Patients ask, dentist in Burlington ON explains: “What is dental irrigation?” and “Why do I need it?”
As the “gatekeeper to oral health and whole-body wellness,” Mount Royal Dental partners with patients to prevent gum disease and tooth decay – the biggest threats to healthy smiles! The dental team’s many tools and products complement great home care and help to maintain oral health or reverse the effects of gum disease. These tools include dental or oral irrigators. Here, your Burlington dentist explains “What is dental irrigation?” and “Why do I need it?”
What is dental irrigation?
When you hear the word “irrigation,” you may think of the application of controlled amounts of water to thirsty plants and crops. Irrigation in the dental world refers to the application of water to the teeth and the subgingival areas underneath the gums.
First developed in the 1960s, oral instruments or irrigators such as the Waterpik® use pressurized and pulsing streams of water to flush out harmful oral bacteria that can’t be removed with brushing and flossing alone. While there are many different types of irrigators, Mount Royal Dental’s dentists and specialists may use instruments equipped with reservoirs to deliver antimicrobial agents. These medicines are beneficial because they destroy or inhibit the growth of the bacteria responsible for periodontal or gum disease. Oral irrigators present a great opportunity to efficiently and precisely apply antimicrobials as a part of a patient’s perio-maintenance program or active therapy to resolve disease.
It’s important to know that scaling and root planing with oral irrigation may be all that’s necessary to remove sticky plaque and its hardened form, tartar, and to restore your mouth to health. As these bacterial films are removed, your body is encouraged to heal naturally.
Gum tissue is supposed to fit snugly around each tooth. But bacteria in plaque and tartar promotes inflammation and swelling. Spaces or pockets form between the teeth and gums. The longer the inflammation persists, unabated, the deeper the pocket gets. Pockets may be measured with periodontal probes, and these measurements matter because:
- Generally, measurements between 1 to 3 millimeters indicate “healthy” gums.
- A pocket depth of 4 millimeters suggests early-stage disease (gingivitis).
- Pockets of at least 5 millimeters indicate moderate to severe periodontal disease or periodontitis.
- Advanced disease is a common cause of tooth loss.
With dental irrigation and cleaning, minor to moderate inflammation can be resolved and the gums regenerate snugly around the tooth again! More advanced cases of gum disease (with bone loss) may require additional or more extensive restorative treatments.
Why do I need it [dental irrigation]?
At Mount Royal Dental, we believe that every patient can benefit from preventive products and techniques; however, oral irrigation may be particularly beneficial for the following types of patients.
Patients who wear braces and other types of orthodontic appliances often have difficulty flossing and cleaning around metal wires and brackets. While oral irrigators are not a substitute for flossing, studies have shown that the use of an irrigator with a specialized tip removes more plaque than the use of floss threaders alone. Effective oral hygiene prevents the formation of plaque and tartar and keeps your mouth healthy while your teeth are being straightened.
Patients with dental implants
Even though implants support restorations like crowns and dentures, consistent and thorough oral hygiene is a must to keep implant-supported teeth healthy. The risk of implant failures is associated with plaque build-up that inflames surrounding gum tissues — a condition known as periimplantitis. Oral irrigators help to prevent plaque formation, gum bleeding, and gingivitis, so your implants are a success and surrounding tissues remain healthy. Irrigators are also a great way to retain the health of tissues around other types of restorations, such as dental bridges.
Some medical conditions can put you at increased risk of developing gum disease. Diabetics are largely predisposed to bacterial infections and aren’t able to fight off bacteria as well as patients who don’t have diabetes. Furthermore, advanced gum disease can affect blood glucose levels and contribute to poor diabetes control. Even those patients with stable glucose levels tend to have more gum bleeding and inflammation than their non-diabetic counterparts. Oral irrigation is a great complement to brushing and flossing for diabetics, as it helps to keep bacteria in check and promotes great gum health.
A healthy mouth is often a healthy body! We look forward to keeping you and your family members well with dental irrigation as a key part of perio-maintenance and treatment plans. Call (905) 581-9912 to schedule an appointment with one of our talented dental professionals, which includes in-house periodontist (gum specialist), Dr. Amy Yeung.