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Periodontal disease, an infection of the teeth, gums and the bone that surround the teeth, begins when plaque, the sticky part of food and bacteria, builds up. If the plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar. The buildup of plaque and tartar dramatically increases the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth, and can result in deepening spaces between the tooth and gum, called pockets.

The bacterial also trigger you body’s immune system to produce enzymes that destroy the bone around your teeth, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss.