Tartar: have it removed!

Tartar is deposited on the surface of the tooth. If it is not removed regularly, it can promote inflammation

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Tartar - a brief explanation

  • Tartar is "calcified" plaque that forms when minerals have accumulated in it.
  • Tartar can only be removed by a dentist.
  • If it is not removed regularly, periodontitis, i.e. an inflammation of the tooth supporting structure, can develop.
  • If you brush your teeth and clean the spaces between them every day, you can prevent tartar build-up.

Tartar leads to yellowish to brownish discoloration on the tooth surface

© Thinkstock / istockphoto

What is tartar and how does it come about?

Numerous types of bacteria cavort in the oral cavity. Some of them have specialized in sticking to the tooth surface. Together with leftover food, the bacteria form a biofilm there. The microorganisms use the leftover food as a source of food. Sugary foods encourage bacterial growth. If the biofilm is not removed every day, it becomes plaque, i.e. a flat coating on the tooth surface in which the bacteria multiply.

If the plaque stays on the teeth for a long time - for example in places that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush - minerals from the saliva accumulate and harden over time. The result is tartar. Since calcium phosphate in particular occurs as a mineral in tartar, one also speaks of calcified dental plaque or calcification of the plaque.

How do I recognize tartar?

Tartar tends to form where the saliva is secreted from the salivary glands. This is on the inside of the lower incisors as well as the first molars in the upper jaw. There the tartar gets stuck in the spaces between the teeth or on tiny bumps on the tooth surface. It can also arise under the gums in so-called gum pockets, in technical jargon this is called calculus.

Fresh tartar is usually whitish-yellowish. Later, yellowish to brownish (in smokers up to black) discoloration can form on the teeth, which cannot be removed by brushing your teeth. If you run your tongue over the area, it will feel rough. The tartar gets its "individual" color from food coloring, but possibly also from bleeding from the gums. Ingredients from tea, coffee and red wine as well as the tar from tobacco smoke have a particularly intense color.

What benefits tartar?

How quickly and how pronounced tartar build-up occurs varies from person to person. The mineral content of the saliva plays a role in this. The calcification is more likely to show up if you don't care for your teeth thoroughly enough.

Is tartar dangerous?

The bacteria that have settled in the tartar are largely rendered harmless by the calcification. There is practically no caries under tartar. However, bacteria find ideal growth conditions on the rough surface of the tartar. This can promote inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which can lead to inflammation of the periodontal tissue, or periodontitis. The risk of tooth decay is then also increased. If you wear implants, tartar on the denture in question can cause inflammation in the soft tissue surrounding the implant.Peri-implantitis can occur.