I have some dental calculus on the back of my mandibular incisors (bottom front teeth). Some of the calculus is beneath the gum line (I'm not sure how far), and the gums are starting to recede (very slightly).

I ordered a set of dental picks and I am going to remove the calculus that is above the gumline, and I am wondering if this will help break down the deposits that are below the gumline. What will be the long-term effects of me only removing the calculus above the gumline?

Also, is there any sort of mouthwash/rinse that I can use that will help break down thick deposits to make them easier to remove?

  • P.S. Before giving a bunch of disclaimers about how I should let a dental professional do this: Trust me, I know. I don't care to justify my choice to do this here. If you don't have any practical advice for scaling techniques or information about the actual question above, please don't bother commenting.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented May 2, 2015 at 4:40
  • Sorry, no practical advice for scaling or information on the actual question above. Mind if I comment anyway by asking a question? How do you know the condition of those teeth? How do you know it's below the gum line yet don't know how deep?
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 4:15
  • I used one of the dental picks to go slightly below the gumline and managed to scrape off a rather large chunk of calculus. But I cannot determine how far down it goes (it's extremely painful to explore down below the gumline any further than a millimeter or so).
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 6:45

1 Answer 1


I will answer to each element of your quesiton separatly:

Calculus (Tarter) is calcified bio-film and plaque that is stuck on the surfaces of your teeth. Inside are bacterias, dead or alive, along with their byproducts (and their toxins) that irritate the gums, which may eventually cause an immune response in the gums that will lead to a recession.

Therefore, scaling (removing) the "half" that is above the gums will do little or nothing to improve your situation, especially if there is anything left behind, bellow the gums.

The same can be said of any mouthrinces and other products you might try. They will hardly have any effect on the surfaces of the teeth above the gum line, due to the relatively short amount of time most people keep mouthrince in their mouth, the slow diffusion of the active ingredients across the calculus. It will not even reach below the gums wont remove/dissolve sub-gingival plaque or calculus.

On the other hand, if you chose to attempt to perform scaling deeper with picks, you risk damaging your gums, especially since the "picks" will be pointed towards your gums, and you will eventually slide them too far and therefore damage even more the soft tissues that surround and support your tooth, potentially accelerating the recession, or worsening the inflamation.

Dentists and hygienists use scalers and curettes, which cause minimal damage to the gums if used properly. Do not attempt to use them at home, on yourself, if you don't know what you are doing or lack good dexterity and technique. There are numerous videos on YouTube about how to use them.

Needless to say, if you have access to a hygienist, a dentist or periodontist (dentist that specializes in the treatment of gums) you will be in good hands.


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