Plaque is a white film of bateria that can form on our teeth and gum line. A more common word for calculus is tartar. Tartar generally occurs when plaque is not removed by regular tooth brushing and flossing and it can harden and creates calculus (tartar).
The main difference between the two is that plaque can be removed by patients at home because it is softer whereas calculus is much harder and adheres to the teeth strongly! Whereas, calculus has to be removed by a dental professional.
Commonly patients come in saying their teeth feel ‘furry’. This is due to the presence of plaque formed on the teeth, which is a soft substance primarily consisting of bacteria accumulating throughout the day. If not removed from the teeth, it can lead to gum disease otherwise known as gingivitis and the bacteria can also degrade the teeth resulting in decay.
Ideally brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day can keep plaque at bay between dental visits. If not removed, the plaque can calcify and harden to become calculus which cannot be removed at home. Calculus adheres more strongly to teeth than plaque and also consists of bacteria, so you can only imagine the damage it is doing in the mouth!
The most common place for calculus to form is on the back of the lower front teeth due to the adjacent salivary glands. This calculus build up can be thought of similarly to lime deposits in a kettle.
Importantly and not often considered, other than plaque and calculus causing gingivitis or gum disease, the bacteria within the plaque and calculus can also affect many body systems including the heart.
So the moral of the story is to make sure you remove the plaque regularly at home through good oral hygiene habits and have the dentist remove the calculus once formed.
A new debate has arisen with the increased longevity of implants.
Are patients better off trying to save their natural teeth through root canal treatment and a crown restoration or take the tooth out and replace it with an implant?
What to know about Root Canal
Root canal treatment is indicated when the nerve tissue in a tooth has become infected or has died. This can occur when the nerve becomes irreversibly inflamed from – decay, presence of large fillings, post dental treatment or if the tooth has been subjected to trauma. In these circumstances treatment is to remove the infected, dying or dead nerve tissue from within the root canal (s) of the tooth through special instrumentation and irrigation. The root canal(s) are then filled and the tooth is recommended to be restored with a full crown restoration for strength. Studies have shown success for this procedure the first time it’s done on a tooth to be around 90% success decreases by 30% each subsequent time a root canal treatment is performed on the same tooth or ‘retreatment’ success rate is around 60%.
Extraction and Implantation
If a tooth is deemed ‘un-restorable’ due to extensive decay, insufficient sound tooth present for restoration or as a result of trauma, it should be removed or ‘extracted’.
Following the removal of a tooth, a three month period is required for soft tissue and bone healing prior to an implant being placed in the position of the extracted tooth. After implant placement a further three month period is required for the bone to accept or ‘integrate’ with the implant.
Finally, six months after extraction, a tooth or ‘crown’ can be placed on the implant ready to use! Studies are now showing 30 year follow-ups on implant successes.
Pros and Cons to Consider
It would be good to consult with your dental practitioner and discuss your options available in a balanced way, taking the time to think about your options. Every person is an individual and deciding which treatment to choose may be simple or complicated depending on circumstance.
Seek Specialist Dentist Advice
It is always wise to establish a trusting relationship with your dentist and seek professional advice to ensure you are making an informed decision that you will be happy with in the long term.
Mouthwashes and mouth rinses are viewed as adjunctive at home treatments and they should definitely not take the place of properly cleaning your teeth.
Walking down the aisle in the supermarket can be very confusing when deciding which mouthwash or mouth rinse to purchase and why?
Benefits of using a mouthwash:
Freshen your breath – It’s the most obvious benefit but, remember it is only short acting.
Fluroride – Some mouthwashes and mouth rinses help to reduce decay but, you can generally get enough fluoride through using a toothpaste that contains fluroride.
Reduces gum disease – Depending on the ingredients in the products used they can help to reduce gingivitis.
Things you need to think about when using mouthwash:
Mouthwashes containing alcohol – If a mouthwash contains alcohol, there is a higher risk of oral cancer. So it is important to always try to use non-alcoholic mouth rinses. Please know that the alcohol in mouthwashes are of no benefit to you.
If you are using a mouthwash or mouth rinse to help your breath it is always wise to speak with your dentist to ensure you are using a product that will best help your needs and don’t rely on a mouth wash or rinse to suit this purpose as mentioned earlier it is only going to help in the short term. Try not to use a mouth rinse if there are open wounds in the mouth because it will hurt and delay healing, it would be best to use saline mouthwash instead.