What Are Plaque Disclosing Tablets & How To Use Them

What Are Plaque Disclosing Tablets & How To Use Them

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Medical Reviewed on Feb 7, 2023
byDr. Matthew Hannan DDS
🔬 Evidence Based
What Are Plaque Disclosing Tablets & How To Use Them

Have you ever heard of disclosing tablets? They’re a type of temporary teeth dye that shows plaque buildup on your teeth. Plaque disclosing tablets even show you where older buildup is, compared to newer buildup, so you know where you (or your kiddo) need to spend more time brushing.

What Are Plaque Disclosing Tablets?

Dental disclosing tablets are small, pinkish-purple tabs that you chew up in your mouth. When you chew them and swish them around with your saliva, the disclosing tablets cause the teeth dye to stick to the plaque biofilm across your tooth enamel.

Dental professionals use plaque disclosing tablets to help improve oral hygiene practices by making it easier for patients to see where they’re missing when they brush. Some parents will even buy disclosing tablets to keep at home to use with their children or on themselves.

Don’t worry, the teeth dye disclosing solution is completely removable with a toothbrush and floss. But it can stain clothing and countertops, so be careful when you’re using them. 

Plaque Disclosing Types 

You can get teeth dye in various forms. Just make sure you choose the right type for your needs, the age of the person that’s going to be using it, and how potent you want the teeth dye to be. One type you probably won’t find anywhere is the concentrated drops (extremely messy) that some dentists will have in their office. Otherwise, you have these options to pick from:

1. Plaque Disclosing Tablets

These are your easiest and most straightforward type of teeth dye. The plaque disclosing tablets typically come in a pack of 50-100 or so, and you tear the square to remove one teeth tablet from the plastic strip. Teeth tablets are more potent than other at-home disclosing agents, so they’ll usually make it easier to see the plaque on your teeth than your other options.

 2. Plaque Disclosing Toothpaste

Some types of toothpaste claim to turn your plaque pink or even fluorescent (reacting to a special light) so that you can make sure you’re not leaving any buildup behind. The downside to this option is that it tends to be pretty expensive on a per-dose basis and you’ll go through it a lot more quickly than you would disclosing tablets. But if it’s the fluorescent type, it probably won’t stain anything!

 3. Plaque Disclosing Mouth Rinse

This type of disclosing agent tends to be less obvious (color-wise) than teeth dye tablets. When you have teeth dye that you can rinse with, you just swish with it after you brush your teeth to make sure you got everything. If you still see pink on your teeth, you go back and brush it off. But then you also remove any anti-cavity ingredients when you do that. Unfortunately, some of the more popular plaque disclosing mouth rinse products were removed from the market several years ago. However, you can still find some out there online if you look in the right places.

How To Use Them At Home

The best way to use disclosing tablets is to check on how well you’re already cleaning your teeth. Here’s how: 

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly for two minutes. Make sure you’re cleaning along the gums and all tooth surfaces. Spit out any remaining toothpaste.
  • Floss between all of your teeth.
  • Place one disclosing tablet in your mouth and chew it up.
  • Use your tongue to help wipe the saliva and disclosing agent across all of your upper and lower teeth.
  • Spit the leftover disclosing agent into the sink with the water running, rinsing any dye down the drain.
  • Look into the mirror to see if there are any pink or purple stains across your teeth.
  • Pull your lips back to examine the areas closest to your gums.
  • If there is any pink or purple dye on your teeth, this is where there is still plaque.
  • Go back and re-brush these areas more thoroughly, then rinse your mouth and spit the dye down into the drain.
  • If any dye gets on your lips or skin, clean it off immediately.

What Is Dental Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky biofilm that’s made up of bacterial colonies and acidic biofilm excrements (aka “germ poop”) that stick to your teeth. It tends to be white or yellow, but it can also take on the color of the foods and drinks you put in your mouth. Which is how teeth dye works.

When you don’t physically remove dental plaque, it tends to build up thicker along your gums, under them, and calcify into tartar buildup. By the point it becomes tartar, you can’t remove the buildup at all.

Since dental plaque is loaded with bacteria and acids, it can and will eventually erode your tooth enamel, creating cavities (dental caries). It also causes bad breath and contributes to gum disease, which is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults.

When your dentist or hygienist sees that you have lots of plaque on your teeth during your checkup, they may recommend using plaque disclosing tablets to help you visualize where the plaque is. Some people only need to use teeth dye once or twice, while others may use it for several weeks to ensure their plaque removal routine is thorough enough.

Do Plaque-Disclosing Tablets Clean Teeth?

No, a purple teeth tablet won’t clean your teeth, but it WILL help you get your teeth cleaner. It’s an effective oral hygiene tool because it literally shows you which spots you missed when you were brushing or flossing. That way you can go back, re-brush those areas again, and have cleaner teeth afterward.

When you use plaque disclosing tablets regularly, they help you have cleaner teeth because, more than likely, you’ll be brushing longer and more thoroughly. The whole point is that you want to brush, chew the teeth tablet, and not have any purple or pink left on your teeth.

How Often Should You Use Plaque-Disclosing Tablets

Normally, plaque disclosing tablets make an appearance during your dental cleaning appointment if your hygienist feels like you’re not brushing as thoroughly as you should. They’re also common for patients undergoing orthodontic treatments, who have braces with extra wires and brackets to clean around (where plaque can get pretty heavy.)

If your dental team recommends using a disclosing tablet at home, you can use them as often as every day if you like. But the better solution would be to use them once or twice a week to sort of check on yourself to see how your brushing has improved. They are great for orthodontic patients and child's teeth since it shows plaque they may have missed.

My advice is to only use disclosing tablets if you’re not about to head somewhere important, just in case it gets on your skin or clothes.

Are Plaque-Disclosing Tablets Safe?

Yes, dental disclosing tablets are extremely safe to use. But they CAN be dangerous if you’re wearing something you don’t want to get stains on! All joking aside, just make sure you’re leaning straight over the bathroom sink and immediately rinse out any of the pink residue. Otherwise, it could permanently stain the sink, counter, or whatever you’re wearing.

As long as you’re not chewing them up and swallowing them, plaque disclosing tablets can be used daily to re-vamp your brushing routine or check on how well your child/teen is cleaning their teeth.

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Dr. Matthew  Hannan DDS
Medical Reviewed byDr. Matthew Hannan DDSDr. Matthew Hannan is a board-certified dentist and graduate of UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.
Last updated onMay 9, 2023Here is our process

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