Patient Care & Post-Op

A New Approach To At Home Oral Irrigation

Many dentists today are taking a new view of home care. They find that flossing is difficult for patients to manage, and in many cases not even attempted at all. Some clinicians are finding that oral pressure lavage, with an irrigating appliance such as a Water Pik, can obtain superior results.

Patients with conditions such as gingivitis and advanced periodontal disease use oral lavage as part of their daily oral hygiene routine, accompanied by use of an antibacterial agent such as chlorhexidine gluconate. But patients usually dislike the taste of this medication and find that it eventually causes black discoloration around the teeth.

The answer may lie in a simple household remedy. We use soap products to emulsify dirt and oils on our clothes, dishes, and body, and this cleansing phenomenon can also be applied to the mouth-which as we eat each day is constantly being coated with oils from animal fats, vegetable fats, and dairy products.

The Recipe

  • 12 oz. very warm water
  • 1 oz Listerine or Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1-2 drops of liquid hand soap (Dawn)
  • ( For table top versions, place irrigator tip in tank and turn on unit to mix the water and
    other ingredients. For cordless versions, simply agitate to mix. )

When the solution is well mixed, the patient can begin the oral lavage. The pressure-action flushing will clean out interproximal and intracrevicular debris that is missed by brushing and flossing. Removing this debris helps prevent dental plaque and calculus accumulations

An Effective, not Dramatic, Change

By no means is adding an antibacterial soap to the oral hygiene process a dramatic change. Such agents are already found in toothpastes as the sodium lauryl sulfate and related compounds, which create the suds when we brush. Patients who follow this regimen find it pleasant, not overly soapy; the taste is clean (antibacterial hand soap now comes in lemon or bubblegum flavor); and the resulting healthy gingiva speak for themselves. The teeth are squeaky clean. The reddened gingiva becomes healthy pink in a short period of dedicated use. No black discoloration occurs.