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An oral irrigator (also called a dental water jet) is a home care device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food debris between teeth and below the gumline and improve gingival health.
The first oral irrigator was developed in 1962 by a dentist and an engineer, both from Fort Collins, CO. Since that time, the oral irrigators have been evaluated in more than 50 scientific studies. It has been tested and shown effective on people in periodontal maintenance, and those with gingivitis, diabetes, orthodontic appliances, crowns, and implants.
A study at the University of Southern California found that a 3 second treatment of pulsating water (1,200 per minute) at medium pressure (70 psi) removed 99.9% of plaque biofilm from treated areas. Clinical efficacy has been shown through the medium setting and above.
Non-dental uses exist for some consumers, such as cleaning jewelry.
There is some anecdotal evidence that an oral irrigator is useful in preventing and treating canker sores. Prevention involves pulsing the soft tissues of the mouth (gums, cheeks, etc.). For established canker sores, a low pressure pulse directed at the sore itself shortens its duration.
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