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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.
Since that time, oral irrigators have been evaluated in more than 50 scientific studies and have been tested (and shown effective) on people in periodontal maintenance, and those with gingivitis, diabetes, orthodontic appliances, crowns, and implants.
A 2008 meta-analysis of whether or not 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.
Non-dental uses exist for some consumers, such as cleaning jewellery.
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 (cheeks, gums, etc.). For established canker sores, a low pressure pulse directed at the sore itself may shorten its duration.
The irrigator can also be used at low settings with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and warm water to irrigate the ear canal for the purpose of removing ear wax.
- 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.
- Jahn, CA (2010). "The dental water jet: A historical review of the literature". Journal of dental hygiene 84 (3): 114–20. PMID 20579423.
- 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.
- 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.
- Svoboda, Elizabeth (August 31, 2009). "In Tonsils, a Problem the Size of a Pea". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
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