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Oral Irrigation vs. Flossing

What is the Better Addition to Brushing?

In the dental community, a debate on oral health has been active for many years: When it comes to dental health, is oral irrigation or flossing more effective? The one item experts do agree upon is that brushing your teeth twice daily is a strong foundation for good oral health. However, when it comes to additional measures to keep a healthy mouth, experts often find themselves engaged in a disagreement as to which measure is superior or more effective. Often, this debate comes down to two opponents: oral irrigation and dental floss. As is common throughout the medical community as a whole, the importance of a clinical trial and scientific research in searching for the answer is incredibly important. This particular debate is no exception to that rule.

A recent study was conducted by a panel of Registered Dental Hygienists and Dentists. The aforementioned group tackled this particular issue by comparing the results of using brushing and traditional flossing versus using brushing and oral irrigation over a twenty-eight day period. The study itself was a single-blind clinical trial that tested the use of both manual and power tooth brushing methods, in addition to either flossing or oral irrigation.

There were a total of three groups establish for the study, as follows: Group 1: manual toothbrush and floss; Group 2: manual tooth brush and dental water jet and Group 3: sonic toothbrush and oral water jet. Participants were randomly assigned to one of these groups, and then instructed to brush their teeth twice daily for two minutes and use the prescribed adjunct method to their brushing afterwards. These methods were either flossing or the use of an oral irrigation device provided to participants.

The main objective was to find the most effective method in which to most effectively remove plaque and prevent dental and gum disease. Oral irrigation has long been established as an effective tool for oral health and the removal of both bacteria and food particles from the mouth; however the backing of a scientific study is important in proving this point with concrete results and evidence.

After the conclusion of this four-week study, participants were inspected and rated for both their overall oral health and the presence of bacteria and plaque in their mouths. Experts say these factors contribute to an overall assessment of one's oral health. A baseline was established for each participant before the study began, allowing the panel to assess any changes in their overall health after the study concluded.

The end results of the study showed that the participants who used both a power toothbrush and the oral irrigation device during the study, known as Group 3, had the greatest benefit to their overall oral health. These benefits included the reduction of the presence of gingivitis, plaque and a reduction in any bleeding from their gums. Results particularly noted that the usage of a power toothbrush and oral irrigation device is as effective, if not more effective in some cases, than the use of a manual toothbrush and floss.