Solving the Calculus Removal Mystery
Badge field

Solving the Calculus Removal Mystery

Published date field


A friendly smile is like a warm, sunny day in that you never hear anyone complain about seeing one. But there is a plethora of reasons why people hide their smiles: crooked or missing teeth, gum disease or plaque and calculus build-up. While each condition requires its own specific treatment, calculus removal is especially important for optimal oral health.

A calculus crash course

Calculus, also known as tartar, is the result of plaque build-up that hardens (calcifies) on the teeth. Once you brush your teeth, plaque begins to form on your clean teeth right away; New South Wales (NSW) Health says that disclosing tablets or solution can help you to determine where the plaque is sitting on your teeth. Within two to three days, the calcification process begins in the plaque and starts to turn into calculus.

Calculus has a hardened surface and provides more surface area on the tooth for plaque to adhere to. More plaque could lead to more gum and periodontal disease, so removing calculus is an important step to long-term oral health.

Another problem with calculus is its ability to absorb stains easily given its porous qualities. Some coffee or tea drinkers and smokers are more susceptible to stained teeth, so preventing calculus build-up on teeth can be a big priority for them.

Types of calculus

The University of Adelaide names two types of dental calculus. Supragingival calculus forms above the gumline; it's yellow or tan in colour and is visible on a tooth's surface. Subgingival calculus forms on the tooth root below the gumline in the sulcus (crevice) between the tooth and the gum. It typically isn't visible with the naked eye because it is hidden under the gum. Subgingival calculus is typically brown or black in colour.

The calculus removal process

Once calculus collects on your teeth, it needs to be removed using a process known as debridement. A dental professional will use either hand-held instruments or an ultrasonic device to remove the calculus. The ultrasonic device incorporates a combination of high-frequency vibrations with water to remove the deposits. After the debridement procedure, your dental professional will schedule you for a follow-up visit, at which time he or she will determine if further treatment is necessary.

If periodontal disease is diagnosed with moderate to severe periodontal pocketing, your dentist may recommend that you see a periodontist for a consultation and to determine if further treatment or gum surgery is necessary.

There are many ailments that can occur in the mouth. However, the common denominator in preventing numerous trips to your dentist eash year, is building a solid foundation of great oral hygiene. Start with brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Combine this with daily flossing. Don't forget to visit the dentist regularly. If you think you might have a calculus problem, who better to consult with than your dentist and dental hygienist?


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.