Proper tooth cleaning is essential for good dental health. Especially for cleaning the interdental spaces, an oral irrigator can be a useful helper. Does a mouthwash thus replace the floss? And what should be considered when using and cleaning oral irrigators? Here you will find tips on the function and handling of oral showers.
Why thorough dental care is important
Frequently, dental care focuses on exposed tooth surfaces. However, cleaning the interdental spaces is at least as important as these sites make up about 30 percent of the total tooth surface. Plaque can form there as well as on the surfaces of the teeth.
During the day, food particles accumulate between the teeth. Since it is often not possible to reach all parts of the tooth during normal brushing, bacteria in the interdental spaces can often multiply unnoticed. This can lead to inflammation of the gums and caries.
Mouth showers to clean the interdental spaces
With regard to the thorough cleaning of the interdental spaces, it makes no difference whether one uses a normal or an electric toothbrush.
Therefore, flossing is helpful in cleaning narrow interdental spaces. For slightly larger spaces, interdental brushes can be used.
In addition to these teeth cleaning methods, oral irrigators can be used, which are particularly helpful in certain situations.
What is an oral irrigator?
Mouth showers are used as an aid in daily oral hygiene to quickly and easily rid the teeth and interdental spaces of food debris and loose dental plaque using a jet of water.
Oral irrigators do not replace the use of a toothbrush, but unlike dental floss, they can also reach difficult areas, such as under bridges or implants.
What types of irrigator are there?
There are different types of oral showers available:
- An oral irrigator connected directly to the faucet with a hose does not require a water tank and thus has no problems with bacteria formation in the water tank - in contrast to stationary models. Such models are usually cheaper, but require the immediate proximity to a (suitable) faucet.
- A stationary electric irrigator is often slightly larger, usually has a removable water tank, but due to the hose and the necessary proximity to a socket in some cases does not allow great flexibility. For hygienic reasons, the water tank should be cleaned regularly.
- In contrast, a mobile irrigator (travel shower) is operated either with a rechargeable battery or battery and has an integrated water tank, so that can be dispensed with a cable and a hose. However, the water tank is smaller than in stationary models and must also be cleaned regularly.
Observe differences in the water jet
There are also differences with regard to the jet of water: there are mouthwashes with a single jet of water which, by means of bundling, can purify food particles from the interdental spaces.
Furthermore, but also devices are offered with multi-beam adjustment, which have a massage effect on the gums and preventively act against gingivitis.
In many models, the strength of the water jet is adjustable, there are also variants with pulsating or rotating beam.
Accessories and accessories
In addition, some mouthwashes allow you to mix certain antibacterial additives into the water and so accurately introduce into the periodontal pockets.
Furthermore, the accessories often contain various top nozzles or are available separately, for example, for wearers of fixed braces.
What brings an oral shower?
The regular use of an oral irrigator in addition to tooth cleaning with the toothbrush should offer the following advantages:
- Eliminate food waste
- Reduction of bad breath
- Prophylaxis and possibly even relief of gingivitis
- Rinsing poorly accessible areas in people with implants or bridges
- Cleaning the teeth and interdental spaces in people with fixed braces
- Alternative to flossing in old and restricted people
- shorter duration of use than dental floss
- general improvement of oral and dental hygiene
How do I use an oral irrigator?
The handling of an oral irrigator is uncomplicated. If you are using an oral irrigator for the first time or you have sensitive gums, you should take care to first set a low pressure of the water jet to avoid injury to the gums. If one already knows the handling of an oral irrigator, the water jet can be increased with healthy gums to a medium pressure range.
When applying, the water jet must be directed away from the gum in the direction of the tooth crown so as to remove dental plaque. Then you can steer the jet of water towards the gingival pockets, so that there are further deposits rinsed out. High-quality oral showers can choose between a cleansing or massage mode.
The timer can be used to monitor the duration of the brushing process in order to avoid overuse of the gums.
How often should you use an oral irrigator?
The oral irrigator should be used daily morning and evening before or better after brushing your teeth. But you can also use the oral irrigator in between, for example, to remove disturbing food particles.
How do I clean my oral irrigator?
Observe the following tips for hygienic cleaning of your oral irrigator:
- After each use, mouthwashes should be rinsed with hot water and dried with a cloth to avoid limescale.
- A disinfection of the device is necessary at regular intervals, so that no bacteria, viruses or other germs in the nozzle or in the hose propagate.
- As a support, a simple mouthwash solution can be used to clean the mouthpiece or handset. For stationary oral showers, it is recommended to fill the cleaning solution directly into the water tank. The cleaning agent can then be rinsed out through the hose again.
- For models with a water tank, it should be cleaned regularly - preferably at high temperatures in the dishwasher.
What is better: oral irrigator or dental floss?
Both dental floss and a single oral irrigator can be used to remove irritating food particles between the teeth. Dental floss is often perceived as cumbersome and time consuming in the application. In "dental floss muffles" the oral irrigator is therefore popular as a quick and comfortable alternative. The use of dental floss, however, in contrast to the use of an oral irrigator does not require cleaning.
The oral irrigator may also be an alternative to dental floss in the following cases:
- At wide tooth intervals, the oral irrigator is better suited than dental floss.
- Especially for people who wear a fixed brace and can barely reach the teeth and interdental spaces with toothbrush and floss, therefore, an oral irrigator is an important tool for cleaning teeth.
- Even with bridges or implants, the use of an oral irrigator is advisable, since it is precisely the hard-to-reach distances between crowns and tooth replacements that can be flushed through.
- Sometimes in the area of the almonds in the pharynx, deposits of food particles form so-called almond stones (tonsil stones), which lead to strong halitosis. Here, the oral irrigator can provide relief by the water jet of the oral irrigator is aimed specifically at the pharynx and thus the almond stones are flushed out.
- Even with people with gingivitis, the careful use of an oral irrigator can alleviate the symptoms and have a preventative effect.
- Restricted or elderly people who find dental floss more difficult to handle can use an oral irrigator to minimize the risk of dental disease.
Basically, you should use a combination of electric toothbrush with sonic or ultrasonic, oral irrigator and dental floss for teeth cleaning in a healthy dentition to achieve the best possible cleaning result.
For whom is an oral shower unsuitable?
In case of acute gingivitis, small injuries in the mouth or periodontitis, the use of an oral irrigator should be better avoided, otherwise it could lead to an aggravation.
If necessary, the irrigator can be used in such cases carefully and with little pressure, for example, to gently massage the gums. To clean the interdental spaces floss and interdental brushes are then better suited.
People at increased risk for endocarditis (heart wall inflammation), such as those with heart defects or artificial heart valves, are generally discouraged from using oral irrigators. Because there is a risk that the Endokarditis pathogens are dragged through the oral irrigator from the mouth into the bloodstream.
Which is the best oral irrigator?
Meanwhile, a variety of different oral showers available. In addition to well-known brands such as Braun® (Oral-B®), Panasonic® or Philips®, oral irrigators are also available from lesser-known suppliers such as Waterpik®.
Each oral irrigator has different properties. Which type of device you choose as the user depends on which result you want to achieve and which type of irrigator is most suitable for the application.
Due to the steadily growing number of offers, you should first compare current test results before purchasing or even carry out a test, for example, at the dentist.
Conclusion: Is an oral shower useful - yes or no?
Oral showers are quite useful when used correctly and can be used in addition to the toothbrush. Especially if you rarely use dental floss or its use is not possible, so you can not clean the interdental spaces regularly, the purchase of an oral irrigator is recommended.
The oral and dental hygiene can be significantly improved by the regular use of an oral irrigator. However, under no circumstances should the oral irrigator replace the toothbrush - and in the best case the dental floss should not.