As humans, we all have good and bad bacteria in our mouth. The bad bacteria combine with proteins and food byproducts also in our mouth to form a sticky film called dental plaque. This gunk coats our teeth, gets under our gum line, and sticks to fillings or other dental work. Plaque carries bacteria that can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Our immune system sends chemicals to fight back, which results in inflammation, bleeding, and can even damage the tooth bone and gum tissue.
Bigger problems start to happen if plaque stays on our teeth and saliva minerals harden plaque into tartar onto our teeth.
Tartar, also called calculus, forms below and above the gum line. It is rough and porous and can lead to receding gums and gum disease. It must be removed with special tools in the dentist’s office.
If we remove plaque regularly, by flossing and brushing, we can prevent permanent tooth decay and gum disease.