Teeth calculus is a common condition that affects at least 3 million individuals in US alone. Calculus leads to a slew of dental issues if left untreated. Read about Calculus, how it is formed in your mouth and how it can be prevented. We will also look at the best natural remedies that may help to stall calculus formation naturally.
What is Dental Plaque and Teeth Calculus?
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Plaque is a sticky, clear film of bacteria formed on everyone’s teeth. At this stage, this film is very fragile and can be easily removed through proper dental hygiene. However, If this film is not removed from your mouth, the bacteria in the film starts releasing acidic substances that destroys the enamel and causes cavities in the tooth. If left alone for a long time, the plaque hardens. This calcified buildup of plaque is called Calculus. Teeth Calculus is also known as hardened Plaque/Tartar.
Calculus provides the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Once calculus is formed in your mouth, it slowly eats away the enamel and causes cavities, tooth decay, discoloration and bad breath. The most common area of tartar buildup is between the lower front teeth and the gums. Check if you have a yellow or brownish buildup around this area. If yes, you have calculus! Time for a dental cleanup.
How is Teeth Calculus formed?
- Bacteria – Everyone’s mouth has bacteria. There are in fact 700 different strains of bacteria that have been detected in human’s mouth. Normally an individual houses 35 to 100 different varieties in their mouth. Most of these bacteria are good for us as it aids in digestion and also takes care of our teeth and gums. However, there are some which actually are the villains that cause plaque, cavities and tooth decay. The well known villain bacteria is Streptococcus mutans.
- Saliva – Glands in and around an individual’s mouth creates a clear liquid called saliva. It contains mainly water but also contains some vital substances that helps digestion and upholds the general health of the mouth and teeth.
- Carbohydrates/Leftover food particles – After every food you have, some of it stays in your mouth if you don’t wash your mouth properly. Even fruits and veggies contains carbohydrates that may remain in your mouth after a meal. Sweet and Sugary food contains more carbohydrates.
Step 1: When you chew the food, it is converted to carbohydrates.
Step 2: The villain bacteria (e.g. Streptococcus mutans) feed on this carbohydrates to create an acid via a chemical reaction using the Glucansucrase enzyme. This acid eats away the enamel and causes cavities.
Step 3: The acid also reacts with the leftover food and saliva to create a sticky substance. This is called Plaque. Plaque formation can start as early as a couple of hours after having food. Plaque is a clear sticky film mainly consisting of bacteria. At this stage, the plaque is somewhat soft and easily removed by flossing and brushing.
Step 4: If the Plaque is not removed, it starts to harden and Calcify. Within a couple of days, this clear films harden and now it becomes tartar/calculus. More and more such layers build on top of this initial film and provides a safe haven to the bacteria residing in them. In fact, each plaque buildup will house billions of bacteria and since it has the hardened shell, it is now difficult to remove using normal brushing and flossing. This bacteria within the calculus starts to eat away the tooth and cause all kinds of issues to your teeth and gums.
The below video gives a good insight into how plaque and cavities are formed in your mouth.
What are the Symptoms/Adverse effects of Teeth Calculus?
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Calculus leads to
- Tooth cavities.
- Tooth discoloration.
- Bad breath.
- Receding gums.
- Gum inflammation/diseases like Gingivitis.
- It can lead to Periodontitis if left untreated.
- In extreme cases, it can lead to Tooth loss.
How to prevent buildup of Dental Calculus
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The only way to prevent dental calculus is by following proper dental hygiene.
- Schedule a dental cleanup atleast once every 6 months.
- Brush (2 minutes minimum) and Floss your teeth at least twice a day (Preferably in the morning and before you go to sleep at night).
- Studies show that electronic toothbrushes are more effective in keeping your mouth clean.
- Wash your mouth after eating or drinking anything.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash atleast twice a day.
- Lower the intake of sugary, starchy and sticky foods.
- Smoking increases tartar buildup. So avoid smoking.
Clinical Treatment of Dental Calculus/Tartar
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Once a calculus is formed in your mouth, its is difficult to get it removed using natural remedies depending on the age of the calculus. So, it is advisable to visit a dental clinic to remove all existing Calculus and thereafter use the natural remedies mentioned here to minimize/prevent the formation of Plaque. Once the Plaque stage is crossed, natural remedies may not work. The best option is to visit your dentist.
At your dentist’s office, they use a process called Scaling to remove Calculus/Tartar. During this process, your dentist uses special tools like curettes and scalers to remove the Calculus below and above the gum line.
However, once you get rid off with the existing Calculus or if you decide to leave existing ones as is and just prevent new ones from forming, follow some of the 25 natural remedies mentioned here to prevent dental plaque and eventually prevent calculus/tartar formation.
The 25 natural remedies and tips to prevent Teeth Calculus
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Brush teeth properly – Proper brushing of teeth for atleast 2 minutes is essential to remove the plaque formation. Make sure all nook and corners of your mouth is cleaned properly while brushing.
Use a Fluoride containing toothpaste – Fluoride is a mineral with has helped bring down the cavity occurrence over the past 50 years. It helps to make the enamel stronger and makes it less vulnerable to the acid created by the bacteria. It can also help reverse decay by re-mineralizing the areas that has started to decay.
Tartar Control toothpaste – Special anti plaque agents are added to these type of toothpastes that help in preventing plaque buildups on the teeth. Pyrophosphate, Zinc Citrate, Triclosans are usually added in tartar control toothpastes. It is seen that toothpastes with multiple anti plaque agents are more effective in fighting plaque.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Prepare a concoction of apple cider vinegar (1/2 tsp) and water (1 cup). First take a mouth full and rinse your mouth with this concoction. After that, dip your toothbrush in the remaining liquid and brush as usual. Once done, thoroughly rinse your mouth with fresh water. If you are feeling any sensitivity in your teeth while doing this, do not continue.
Brush with Baking Soda and salt mixture – Prepare a mixture of Baking Soda (3 tsp) and Salt (1 tsp). You can mix a bit of water to bring it to a paste like consistency. Apply some of this paste on your toothbrush and brush as usual. Rinse well with water.
Oil Pulling – Take 2 tbsp of Coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for 20 min. Rinse your mouth with hot water and then brush as usual. It has been seen that oil pulling with coconut oil diminishes the amount of Streptococcus Mutans bacteria in one’s mouth. Doing this for 10 continuous days will definitely show signs of teeth whitening and plaque removal. This has been a very popular natural remedy used by Indian’s over the years.
Aloe Vera Mouthwash – There are various studies that proved that using an aloe mouthwash can significantly reduce the plaque and calculus formation in the mouth. Aloe Vera fights the bad bacteria and supports the friendly bacteria. Other commercial mouthwash that dentist suggests usually kills all the bacteria in the mouth including the friendly bacteria.
Clove powder and coconut oil – Clove is well known for its anti microbial and anti septic properties. Mix powdered clove with coconut oil and use it to brush your teeth. After a couple of minutes rinse with lukewarm water.
Herbal sticks – Herbal sticks was the original toothbrush used in the ancient Indian culture. The stem of Neem and Salvadora persica (Miswak) tree are very popular herbal sticks that will help keep your oral hygiene intact. Chewing these herbal sticks has an anti microbial effect and helps combat plaque.
Gargling – You can simply add salt, turmeric to lukewarm water and gargle it once or twice a day. This will help prevent the bad bacteria in your mouth.
Clove Oil – You can take the clove powder remedy to the next level by using Clove oil and applying it directly on your teeth. Do it before you sleep every night and this will help keep out bad bacteria in your mouth.
Amla/Indian GooseBerry – Amla is a very nutritious fruit loaded with Vitamin C and other nutrients that help in strengthening gums, supporting connecting tissue growth and control the bad bacteria in your mouth. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after eating Amla/drinking amla juice.
Ripe Strawberry – Mash a really ripe strawberry and apply some of it on the toothbrush and brush as usual. The malic acid in the strawberry helps clean the surface of the teeth and remove superficial debris.
Banana Peel – The Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese in the banana helps clean off plaque in the teeth. Take a small section of the banana peel and rub the inner white portion on the teeth. Let the juices sit in the tooth for 20 min. Brush normally after that. Use this method a max of 2 times a week to prevent any adverse effects to the teeth due to the acids in the banana peel.
Orange Peel – The inner white part of an orange contains D-Limonene which is beneficial in removing plaque from the teeth. Rub this white part of the peel over the teeth and wait for 5 min. Rinse off with water and preferably brush your teeth after this. Make sure fragments of the peel does not remain in your mouth. Use this method a max of 2 times a week to prevent any adverse effects to the teeth due to the acids in the orange peel.
Activated Charcoal – Activated charcoal is really good for your mouth. It absorbs the toxins, acids and chemicals from your mouth and also helps in maintaining a balanced PH which will eventually help in preventing plaque and cavities. You can apply some activated charcoal powder on your brush (as a substitute for toothpaste) and brush normally for 2-3 min. Spit out the charcoal and rinse your mouth with water.
Munch fruits and Veggies – Fruits and veggies are nature’s toothbrushes. It helps scrape any sticky plaque off your teeth due to its abrasive quality. So apart from being great for providing essential vitamins and minerals, it helps keep your teeth clean. Make sure you rinse your mouth well after consuming fruits and veggies. Any leftover fruits and veggies also contain carbohydrates that can eventually cause plaque.
Sesame seeds – Sesame is a good source of calcium and has also been found to reduce plaque and assist in re-mineralizing the teeth.
Green Tea – Polyphenols in Green tea helps to keep the acidity level in the mouth low and helps maintain PH levels which eventually reduces plaque. It is also effective as an anti-inflammatory and helps reduce gum inflammation caused due to calculus. As an added bonus, it is actually more effective than your regular mint and helps keep bad breath away.
Dark Chocolate – Yes, you read it right! Theobromine in dark chocolate helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Water – Drinking water helps keep your mouth clean by washing out all the leftover food particles in your mouth. So have a glass of water after your meals.
Electric Toothbrush – Studies have proven that electric toothbrush is more effective in removing plaque from the teeth.
Flossing – Flossing is as important as brushing. By flossing, you are cleaning up the areas in your mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach. So, it is important that you spend some quality time flossing and removing any remaining food debris from your mouth.
Hydrogen Peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is one of the main ingredients in teeth whitening products. It helps clean up plaque in your mouth and gives it a whiter look.
ToothBrush – Use a new toothbrush every 3 months. After 3 months, the bristles will not have enough strength to scrape of plaque from your teeth.
Personal Dental Scaler Kit – Use the same tools your dentists use to scrape out the calculus in your mouth. There are various Youtube videos available that provides step by step instructions.