Product Review & Giveaway: Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser

Let’s face it: Most people don’t floss regularly. Why else would things like this

flossing pie chart

and this

flossing card

be at all funny?

Yet that simple fact goes a long way toward explaining why periodontal (gum) disease is so rampant. As many as 75% of the adult population has it to some degree. It’s the sixth most prevalent disease in the world. (Other factors include tobacco and other drug use; a carb-rich, sugar-centric diet; chronic stress; insufficient sleep; and physical inactivity.)

If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, it’s a likely sign that the disease process is well underway. If left unchecked, the final result is deterioration of the supporting jawbone and tooth loss.

The good news? Gum disease is treatable and preventable.

One of the tools Dr. V commonly recommends for achieving both goals is an oral irrigator, which streams water under the gums and into periodontal pockets, where other tools just can’t reach. It can be used in addition to or even instead of conventional floss. Plain water can be used, or you can add peroxide or herbal compounds to further disinfect and promote healing.

All of us here at the office are big fans of these devices.

So even though, as mentioned, we don’t typically review or recommend specific products on this blog, we were glad to accept a sample unit offered to us by a Waterpik rep to try out and write about here – unconditionally.*

And unconditionally, we can tell you that we think the Aquarius Professional Water Flosser they sent us is a dandy little unit. (They also sent us a second unit to offer as a giveaway to one of our readers. But more on that in a minute.)

Waterpik Aquarius Professional Water FlosserOne thing we like about the Water Flosser is that it’s small, taking up less counter space than other models. It also comes with a variety of tips suited for specific dental situations or general use. For instance, the Pik Pocket Tip is designed to deliver water deep into the pockets that form around the teeth thanks to gum disease, becoming perfect little harbors for pathogens to colonize and multiply: dark, damp, low-oxygen environments. A Plaque Seeker Tip, with its small brushes, is for cleaning around crowns, bridges and other dental work, while an Orthodontic Tip is suited for cleaning brackets. There’s even a Toothbrush Tip.

And yes, we tried them all out, as well as the conventional tips, using both plain water and water spiked with an herbal tonic. We tried different settings, both for flossing and soft tissue massage. Unlike in some older models we’ve used, it seems there’s much more gradual variation between settings, so you can get just the right intensity that’s comfortable for you. (In the case of the Pocket Tip, the lowest setting is always recommended to prevent inadvertent damage to the soft tissues.)

The unit also includes a timer so you’ll know when to switch from one arch to the other, irrigating your mouth for the recommended minute total.

One of the nicest things about this – or any – irrigator is just how thoroughly cleansed your mouth feels afterwards. It may be the closest you can get to that just-done-at-the-dentist feeling at home – especially when used with an herbal medicament like the Dental Herb Company’s Under the Gums Irrigant.

According to Waterpik, the device is up to 50% more effective than traditional dental floss and clinically proven to remove up to 9.9% of plaque from treated areas in 3 seconds. While regular readers know we tend to take industry-sponsored research with many proverbial grains of salt, we also know that, clinically, we see a big difference in the health of tissues of those who routinely use an irrigator compared with those who don’t.

And now, thanks to the good folks at Waterpik, we can give away an Aquarius Professional Water Flosser to one of our readers (an $80 value)!

How to Enter: Between now and March 12, 2015, simply leave a comment below describing how you think a Water Pik Aquarius Professional Water Flosser would help you improve your home dental care. (Note: We hold all comments for moderation, so if you don’t see yours post right away, no worries.) We’ll draw one name at random from all entries. The winner will be contacted by email and announced here on Tuesday, March 16.

* Water Pik provided the product unsolicited “for editorial consideration.” At no time were we told what to say about it. All views expressed here are the collective opinion of Dr. Verigin and his staff.

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Biosis #46: Dentistry Shouldn’t Be “Just Another Profession,” Embracing Difference, & More!


The February 2015 issue of Biosis, our quarterly newsletter, is now online. In this issue:

  • JoAnne’s Motivational Minute: Embracing Difference

    I think of the patchwork quilts my great grandmother once made. From her large basket of remnants and still serviceable parts of well-worn housedresses and work shirts, she prepared patches and sewed them together. You could remember some of the family history by identifying the patches. You could enjoy the beauty of the varied colors and textures and patterns.

    Each patch was unique. Together, they formed a functional whole – brought together with love, attention and care.

    I prefer a world that is just such a quilt…

  • Dr. Verigin’s Comment: Dentistry Shouldn’t Be “Just Another Profession”

    Every day, the media regales us with stories of ever-increasing scientific knowledge and supposed medical “miracles” through new therapies, diagnostic tools and other advanced technologies. Medical professionals are particularly bombarded with hype over the latest drugs to manage symptoms of any type of illness, dysfunction or syndrome you care to name.

    One “side effect” they never mention: How drug-driven medicine often distracts the health professional, effectively dulling their sixth sense – the intuitive hunch, the inner eye, the gut feeling that supports the ability to diagnose safely and quickly, even in the most primitive conditions.

  • From Our Blog: Yet More Evidence Pointing to Mercury Amalgam’s Risk

    In 2000, Freya Koss filed a personal malpractice suit against her former dentist. Her complaint

    alleged that the dentist had exposed her to dangerous levels of mercury vapor during the unsafe removal of an existing amalgam filling and replacement with a new one. Further, she alleged that her injuries were due to numerous deviations from the acceptable standard of care in 1998, the most significant being the use of liquid mercury rather than a pre-encapsulated form of dental amalgam. Secondly, the liquid mercury amalgam was inadequately mixed in an antiquated and damaged amalgamator, whose 1941 manufacturing date was confirmed by the company’s original records.

    In addition, the complaint alleged that the dentist did not follow recommended precautions to prevent inhalation of mercury vapors, known to cause harm to the nervous system. Also, the dentist had failed to inform her of the risks involved in the drilling out and replacement of mercury-containing amalgam fillings.

    After nearly 15 years of struggle, the case was quietly settled out of court in her favor last autumn. The evidence that she had compiled during this time and through ensuing years of activism against dental mercury was, in a word, “indisputable.”

    And the scientific record against amalgam continues to grow.

Read Biosis #46 now.

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Organic Means Less Pesticide Exposure

There are lots of good reasons for opting for organic. For instance:

10 reasons to opt for organic

More than one of those reasons hinge on a simple fact about organics: They don’t offer the super-sized, super-potent pesticide chemical cocktail industrially farmed crops provides.

Now, new research – “among the first to predict adult exposures to organophosphate pesticides based on people’s usual diets” – confirms this. According to LiveScience, the scientists found that

when matched on produce intake, people who reported eating organic fruits and veggies at least occasionally had significantly lower levels of pesticide residue in their urine than people who almost always ate conventionally grown produce.

Those who “often or always” ate organic fruits and vegetables averaged approximately 65 percent lower levels of pesticide metabolites in their urine than those who “rarely or never” ate organic.

That’s quite a difference! And keep in mind that this study only looked at organophosphates, not other pesticides that may have been used.

Organophosphates are extremely toxic. As one scientist described them to National Geographic, they’re “considered junior-strength nerve agents because they have the same mechanism of action as nerve gases like sarin.”

Probably not something you want to be eating a lot of on a regular basis…

See EWG’s latest Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce for more info on reducing your pesticide exposure from the foods you eat.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Orange vs. the Juice

A basic idea of nutritional approaches to health is that whole foods are generally “better” than foods derived or processed from them. It’s the total nutritional package that counts, as Dr. Royal Lee pointed out many decades ago and as research has confirmed – at least in some cases. For instance, a study published last fall in Advances in Nutrition found that, with respect to lycopene, tomatoes packed a bigger nutritional punch than supplements.

oranges and juicerSo we’ve written before about how whole fruit is preferable to juice – even 100% juice, although there are dental reasons for this, as well. After all, fruit juice is concentrated sugar. You’d have to eat several pieces of fruit to get the sugar equivalent of 8 ounces of juice. Juice also tends to be highly acidic, weakening tooth enamel and giving oral pathogens even more opportunity to wreak havoc, ultimately leading to decay.

Nutritionally, though, new research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that the picture is a little murkier than originally thought.

Its authors did a nutritional comparison of oranges and orange juice. On the one hand, they found that juice was indeed a little lower in cartenoids and vitamin C than whole fruit. However, what was in the juice turned out to be more bioavailable: More of the nutrients could be absorbed and used by the body.

And contrary to conventional wisdom, although juicing oranges dramatically cut flavonoid levels, the remaining ones were much more bioaccessible than those in orange segments.

Though from a dental standpoint, we do recommend folks go easy on juice, clearly, it does offer some benefits. If and when you choose it, just wait a half hour or so before brushing afterward, to give acids time to be neutralized so you don’t wind up brushing them into your teeth.

Image by Judy van der Velden, via Flickr

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Yet More DIY Dentistry

Is this really A Thing?!

NY Times DIY ortho headline

We’d like to think “tens of thousands” of YouTube views doesn’t necessarily mean all or even most viewers tried it at home. We hope. Who hasn’t watched more than one video for the sheer OMG factor of it – like the one here?

But apparently the American Association of Orthodontists has grown concerned enough to issue a consumer alert against trying to straighten your own teeth – whether with rubber bands, paper clips, or mail order devices. “It is the AAO’s position,” they say elsewhere,

that patients should always see an orthodontic specialist to move teeth and achieve a proper bite. “DIY” at-home treatments without orthodontic supervision, such as attempts to close gaps with rubber bands or paper clips, significantly increase the chances of irreparable harm. Orthodontic treatment is a complex medical procedure, and there is no “one size fits all” approach. Treatment is customized for each patient, taking into account all relevant information.

The trend of do it yourself orthodontic treatment appears to be increasing in North America and the United Kingdom, as well as other areas around the world. A quick Google search of the term “do it yourself orthodontics” will reveal the extent of the problem.

Well, you might be thinking, orthodontists stand to lose money from people straightening their own teeth. Of course they’re concerned!

On the other hand, the person dead-set on DIY ortho stands to lose some teeth or create other expensive-to-fix dental problems – which kind of defeats the purpose of ortho-on-the-cheap.

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New Questions About Herbal Supplement Quality

dietary supplementsWe’ve seen before that there can sometimes be real discrepancies between what a supplement label says and what it actually contains. The issue came to the fore again last week when the New York Times reported that most herbal supplements tested for the state attorney general’s office did not contain any of the herbs listed on their labels.

The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.

The office pointed the finger at products from four major retailers in particular, as GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart were accused of “selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements.”

And here, the phrase “the high cost of ‘cheap'” comes to mind.

That said, LiveScience reports that some scientists question the results. Was the kind of testing done – a technique called DNA barcoding, which searches for a specific fragment of DNA – appropriate to the task?

The ingredients in herbal supplements are often highly processed — crushed, dissolved, filtered and dried — so that they may no longer contain the particular fragment of DNA that researchers are searching for, making the supplement appear to be mislabeled, [Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Pieter] Cohen said. But the products could still contain some biological compounds from the original plant.

Danica Harbaugh Reynaud, CEO of AuthenTechnologies, a company that does identification tests to look for the plant species found in herbal supplements and other products, agreed. “My suspicion is that inappropriate methods were used to assess these products, leading to some false-negative results,” Reynaud told Live Science. “A lack of DNA … is not necessarily indicative” of a mislabeled supplement, she said.

Damon Little, associate curator of bioinformatics at the New York Botanical Garden, said that some herbal supplements — particularly plant extracts — contain very little DNA. “In the extreme case, you more or less won’t find any DNA in that extract at all,” Little told Live Science.

Regardless, the current controversy casts light back on a critical issue: If you’re using herbal and nutritional supplements, it’s important that you opt for high quality products rather than whatever’s on sale at your local big box store or deeply discounted at Amazon.

It’s one reason why we recommend consulting with a qualified health professional about any kind of ongoing supplementation. He or she can guide you to quality products and proper dosages, as well as help ensure you won’t put yourself at risk from bad combinations of and interactions with pharmaceutical drugs or other medicaments you may be taking.

More about supplement quality:
Not All Nutritional Supplements Are Created Equal
When Label & Supplement Don’t Match

Also see Natural Medicine Journal‘s commentary on the matter, which we were alerted to only after we’d published this post.

Image by SuperFantastic, via Flickr

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Why You Need to Stay Hydrated

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