An oral irrigator (also called a dental water jetdental water flosserdental water toothpick or water pick) is a home dental care device. It uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food debris between teeth as well as below the gum line. The oral irrigator improves gingival health. The devices can also provide easier cleaning for braces and dental implants.

Oral irrigators for daily home use function by directing a pulsating stream of water through a nozzle to the tooth surfaces. Most often, a device with a built-in pump generates the pressure. Oral irrigators remove non-adherent bacteria and debris from the oral cavity more effectively than toothbrushes and mouth rinses. They are particularly helpful for removing debris from inaccessible areas around orthodontic appliances and fixed prostheses. When used as adjuncts to tooth brushing and interdental cleaning, these devices can have a beneficial effect on periodontal health by reducing the accumulation of microbial plaque biofilm, as well as by decreasing inflammation and pocket depth.

Oral irrigation has been shown to disrupt and detoxify subgingival plaque biofilm and can be useful in delivering antimicrobial agents to periodontal pockets. Daily supragingival irrigation with dilute chlorhexidine for 6 months resulted in significant reductions in bleeding and gingivitis compared with water irrigation and chlorhexidine rinse controls. Irrigation with water alone also reduced gingivitis significantly, but the positive effect was greater when diluted chlorhexidine was used.


Newman and Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology, 13th Ed