Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Self-Examination for Dental Plaque

Self-Examination for Dental Plaque

Test Overview

A self-examination for dental plaque is done using a product that stains the plaque on your teeth. Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth, the spaces between the teeth, and under your gums. It can harden into tartar. The stain lets you to see how well you are brushing and flossing your teeth.

Plaque is made of different germs (bacteria) that grow on teeth. These bacteria react with sugars and starches in foods to make acids and other substances that can cause problems and damage the teeth, gums, and bone. Acids can eat away at tooth enamel by removing minerals from the enamel (this is called demineralization).

Products you can use at home include:

  • Disclosing tablets.
  • Disclosing solution.
  • Disclosing swabs.

These products stain plaque that was missed when you brushed and flossed along your gum lines and between your teeth. Good brushing and flossing breaks up the plaque and does not let the bacteria and acid cause problems.

Why It Is Done

Why It Is Done

Plaque forms on the teeth every day and needs to be removed. It sticks to grooves and biting surfaces of the back teeth, between the teeth, and next to the gum line.

Checking for dental plaque helps you take better care of your teeth and mouth.

How To Prepare

How To Prepare

You will need a:

  • Supply of disclosing tablets, disclosing solution, or disclosing swabs.
  • Small dental mirror to check hard-to-see areas of your mouth. (A mirror is helpful but not required.)

Dental mirrors and disclosing tablets, solution, and swabs can be bought from most dentists and pharmacies.

How It Is Done

How It Is Done

You will brush and floss your teeth. Then you will use the disclosing product. Follow the instructions on the package. Gently rinse your mouth with water. Check your teeth for plaque that has been colored with the dye. Your gums also may be stained and appear red, but this is not a problem. Use a dental mirror, if you have one, to help see behind teeth and the areas in the back of your mouth. If you find stained plaque, brush and floss again until it is gone. This helps you find areas you are missing.

Disclosing tablets

Chew a disclosing tablet and allow it to mix with your saliva. Swish the mixture around in your mouth with your tongue for about 30 seconds and then spit it out.

Disclosing solution

Put some disclosing solution in your mouth, swish it around for about 30 seconds, and then spit the solution out.

Disclosing swabs

Apply the swab to all tooth surfaces in your mouth.

Use these products regularly until you find no more areas of stained plaque after you brush and floss. You may want to test for plaque now and then to be sure you are getting rid of the plaque.

How It Feels

How It Feels

Disclosing tablets and disclosing solution do not cause any discomfort. These products may be flavored to make them more pleasant-tasting.

Risks

Risks

After you use the disclosing tablets, your mouth and tongue may be temporarily stained for as long as a day with a harmless dye. Many people use the disclosing tablets at bedtime so that the stain left in their mouths can fade overnight.

Some disclosing tablets make a bright red stain, which can stain clothing.

Be sure to read the package instructions. Some disclosing products have dyes that people may be allergic to.

Results

Results

If you see that the dye has stained any plaque in your mouth along gum lines and between teeth, you can brush and floss more carefully. Try brushing again to remove the plaque.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Medical Tests: Questions to Ask the Doctor

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details