t gone to the dental office in many years and you leave gingivitis untreated. This can lead to something called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is not reversible like gingivitis. Once you have it, you are stuck with it.
Instead of periodontal disease being treated, it is managed with something called scaling and root planing, also known as a deep cleaning.
Let’s take a step back and talk about what can also happen when you don’t remove dental plaque.
When dental plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it hardens and forms calculus. Calculus is hard because it is packed with the calcium from your saliva. This is what causes calcium buildup on teeth.
The dental plaque turns into dental calculus when left untreated. This layer of calcium buildup can get larger and larger and start to cause issues with your gums. Just because you have calcium buildup, or calculus on your teeth, it doesn’t nessesarily mean you have periodontal disease. However, you are at a higher risk for developing it, and you need to see your dental professional ASAP.
A professional cleaning by a dental hygienist will remove this tartar buildup. The dentist or the dental hygienist use instruments specifically designed for removing tartar.
A regular cleaning, also called a prophy, can be completed by your dentist or dental hygienist. This treatment option is used for patients who have gingivitis. The dental professional will remove bacteria buildup, remove food particles, tartar removal, remove calcium deposits, and flush out your gum line.
If you have periodontal disease, then you will need something called scaling and root planing or a deep cleaning. Why?
As a result of you leaving this calcium buildup on your teeth, you allowed the tartar buildup to get under your gum line and onto the root surface of your teeth. So, dental hygienists have to go deep under your gums to remove this tartar.
Going under your gums can be painful. So to ensure you are comfortable, the dental professional may deliver local anesthesia. This is per your comfort level of course so if you hate “the shot” and want to try the deep cleaning without anesthetic, make sure to let your dental professionals know.
Dental professionals use instruments specifically designed for removing calcium deposits and bacteria from your teeth.
One of those instruments is something called an ultrasonic scaler, sometimes called a Cavitron. This instrument shoots water out of a fine tip to blast away and flush out the calculus from your teeth. You can think of this as a WaterPik on steroids!
To stop tartar, prevent calcium buildup, and ensure you keep your teeth and gums healthy, make sure you maintain proper oral hygiene. Floss, rinse, brush!
As calcium builds up on your teeth, it can lead to you needing extensive work to treat the damage caused by tartar buildup.
There are store bought dental kits that you can use to remove some of this calcium build up. However, it is best that you leave that to the dental professionals.
Maintain your oral hygiene and prevent calcium deposits on your teeth. Go see your dentist for your annual visit!
- Dr. James Younan, DDS
(AKA Dr. Gibbz, Public Health Dentist)
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and there is no doctor/patient relationship being established by reading this article. Always consult with your dentist or primary care provider. This article is not intended to offer medical or dental advice to anyone, it is not intended to diagnose any medical or dental conditions that you may have. There are no warranties and/or guarantees being made with the information being presented in this article.