I grew up in a family that, I guess, didn’t really pay too much attention to teeth. I just found out I have to floss and brush my teeth, so I started flossing about a month ago. I have noticed that when I am flossing, sometimes pieces of my teeth seem to crack off. My teeth are nice and white and smooth except nearer the gums, where they’re yellower and not so smooth. It’s these lower parts of the teeth that sometimes crack off when I am flossing. My teeth don’t hurt when this happens, and I don’t have any other pain. Do you think I need to go to the dentist?
Hi there Jolene,
Yes. You do need to see a dentist, and it would be a good idea to go as soon as you can. You don’t need an emergency appointment, but I would try to get an appointment as quickly as you can. What you are describing as the lower parts of your teeth is actually dental tartar that has built up.
When we eat, food particles and sugars mix with saliva and create a sticky substance called plaque that clings to our teeth. When we don’t brush and floss regularly, this plaque can harden into tartar, which can only be completely removed by a dental hygienist during a dental cleaning.These illustrations will help you better understand tartar. On the left is a drawing of a moderate amount of tarter on the teeth. The dental hygienist scrapes this away with special instruments to leave the enamel clean. The photo to the right shows a more severe buildup of tartar. It may look familiar to you.
Even though you don’t have any other type of dental pain, the tartar that has built up on the lower parts of your teeth may have already caused a certain level of gum disease. If it is not removed, it can lead to other, more serious problems. You didn’t say how old you are, but tarter starts to build up when we are in our twenties.
It sounds like you haven’t had much education regarding the care of your teeth, but once your dentist has resolved this issue, you should plan on returning every six months. That way, as problems arise, they will be found quickly and treated early, when treatment is most effective and inexpensive.
Don’t feel bad, though. The good news is that once you have your teeth checked by a dentist and the tartar is removed, you don’t ever have to have yellow tartar in your mouth again. And you may be amazed by how beautiful your smile is when the cleaning reveals your “real” teeth!
Find out more about how lack of dental hygiene contributes to periodontal disease by reading Pumphrey Periodontals’ page entitled Bleeding Gums.
This Blog is brought to you by Dr. David Pumphrey of Pumphrey Periodontics in Atlanta.