What causes Calculus? Removal and Preventive measures.
09 Nov

What causes Calculus? Removal and Preventive measures.

About 68% of adults are noticing dental calculus problems.

You might wonder why we start our day by brushing and cleaning our teeth. But why do we still have oral and dental health issues?

Many researchers concluded that teeth cleaning techniques do more damage to teeth. This may be due to improper usage of a toothbrush. An incorrect brush that misaligns with your tooth, or hurried brushing. Using these may make you feel refreshed in the morning but may not deep clean your teeth and gums. This develops the harmful bacteria that grow to create dental issues.

Table of Content:

  1. What is Dental Calculus
  2. Causes of Dental Calculus
  3. How to detect Calculus
  4. Preventing Dental Calculus
  5. Calculus Removal
  6. FAQs

What is Dental Calculus?

Dental calculus is the hardened part of dental plaque. It is a classified deposit that gets formed and developed in 24 to 72 hours if not removed regularly. Dental calculus may result in cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

The formation of the dental Calculus layer is due to the constant deposition of saliva, Gingival Crevicular Fluid (GCF), and other bacterial deposits on the tooth surface. If this thick formation grows, it forms tartar or calculus. Initially, mild dental procedures can kill the bacteria and harden the surface.

There are two basic types of dental calculus, Supragingival, and Subgingival. We made this differentiation based on the location of the calculus build-up.

In Supragingival calculus, the build-up is formed and remained above the gum line. This is visible and we can remove it with proper brushing technique. We can remove supragingival calculus with regular dental cleaning techniques. Hence, periodontitis suggests visiting them for common oral and dental check-ups.

In Subgingival calculus, the build-up expands into the gum line and is invisible. This is difficult to identify and treat if not in the early stages.

What is calculus made of?

Calculus is a mix of organic and inorganic materials.

  • Bacteria, Yeast, and other microorganisms.
  • Forms of calcium phosphate crystals mixing in saliva.
  • Food debris or other materials accidentally struck in.

In fact, the exact composition of the calculus varies from person to person. It is due to diet, habits, environment, etc.

Causes of Dental Calculus

Despite vigorous oral care, bacteria accumulate in the teeth gaps and mix up with saliva. This usually happens when we eat sugary or starchy foods.

Your mouth is the home of a thriving ecosystem called the oral microbiome. Bacterial and other organisms enter your mouth along with your food. Sometimes from the surroundings when you breathe.

To maintain strong oral health, you need to gently balance the oral routine. But this balance disrupts when some species of bacteria are overabundant. These bacteria link together and coat the teeth. The acids produced during this process cause tooth decay, and gum diseases over time.

The plaque comes first. If this plaque is not treated, this will form a thick layer called tartar/calculus. If the calculus grows, we can remove it only with specialized dental tools.

 Plaque is common to everyone. But it becomes problematic if you have these factors.

  • Excess intake of sugary foods.
  • Taking in a lot of carbohydrates.
  • Dehydration and oral dryness.
  • Tobacco and smoking.

The other risk factors for increased calculus are:

  • Poor Oral hygiene
  • Older age
  • Females are more prone.
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Other comorbid health conditions

A study in 2020 concluded that calculus also forms due to:

  1. Gum diseases
  2. Crowded teeth
  3. High urea & phosphorous levels, and low levels of the bacterium
  4. Streptococcus mutants.

Calculus Detection System

Elimination of subgingival and supragingival calculus is the cornerstone of periodontal therapy. The mineralized plaque (dental calculus) absorbs toxic products and damages the periodontal tissues.

There are methods to remove dental calculus –

  1. Periscopy:

It is probably the only active method. This procedure came out in the year 2000. A miniature periodontal endoscope is equipment for this process. This device is then inserted into the periodontal pocket. And it screens the Subgingival root surface, tooth surface, and calculus.

Perioscope is a bundle of fiber optics bound by many illumination fibers. This captures the image we can view in real-time on a computer screen.

  1. Auto-fluorescence based technology

Dental calculus has metallic and non-metallic components which are different in composition.  Hence dental calculus and teeth fluoresce are found at different wavelengths. These differences help in detecting calculus with the help of a special device.

  1. Optical Spectrometry

The dentists use a light-emitting diode (LED) and fiber-optic technologies throughout the treatment. The optical cables recognize the distinctive spectral signals that the calculus emits. Red light's absorption, reflection, and diffraction are what produce this signal. This device's advantage is its mobility. Together with the transmission of audio and visual signals to detect calculus.

Preventing Dental calculus

It is quite easy to prevent dental calculus. Maintain proper oral and dental routines like deep cleaning and flossing. Antimicrobial mouthwashes help in minimizing the further build-up of plaque.

Here are some feasible preventive steps you can go ahead with:

Excellent Oral hygiene –

It is your last line of defencing from most oral diseases. Choose quality toothpaste. Use antiseptic mouthwashes to avoid the maximum of the problem.

  • Every day floss and brush your teeth for 2 minutes at least.
  • Choose a brush with thin and closer bristles.
  • Prefer toothpaste with fluoride.

But remember, it is a bit difficult to remove calculus at home. Professional cleanings are usually necessary.

Eat a Healthy Diet - 

You feed your bacteria. Yes, the bacteria absorb simple carbohydrates like sucrose.

We enjoy processed drinks and foods, as our oral bacteria also. So, avoid giving too much to the bacteria to roam in your mouth.

  • Limit sugary & starchy snacks (Candies, chips, etc)
  • Maintain adequate intake of Vitamins C and D.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
  • Avoid late-night snacking.

Scaling and Root Planing -

This is a procedure for removing the plaque and bacteria below the gums. Scaling and root planning takes more than one dental visit depending on the plaque ratio. This ensures that the root of the tooth is safe from bacterial buildup.

Calculus Removal  

If you find any thick and stringent layer on your teeth, it is a sign of plaque. Do not leave it untreated. If this is growing more, consult a dental professional specializing in calculus removal. The dentist uses curettes, dental chisels, or even specialized lasers to clean up the calculus.

Calculus is to be removed in the beginning days to prevent other severe dental and oral issues.

Preventing dental calculus is as simple as your basic morning routine. A few additions to your oral hygiene routine prevent calculus growth.

Whitening strips reduced the calculus formation by 29% compared with regular brushing.

Baking soda in toothpaste is an abrasive source to reduce plaque formation. This will obviously prevent calculus. But choose the moderately abrasive toothpaste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get Every Single Answer About The Treatment


Does everyone get Calculus?

Yes. Everyone will get calculus. It is a common problem reported in almost 68% of adults.


What is the difference between plaque and calculus?

Plaque is the sticky substance on teeth where bacteria thrive. If not brushed properly, this plaque develops into the calculus that may be inside or around the gum line.


Who is at major risk for calculus?

Anyone can have dental calculus, especially who follow poor oral hygiene and an uncontrolled diet.


How does this affect gum and teeth?

Overgrown calculus makes it difficult to brush and floss. This will create cavities and tooth decay. Also, they form gingivitis or gum diseases due to bacterial accumulation.


How can we control calculus built-up?

1. Brush twice a day. 2. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles or an electric toothbrush 3. Use tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. 4. Flossing 5. Eat healthily, and limit the amount of sugar you eat. 6. Drink lots of water. 7. Don’t smoke.

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