A calculus bridge is a severe form of dental calculus, also known as tartar, that covers a large area of the teeth and gums. It is caused by the accumulation and hardening of dental plaque.
Dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, and food debris that forms on the teeth, can progress to calculus when it is not removed by routine brushing and flossing. Calculus bridge can affect oral health, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Therefore, it is important to understand how plaque can become a calculus bridge, what are the causes and signs of this condition, and how to remove and prevent it.
So, let’s get started.
Understanding Dental Plaque and Calculus
Dental plaque is a soft, colorless, or pale yellow substance that adheres to the tooth surface and the gum line. It consists of millions of bacteria, along with saliva, food particles, and other substances. Plaque forms constantly in the mouth, especially after eating and drinking.
Some of the bacteria in plaque produce acids. Now, this can erode the tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Plaque can also irritate the gums and cause inflammation. It can also trigger bleeding, and infection, known as gingivitis. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and mineralize into calculus.
On the other hand, calculus is a hard, yellowish, or brownish deposit that firmly attaches to the teeth and the roots. It can also form under the gum line, which creates pockets of infection and damages the supporting tissues of the teeth.
Calculus cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. Thus, it requires professional dental cleaning and scaling. Calculus can also trap more plaque and bacteria, creating a vicious cycle of plaque accumulation and calculus formation.
Causes of Calculus Bridge Formation
The main cause of calculus bridge formation is poor oral hygiene. When plaque is not removed adequately and frequently, it can build up and cover a large area of the teeth and gums, forming a calculus bridge.
A calculus bridge can also be influenced by many factors, such as:
Diet and Lifestyle Habits
Consuming sugary and starchy foods and drinks can enhance the amount of plaque and acids in the mouth. Smoking and chewing tobacco can also stain the teeth and promote plaque and calculus formation.
Some people may have a higher tendency to form plaque and calculus due to their saliva composition, tooth shape, or enamel quality. They may also have less saliva production, which can reduce the natural cleansing of the mouth.
Certain diseases and medications can affect the saliva flow and quality, such as diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, and antihistamines. A dry mouth can enhance the risk of plaque and calculus formation. Some conditions can also affect the immune system and the ability to fight oral infections, such as HIV and leukemia.
Signs and Side Effects of a Calculus Bridge
A calculus bridge can be easily recognized by its appearance and location. It is a large, hard, and rough mass that covers most or all of the teeth and gums. It can vary in color from yellow to brown to black, depending on the degree of staining and mineralization. Thus, extending to the roof of the mouth, the tongue, or the cheeks. A calculus bridge can make it difficult to open the mouth, speak, eat, or breathe.
A calculus bridge can harm oral health and overall well-being. Some of the side effects of a calculus bridge are:
A calculus bridge can create an ideal environment for bacteria and acids to attack the tooth enamel and dentin, leading to cavities and tooth loss.
A calculus bridge can irritate and inflame the gums, causing them to bleed, swell, and recede. It can also create pockets of infection and pus between the teeth and the gums, known as periodontitis. Periodontitis can damage the bone and the ligaments that support the teeth, resulting in tooth mobility and loss.
A calculus bridge can produce a foul odor due to the accumulation of bacteria, food debris, and dead tissue. This can affect the social and psychological aspects of life, such as self-esteem, confidence, and relationships.
Removal and Prevention of a Calculus Bridge
A calculus bridge can only be removed by a dentist or a dental hygienist, using special instruments and techniques. The removal process can be painful, time-consuming, and expensive, depending on the extent and severity of the calculus bridge.
The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or mouth rinses to treat the infection and inflammation caused by the calculus bridge. The dentist may also recommend restorative procedures, such as fillings, crowns, or implants, to repair the damaged teeth and restore the function and appearance of the mouth.
The best way to prevent a calculus bridge is to go through good oral hygiene. You must also visit the dentist regularly. Some of the preventive measures are:
- Brush the teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Use gentle circular motions and cover all surfaces of the teeth and the gum line.
- Try to floss your teeth at least once a day. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth, and slide it gently under the gum line. This would remove plaque and food particles.
- Rinsing the mouth with water or an antibacterial mouthwash after eating and drinking, especially sugary and starchy foods and drinks, to wash away plaque and acids.
- Avoiding or limiting the consumption of sugary and starchy foods and drinks, such as candies, cakes, cookies, sodas, and juices, to reduce the amount of plaque and acids in the mouth.
- Quitting or reducing smoking and chewing tobacco, to prevent staining and damage to the teeth and gums, and to improve the saliva flow and quality.
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products, provides the essential vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and gums. Moreover, it is always advised to visit the dentist every six months or as recommended, for a professional dental cleaning and scaling, to remove any plaque and calculus that may have formed on the teeth and under the gum line. So, keep your teeth healthy and keep smiling.