False colour scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of colonies of an unidentified species of bacteria growing on the surface of a tooth. The mixture of bacteria, saliva and carbohydrates is known as plaque and is a cause of tooth decay (caries) and leads to the formation of tartar (calculus). Deposition of tartar in the spaces between the tooth and gum (the gingival crevices) causes gum disease (periodontal disease), which is characterised in its early stages by swollen, inflamed gums which bleed easily. Untreated, the plaque may spread under the tooth, which might loosen and fall out. Magnification: X 3,500 at 35mm size.
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