E. GRAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY E. GRAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dental plaque. Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of an unidentified species of bacteria (thick filaments) growing in dental plaque. Dental plaque is the mixture of bacteria, saliva and carbohydrates which forms on teeth. It 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 further under the gums, and cause the teeth to loosen and fall out. Magnification: x7000 at 8x10 inch size.
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