How Dental Cleanings Prevent Calculus Bridges

Dentist Blog

You may know that regular brushing and flossing can help clear plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, but did you know that plaque can easily turn into tartar after 72 hours? Tartar—also known as calculus—is a hard, calcified deposit of plaque that can cause cavities and gum disease. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be removed by toothbrush or flossing, which is why regular dental cleanings are so important. If a person slacks on regular cleanings, they can develop a condition called a calculus bridge. Read on to learn more.

What is a Calculus Bridge?

As the name implies, a calculus bridge is a buildup of tartar that is so large that it bridges across neighboring teeth. DentistryIQ says that calculus bridges not only spread along teeth, but into the gumline. Calculus bridges can stain teeth and look yellow or brownish in appearance. There are two types of calculus bridges: supra-gingival and sub-gingival bridges.

Supra-gingival bridges are above the gumline, and they are quite common in difficult-to-reach spots, like the upper jaw molars. The lower incisors are also prone to supra-gingival bridges because the proteins from nearby saliva ducts can calcify plaque if a person isn't brushing regularly. Sub-gingival bridges rest below the gumline and aren't easily seen by patients unless they already have receding gums or developing gum pockets. Your dentist will be able to identify sub-gingival bridges with a periodontal probe and dental explorer instrument.

What are the Symptoms, and Who is at Risk?

Besides causing tooth discoloration, some people may see a large buildup of tartar that look like food particles that can't be rinsed away. Calculus bridges can also cause bad breath and bleeding/swollen gum tissue.

Anyone can develop a calculus bridge if they aren't maintaining proper brushing and flossing habits. However, people with poor diets, people with dry mouth, and people who smoke are at a greater risk. If a person has crooked teeth, it may be difficult to adequately clean around each tooth, so people with malocclusions are also at risk.

How are Calculus Bridges Removed?

A dentist or dental hygienist can remove a calculus bridge with and-held scaling instruments or ultrasonic devices. If the bridge is small, manual scaling may be sufficient, but if the bridge is large, then the high-frequency vibrations of an ultrasonic device may be more efficient. Once the calculus bridge is debrided, your dentist may make a recommendation for scaling/root planing or gum surgery—especially if you have developed a sub-gingival bridge. If a person has a severe malocclusion that makes brushing and flossing difficult, then orthodontic interventions may be recommended.

Reach out to a family dentist today to learn more.


28 October 2022

To Tell the Tooth: A Dental Blog

Do you care for your teeth like you should? Most people brush their teeth, but so many people rush through this process and are not as careful as they should be. Still others avoid flossing. A lack of dental care over the years can lead to increased decay. Thankfully, we have dentists who can treat decay with fillings, crowns, and in some cases, root canals. Dentists also provide preventative care. They can clean your teeth and use things like fluoride treatments to strengthen your enamel. The more you know about dental care, the better you'll be able to care for your mouth, so feel free to read some of the articles on this website.