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Disclose for healthy teeth and gums – Plaque and dental diseases

September 27, 2016

The main cause of cavities and periodontal disease is the accumulation of plaque. Plaque is the sticky film of food and bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth and is hard to see. Some of the nasty bacteria (bugs), related to gum disease collect along and under the gum line, so our focus when taking care of our teeth, has to be to completely remove this layer of plaque from these areas to stop the bacteria from accumulating.

Signs of early gum disease are swollen, red, tender and bleeding gums. If people aren’t aware that these are signs and symptoms of gum disease, they avoid brushing the affected area worried that brushing may make the discomfort worse. This in turn allows the disease to continue and unless treated, can lead to gum recession, bone loss, loose teeth and can in time even cause teeth to fall out in some people.

Plaque is also linked to tooth decay. When we eat or drink anything sugary, the bacteria in the plaque produces acids which cause tooth decay. In teeth affected by serious gum disease, the root of the tooth is often exposed and this can decay much more easily as the root surface is not as hard as the enamel of our teeth.

Our main focus therefore when brushing our teeth has to be to remove all the plaque.

You may actually see some food particles, but you may not see the plaque as it is sticky but colourless. Using a plaque-disclosing product can help to identify areas of your teeth that you’ve missed after cleaning and flossing. Plaque disclosing products contain a harmless dye that reacts with the plaque that may remain on areas of the teeth after cleaning. When you see the dyed areas, you can identify trouble spots to focus on when you brush and floss your teeth.

Disclosing tablets can stain your teeth red, purple or blue, depending on the brand you use.

Before you use them, brush your teeth as normal and don’t forget to clean the in-between surfaces of the teeth using floss or interdental brushes. The disclosing agents can stain so be careful not to splash any on your clothes. Your lips may get stained so you may want to apply some Vaseline to your lips and avoid licking them after you have used the disclosing tablet or solution. Bedtime is generally a good time to use a discloser.

There are several types of disclosing agents on the market to pick from. Choose one that catches your eye or you would find easiest to use.

How to ‘disclose’

Plaque disclosing tablet: Chew a plaque disclosing tablet and let it mix with the saliva in your mouth, then swish the saliva around for about 30 seconds and spit it out.

Plaque disclosing swab: Use the swabs to wipe the surfaces of your teeth.

Plaque disclosing solution: Swish the solution around in your mouth for about 30 seconds and spit it out.

After you have done the above you will be able to inspect the results of your cleaning. You may find it useful to use a small dental mirror, available in many supermarkets and pharmacists, to push your tongue away and check the hard-to-get to areas of the back teeth next to your tongue.

Colour that can be wiped away with the tongue is just saliva. Anything remaining is dental plaque that was not removed by brushing. These areas need to be brushed again! Once you have identified the areas of your teeth that retain plaque, (usually the ones at the back and next to the gum line) repeat your routine aiming to remove the stained plaque this time. Your tongue will remain stained for a few hours. Gentle brushing of your tongue will remove most of the staining. Remember that the surface of your tongue harbours bacteria too. Nevertheless, remember that your teeth have five surfaces so don’t forget to use your interdental brushes or floss to remove the in-between your teeth staining. Repeat the disclosing once a week or more often to monitor and improve your plaque removal skills. Your teeth and gums will thank you for it.


Most of the disclosing agents, available in the UK, are safe for use by children (under supervision) and adults, even if swallowed. However, if you have any known allergies check the label for what type of dye is in the agent. They are usually gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.

At Dee Shapland dental our Oral Health Educator or one of our Hygienists can demonstrate disclosing tablet use with you – just book an appointment with them. They can also go through effective tooth brushing and interdental cleaning to make sure you are removing all the plaque properly.
We also sell disclosing tablets for you to use at home.

This Blog has been written by Anastasios Plessas, Associate Dentist


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Coronavirus (Covid-19) Notice

Dear Patients

Dee Shapland Dental will be reopening on Monday 15 June.

Thank you for your patience whilst we finalise the huge amount of compliance and training in order to provide you with safe and effective care.

We will be contacting our patients who have had a dental emergency or problems initially and we ask that if you have a dental emergency in the meantime please call: 07778059518 to speak to Nick or Anastasios who will endeavour to help you.

Please click on the link below to read our latest blogs describing our return to practice and your ‘new dental journey’. If you visit our Facebook page, Anastasios has made a short video to help you plan for your next visit.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Nick, Anastasios & All the Dee Shapland Dental team


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