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This is a sticky film of bacteria that releases acid onto your teeth. Without thorough brushing and flossing, this acid breaks down the enamel and causes cavities. Plaque can also harden onto the tooth and cause calculus (or tarter) to build up on the tooth and below the gum, which causes gums to get red and swollen, and sometimes bleed. To prevent these issues, brush twice a day using a fluoridated toothpaste and clean between your teeth. Eat nutritious foods to prevent bacteria from releasing acid onto your tooth, and schedule regular dental checkups.