Question

Teeth Basics

What happens if plaque and tartar in my teeth aren’t removed?

A Answers (9)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered

    If the plaque and tartar aren't removed, the bacteria set up camp in the periodontal area between teeth and at the gum line. At first, the calcifications and colonization causes mild gingivitis, swelling and bleeding of gums. But as more bacteria take hold in plaque- and tartar-laden gums, gingivitis can advance to full-blown periodontitis. Eventually the pus-filled, inflamed tissue pulls away from the tooth, bone is compromised and exposed, and the tooth can no longer stay anchored in the mouth.

     

     

  • ADe Vizio, DMD, Dentistry, answered on behalf of Colgate
    Plaque and tartar must be removed from your teeth promptly or they can cause serious problems. Plaque is a sticky, clear film full of bacteria that builds up on teeth. Bacteria produces acid that destroys a tooth's protective coating, called enamel. Over time, failing to remove plaque can lead to tooth decay and cavities, and can lead to more serious health problems.

    Plaque that's allowed to remain on teeth can harden into a destructive substance called tartar that forms along the gum line. You can't remove tartar by brushing; it must be cleaned by your dentist or dental hygienist. The bacteria in plaque and tartar can promote inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis. This mild form of gum disease can deteriorate into a more serious condition called periodontitis. Untreated periodontitis can result in bone loss and lost teeth.
  • ARuchi K. Sahota, DDS, Dentistry, answered on behalf of American Dental Association

    The sticky film of bacteria that can be found on your teeth near the gum line is called plaque. This plaque can cause swelling or inflammation of the gums, otherwise known as gingivitis. If the plaque is not disrupted or removed properly by brushing, then this sticky film containing bacteria hardens and becomes tartar or calculus. If calculus is not cleaned by your dentist, this bacteria produces harmful substances that can start to damage the bone that supports the teeth, causing periodontal disease. The best way to prevent gingivitis and more serious forms of periodontal disease is to brush twice a day, to floss once a day, and to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings.

     
  • ADan Jenkins, Dentistry, answered

    In the plaque and tartar are bacteria that, if left in place, will cause damage to the tooth surface as well as the gums that are attached to the tooth. These you know as cavities and gum disease or periodontal disease. Like high blood pressure is the "silent killer" in medicine, gum disease is the "silent killer" of teeth in dentistry. While you may feel pain from a cavity to warn you of a problem, gum disease only lets you know that something is wrong by causing your gums to bleed. If your gums bleed you should see your dentist right away. Healthy gums are NOT supposed to bleed! (If your toes were to bleed how fast would you want to see your doctor?)

    Another recent discovery is that the bacteria in plaque and tarter are indicated as being involved in heart disease and strokes.

    Socially, you would want the plaque and tarter removed to aid in your social life as it will also cause bad breath.

  • AWilliam M. Litaker, Dentistry, answered
    Plaque and tartar left on the teeth can lead to cavities and infection in your gums. Both plaque and tartar contain bacteria which will damage the teeth and gums. Your dentist and dental hygienist can remove the plaque and tartar and provide instructions for keeping it off at home through proper brushing and flossing.
  • AMark Birnbach, Dentistry, answered

    The accumulation of bacteria on one's teeth, both hard and soft, triggers the body’s immune response, which responds by sending blood the area. This can cause bleeding gums when brushing and flossing. If not removed, the gum and bone are lost and cannot be replaced. This creates both sensitive teeth and a “long in the tooth" look, which is cosmetically unattractive.

     

  • ARichard Gochman, Dentistry, answered

    The buildup of plaque and tartar will cause several problems if left untreated.

    1. it is unsightly so your smile won't look as good.
    2. plaque and tartar contain large amounts of bacteria, and will lead to bad breath
    3. plaque and tartar will irritate your gums, so they will become red, swollen, and bleed easily- early forms of this are called gingivitis.
    The longer this is left untreated the bacteria in the plaque release toxins into the gums and bones. this will cause the gums and bones to dissolve away, making your teeth loose. This is called periodontitis.
  • ALucia Yau, DMD, Dentistry, answered
    The plaque and tartar can build up further causing gum inflammation (swelling, bad breath, pus and bleeding).  In addition, bacteria in the plaque and tartar will break down the surrounding bone and as a result, teeth will be loose and eventually, falls out.
  • AGregory D. D. Tuttle, DDS, Dentistry, answered

    As usual, Dr. Oz answered this quite well. I would add that in addition to the periodontal breakdown that plaque and tartar will cause, tooth decay will also result. The plaque is made up of bacteria and their metabolic waste. Part of these metabolic by-products is acid, which breaks down tooth enamel, causing decay. 

    Good oral hygiene (brushing/flossing) is important to remove plaque. Once tartar (or calculus--calcified plaque) has formed, a dental professional will need to remove it. I live by the recommendation of having our teeth "cleaned" professionally, twice per year.

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