What is Plaque?

Plaque is a colorless biofilm that is caused by bacteria that stick on the surfaces of your teeth. These bacteria release acids after you eat or drink sugary foods that can break down the enamel of your teeth and cause decay. If plaque is left behind, it will turn into a harder substance called tartar. This can also lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease resulting in irreversible bone loss.  Proper brushing and flossing habits are the best way to keep plaque away. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes as well as flossing daily.  

The big problem with plaque is that it blends in with the color of your natural teeth becoming practically invisible. Just when you think you are doing a great job brushing, you might be leaving some behind and not know it!

How Can I Show My Child Which Areas They Are Missing?

 To show your child where they are missing with their toothbrush in a fun and unique way is using special dental disclosing tablets or solutions. After your child chews on a tablet or rinses their mouth with a solution, a harmless red/blue dye will turn the plaque a different shade depending on how long the plaque has been present. Newer plaque will stain a purple/pink color while older plaque (typically 12-24 hours or older) will stain blue. You can turn this into a game and make it fun for your child. The less pink and blue you see each day, the better! Building healthy dental habits and techniques at an early age will help to reduce the risks of cavities as your child gets older.


If your child has braces or a permanent orthodontic appliance, it can make brushing plaque away even harder. It is important for your child to brush both on top and below each bracket and along the gumline. Plaque is more likely to build up and stick around since it will have more areas to hide. Using plaque disclosing tablets/solutions can help identify areas being missed and can help reduce inflammation. There are special flossers and floss-picks designed specifically for getting underneath orthodontic wires and appliances to keep teeth and gum tissue healthy. 

Where To Buy

Dental plaque disclosing products are widely available. There are many options like chewable tablets, mouthwash, toothpaste and solutions that you can choose from. All of these products work relatively the same and you have many options to pick from that are right for your child.  You can find these in your local stores or online. You can even ask your dentist or dental hygienist about it at your child’s next dental visit!