water picks first hit the market in the 1960’s, many people felt they
were the answer to everything from dental cavities to gum disease. While
they cannot create the perfect teeth and gums, there are benefits to
using them for most individuals. The first thing to keep in mind is that
water picks are not meant to replace daily brushing and flossing.
Water picks are basically dental irrigation tools similar to the ones used by dentists. They aim a stream of pulsating water or some type of dental rinse such as mouthwash into the mouth. By aiming them at the base of the teeth and in between teeth, you achieve two goals. You can dislodge small particles of debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing and you gently massage the gums. The massaging motion helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. Water picks can not, however, remove plaque, which is why you still need to brush and floss every day.
Water picks are particularly helpful at removing food particles in hard to reach areas where brushing might not be as thorough. They are also a great supplement to brushing for children who have braces that are prone to collecting debris and bacteria in the many crevices. Kids may find that water picks are helpful if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on orthodontic appliances.
If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative that will reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don’t cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the appliances clean.
You can find water picks for home or portable use. The home versions
tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable
models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the
same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial
difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure.
Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings,
depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models
have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a
dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models
suggest using water only.
Because they loosen and wash away debris and bacteria, water picks can help prevent gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. Just remember – water picks should be part of your daily oral hygiene routine, not your entire dental care routine!