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