What Happens If Plaque is Left Untreated For Long, Experts Answer

Long-term plaque can lead to many dental problems. Read this to know what the experts have to say about it.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Oct 31, 2022 18:34 IST
What Happens If Plaque is Left Untreated For Long, Experts Answer

Everybody loves to smile. But for many their plaque-ridden teeth stop them from doing it. Often people live with this unpleasant experience for most of their lives and seldom get things fixed. Plaque, when left untreated for long can lead to major dental problems. The OnlyMyHealth editorial team talked to Dr Dinesh Lakhera, M.D.S (Orthodontist) Principal Specialist, ESI, Dausa, Rajasthan, and Chetany Lakhera, Dental Hygienist for four years about the complications of long-term plaque deposition.

How Tartar is Formed?

Even after taking good care of your teeth, bacteria persist in your mouth. These bacteria mix with food particles that stay on your teeth and form a sticky film, known as dental plaque. Usually, regular brushing and flossing help remove plaque. But the problem arises when plaque stays on your teeth for long periods. When this happens, the gunk hardens into tartar.

Tartar is hard, brownish, and mostly made of mineralised bacteria along with small amounts of mineralised protein from saliva. It is rough, porous, and hard to remove. Also known as calculus, this hard mass deposits below and under the gum line.

How Tartar Affects Your Teeth?

Once tartar build-up starts on your teeth, it becomes difficult to remove it with normal brushing and flossing. Thereafter, more tartar deposits on your teeth. When the tartar deposits above the gum line the situation starts turning grim. Since plaque and calculus are acidic, they can lead to enamel decay, causing cavities. While the bacteria can lead to irritation and gum decay. Gradually, it might lead to gum disease.

Also read: Are You Unable To Smile Freely Due To Tooth Plaque? Know Causes And Home Remedies

Mild gum disease, such as gingivitis can be treated or reversed. However, if this is not taken care of, it can get worse and lead to periodontitis. Gradually, untreated plaque decays your gums, thus commencing gum recession and ultimately increasing the chances of tooth decay and loss.

Besides, tartar also has a cosmetic issue. Because of its porosity, it can easily absorb stains. So if you drink tea, coffee, or smoke, you are more likely to develop stains on your teeth.

How to Know If You Have Tartar Buildup?

You can easily spot tartar when it is above your gum line. You can feel its roughness on touching. When the case goes extreme, it leads to inflammation and bleeding from the gums. Tartar is often yellow or tan in appearance, and if not removed, it keeps on building up and grows larger. 

When tartar grows below the gum line, it causes swelling, which may also lead to bleeding. In appearance, it may be black or brown.

What To Do To Remove Tartar?

Also read: How To Clean Your Teeth, Doctor Explains

Once tartar starts building up, it becomes difficult to get rid of it through the usual dental hygiene routine, such as brushing. While it is advisable to consult a dentist in such a case, it is wise not to let it grow on your teeth in the first place.

These are some tips you can follow to prevent tartar build-up.

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  2. Choose a fluoride-based toothpaste.
  3. Since the toothbrush cannot reach between your teeth, use floss to remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas.
  4. Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. It will kill bacteria that cause plaque.
  5. Limit sugary and starchy foods. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on these foods. So every time you feed yourself with these foods, you also fed bacteria in your mouth. So, eat a healthy diet to avoid bacteria buildup.
  6. Avoid smoking.
  7. Regularly visit your dentist for a checkup every six months.