Dental plaque identification at home

At Home Dental Plaque Identification

Dental plaque is the sticky, bacteria-laden film that accumulates on and in between teeth and gums that can contribute to many dental health problems including gum disease and tooth decay. The best defense against plaque buildup is to identify it early on and remove it. While most clinics and dentists offer professional assessments to discover plaque, there is a relatively simple way to do this at home with household items.


Before attempting to identify plaque at home, the area in and around the teeth should be thoroughly cleaned. This can be done by brushing the teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using a good quality anti-plaque mouthwash. Once the teeth are clean, you can proceed to begin the plaque identification process.


There are two main tools used for dentists to identify plaque at home: disclosing tablets and disclosing solutions. Stains from a disclosing tablet (which contain vegetable or food dyes) will show up on plaque so it can be easily identified and removed. Disclosing solutions come in liquid form and consist of dye that stains the plaque, highlighting where it is located. Both of these tools can be purchased at most pharmacies and drug stores.


Disclosing tablets and disclosing solutions are available in many types, including tablets and liquids that are flavored, are sugar-free, and contain peroxide. Peroxide solutions are especially useful because they not only reveal the plaque, but they also act like an antiseptic, helping to provide a cleaner feeling in the mouth.


Using disclosing tablets and solutions to identify dental plaque is generally considered safe, as long as the directions are followed closely. Some solutions may contain tartar control ingredients, so it is important to read the instructions carefully and not exceed the recommended dosage. As always, it is best to speak to your dentist to ensure the safety of the product.

Why, When, and How

  • Why: Disclosing tablets and solutions are most beneficial to those who are prone to plaque buildup. By identifying plaque early on, it can be removed or treated more effectively.
  • When: People should start using disclosing tablets or solutions after the teeth have been thoroughly and properly cleaned. It is not recommended to use these products as a substitute for regular dental exams.
  • How: The disclosing tables or solutions are first moistened in the mouth. Then, they should be worked around the teeth in a consistent, circular motion for a few minutes. After that, they must be rinsed out with luke warm water.