Self-Performed Methods of Dental Plaque Identification

Plaque pertains to the slimy, sticky substance that collects on the surface of the teeth. It is the major cause of both tooth decay and gum disease, thus making it extremely important to get rid of plaque deposits before they can wreak havoc on your mouth.

But the thing is, plaque can be pretty hard to detect with the naked eye, because it has the same color as your teeth. But worry not, for there are tools for dental plaque identification, which can help detect where plaque builds up and let you know how good you when it comes brushing and flossing your pearly whites.

Why Remove Plaque?

Plaque disclosing agents are often used by dentists to show their patients where and how much plaque has accumulated on their teeth.

Removing plaque deposits while they are still new and soft is recommended in order to prevent them from turning into hardened deposits called tartar or calculus, where plaque and bacteria can continue to thrive.

Tartar cannot be removed by simple brushing and flossing, but only through professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Methods of Plaque Disclosure:

Plaque Disclosing Tablets:

One method of plaque disclosure makes use of special disclosing tablets made up of red dye. This dye gets absorbed by plaque, thus staining it and making it much easier to detect. To use these tablets, get one tablet and chew it thoroughly. Swish the chewed tablet-saliva mixture onto your teeth for about 30 seconds. Spit it out, rinse off with water and then examine your teeth. You may use your bathroom mirror, or even a small mirror to get a closer look.

Red stains indicate plaque. These stains highlight the areas where you should improve your brushing and flossing.

Now, some individuals may frown upon the idea of bright red staining, not only on the teeth but on your gums, tongue, or lips as well. Take note that the staining is temporary and will be gone after a few hours.

Plaque Disclosing Solutions:

Plaque Disclosing Solutions work in pretty much the same way as disclosing tablets, only that they are in liquid form already. Like in the tablet form, you have to swish the solution around your mouth for about the same time. Then, you also have to spit it out and check your teeth afterwards.

Some disclosing solutions are available as two-toned agents, which help differentiate between old and new plaque deposits.

Plaque Disclosing Swabs:

These swabs are pre-saturated with a disclosing solution. They are used by dabbing the swab along the tooth surface to show the plaque deposits. Compared to disclosing solutions, there are more convenient, more easily controlled, and less messy.

Plaque Light:

Plaque light requires the use of a special fluorescent solution that you’ll swish around your mouth and then rinse off with water. To detect plaque, you will have to use an ultraviolet light. The light will help make plaque more visible by giving it bright yellow-orange color.

The main advantage of the plaque light and fluorescent solution combo is that it doesn’t produce any visible stains in your mouth.

After using any of the disclosing products brush your teeth after and be sure to improve your brushing on the areas where plaque accumulates the most. Brush as thoroughly as you can until there are no stains left.

If you wish to be sure about the efficiency of your oral hygiene, use a disclosing agent for as long as you wish until you see less and less plaque.

Plaque disclosing agents are particularly helpful for kids, orthodontic patients, and individuals prone to tooth decay and gum disease.

FAQs about Fluoride for Children

When it comes to keeping you and your kid’s teeth strong and healthy, you’ve probably heard that fluoride is the best bet. Fluoride from different sources – water, oral health care products, and professionally-applied products – can help make your teeth more resistant to acid attacks by decay-causing bacteria. But other than that, there are a whole lot of things to know about this very important mineral.

Below are some of the questions parents often ask about fluoride and how it can contribute to the good oral health of their children.

How does fluoride protect against tooth decay?

Fluoride prevents tooth decay by neutralizing the acids produced by decay-causing bacteria in the mouth, and by making the tooth enamel more resistant to these acids. And if the decay happens to be already there, this mineral helps arrest the disease process to prevent further destruction.

To reap the benefits of fluoride, make sure that your kid brushes his or her teeth with fluoride-containing toothpaste.

When can kids start using fluoride toothpaste?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids may be allowed to use fluoride toothpastes once his or her first tooth shows up.

For kids below three years of age, a smear of toothpaste should be enough while a pea-sized amount may be given for those aged three and up.

Is it safe to drink fluoridated water?

Both the ADA and AAP agree that fluoridated water is safe and also an effective way to obtain the fluoride you need for your teeth. If you can, it is advisable to check the amount of fluoride in your drinking water, as too high levels can cause fluorosis.

Fluorosis pertains to the tooth discoloration caused by too much fluoride. It often appears as white spots or brownish streaks on the tooth enamel.

In more severe cases, it even alters the surface texture of the enamel, making it rough and bumpy. You can learn more about fluorosis in this article.

Can I mix fluoridated water with infant formula?

According to the ADA, it is fine to use fluoridated water to reconstitute infant formula. If your baby is primarily fed or exclusively feeds infant formula, then there’s the risk of mild fluorosis as side effect. This won’t affect your baby’s overall health but if you’re worried, you can always consult your pediatrician or dentist for some valuable professional advice.

What are the other sources of fluoride?

Aside from fluoride toothpastes and fluoridated water, you may also bring your kid to the dentist to avail of topical fluoride treatment.

Fluoride supplements are also available, but you may have to ask your dentist or pediatrician first prior to giving it to your kid. This supplement is often prescribed in kids living in areas without optimal fluoride levels in their drinking water.

Fluoride can also be obtained from food, so be sure to provide your kid with a healthy, balanced diet.

To determine your kid’s specific fluoride needs, and from which source will they get their fluoride needs best, talk to your dentist or pediatrician.

5 Weird Oral Health Tips That Actually Work

The way to improve your oral health is pretty simple and straightforward: brush, floss, eat healthily, do regular dental visits.

It doesn’t end there. Here are some tips weird dental tips for you.

They may sound crazy enough to leave you scratching your head at first, but we assure you – they do work! So, here it goes…

Don’t Brush Your Teeth After Eating

Contrary to what you always hear when you were a little kid, it is actually not advisable to brush your teeth right after meals.

Instead, you must wait for at least 30 minutes, or longer if you’ve just eaten acidic food and drinks.

The acids can dissolve or erode the tooth enamel, and brushing can actually wear it away much faster.

Use Banana Peel to Whiten Teeth

Done eating that banana? Don’t throw the peel yet.

You can still use it for whitening your teeth. Do so by rubbing the inside surface of the peel on your teeth for at least two minutes.

The peel contains magnesium, potassium, and other minerals which can penetrate your teeth to make them whiter. And unlike commercial whiteners, these minerals whiten the teeth without making your teeth sensitive.

Use Coconut Oil as Mouthwash

This newest health craze is more popularly known as “oil pulling.”

A detoxification procedure derived from Ayurvedic medicine, it involves putting a tablespoon of slightly hardened coconut oil in your mouth, allowing it to slowly liquefy, then swishing or gargling it for about 10 to 20 minutes before spitting it out.

Coconut oil has been proven to have numerous health benefits, one of which is its antimicrobial properties.

It can kill the decay-causing bacteria, as well as the bacteria that cause gum disease and other oral infections.

If you don’t have coconut oil, olive oil or sesame oil will do.

Those who have tried oil pulling claim that their teeth become cleaner and whiter, and their breath fresher.

Whether or not such claims are true, there is no harm in trying this method as it won’t produce any negative effects on your health.

However, this may not be suitable in those with sensitive gag reflex.

Rub Ice on Your Hand to Relieve Toothache

You’ve probably heard that rubbing ice on a sore muscle or joint provides relief, but using it on your teeth?

While it may sound unbelievable, there is actually a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that supports it.

According to such study, massaging ice on the area between the thumb and index finger relieves pain on the same side of the face by up to 50%.

It works because the cold temperature helps prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.

Eat Cheese to Prevent Tooth Decay

Your favorite dairy has been found to reduce the risk of dental caries.

Its gooey consistency works like a sticky tape that traps bacteria and food residues from the surface of the teeth.

More importantly, munching on a large wedge of cheese will help clean in-between your teeth as well.