Your teeth are covered with a clear sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Following a meal or snack, the bacteria 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. Brushing and cleaning between teeth become more difficult when tartar collects above the gum line. The gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease.
Source: American Dental Association
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