Yellow build up

I have this yellow stuff that keeps covering my teeth. I can kind of get some of it off, but wondered what it is. It keeps getting worse. Can I do anything about it?

Wanda G.- Florida


The yellow build up is called calculus or tartar. It builds up on our teeth because our saliva has minerals in it. The minerals build up in the form of calculus. When we can see the build up, as in your case, it is then called tartar. It is easily treated by getting your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. If left untreated, it is very bad for your teeth. It will lead to gum disease that will eventually cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, which in turn will cause your teeth to get loose and fall out.

It sounds to me, though I realize this is just an assumption, that you haven’t had your teeth professionally cleaned in a while. There are many reasons that people do that. Sometimes it is financial, and sometimes it is because of fear that the visit will be painful. If the former, you can call around for a dentist that is willing to let you pay out your visit over time. Or, you may see if there is a dental school in your area. If so, they generally do cleanings for a very small fee.  If your case is the latter, that is easily solved by going to a sedation dentist. With sedation dentistry, you will feel no pain at all during your visit.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Dentist Dr. John Theriot.

Trying to save my wife’s tooth

My wife had a root canal treatment several months back. It is now abscessed and our dentist wants to extract it. The soonest appointment they have for her is over seven weeks away. She is in a tremendous amount of pain. They’ve given her no pain medication or antibiotics. She was taking over 12 advils a day. Finally one of my friends who had recently had surgery, but didn’t need his pain meds gave them to her. It is providing some relief, but not enough. I’m frustrated with how little concern my dentist is showing for her well being. Plus, they seem to be taking no pains to save her tooth. Isn’t there something aside from extraction that can be done? I realize I’m not a dentist, but I do care about my wife and want to see her healthy again.

Brandon S.- Louisianna


I understand your care for your wife and share some of your misgivings about her treatment. With her appointment being so far off, given the conditions you’ve described, I think this dental office is just too busy to adequately care for the number of patients they currently have. I recommend seeking a second opinion.

Secondly, there are some other options for your wife. Though I haven’t examined her, it appears she has a failed root canal treatment. Even treatments correctly done, can sometimes fail, so I am not putting your dentist at fault for that. I am concerned that you haven’t been given any options aside from extraction. There is the opportunity for your dentist (or another one) to go back in and re-treat the root canal. There is also the option of root canal surgery.

I’d get in with a dentist that can see you right away. You may even call an emergency dentist that treats non-established patients. They can at least get her out of pain that day, and then set an additional appointment to do whatever further treatment is required.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette Dentist John Theriot.