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What are the complications of plaque and tartar?

Your teeth are covered with a sticky film called plaque that can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque contains bacteria, which following a meal or snack can release acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to break down, eventually resulting in cavities. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. This makes it more difficult  to keep your teeth clean. When tartar collects above the gum line, the gum tissue can become swollen and may bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. You can prevent plaque buildup by regularly visiting the dentist, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with dental floss daily.
Plaque and tartar must be removed from your teeth promptly or they can cause serious problems. Plaque is a sticky, clear film full of bacteria that builds up on teeth. Bacteria produces acid that destroys a tooth's protective coating, called enamel. Over time, failing to remove plaque can lead to tooth decay and cavities, and can lead to more serious health problems.

Plaque that's allowed to remain on teeth can harden into a destructive substance called tartar that forms along the gum line. You can't remove tartar by brushing; it must be cleaned by your dentist or dental hygienist. The bacteria in plaque and tartar can promote inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis. This mild form of gum disease can deteriorate into a more serious condition called periodontitis. Untreated periodontitis can result in bone loss and lost teeth.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.