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How can plaque make my gums red and tender?

Plaque produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.
Plaque is a biofilm (a slime layer) that contains bacteria and their waste products. The body sees this as an infection (and rightly so).

The response is to try to attack the infection, and as a result, inflammation occurs. This is what makes your gums red and tender (your body's response to fighting the infection).

Another way to look at it is like a splinter....if you have a splinter in your finger, it tends to get red and irritated (inflamed).

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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.