Pros: Could encourage brushing
Cons: Messy, No child-proof cap, medicinal mint, portion too large
When I was given the opportunity to test out the Inspector Hector Plaque Detector Pre-Brush Rinse I figured this would be something good for my 7 year old son to use to help with the tooth-brushing routine. My son is on the Autism spectrum with a ton of sensory issues so tooth brushing is admittedly a challenge for him. The idea of a product that would temporarily tint his teeth and mouth a different color that he could brush away, appealed to me. I really thought that it would appeal to him too and in some ways it does - but the product has too many negatives making it in a word.. a hassle.
Inspector Hector Plaque detector from Vi-Jon is priced under $4 for a 17 oz bottle and it comes in 2 flavors - mint or bubble gum. The flavor we tested was the mint, though we had the chance to also try the corresponding Tooth Protector fluoride rinse in the bubblegum flavor which I presume would be similar. The instructions for use seemed relatively straightforward - dispense, swish, spit and then brush away the blue. Simple, right?
Unfortunately.. not so simple. The mouth of the bottle is designed to serve with a built in dispensing cup that you can squeeze in 10ml of the rinse at a time. On top of this wide neck dispensing cup there is a screw top lid. I was really surprised that the product didn't have a child-proof cap on it as I feel it should. The packaging is made to be super appealing to kids and with the bright blue color it almost looks like blue-koolaid or slushy. However, like pretty much any mouthwash that I know of it is not meant to be ingested and there is a caution on it against drinking it. FYI - the suggested age is for kids ages 6-12 year old.
To use the product you first need to squeeze up and dispense a "portion" of the rinse up into the neck of the bottle up to the fill line. The instructions state that the product cannot be over-filled but instead it does make a lot of bubbles which can overflow the cup and make a mess. For health reasons it really should be poured out into a dixie cup or a re-usable plastic dispensing cup (not included) instead of drinking right from the bottleneck. The idea of swishing it right out of the bottle certainly isn't something I would recommend. I went the dixie cup route but let me tell you, it is very difficult to pour out because the sides of the bottleneck are tapered in such a way that you are pretty much guaranteed to get dribbles. I had no problems with it rinsing away from the bowl of my bathroom sink but any product that dribbles elsewhere can stain so pour this over your sink only (it definitely stained a light washcloth that was used to wipe my son's mouth afterwards).
The 10 ml portion of rinse seemed like it wasn't a lot of product but I tested this first myself before my son tried it. As it turns out 10ml is really quite a bit and what I feel to be too much for a young child to swish around in their mouth without causing them to overflow, gag, or swallow. An adult or older child (teen?) using this will do OK with the 10ml dose but for younger children the dose should be smaller. My 7 year old had a really hard time with that much liquid in his mouth and ended up spitting, gagging and even swallowing some of it (thankfully not too much). I am sure part of his issues had to do with the Blue Mint flavor being very strong. I was thinking it would be minty like toothpaste but instead it is very strong - almost medicinal and very similar to an adult mouthwash. I even found that it had a bit of the sting/burn that mouthwash can have, which is something that I certainly wasn't expecting in a childrens product. The instructions state to swish this product for 30 seconds which seems like an eternity considering the bad taste.
Spitting it out, again making sure to be over the sink because of the bright blue splatter, the product tints your teeth, gumline, and tongue varying shades of blue. The idea being that you can then brush away the blue to be sure to brush all the problem areas that are building up plaque. The blue coloring fades on its own quickly in about a minute or so of time so I feel that this encourages fast and furious brushing instead of taking the slow, steady and thorough approach. The only place where the blue color lingers really is on the tongue along with an aftertaste of the icky flavor. I found that it made me salivate excessively and from the amount of spitting my son did when using this I am sure it had the same effect on him.
Ultimately, I found that the Inspector Plaque Detector just isn't for us and probably won't "be" for most kids. My feeling is that the biggest changes it needs are to have a flavor overhaul and new bottle design that is more pour-friendly and complete with a child-proof cap. As for the mess... well, I'd put with the blue goo if it worked but it really doesn't. Kids may have fun turning their teeth blue and making a mess of the bathroom. I'll say, no thanks.
I received this product free of charge from the manufacturer in exchange for my unbiased review