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Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. This clear, sticky film can only be removed with tooth brushing and flossing, it cannot be rinsed away with water. If left alone, the initially soft film of plaque can harden into what is called tartar or calculus. This is more difficult to get rid of and usually needs to be removed by your dentist.

Plaque is bad for your teeth because of the acids produced by its bacteria. After meals, your mouth is full of sugars that plaque bacteria feed on. In the process of breaking down sugar, the bacteria produces acids that attack tooth enamel and can eventually cause cavities.

Plaque isn’t only harmful for your teeth, but your gums as well. If plaque extends under the gum line, it can infect gum tissue. This causes swelling and bleeding that is called gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum disease.

So what can you do to prevent the formation of plaque? Keeping up good oral hygiene is key. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss them once a day, use a fluoride toothpaste, eat a nutritious diet, and see your dentist for regular check-ups. If you do these things, then you can prevent plaque formation, cavities, and gum disease.