Often used as a training tool for children to brush effectively, dyes that highlight plaque buildup—or biofilm—have become more mainstream as effective delivery methods are incorporated into normal dental hygiene products. Originally in the form of a tablet, this temporary dye now can be found in specialized toothpaste & mouthwash.

Early Detection: Messy & Necessary

One of the issues with the original tablet delivery method was its tendency to be messy when self administered at home, especially with children. Proper chewing of the tablets can also be a problem, but with proper chewing, the tablets are effective. 

With newer delivery methods, the dye is administered using hygiene habits that can already be established & are therefore less likely to spill onto clothes. In addition, the flavoring is much closer to oral hygiene products used on a regular basis.

How It Works

The dyes color biofilm in up to three tones using iodine, mercurochrome, bismark brown, merbromin, erythrosine, fast green, fluorescein, two-tone, basic fuchsin & three-tone gel. These colors can indicate the severity of buildup when there are more than one color. The dyes can also indicate an overly acidic pH balance in the mouth. This aids in preventing cavities, especially in high-risk adolescents. 

Once the dye is applied, it is left on to examine, then brush off with a normal toothbrush. Most dentists recommend using a softer toothbrush, as these are less likely to be too abrasive against gums & other soft tissue. The dye should easily wash away from clean surfaces. Rinsing properly is recommended only after brushing so as to not lose the identifying information. 

Use as a Guide

Using dyes isn’t necessary on a regular basis. It can be used both by your dentist & at home periodically through the year to help you make adjustments to your hygiene routine & highlight areas for improvement. Sometimes, our natural habits repeatedly exclude areas of our mouth, & these reminders are great visuals that can stick with us, especially in our youth. 





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