Plaque is the most common cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Regular, effective brushing and flossing can remove plaque and help keep teeth and gums healthy. Regular dental checks are also important. Dentists and dental hygienists can advise on tooth and gum care and detect decay before any significant damage occurs. Plaque is a thin sticky film, containing bacteria, that continually builds up on teeth. It has a rough, furry feel. The bacteria in plaque ferment sugars in food, producing acids that can erode tooth enamel. Plaque bacteria can also damage gums. Plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing and flossing, but it quickly re-forms. Plaque that stays on teeth longer than a few days can harden into calculus (tartar) and act as a reservoir for bacteria. Calculus needs to be removed by a dentist.
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