Oral irrigator

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A Waterpik oral irrigator

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.[1]

Recent studies have demonstrated that it is superior to dental floss in reducing bleeding and as effective in reducing plaque.[2][3][4]

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.[5] Clinical efficacy has been shown through the medium setting and above.[5]

Other uses[edit]

It can also be used to remove 'tonsil stones' in tonsilloliths patients.[6]

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.


  1. ^ Jahn, CA (2010). "The dental water jet: A historical review of the literature". Journal of dental hygiene 84 (3): 114–20. PMID 20579423. 
  2. ^ Barnes, CM; Russell, CM; Reinhardt, RA; Payne, JB; Lyle, DM (2005). "Comparison of irrigation to floss as an adjunct to tooth brushing: Effect on bleeding, gingivitis, and supragingival plaque" (PDF). The Journal of clinical dentistry 16 (3): 71–7. PMID 16305005. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  3. ^ Pokorny, E; Bauer, R; Vonasek, H; Muckenhuber, P (1990). "Recanalization of peripheral vascular occlusions using an argon laser". Der Radiologe 30 (2): 50–3. PMID 2138798. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ a b 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. ^ Svoboda, Elizabeth (August 31, 2009). "In Tonsils, a Problem the Size of a Pea". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2011.