Everyone builds up plaque and calculus on their teeth over time. Plaque is the soft material which comes from food and sticks between your teeth. If not removed it will cause cavities and cause the gums around the teeth to become irritated. This irritation of gums starts out as gingivitis and can progress to severe periodontal disease. Plaque can and should be removed by brushing and flossing every day. Calculus is a hard material that builds up on teeth overtime. It forms from minerals in your saliva. Calculus build up can be reduced by proper brushing and flossing but it cannot be removed by a toothbrush or floss. This is what your hygienist removes when cleaning your teeth. If left untreated calculus build up creates houses for bacteria and plaque. Calculus is the major factor leading to periodontal disease. Everyone builds up calculus at different rates this is why patients are placed on a 3, 4, or 6 month recalls.
If calculus build up is severe enough it may require a higher level of cleaning called Scaling and Root Planning (SRP). This usually involves numbing your gums and using an ultrasonic cleaning instrument to remove the calculus and smooth the roots of the teeth. After SRP it is usually recommended to have your teeth cleaned every 3 months for at least the first year to prevent periodontal disease from returning and allow the gums to heal.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. If left untreated it leads to the loss of bone and gingiva around your teeth and eventually will result in the loss of teeth. Periodontal disease often goes on without any pain or symptoms. Large pockets can develop in the gums around the teeth. These pockets become traps for bacteria. The best way to prevent periodontal disease from happening to you is to have regular cleanings and checkups. Our hygienist will check the pockets around your teeth routinely once per year to make sure no active infection is present. The biggest risk factors for periodontal disease are tobacco, diabetes, and stress.
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