Oral Irrigation - Yay or Nay? Part 3

Written by Heather Siler

Types of Oral Irrigators and Tips

Oral irrigators have become increasingly popular because of their effectiveness in disturbing plaque biofilm. In this blog, the types of irrigators and tips are discussed.

Types of Irrigators-

  • Electric or Cordless- the power source is a traditional electrical plug or a rechargeable battery.
  • Full size, Compact, or Travel- various sizes are available depending on the user’s lifestyle.
  • Removable or Fixed Reservoir- refers to whether the reservoir can be removed from the unit. Removable is best to allow for proper cleaning.
  • Pressure Control- most units allow the user to adjust the amount of water pressure.
  • Pulsed Flow- This is the most common unit on the market. The water is compressed and decompressed causing bacteria and debris to become disrupted and removed supra and subgingivally.
  • Steady Stream- The water comes out in a steady stream without the pulsation.
  • Magnetized- The water is charged thereby reducing the formation of calculus. However, studies suggest that this type of unit doesn’t decrease gingivitis and bleeding.
  • Oxygenized- The water is incorporated with air which produces bubbles to disturb plaque and anaerobic bacteria. This, in turn, reduces gingival inflammation and bleeding.

 Tip Styles and Usage-

  • Standard Tip- This tip is the most common and is used supragingivally daily to remove food particles and disrupt plaque biofilm. It allows the water to reach 50% of the pocket depth.
  • Periodontal Tip- This specialized tip is designed to allow access up to 90% of the depth of the pocket. It’s inserted subgingivally and has a soft rubber tip with a small opening that controls the amount and pressure of the water and antimicrobial entering the pocket. The patient must be instructed regarding use and must have sufficient dexterity.
  • Orthodontic Tip- Used around orthodontic appliances to effectively remove food particles and disturb plaque biofilm, this tip is also recommended for patients with sensitive gums.
  • Combination Sonic Toothbrush and Irrigation Tip- this hybrid tip is excellent for plaque removal and irrigation at the same time. It’s recommended for all patients but especially ones with limited dexterity.
  • Tongue Cleaning Tip- this tip assists with halitosis by reducing the number of bacteria on the tongue. Recommended for all patients but especially those with elongated papillae.
  • Restorative Tip- this tip is recommended for patients with implants or crown and bridge that may not respond to traditional methods of oral hygiene. Implants, crowns, and bridges may be difficult to access because of their shape and positioning.
  • Nasal Tip- Used for flushing the nasal passages.

In the next blog, we’ll delve into proper use and care of oral irrigators.