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. The devices may also provide easier cleaning for braces and dental implants.
The first oral irrigator was developed in 1962 by dentist Gerald Moyer and engineer John Mattingly.
Since then, oral irrigators have been evaluated in a number of scientific studies and have been tested for periodontal maintenance, and those with gingivitis, diabetes, orthodontic appliances, and tooth replacements such as 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 tooth brushing. 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.
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