What is Tartar, also known as Calculus?
Tartar is dental plaque that has hardened, or mineralized on your tooth. Tartar can form when plaque is not brushed or flossed off the tooth surfaces. Tartar can form above or below the gum line. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. A dental hygienist checks for tartar formation (as well as plaque buildup) when you visit the dental office. The tartar and any remaining plaque is removed with special instruments designed to adapt to the tooth surface, without causing trauma to the soft gums, and preferably without hurting the patient. Some patients dread having their teeth cleaned because it hurts. In our office, we routinely get patients numb with topical, short acting anesthetics so the patient is comfortable during the procedure. We also frequently use Novocain to really numb a patient who has more advanced gum disease or who has not been to have their teeth cleaned in many years. Patient comfort comes first in our office!