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

Plaque refers 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, making it extremely important to get rid of plaque deposits before they can wreak havoc on your mouth.

Plaque can be pretty hard to detect with the naked eye because it has the same color as your teeth. However, there are tools dentists use to help detect where plaque builds up and let you know how good you are when it comes to brushing and flossing your pearly whites.

attractive young woman shows off her healthy smile

What Does Plaque Look Like?

Although plaque is colorless, you can likely feel it when you rub your tongue against your teeth. It will feel fuzzy. When you floss your teeth, it will appear white on the floss. The most dangerous part of plaque is that since it’s colorless, many people don’t care to remove it as much. However, plaque will make your teeth feel fuzzy, cause cavities, and bad breath if it’s not removed.

If you do notice a buildup of a color substance on your teeth, it might actually be dental fluorosis. This occurs as a result of too much fluoride. Talk to your San Diego dentist if you think you might have dental fluorosis. Unfortunately, there is no treatment, only solutions to help remedy the appearance of your teeth.

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.

Methods of Plaque Disclosure

Removing plaque is much easier when you can see it! That’s where plaque disclosure comes in handy. Try out these different methods of plaque disclosure to better remove plaque on your teeth.

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.

Some individuals may not like the idea of bright red staining, not only on the teeth but on your gums, tongue, or lips as well. However, 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 a 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 afterward.

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, they 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 ultraviolet light. The light will help make plaque more visible by giving it a 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 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.

How to Remove Black Tartar

When plaque isn’t removed from your teeth, it can harden into tartar. In the early stages, tartar is usually a yellow color, but if left untreated even longer, it can result in brown, green, or black tartar. Tartar that occurs below the gumline is black.

Tartar is also more likely to turn black if you smoke, eat a diet high in sugar or starch, drink staining liquids such as coffee or wine, or have damage or trauma to your enamel.

Unfortunately, you cannot remove black tartar on your own. The only treatment for black calculus teeth is visiting a dentist and having them use dental tools to scrape it off your teeth. You may also require scaling and root planing to remove the black tartar from below your gum line.

The best way to remove tartar from your teeth is to prevent it in the first place. You can accomplish this by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, cutting out sweets, and visiting the dentist regularly.

Schedule Your Next Dental Cleaning in San Diego

Aside from brushing and flossing your teeth at home, visiting your San Diego dentist, Dr. Safarian for a dental cleaning and exam every six months is the best way to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and under your gum line. If you’re overdue for a dental cleaning, please do not wait. Contact one of our dental offices to book an appointment today. We have locations in Chula Vista, San Marcos, and Carmel Valley.