Oral irrigator

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An oral irrigator

An oral irrigator (also called a dental water jet, dental water toothpick, water flosser, or by the brand name of the best-known such device, Waterpik) is a home dental care device which uses a stream of high-pressure pulsating water intended to remove plaque and food debris between teeth and below the gum line. Regular use of an oral irrigator is believed to improve gingival health.[citation needed] The devices may also provide easier cleaning for braces and dental implants.[citation needed]


The first oral irrigator was developed in 1962 by dentist Gerald Moyer and engineer John Mattingly.[citation needed]

Since then, oral irrigators have been evaluated in a number of scientific studies and have been tested for periodontal maintenance,[1] and those with gingivitis, diabetes, orthodontic appliances, and tooth replacements such as crowns, and implants.[2]

A 2008 meta-analysis of whether oral irrigation is beneficial as an adjunct to tooth brushing concluded that "the oral irrigator does not have a beneficial effect in reducing visible plaque", but suggests it may be beneficial to gingival health in addition to regular tooth brushing.[3][4] A study at the University of Southern California found that a 3-second treatment of pulsating water (1,200 pulses per minute) at medium pressure (70 psi) removed 99.9% of plaque biofilm from treated areas.[5][6]

Other uses[edit]

Oral irrigators have also been used to remove tonsil stones ("tonsiloliths") in those subject to them.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sharma, N; Lyle, D; Qaqish, J; Galustians, J; Schuller, R (2008). "Effect of a dental water jet with orthodontic tip on plaque and bleeding in adolescent patients with fixed orthodontic appliances". American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 133 (4): 565–71, quiz 628.e1–2. doi:10.1016/j.ajodo.2007.12.008.
  2. ^ Jahn, CA (2010). "The dental water jet: A historical review of the literature". Journal of dental hygiene. 84 (3): 114–20. PMID 20579423.
  3. ^ Jin, Lijian (2009). "Is oral irrigation beneficial to gingival health as an adjunct to toothbrushing?". Evidence-Based Dentistry. 10 (2): 40–41. doi:10.1038/sj.ebd.6400644. ISSN 1462-0049.
  4. ^ Husseini, A; Slot, DE; Van der Weijden, GA (2008). "The efficacy of oral irrigation in addition to a toothbrush on plaque and the clinical parameters of periodontal inflammation: a systematic review". Int J Dent Hyg. 6: 304–14. doi:10.1111/j.1601-5037.2008.00343.x. PMID 19138181.closed access
  5. ^ Gorur, A; Lyle, DM; Schaudinn, C; Costerton, JW (2009). "Biofilm removal with a dental water jet". Compendium of continuing education in dentistry. 30 Spec No 1: 1–6. PMID 19385349.
  6. ^ "Benefits of water flossing". Oralglow.com.
  7. ^ Svoboda, Elizabeth (August 31, 2009). "In Tonsils, a Problem the Size of a Pea". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2011.