April 5, 2013

What is Oral Irrigation?

Oral irrigators were first developed in 1962 as an alternative to dental flossing.  Also known as a “dental water jet”, “water pick”, or “dental irrigator”, an oral irrigator uses a stream of pressurized, pulsating water to clean between teeth and below the gum line. As a result, harmful deep periodontal pocket bacteria that could not otherwise be reached through brushing or flossing, is flushed out and removed.

Oral irrigators for healthy teeth and gums

Adding an oral irrigator to your routine can be invaluable in the fight against gum disease. Specifically, oral water irrigators have been proven to1:

  • Reduce the overall amount of bacteria that increases your risk for developing gum disease.
  • Remove 99% more plaque than brushing alone, especially when used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
  • Help control gingivitis—particularly in those who don’t floss on a regular basis.
  • Reduce the incidence of gum bleeding.
  • Improve bad breath.

Although oral irrigation was designed to replace flossing, dentists recommend that flossing remain a part of one’s daily oral care routine, as it is more effective at removing plaque than dental irrigation2.

Oral irrigation to the rescue: when flossing isn’t an option

Oral irrigation is often recommended for people who are unable to tolerate flossing. Sensitive gums, orthodontic appliances, diabetes, dental implants, and non-compliance are all reasons why oral irrigation is an effective alternative to flossing. For people with sensitive gums, flossing can prove to be highly irritating; oral irrigators are an excellent alternative, and should be used on a regular basis. People with orthodontic appliances are also good candidates for using an oral irrigation system because of the difficulty they tend to have flossing around metal wires. Studies have found that people with braces and other orthodontic devices who use an oral irrigator with a specialized tip after brushing, remove three times the amount of plaque as those who use a floss threader, and five times as much plaque as those who only brush3.

Because diabetes increases the risk of periodontal disease — especially if glucose levels are uncontrolled or improperly controlled — diabetics can benefit greatly from using an oral irrigator. Even when glucose levels are stable, diabetics tend to be predisposed to experiencing more gum bleeding and inflammation than non-diabetics who have the same level of plaque build-up4.

People undergoing dental implants need to be especially careful about oral cleanliness, and can benefit from the use of oral irrigators as well. Implant failure is a risk if plaque build-up increases to the extent that it inflames the surrounding gum tissue. Oral irrigation helps to reduce the overall amount of plaque, occurrence of gingivitis, and the incidence of gum bleeding5.

For those who are averse to flossing or who find it hard to floss regularly, investing in a dental irrigator is a good option. While oral irrigation is not as effective as flossing, it is beneficial if regular flossing has proven difficult. Using an alcohol-free oral rinse that contains essential oils instead of water can yield even better results.

Dental Herb Company’s Under the Gums Irrigant® is a professional strength antimicrobial herbal concentrate designed for dilution and use with an oral irrigator. It has been shown to reduce the amount of oral bacteria, and help reduce the incidence of bleeding gums while improving the condition of the tissue surrounding the teeth.  Under the Gums Irrigant® is formulated with pure essential oils and extracts of organically grown herbs that are capable of penetrating the mucous membrane with greater potency and longer lasting effectiveness, while conditioning and rebuilding gum tissue. Extracts of Echinacea, gotu kola and essential oils of peppermint, red thyme, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and lavender, work together to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. Using the professional strength Under the Gums Irrigant® after brushing and flossing is an excellent way to maintain oral health naturally. Under the Gums Irrigant® is available in a 4.1 ounce glass bottle, which if used once daily is approximately a two-month supply.

References:

1. “What’s an Oral Irrigator?” Richmonddentaloffice.com. Richmond Dental Office, n.d. Web. http://www.richmonddentaloffice.com/dentistry/?p=341.

2. “Buying Oral Care Products” – JADA, Vol. 133, November 2002 American Dental Association.

3-5. “Irrigate for Oral Health.” Dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, n.d. Web. http://www.dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/2012/11_November/Features/Irrigate_for_Oral_Health.aspx.




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