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What is Tartar?

tartar build up

Dental calculus — or “tartar,” as most people refer to it — is a hard substance that builds up on your teeth. It’s formed out of soft dental plaque biofilm that calcifies in place when it’s set on the tooth for too long.

Regular brushing and flossing is important for daily plaque removal, but there are often small amounts of buildup left behind. After about 24 hours, the soft plaque hardens into tartar.

Once tartar is attached to a tooth, it can’t be brushed or flossed away. Only a dentist or hygienist can clean it off. Our Port Melbourne dentists have special tools that safely lift away the buildup without damaging your tooth or gums. Sometimes this involves a small hand scaler, and other times we’ll use a gentle ultrasonic tool that vibrates and disrupts the tartar.

Where Tartar Builds Up the Most

Some people tend to metabolize saliva proteins and bacteria at different rates than others. Depending on your situation, you’ve probably noticed at least a small amount of tartar buildup on your teeth between checkups.

The first places you’ll notice tartar tend to be behind your lower front teeth (facing your tongue) and on the cheek side of your upper molars (back teeth.) These areas are home to major saliva glands, and as such you’ll tend to see tartar on those surfaces first.

If you’re a person who gets heavy tartar buildup, be sure to ask our Port Melbourne dentists about special ways to lower your bacterial levels between scale and cleans. For example, a tartar control toothpaste paired with an electric toothbrush can help cut down on buildup that accumulates on a day to day basis.

Consider scheduling checkups at PMD Dental Care more often than every six months if tartar buildup is something you struggle with. Call today to book your next visit.