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.
What is a Water Pick?
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.
Why Use a Water Pick?
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.
Choosing A Water Pick
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!