Best way to take care of a bridge
February 29, 2012 9:03 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to take care of my new bridge? Should I get a water flosser?

I just finished having a bridge put on the last 3 teeth on my lower jaw. I've never had a bridge before and I want to make sure I treat it right. My dentist told me to use floss threaders to clean under it, but I am super intimidated by the thought. My teeth are really tight and I have a hard time flossing in the back with normal teeth, so I'm not sure how well I'll manage. I'm wondering if I should get one of those water flossers.

MeFites with bridges, especially hard to reach ones- should I get a water flosser, or just suck it up and try to poke the floss through? What brands of floss threader/water flosser do you recommend? Any tips/tricks for use?
posted by oblique red to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
As much as it's a waste of plastic, flossing with my hands is really really hard, so these things are actually pretty great. No idea about bridges though, just saying that these are a LOT easier to use than holding the string with your fingers.
posted by Grither at 9:12 AM on February 29, 2012

I have a bridge and use this one every morning. I love it.
I use this one when I travel, it's not as powerful but it'll do when I'm away from home.
posted by Floydd at 9:24 AM on February 29, 2012

very similar to Grither's picks. there's also things like Reach's Access Flosser. They are toothbrush shaped flossers and I love it. I never use to floss before, but started after my dentist included one in my little goodie bag.

The actual floss part is detachable, and you just chuck it in the trash bin. A new one just snaps into place.
posted by royalsong at 9:25 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

The dentist that put in my bridges recommended Oral B SuperFloss, which comes as separate pieces of floss that have a very thin starter on one end. I've found it very easy to use. The fact that your teeth are close together shouldn't matter because you're going underneath the bridge, between the bridge and the gum. The floss is also easy to travel with, and I've been able to buy it in Thailand, the US, and Mexico.
posted by ceiba at 10:04 AM on February 29, 2012

Floss threaders aren't for between your teeth, they are for under the bridge. A water-pik or similar device will work very nicely as well. If you can't manage to figure out a comfortable way on your own, ask the hygienist to help you. Practice in front of a mirror and you will get it eventually.
Remember, you only have to floss the ones you want to keep.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:19 AM on February 29, 2012

Oral B SuperFloss is great, but I find it rather pricey. I have found that BRUSHPICKS are a great way to clean beneath my bridge (which, like yours is in the lower back). I do have to hold my lip out of the way with one hand and maneuver the pick with the other, but it's really quite manageable. Also, I have found that I can use each pick more than once if I rinse it well.
posted by tentacle at 4:25 PM on February 29, 2012

1) Floss threaders are there only to allow you to pull the floss under the bridge, not between your teeth (as OHenyPacey) says.

2)The various devices with floss already attached to them (so you don't have to wrap the floss around your fingers), should come with a caveat. The caveat is that they are not necessarily as effective as traditional flossing. The reason is because proper flossing technique calls for wrapping the tooth with the floss at its base (under the gumline) - the holders don't allow enough flexibility to wrap far enough around the tooth, so you end up flossing just one plane of the tooth under the gumline, instead of 3 (the fourth one does from the other side). Imagine you are holding a finger up and let someone put a floss around your finger so that it covers 3 sides (the floss forms a U - thus touching 3 sides of the tooth). Now do it with one of those plastic reachers - at best, you're touching a bit of the other two sides, because you can't form a proper U due to the rigidity of the plastic. Hence you are only cleaning ONE out of three surfaces of the tooth under the gumline.

3)The research on the effectiveness of WaterPik type devices, called oral irrigators, dental jets or water flossers, is somewhat mixed. If you already have proper brushing and flossing technique, these devices may not necessarily improve your oral hygiene any further. See:

J Clin Periodontol. 1978 May;5(2):95-104.
Effect of the Water Pik device on plaque accumulation and development of gingivitis.
Hugoson A.

PMID: 350911

The influence of the water irrigating device, Water Pik, on the accumulation of plaque and development of gingivitis has been studied using the model, "experimental gingivitis in man". The investigation was carried out on 41 patient volunteers whose teeth were thoroughly scaled and polished during a 4-week period of intensive oral hygiene preceding each experimental period. Gingival exudation, Plaque Index and Gingival Index were registered at the beginning of the experimental periods. The participants were then divided into four groups. Groups A and B abandoned all forms of active oral hygiene. Group A, however, were given Water Pik devices as the only oral hygiene aid. Groups C and D continued to clean their teeth using a toothbrush and Group C were given Water Pik devices as a supplementary aid. After 14 days, gingival exudation, Plaque Index, Gingival Index and soft tissue injuries were registered. The results showed that , while both groups A and B demonstrated extensive plaque deposits and gingivitis, these were present to a significantly lesser degree in Water Pik users. The toothbrushing groups (C and D) failed to demonstrate any further reduction of plaque or gingivitis when Water Pik was introduced as an additional measure. No soft tissue injuries were found."[emph. mine - VS]

Now, if your tooth cleaning is impaired in some way (technique, access, mobility etc.), these irrigators may have positive impact on your dental health.
posted by VikingSword at 5:26 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For followup in case others are looking:

My bridge is at the back of my mouth and I find it very hard to reach, which has been a complicating factor. The floss with the stiffened ends hasn't been good for me; the ends aren't stiff enough for me to get it under the bridge. I think my bridge may be tighter than normal, or perhaps it's due to the placement, but those haven't been a great solution for me.

I did find these little things called GUM soft picks. They are like a little plastic toothpick (though slimmer than a toothpick) with rubber brush-like bristles on them. I am able to use those under my bridge; their additional rigidity did the trick over the stiffened floss. However, the "go betweens" little brush things did NOT work for me; the wire is too big to fit in the space.

I also did get the Water Pik, and use it on the bridge space every couple of days in addition to the soft picks.

For the rest of the teeth, I just use normal glide floss.
posted by oblique red at 11:39 AM on April 16, 2012

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