The term orthodontics used to refer primarily to traditional metal braces, but many patients are now asking providers about Invisalign® as an alternative. For patients that qualify, this treatment uses clear aligners to discreetly shift the teeth into a more desirable position.Invisalign® clear aligners work by using custom-fitted trays to put pressure on a patient’s…
Disclosing Agents Show Plaque You’ve Missed When Brushing and Flossing
If you’re worried you might be missing some areas in your mouth when brushing and flossing, a disclosing agent may be able to help you. This solution can identify areas of higher than normal plaque buildup where bacteria are repeatedly allowed to colonize.
Brushing and flossing may not be enough
Our first defense against plaque starts with a diligent, daily brushing and flossing routine. Oral hygiene depends heavily on daily care for teeth and gums. Plaque is a stubborn substance that can build up in places that are hard to reach, despite our best efforts.
Regular brushing and flossing are highly encouraged to fight tooth decay. Even when being extra careful to get every nook and cranny in your mouth, it is still possible to miss some areas inadvertently.
What is plaque?
Every day, the food and drink we consume pass through our oral cavity and over our teeth. Residue leftover from this process tends to stick around on the surface of teeth. Bacteria in our mouth feed on these leftover particles, producing acid as a result of digestion. This acid has the ability to eat through the outer layer of the tooth and erode the enamel.
In this weakened state, tooth decay emerges where plaque has built up. Advanced tooth decay will cause cavities to form. Cavities are irreversible areas of damage in a tooth due to untreated plaque. Some of the bacteria responsible can cause gum disease. Both cavities and periodontal (gum) disease can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Plaque is a practically invisible substance, so it is often impossible to tell if you have reached every area after brushing. This is where disclosing agents come in.
What are disclosing agents?
A disclosing agent is merely the name for a dyed substance used to highlight and identify areas of plaque buildup. It works by direct application to the teeth with a rinsing solution, swab or tablet that dyes only plaque, not tooth surface. They are mainly used by dental hygienists to show where a patient has been missing when brushing, but these agents can also be used at home.
The idea with at-home disclosing treatments is that you will be able to experience firsthand which areas to focus on while cleaning. Once you swish the solution around in your mouth, brush and floss until the bright color has gone away. Now you cleared away plaque.
Better brushing and flossing technique
Using proper brushing and flossing techniques are crucial to fight plaque buildup. Daily rinsing could aid in your normal routine, decreasing the amount of bacteria present. Be sure to pick one up that does not have alcohol as an ingredient, as this type of rinse can actually exacerbate the problem and speed up bacteria production.
Try to focus on the areas highlighted by the disclosing agent. A commonly missed spot is behind the front teeth. Brush upward at a 45-degree angle to reach these areas. Brush in small circles across each tooth twice per day. This technique will ensure you are clearing away plaque that is hiding on the surface and beneath the gum line. Use fluoride toothpaste to fortify your enamel and defend against further bacterial attack.
Floss gently once per day, being careful to reach the spaces between all your teeth. Make sure you are wrapping the floss gently around the base of the tooth as well, as plaque can hide here and build up in large quantities.
Talk to your dentist today about using disclosing agents at your next appointment so you can catch these problem areas before they become a costly complication.
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