Plaque hardens into tartar
Particles of food stick to plaque which is a clear film that naturally coats the teeth. Bacteria within the mouth are attracted to this food debris, paticularly carbohydrates, and release acids as they feed and multiply. In the early stages it is easily removed by thorough brushing.
Salts in the saliva are attracted to the plaque resulting in the formation of hard crystal deposits. This mineral build-up is the white or yellowy substance seen at the base and edges of teeth, and will irritate the gums resulting in the puffiness, redness and bleeding known as gingivitis. This tough substance, called tartar or calculus, cannot be removed by brushing. It requires instead, the use of special dental instruments.
Tartar continues to build
Ongoing inflammation, or gingivitis, weakens and will destroy the ligament holding the tooth to the bone. Untreated this means irreversible tooth loosening. If detected early, the tooth can be stabilised with a strict protocol of frequent, proper cleaning by the dentist or hygienist.