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Dental plaque identification at home
DefinitionThis test identifies areas of dental plaque, which shows how thoroughly (or not) you are brushing and flossing your teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance, composed of millions of bacteria, which collects around and between teeth. It is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease ( gingivitis ) and is hard to see because it is whitish colored, like teeth.
How the test is performed
There are 2 methods to perform this test. One method is with disclosing tablets. One tablet is chewed thoroughly, moving the mixture of saliva and dye over the teeth and gums for about 30 seconds. The tablet contains a red dye that will color the plaque. The mouth is then rinsed with water and the teeth are examined to identify pink-stained areas (unremoved plaque). A small dental mirror may help to check all areas.
However in the office, dentists are often able to detect plaque through a thorough examination with dental instruments.
How to prepare for the testBrush and floss your teeth thoroughly.
How the test will feelYour mouth may feel slightly dried out after use of the dye.
Why the test is performedThe test is performed to help identify missed plaque and improve brushing and flossing of the teeth so that areas of plaque are not left. If the plaque is not removed, it can cause tooth decay or cause the gums to bleed easily ( gingivitis ) and become red or swollen.
Normal ValuesNo plaque or food debris will be seen on the teeth.
What abnormal results meanThe disclosing tablets will stain areas of plaque a dark red. The plaque light solution will color the plaque a brilliant orange-yellow. The colored areas show where the brushing and flossing have missed. These areas need to be brushed again to get rid of the stained plaque.
What the risks areThere may be a residual pink discoloration of the lips and cheeks when the disclosing tablets are used. This discoloration is temporary.
Special considerationsThe disclosing tablets may color the mouth and tongue red for a day. It is suggested that it be used at night so that the color will be gone by morning.
Update Date: 10/23/2003A.D.A.M. editorial. Previously reviewed by Jennifer A. Schwartz, D.M.D., General Dentist, University of Pennsylvania Dental Care Network, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed HealthCare Network (12/7/2001).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT