Poor oral hygiene (ie: Improper or insufficient brushing and flossing) will result in plaque being left on your teeth. Over time, this plaque will calcify by constantly being bathed in saliva which contains minerals and calcium from your regular diet. Calcified plaque, also known as calculus or tartar, is a firm substance that can cause bleeding gums (gingivitis) and will also lead to bone loss around the tooth, or periodontitis. If left untreated, periodontitis will lead to further bone destruction and eventual tooth loss.

To help prevent gingivitis and periodontitis, it is extremely important to minimize the amount of tartar forming on teeth. When you come in for regular dental cleanings, the hygienist uses fine instruments to "scrape" or scale the tartar from your teeth. It is one and most conservative ways of helping to keep your gums and jaw bones healthy, which leads to healthy and stable teeth.