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Plaque Disclosing Tablets Show Plaque That Remains After Brushing

  • Published: 2011-02-13 (Revised/Updated 2013-06-16) : Author: Virginia Jacobs
  • Synopsis: Good oral health requires the removal of dental plaque before it has a chance to progress into tartar.

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"Good oral health requires the removal of dental plaque before it has a chance to progress into tartar."

Dental plaque is a soft, sticky film that continuously forms on your teeth. It consists of bacteria, tiny food particles and the byproducts left behind after the bacteria in your mouth digest and metabolize this food. Although plaque adheres to your teeth, the spaces between your teeth and under your gums, initially it is soft enough to scrape away. However, if the dental plaque in your mouth is not removed, it will begin to harden within about 48 hours. Dental plaque is the precursor of tartar, which is why a buildup of plaque on the teeth is an early warning sign of potential gum disease and other dental issues.

If allowed to remain on the teeth for about 10 days, dental plaque turns into tartar ("dental calculus"), a much harder substance which is also much more difficult to remove. Only a dental professional can remove tartar from your teeth - a toothbrush or floss will not even disturb it.

The presence of tartar on the teeth can lead to cavities ("dental caries") because the acids produced by bacteria metabolizing sugars and starches can damage dental tissue. These acids can also erode your tooth enamel by leaching out certain minerals (a process called "demineralization"). And, in addition to its potential for causing cavities and eroded tooth enamel, tartar can cause periodontal problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. If left untreated, tartar built up along and beneath your gum line can cause your gums to recede from your teeth. They might also swell, become irritated or start bleeding. Eventually, you could experience bone loss and loose teeth. Fortunately, your dental professional can perform scaling and/or root planing procedures to remove a tartar buildup.

But, it's easier (and less expensive) to avoid the pesky problem of removing accumulated tartar by preventing the tartar from forming in the first place. Your best defense against plaque and tartar buildups is brushing and flossing regularly and effectively.

Good oral health requires the removal of dental plaque before it has a chance to progress into tartar. In fact, removing the constantly-forming plaque before it hardens into tartar is essential for healthy teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing your teeth properly can remove all or essentially all the plaque on your teeth, but not everyone brushes and flosses equally well. It's important, therefore, to find out whether you're missing some of the plaque on your teeth, and if so, where your problem areas are.

Fortunately, dental plaque disclosing tablets make it easy to check for any plaque remaining after you brush and floss. Plaque disclosing solutions and swabs are also available, but the tablets work well and the dye they contain allows you to immediately know how well you're brushing and flossing. In addition, you can use plaque disclosing products to help your children learn how to brush and floss their teeth more effectively. Kids might think chewing on tablets is more fun than using a boring solution or swabs.

Plaque is colorless, and it can be almost impossible to see under normal circumstances. However, it's easy to detect with plaque disclosing tablets because the plaque is stained a deep red. You be able to see exactly where your brushing and flossing are missing the boat, so to speak.

It's easy to test your brushing and flossing technique with dental plaque disclosing tablets. Simply brush and floss your teeth as you normally do, then chew a tablet and allow it to mix with your saliva. Swish it all around your mouth for about 30 seconds, then spit it out and rinse with water (the dye is harmless, but you don't really want to swallow it). After rinsing, examine your teeth for red-stained plaque. If you find any, you can brush and floss again in order to remove it. Using a small dental mirror to make it easier to check the back of your mouth is recommended but not required.

Dental plaque disclosing tablets can help you prevent cavities and gum disease by showing you the plaque that remains after you brush and floss. Once you know where the plaque is lurking, you can remove it before it hardens into tartar. Continue to use plaque disclosing tablets until you stop finding stained plaque after you brush and floss. You might want to chew a tablet once a month or so to make sure your technique remains effective.

You can purchase plaque disclosing tablets in various places, including your local drugstore and many supermarkets. Read and follow the package instructions before you begin using dental plaque disclosing tablets or any other plaque disclosing product.

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