What is a calculus bridge - dentist malta, savina clinics

Do you take the time to brush and floss your teeth after eating? If not, you may notice a yellowish sticky film coating your teeth. This film is known as plaque. This plaque hardens into tartar, also known as calculus, if not removed.

Calculus is a yellowish or whitish deposit of minerals on the surface of your teeth. When tartar coats multiple teeth, it might block the interdental spaces, making the use of dental floss or interdental brushes difficult. At this point, a visit to the dentist’s office is crucial to have the calculus removed. Otherwise, failing to remove the calculus build-up can lead to poor dental and gum health.

If you are looking for a dentist Malta or dentist Gozo, you can book a dental appointment online at one of Savina Dental Clinics, or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.

Plaque and calculus

Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the surface of the teeth shortly after you eat or drink something sugary or starchy. The bacteria in your mouth feed on the residue from the food and release acids. These acids break down the carbs in your food and drinks, forming a colourless layer over the surface of your teeth, known as plaque.

If you don’t brush and floss your teeth, this process doesn’t stop there, as the plaque cannot disappear by itself. Eventually, it hardens into a substance known as tartar or calculus. The process from plaque to calculus does not take long.

Research suggests that this process occurs within 1 to 2 weeks of plaque formation. This is quite dangerous as the calculus does not just form on the teeth but also spreads and progresses beneath the gum line.

Other than staining your teeth, tartar can also affect the tissue under the gum line, causing tooth decay and gum disease.

How plaque becomes a calculus bridge

Our teeth are constantly covered in saliva. Other than the good and bad bacteria that are always present in the saliva, other components in the saliva help in plaque formation.

Plaque contains millions of bacteria. Failing to remove this bacteria through regular brushing and flossing leads to tooth decay and gum disease. This plaque progresses into calculus as the minerals from your saliva constantly adhere to the plaque.

As the calculus buildup grows, it spreads and covers the teeth and spaces between the teeth, creating a calculus bridge.


Dental calculus is classified into two major categories:

Supragingival calculus

This type of calculus forms above the gum line. The tartar is often yellow or tan in colour and can be seen with the naked eye.

Subgingival calculus

This type of tartar forms on the tooth root or below the gum line. This calculus is black or brown in colour and cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Side effects of calculus build-up

Other than leaving a noticeable appearance on your teeth, calculus build-up can cause other dental conditions, including:

Tooth loss

If the calculus build-up is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which eventually leads to the loss of one or more of your teeth.


Plaque and tartar build-up can cause redness and inflammation in your gums. As a result, you experience bleeding gums whenever you brush your teeth. Left untreated, the calculus build-up can progress into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.


When tartar builds over your teeth, it shields bacteria from your toothpaste and toothbrush. The acid in the plaque can bore tiny holes in the enamel of your teeth. These holes allow bacteria and acid to enter your teeth, causing cavities to develop.

Receding gums

As the calculus bridge continues to form over your teeth and gums, it may cause your gums to recede from your teeth. This exposes more of your teeth and allows bacteria to creep into the gaps between your teeth and your gums.

Calculus removal

Calculus cannot be removed with simple tooth brushing. You need to have it removed by a qualified dental hygienist. Ultrasonic instruments are commonly used to remove calculus build-up. If the dental tartar has spread below the gum line, the hygienist may need to use a manual tool called a dental hand scaler.

After the removal, the hygienist will proceed to polish your teeth. Note that your gums may feel a little sore after this extensive cleaning.

Preventing calculus build-up

Proper dental hygiene is vital to preventing calculus formation. Here are a few recommendations for averting calculus from the American Dental Association:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily with toothpaste containing fluoride. Ensure you spend at least two whole minutes brushing each time to give you enough time to reach all the surfaces of each tooth.
  • Floss daily. Brushing removes only 40% of the tartar on your teeth since there is plaque sitting between your teeth. This can only be removed by flossing. Flossing better handles the interdental space and areas below the gum line.
  • Limit intake of sugary foods and drinks: When you limit your sugar intake, you lessen the opportunities for oral bacteria to interact with the sugar residues and form plaque on your teeth.
  • Observe regular dental visits. A dentist will carefully monitor your teeth and gums for signs of plaque buildup and gum diseases like tooth decay, gingivitis or receding gums. This allows them to take care of these issues before they get out of hand.
  • Visit your hygienist regularly to prevent tartar from building up in large amounts.

Staying on top of your oral health is key to protecting your teeth from calculus buildup. You can achieve this by regularly brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist regularly.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at its disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.