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Helping children brush better: Use of disclosing solution

Before application of plaque disclosing gel

After application of disclosing gel.

Note the different colours:

Pink = plaque <24 hrs old

Dark blue = plaque >48 hrs old

Aqua = very acidic & aggressive plaque.

What is Plaque?

According to paediatric dentists, Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that grows on the teeth and can cause decay and gum disease if left for too long.

Plaque Identification

Whether your child is using a manual or electric toothbrush, it takes a lot of effort and concentration to clean plaque from all areas. Plaque is tooth-coloured and difficult for children (and adults!) to see.

Fortunately, plaque can be coloured to help identify any areas your child is missing. Plaque ID solutions can be purchased at your local pharmacy or you can check with your kid dentist whether they have any for sale.

There are several types that can be purchased that are outlined below.


These products can stain bathroom sinks and benchtops. We suggest using them at the kitchen sink, with the added bonus of the whole family being able to see the results.

Chewable Disclosing Tablets 

These tablets simply colour the bacteria pink. Your child chews on the tablet and rinses once, leaving the coloured plque behind. This can be used prior to brushing to help guide your child, or can be used after brushing to indicate where they have missed.

TePe PlaqSearch Disclosing Tablets 

These tablets are similar to those above, but help identify new and old bacteria by colouring them different colours. This is useful as it will show your child the plaque that has simply grown that day, as well as plaque that may have been missed from the night (or week!) before.

**Fun fact: Right handed people usually clean the left side better, while left-handed people usually clean the right side better.

Piksters Plaque Glo Fluorescing Toothpaste 

This toothpaste can be used to identify plaque once the teeth have been brushed. Your child will use the toothpaste to brush as per usual. Once they have rinsed their mouth out, they can use the provided torch to illuminate to expose any missed areas.

Professional Tri Plaque ID Gel 

At their dental appointment, the practitioner may use the Tri Plaque Gel to help provide toothbrushing instruction for your child. This gel not only identifies new and old plaque (over 48 hrs+) – it also identifies acid producing bacteria.

This is important to identify as the acid producing bacteria are very aggressive and can cause rapid decay.

DIY Disclosing Solution 

If you do not have access to any of the options above, you can also make a DIY version! It will only colour the plaque in and will not identify old vs new plaque. All you need is Vaseline, cotton buds, food colouring and water.

1. Apply Vaseline to the lips to avoid colouring them in
2. Mix 3-5 drops of food colouring with 10 mls of water
2. Dip the cotton bud into the food colouring mixture and run along the teeth
3. Rinse the mouth out to reveal plaque