Oral irrigation is not intended to be used as a sole method of teeth and gum cleaning but rather to complement a person’s brushing and flossing.
Oral irrigation reduces bleeding gums and gum pocket depths. The force of the water across the opening of the gum pocket creates suction, which draws bacteria out. The water also massages and stimulates the gums, making it healthier and more resistant to infection.
It is recommended in addition to brushing and flossing to target:
- Open spaces between teeth and between exposed tooth roots
- Crowded teeth
- Surgery sites that have initial healing
- Around crowns, bridges and fixed orthodontic appliances.
- Around dental implant supported structures.
- Where persistent gingivitis occurs even after plaque removal.
A power-driven irrigation device comes with a variety of delivery tips to assist in the removal of loosely attached bacterial plaque and food on the difficult to reach tooth surfaces above and below the gum line:
- Multiple stream, with or without a pulsating actionli>
- Single stream, with or without a pulsating actionli>
- All tips rotate 360 degrees for accurate aimli>
The effectiveness of an antimicrobial agent is enhanced when delivered by an oral irrigator. Agents that have been researched for use in an irrigator include salt water, fluoride and disinfectants like chlorhexidine.
The principle method of using a power-driven oral irrigator:
- Always start with fresh solution
- Lean over the sink to let the water or antimicrobial agent flow out of the mouth
- Do not drink or swallow the irrigating solution
- Set the unit pressure on the lowest setting; this can be increased slightly over time with consideration to the condition of the gum tissue and comfort.
- Direct the tip at or below the gum margin so that it is almost touching the tooth surface – directed at 90 degrees to the tooth.
- Activate the flow of solution for 5 to 6 seconds
- Empty the reservoir after each use
Caution is advised when using oral irrigators:
- If the pulsating water is aimed directly in the gum pocket it can cause infected material to lodge into the gums, which could result in an abscess.
- Patients who require antibiotic premedication for dental and dental hygiene treatment are at a high risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream.