Harris Dental Boutique

Plaque and Calculus

Plaque and Calculus… What is it and how can you prevent it?

Plaque is a sticky, white film of bacteria that continuously forms on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that can be harmful to your teeth, causing decay and Gum Disease. If plaque forms and is not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it can harden into calculus that attaches to the outside layer of your teeth – the enamel; it can also attach to the tooth surface below your gum line.

Everyone has plaque because bacteria are in our mouths growing; you cannot see it but it is there. When plaque is not removed, it may cause inflammation and irritation to your gums around your teeth, which can lead to gingivitis. If gingivitis is not treated, it progresses to Gum Disease which can cause tooth loss.

Calculus is plaque that has set hard on your teeth. Calculus forms on the top and under the gum on your teeth and may irritate your gums. Calculus threatens the health of your teeth and gums, but it is also a cosmetic concern. As calculus is porous, it absorbs stains easily, so if you are a coffee or tea drinker or a smoker, it will pick up stains from these foods and drinks and look like your teeth have discoloured.

Calculus, unlike plaque, may be seen in your mouth, particularly on the inside of your lower front teeth.  It looks like a hard yellow, brownish deposit.  Calculus can only be removed by a professional clean with your dentist.

What causes plaque and calculus?

Bacteria in your mouth attach to the surfaces of your teeth and grow. If flossing and brushing are not done correctly or efficiently each day, the plaque builds up and calculus deposits will develop over time.

Dr Linc shares his easy tips to prevent plaque and calculus build-up: