If plaque is not removed through brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar, also known as dental calculus. The only way to get rid of plaque and tartar is to have them scraped off at a dental cleaning—but you might be tempted to try doing it yourself. In today’s post, our South Charlotte dentist explains why that’s not a good idea.
When you visit your dentist’s office for a tooth cleaning, the dental hygienist uses specialized tools to clean your teeth. One of these tools is a dental scaler, also called a plaque scraper. Hygienists use the plaque scraper’s sharp cutting edges to scale the area beneath the gumline and the surface of the teeth, and may also scale the surfaces of the tooth roots in a process known as root planing.
Although plaque scrapers can be purchased in some stores and online, it’s not a good idea to use them yourself. Because plaque scrapers are sharp, improper use can damage the delicate gum tissue. Trauma to the gum tissue isn’t just painful, it can also cause receding gums, exposing the sensitive roots of the teeth. The sharp plaque scraper could also cause injuries to your cheeks, tongue, or other soft tissues. Improper use of plaque scrapers can also lead to infections. Tartar can be accidentally pushed under the gumline, and this can lead to gum issues.
Plaque scrapers are specialized medical tools, and it takes years of training to learn how to use them safely. Dental hygienists attend college for at least two years, during which time they learn how to use dental scalers and other tools safely.
If you’re concerned about plaque, visit your dentist. Your dentist can examine your mouth to determine if you have plaque, tartar or other dental problems that need to be addressed. If necessary, plaque can be removed safely by a trained and licensed dentist or dental hygienist.
While it’s not a good idea to use a plaque scaler at home, there are things you can do at home to keep your teeth healthy in between dental visits. Floss once daily, and brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Plaque removal is important for good oral health, but it’s not a DIY project. If you’re worried about plaque, be sure to see your dentist and dental hygienist for safe optimal oral healthcare treatment.
Park Cedar Dentistry provides general dentist services to South Charlotte and nearby areas. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Emily Snapp or Dr. Summer Suttles, please click here to schedule an appointment.