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 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.