Plaque and Calculus
- Research has shown that controlling plaque is important in the control of decay and gum disease. Plaque is neither food or food residue. Plaque is a clear, sticky deposit of bacteria that adheres to the surface of teeth and gum tissue. It is so adherent that it can only be removed by mechanical cleansing.
- Plaque contains a variety of different types of bacteria. For this reason, certain types of plaque are associated with dental decay, others with calculus formation, and others with the inflammatory response of the gums (gingivitis).
- Plaque which is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing can harden into calculus (also called tartar). Calculus is plaque that has mineralized, forming a tough, crusty deposit that can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist. These deposits can form above (supragingival) and below (subgingival) the gum line. Calculus deposits are a significant contributing factor in periodontal disease because it is always covered by a layer of nonmineralized plaque. The calculus keeps the plaque close to the gingival tissue and makes it much more difficult to remove the plaque bacteria. Thorough removal of these deposits is necessary to prevent the progression of periodontal disease.
Some people form heavy calculus deposits rapidly while others form little or no mineralized deposits. This is due to differences in the saliva, the types of plaque bacteria, and dietary factors. One can help reduce the formation of calculus by brushing with and ADA-accepted tartar control toothpaste and by having regular professional cleanings every 6 months or more frequently as recommended by your dentist or hygienist. The prevention of gum disease and decay requires a lifelong commitment to fighting plaque and calculus formation.
Tooth Brushing Simplified
The Brush To Use
Hard bristles were once recommended but are now thought to be too abrasive to the teeth and gums. We now suggest a soft, rounded-end nylon bristle brush. Be sure to discard brushes when the bristles are bent or frayed or approximately every three to four months. How To Brush
Begin by placing the head of the brush beside your teeth, with the bristles angled against the gum line (where the teeth and gums meet). Think of the brush as both a toothbrush and a gum brush. With the bristles contacting both tooth and gum, move the brush back and forth several times across each tooth individually.
Use a short stroke and a gentle scrubbing motion, as if the goal were to massage the gum. Don’t try to force the bristles under the gum line; that will happen naturally, especially with a brush that has soft, flexible bristles.
Brush the outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. Then use the same short back-and-forth strokes on the inside surfaces. Try to concentrate harder on the inside surfaces; studies show they’re more often neglected. For the upper and lower front teeth, brush the inside surfaces by using the brush vertically and making several gentle up—and-down strokes over the teeth and gums.
Finish up by lightly scrubbing the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. You should also brush your tongue for a fresher breath.
With all of the wonders of modern man available to you there is no better way to clean the sides of your teeth than DENTAL FLOSS. Inexpensive, readily available and easy to use. But it is and has always been an excellent tool in the fight against dental decay and periodontal disease. There are many types of dental floss available in your local drugstore. Please speak with our hygienist regarding the best floss for your particular set of dental needs. Here’s How To Floss
You should floss under both sides of each flap of gum tissue between your teeth. The following technique has proven to be very effective: Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind a good bit of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the rest around the middle finger of the other hand. Grasp the floss with the thumb and forefinger of each hand, leaving about an inch of floss between the two hands to work with.
Pull the floss taut and use a gentle sawing motion to insert it between the two teeth. When the floss reaches the tip of the triangular gum flap, curve the floss into a C Shape against one of the teeth. Then slide the floss gently into the space between the tooth and the gum until you feel resistance. Holding the floss tightly against the tooth, scrape up and down five or six times along the side of the tooth. Without removing the floss, curve it around the adjacent tooth and scrape that one too. Repeat on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the far sides of your rear teeth. When the floss becomes frayed or soiled, a turn of each middle finger brings out a fresh section of floss. After flossing, rinse vigorously with water. Flossing Problems
If you don’t like manipulating floss, try one of the commercial floss holders. They have limited flexibility, however, and you must use them with care to avoid injuring the gum.
You may have trouble working with the floss between certain teeth, or the floss may consistently break or tear in certain areas. Several causes are possible, including calculus buildup, or improperly installed fillings. Please let us know if this problem occurs. Flossing between bridges requires additional instruction and the use of floss threaders. Alternatives to floss includes such things as StimudentsR, Perio-AidsR or Plac-piksR. Please discuss these tools with your dentist or hygienist before using them. None of these are as good as floss in tight areas between teeth.
Your Recare Appointment
This is also commonly called the “checkup and cleaning.”It is very important for you to understand that during your recare appointment, you will receive much more than just a cleaning. I don’t know if you have ever given it much thought, but you are receiving a FULL SPECTRUM of diagnostic, preventive, and educational services specifically and individually designed to help you keep the best possible smile for a lifetime. Based upon your specific dental needs, your dental team will formulate a program designed to accomplish your dental goals. Some or all of the following procedures will be included in your recare appointment.
During the DIAGNOSTIC phase of your visit we may include:
- A review and updating of your medical history.
- A recording of any changes in your prescribed medications and physical condition.
- Necessary X-rays for detecting decay, bone loss and oral pathologies (disease) such as cysts etc.
- An examination of your teeth to detect decay.
- An inspection of all existing restorations (filling and or crowns) for leakage and cracks which may result in future decay.
- Evaluation of your periodontal (gum) tissues.
- Checking your biting patterns.
- Evaluating possible cosmetic alterations which you may feel will improve your smile.
The PREVENTIVE services of your visit may include:
- Blood pressure screening (if necessary).
- Head and neck oral cancer screening.
- Scaling of your teeth to remove all plaque and calculus (tartar).
- Polishing of teeth to remove all surface stains.
- Polishing all porcelain crowns.
- Polishing all silver restorations.
- Application of fluoride if necessary.
- Referral to a specialist for specific treatment if necessary (ie. Endodontist, Periodontist or an Oral Surgeon).
The EDUCATIONAL aspect of your visit may include:
- A tour of your mouth with our intra-oral camera and a discussion of findings. Toothbrushing and flossing instructions. Instructions on specific plaque-control items such as: Proxybrush™, Perio-Aid™, rubber tip, Interplak™, Rotadent™ Dietary discussion (if necessary).
- Presentation of prescribed dental treatment.
- Updating you on what’s new in home care products and the latest advances in Dentistry.
- A discussion of the recommended time periods between recare visits.
- Hope you can see now that your oral hygiene recare visit IS MORE than just ‘a cleaning’. We believe that our patients deserve the benefits of the FULL SPECTRUM of available dental services that can assist in the protection of their overall medical and dental health.
Please remember, good oral hygiene is a great habit to get into! The rewards of a FULL SPECTRUM Recare Appointment are a healthy dentition, a bright smile and the confidence that you have begun a program that will continue to provide benefits to you for years to come.