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The Waterpick - West Hartford Dentist: Dr. Rick Liftig
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The Waterpick

Cleaning in Between the Teeth

The Waterpick device is simply a tank, attached to a pump, attached to a thin tubing, that squirts water from a fine plastic tip. They’ve been around for over fifty years and they are still a very good option for cleaning in between the teeth.

You aim the tip between your teeth and it dislodges food and cleans the in-between area. It’s not a direct replacement for floss, but it works pretty well. And here’s why:

In dentistry, we talk about plaque a lot. Plaque is a bacterial biofilm. It’s a colony of bacteria, some good, some bad, that is found around everyone’s gums. If the bacteria remains undisturbed for too long, the bad bacteria (anaerobes) have an opportunity to:

  1. Get into your bloodstream
  2. Set up an immune response
  3. Cause swelling of the gum and possible bone loss
  4. Cause decay between the teeth.

Cleaning in between the teeth is not easy. At the root level, the teeth resemble tree trunks – there are splits and crevices. The upper back teeth have the most issues because they have three roots as opposed to two or one. There are further complications if you have implants as they are not shaped like real teeth, nor are bridges. Fillings are a rougher than natural tooth and the surface is harder to clean. I’ll repeat, it’s not easy to clean in between the teeth!

YIKES! So how do you get rid of all of those germs? Sorry, you can’t get rid of 100%. But you can disrupt the colonies of bacteria enough so that your immune system mops up the remaining germs. AND, your immune system is very smart!

Back to the Waterpick. These devices are great at disrupting the colonies of bacteria. If your teeth have fillings, implants, spaces or convoluted roots, the water gets everywhere.

Using the Waterpick is a little tricky. It can be messy – you have to use it over the sink. you also have to make sure that you aim the jet of water sideways (not into the gums). Bottom line is that it works really well and for those who don’t like floss, this may be the gadget that you are looking for.

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