Colgate Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center

Innovative toothpastes to clean and brighten every type of smile.

Toothpastes

A toothbrush for every type of smile, designed with comfort and results in mind.

Toothbrushes

Colgate kids' products make brushing fun and encourage routine use.

Kids' Products

Oral care products available exclusively through dental professionals.

Products From the Dentist

Professional grade oral care, available without a prescription.

Other Oral Care

Every smile is unique and requires a different type of care. Colgate has a solution for every smile.

Search by Benefit
Font size

Plaque: What is it and How do We Get Rid of It?

People used to think that as you got older you naturally lost your teeth. We now know that's not true. By following easy steps for keeping your teeth and gums healthy – plus seeing your dentist regularly — you can have your teeth for a lifetime!

Plaque: What is it?
Plaque is made up of invisible masses of harmful germs that live in the mouth and stick to the teeth.

Red, puffy or bleeding gums can be the first signs of gum disease. If gum disease is not treated, the tissues holding the teeth in place are destroyed and the teeth are eventually lost.

Dental plaque is difficult to see unless it's stained. You can stain plaque by chewing red "disclosing tablets," found at grocery stores and drug stores, or by using a cotton swab to smear green food coloring on your teeth. The red or green color left on the teeth will show you where there is still plaque—and where you have to brush again to remove it.
Stain and examine your teeth regularly to make sure you are removing all plaque.

Ask your dentist or dental hygienist if your plaque removal techniques are okay.

Step One: Floss
Use floss to remove germs and food particles between teeth. Rinse.

HoldingFloss UsingFlossLower1 UsingFlossLower2
Holding floss. Using floss between upper teeth. Using floss between lower teeth.

NOTE! Ease the floss into place gently. Do not snap it into place — this could harm your gums.

Step Two: Brush Teeth
Use any tooth brushing method that is comfortable, but do not scrub hard back and forth. Small circular motions and short back and forth motions work well. Rinse.

To prevent decay, it's what's on the toothbrush that counts. Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is what protects teeth from decay.

Brush the tongue for a fresh feeling! Rinse again.
Remember: food residues, especially sweets, provide nutrients for the germs that cause tooth decay, as well as those that cause gum disease. That's why it is important to remove all food residues, as well as plaque, from teeth. Remove plaque at least once a day — twice a day is better. If you brush and floss once daily, do it before going to bed.

BetweenTeeth
Another way of removing plaque between teeth is to use a dental pick — a thin plastic or wooden stick. These sticks can be purchased at drug stores and grocery stores.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse
1 NOHIC Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3500
301-402-7364
nohic@nidcr.nih.gov
www.nidcr.nih.gov

This publication is no longer available in print. It is not copyrighted. Make as many photocopies as you need.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 99-3245

Copyright © 2002, 2003 Colgate-Palmolive Company. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

See Also:

Related Videos

How to Freshen Bad Breath

How to Freshen Bad Breath

Uncover the causes behind common bad breath and how you can fight them through simple changes to your daily oral care routine.

Related Guides

Fresh Breath Assessment

Fresh Breath Assessment

How fresh is your breath? Find out by visiting the Fresh Breath Institute.

Oral & Dental Care and Conditions Categories

ColgatePalmolive.com  |  Colgate.com  |  Legal/Privacy  |  Colgate.com Site Map  |  Contact Us
© Colgate-Palmolive Company. All rights reserved.
You are viewing the United States site.