An oral irrigator (also called a dental water jet, dental water toothpick, water flosser, or water pick) is a home dental care device. It uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food debris between teeth as well as below the gum line. The oral irrigator improves gingival health. The devices can also provide easier cleaning for braces and dental implants.
Since that time, oral irrigators have been evaluated in more than 50 scientific studies and have been tested (and proven effective) on people in periodontal maintenance, and those with gingivitis, diabetes, orthodontic appliances, crowns, and implants.
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 oral hygiene measures. 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.
An oral irrigator, while having a specific intended purpose, is just a device to produce a pulsating jet of water, and can be and has been used for other purposes. It has been recommended to remove tonsil stones in those subject to them.
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