Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Sugar in foods and beverages feed the bacteria and help it to grow. Even starchy foods such as bread, crackers and cereal contribute to plaque growth since starches turn to sugar in the mouth.
When plaque combines with sugar in foods and beverages, acid is produced. This acid can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Properly removing plaque on a daily basis helps to prevent this damage to the teeth and gums.
When plaque is not thoroughly removed from the teeth, it can calciftor harden on the teeth. This hard plaque is called calculus or tartar. When tartar forms brushing and flossing cannot remove it. It will need to be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist with special scaling instruments. If left on the teeth, tartar irritates the gums and causes inflammation (gingivitis). This can lead to destruction of the gums and bone that support the teeth (periodontitis) and eventually lead to tooth loss.
Removing plaque on a daily basis by proper and thorough brushing and flossing helps to prevent decay and tartar build-up.