Plaque buildup begins as a colorless film of bacteria and food particles before causing your teeth to appear yellow and stained. Some plaque that remains on or between teeth for more than 48 hours will harden into a cement-like substance called tartar, which is impossible to remove by brushing alone. Tartar beneath the gum line harbors live bacteria and it makes sensitive tissue more prone to periodontal disease, which begins as a mild case of gingivitis, then escalates into periodontitis, a severe infection that can cause loss of bone and teeth. At your appointment, we will look for any indicators of gingivitis or periodontitis to decide whether a more intensive hygiene regimen is appropriate.
Preventing Plaque Formation Between Office Visits
Disclosing tablets and liquids use vegetable dyes to stain plaque—but not tooth enamel—on the surface of your teeth. After brushing for at least two minutes and flossing, allow the disclosing tablets to dissolve in your mouth, or rinse your mouth with a disclosing liquid according to directions on the label. Expectorate, then view your handiwork in the mirror. Plaque will appear bright red, pink, or blue, depending on the product. This tells you which areas you should concentrate on while brushing. Brush your teeth again to remove the visibly stained plaque, and repeat the process until you are satisfied that you have removed all traces of plaque.
The Dos and Don’t of Using Disclosing Products
A brightly colored mouth is an alarming sight, but it’s critical to understanding how poor brushing habits compromise your oral health. A few guidelines:
DO use a small dental mirror to check for stains on the inside surface of your teeth. These areas are among the most difficult to reach, making plaque removal more difficult. Many patients focus only on the teeth that can be seen by others, a dangerous habit that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
DON’T wait until the last minute to use your disclosing product before leaving for work or school. Even patients who brush diligently are surprised to discover how much plaque remains on their teeth. Several brushing attempts may be needed to remove all traces of the brightly colored dye, so it’s best to give yourself some time.
DO use disclosing products regardless of whether you have an increased risk of developing periodontal disease. We also recommend disclosing liquids to patients who wear braces, which trap food and bacteria in hard-to-reach places between brackets and wires.
DON’T use disclosing products if you have a history of allergies to food dyes.
What will your teeth disclose? To learn more about periodontal disease, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pearson or Dr. Comeaux, contact us at (337) 989-0267. We proudly serve patients in Lafayette, Carencro, Scott, Youngsville, Broussard, Milton, Abbeville, Maurice, New Iberia, and surrounding communities throughout Acadiana.