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Calculus build up on his front teeth

by 15 · October 04, 2012 at 10:41 PM

My son has a quick Calculus build up on his front teeth and it happens every a few months. He sees his dentist about every 6-8 months. My question is: if he has such a quick build up, should he consume less calcium such as milk cheese..? thank you

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40 · October 04, 2012 at 10:41 PM

Calculus, also known as tartar (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculus_(dental)) is a form of hardened dental plaque. In fact to quote the article at that link it is the "fossilized anaerobic bacteria whose biologic composition has been replaced by calcium phosphate salts, and calcium phosphate salts that have joined the fossilized bacteria in calculus formations." Yuck.

Like your son I have always had issues with tartar build up. Mine is due to the fact that my teeth are unusually "rough" although I evidently do have strong enamel because I have not had a cavity in over 20 years. I do have a couple of fillings from cavities I got when I was in college when I didn't visit the dentist for a couple of years. I now visit the dentist three times a year to have the tartar scraped off.

From my personal experience I don't think eating less calcium will have a big effect on the tartar buildup. The first most effective strategy is the obvious, have him brush his teeth for at least two minutes a couple of times a day. I recommend a sonic care tooth brush, or at least some type of mechanical tooth brush. I also floss at least once a day and I prefer using a teflon dental floss such as Glide.

Also chewing a sugar free gum, like Trident or Orbits can help as well. These gums encourage saliva production and tend to neutralize the pH levels in the mouth. They also seem to reduce the tartar buildup for me, but that is just my own experience.

I also purchased a dental pick and use it from time to time between dental visits to scrape off any noticable tarter buildup around the edges of my teeth and behind the lower front teeth. If this doesn't remediate the issue I suggest asking your dentist if your son should visit the dentist more often. Although this is more hassel and expense, it sure beats the cost, pain, and frustration of cavities, gum disease, and such.

However many of the aspects of the Paleo diet can also help.

The sugar and simple carbohydrates in soft drinks, sweets, starches, and breads feed the bacteria in the plaque film. Less plaque means less tartar. So just not eating these foods should help with this problem directly.

There is connection between systemic inflammation and oral health (see: http://www.adha.org/CE_courses/course13/systemic_relationship.htm ) and the paleo style diets address the most prominent inflammation foods (i.e. grains) as well as encourage one to eat foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. This may not prevent the tartar buildup directly but it will certainly help address any gum inflammation issues that result from the tartar buildup.

The paleo diet also helps prevent high blood sugar and diabetes and there is a definite connection between dental problems and diabetes and high blood sugar levels. See here: http://ezinearticles.com/?Oral-Health-Maintenance,-Diabetes-and-Blood-Sugar-Levels&id=5016994 I personnally think that some of this is due to there being more sugar in the saliva which in turn feeds the plaque as well. Diabetes also is tied with systemic inflamation as well so it is a double whammy.

Finally, the pH level has a big effect on oral health as well. If the pH level is too alkaline (above 7.6) then the calcium will then to preciptate out of the saliva and cause tartar buildup (see: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Saliva_acid_or_alkaline). If the pH level is too acidic (below 5.5) then calcium will be leeched from the teeth and cause caries. (see: http://www.betteroralhealth.info/orbit_complete/professional-area/resources/cpd/saliva-benefits/beneficial-effects-of-saliva-in-reducing-plaque-ph-and-therefore-caries/index.htm ) The paleo diets tends to normalize the body pH levels.

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679 · October 04, 2012 at 09:00 PM

Got all excited thinking this was a question that combined two of my favorite things: Math and Paleo.

Not so excited now.

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11113 · October 04, 2012 at 08:41 PM

No, he probably just needs to brush more often. Calculus is hardened plaque, the scummy gunk that builds up on your teeth overnight. I'd recommend a Sonic Care electric toothbrush, and he should brush his teeth for two minutes right after he wakes up, floss both morning and night, and rinse with mouthwash right after each meal.

Also, that's why dentists schedule patients twice a year because that's about how long it takes for the calculus to start building up.

Edit: Make sure he's not mouth-breathing when he sleeps. I've found that when I can sleep with my mouth closed (hard to do with having to wear a mouth guard) there isn't as much build-up on my gumline in the morning.

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2412 · October 04, 2012 at 08:41 PM

Calculus buildup is a physiologic process. It is one of the body's defense mechanisms against decay by keeping a ready supply of calcium and phosphate ions in the saliva. It does not cause decay, plaque, the soft stuff can. It can make cleaning harder though. You can have him try consuming less calcium containing products but I have seen little to no change in my patients when they do this. It seems to be individual to every person how much they build up.

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