During your next dental appointment, a dentist or hygienist may choose to apply disclosing agent – a non-toxic, pink or purple, hypoallergenic dye that will reveal the areas of your mouth you are cleaning well, as well as spots where you can make improvements. Disclosing agents also come in chewable tablet form. After the substance is “painted” on the teeth with a q-tip, your dental health professional will rinse the entire mouth with water, suction the mouth, and seat you in an upright position. You can use a small mirror as a means of observing any of the dye that is left on the surfaces of the teeth. These surfaces have retained biofilm, or dental plaque, and your dental professional will work with you to see how you brush, where you brush, and how your technique can be improved.
Areas that Commonly Exhibit Plaque Following a Disclosing Agent Application
During routine home care, certain areas are frequently missed on all patients due to their location. These include the surfaces on the mandible, or lower jaw, particularly on the pre-molars and molars, or back teeth. The surfaces nearest the tongue tend to retain plaque biofilm and build calculus. This is because these surfaces are not easily accessible, and many may find reaching these areas counterintuitive, as the surfaces toward the cheeks are easier to reach with your dominant hand.
In addition to surfaces on the premolars and molars, the anterior, or front teeth, specifically on the bottom jaw, often exhibit plaque and calculus. This occurs most frequently between the two central incisors and is because one of the salivary ducts (the submandibular duct) has an opening directly next to these teeth. As saliva contains minerals like calcium and phosphorus, it can adhere to tooth irregularities easily and can build calculus more rapidly.
How to Effectively Remove Biofilm
Biofilm adheres securely to the teeth due to its irregular structure. For this reason, a combination of adequate time, pressure, and frequency of brushing and flossing is the best way to remove plaque and to keep the teeth and gums free of infection. Brushing for at least two minutes is integral to removing plaque from all areas of the mouth. In order to cover all tooth surfaces, dental professionals recommend that patients move their toothbrush in a sequence.
This sequence begins on the aspect of the top teeth closest to the cheek. Two to three teeth at a time are to be brushed for at least ten seconds before advancement. Moving across the same arch, patients can rotate their toothbrush to cover the side of the same teeth that lies closest to the tongue. Once the top arch is completed, they should advance to the bottom arch and repeat the same process. Your dental health professional will assist you in finding a tooth brush that is comfortable to use, and can demonstrate the proper technique to use on all teeth within the oral cavity.
The Importance of Effective Plaque Removal
Plaque biofilm, when left on the tooth structure for long periods of time, mineralizes to form calculus, a hardened substance which cannot be removed from the tooth without a professional dental cleaning. The dental health professional and patient are a team and work together to maintain the health of the oral cavity. On the patient’s end, it is imperative that plaque be removed in a timely manner in order to reduce inflammation and calculus formation. A healthy, biofilm free mouth via good home care, is the best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
For more information on biofilm, contact Dr. Watson, your Jackson, MS dentist at Jackson Center for Smiles today.