Self-Examination for Dental Plaque
A self-examination for dental plaque is done using a product that stains the plaque on your teeth. Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth, the spaces between the teeth, and under your gums. It can harden into tartar. The stain lets you to see how well you are brushing and flossing your teeth.
Plaque is made of different germs (bacteria) that grow on teeth. These bacteria react with sugars and starches in foods to make acids and other substances that can cause problems and damage the teeth, gums, and bone. Acids can eat away at tooth enamel by removing minerals from the enamel (this is called demineralization).
Products you can use at home include:
These products stain plaque that was missed when you brushed and flossed along your gum lines and between your teeth. Good brushing and flossing breaks up the plaque and does not let the bacteria and acid cause problems.
Why It Is Done
Plaque forms on the teeth every day and needs to be removed. It sticks to grooves and biting surfaces of the back teeth, between the teeth, and next to the gum line.
Checking for dental plaque helps you take better care of your teeth and mouth.
How To Prepare
You will need a:
- Supply of disclosing tablets, disclosing solution, or disclosing swabs.
- Small dental mirror to check hard-to-see areas of your mouth. (A mirror is helpful but not required.)
Dental mirrors and disclosing tablets, solution, and swabs can be bought from most dentists and pharmacies.
How It Is Done
You will brush and floss your teeth. Then you will use the disclosing product. Follow the instructions on the package. Gently rinse your mouth with water. Check your teeth for plaque that has been colored with the dye. Your gums also may be stained and appear red, but this is not a problem. Use a dental mirror, if you have one, to help see behind teeth and the areas in the back of your mouth. If you find stained plaque, brush and floss again until it is gone. This helps you find areas you are missing.