Device uses electricity to kill bacteria

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Most people don’t use dental floss regularly, and they don’t brush their teeth enough either. The bacteria that are left in the mouth can cause trouble. But a new device might fix that.

Carol Sabuda was one of 35 Western New Yorkers who tested a device called “Oraflow.” It delivers a tiny electrical current to the mouth. She used it every day for six weeks, and felt no discomfort.

Electricity will kill bacteria in the laboratory, so the study was designed to see if it worked in the mouth.

Dr. Sebastian Ciancio of the UB Dental School said, “Does it reduce bacteria, does it improve gum health, do the patients like it, does it damage the tissues? We have to look at safety – found no problems.”

Tooth brushing can reduce bacteria, but most people don’t do it enough.

“The average person brushes for 32 seconds; they should brush for two minutes. so they don’t like to brush, and devices like this may be helpful because they’ll make up for where the patient missed out,” Dr. Ciancio said.

The electricity also works below the gum line where a brush doesn’t reach. Bacteria there can lead to periodontal disease or worse.

Dr. Ciancio explained, “In addition to losing your teeth from gum disease, we now know that there are interactions between the mouth and the rest of the body. It may have some effect on cardiac conditions.”

The device is easy to use, and you can go about your usual activities – except talking. The only real side effect is salivation, but that’s manageable.

Sabuda says if the device works, she would be willing to do it every day for 20 minutes. Though Oraflow still needs more testing, it may one day be a real advance in health care.

Dr. Ciancio said, “Our saying today is: healthy mouth, healthy body. But of course we should exercise, too.”

The trial is ongoing at UB Dental School, and if you’re interested in participating, call 716-829-2885.

People aren’t the only animals that get serious gum disease. A device that is designed like a dog toy is being developed that will allow your dog to be treated while playing tug of war. And unlike Oraflow, FDA approval isn’t needed for animals. The device should be available on the market in about nine months.

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