Sometimes you need a phone call from your dentist to remind you to schedule a teeth cleaning appointment. Other times just running your tongue over your teeth may get you to pay a visit to the dentist. If your teeth feel fuzzy it could be an accumulation of oral debris. If the buildup grows out of control, it may form a calculus bridge. To understand a calculus bridge, you first need to know about calculus. Here's all you need to know about this threat to your oral health.
What Is Calculus?
Calculus, also known as tartar, is a yellowish or white deposit of minerals that forms on the tooth's surface as a result of preexisting plaque that has hardened, says the American Dental Association. Since the teeth are constantly bathed in saliva, calculus can form in as little as a few weeks. There are good and bad bacteria always present in saliva, but there are components in the saliva that helps plaque form initially.
Plaque develops into calculus when the constant accumulation of the minerals from the saliva adheres to the plaque. Calculus commonly forms on the lower anterior teeth and sometimes on the upper molars. These sites are the predominant areas because salivary gland ducts are located right next to these teeth surfaces.
A calculus bridge is a severe buildup of calculus that has grown so much that it covers the teeth and the spaces in between the teeth.
How Is Calculus Removed?
Since calculus is loaded with bacteria, it's imperative that it gets removed. Visiting your dental health professional is the only way to remove tartar. Your dental hygienist is able to remove the hard, tenacious buildup with an ultrasonic tool and special instruments. Since a calculus bridge forms above the gumline, a routine cleaning is an appropriate method to remove it. After the cleaning, the gums may be a bit tender due to the inflammation from the tartar but will heal after the removal. Appointments should be scheduled at least twice a year or even three to four times if you form calculus rapidly.
How Does Calculus Impact the Gums?
If tartar is not removed, the bacteria from it can affect the gums and eventually the bone too. Bleeding gums is usually the first sign of gingival inflammation, also known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, which is a serious infection of the structures supporting the teeth. The gums are integral in keeping teeth secure in the mouth, so when the gums are weakened, teeth may fall out. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, some symptoms of gum disease are as follows:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth or teeth that are starting to separate
Can Calculus Bridges Be Avoided?
Yes, calculus bridges can be prevented! The best way to avoid this buildup is to effectively remove the plaque before it can form and mineralize. This is done by properly brushing twice a day. Flossing at least once a day is important as well, because brushing only reaches the front and back surfaces of the teeth and flossing gets in between.