Bacteria in plaque are the cause of gum disease. These bacteria do not cause periodontal disease when removed daily by proper brushing. However, when there is inadequate oral hygiene, bacteria accumulate to form hardened deposits called tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and requires scaling.
Plaque bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gums. When bacterial toxins accumulate over time (as happens when plaque is not removed) the body mounts a response by producing enzymes. Toxins and enzymes dissolve bone and surrounding tissue holding the teeth. Periodontal disease is a chronic disease and if untreated gets worse over time resulting finally in tooth loss.
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