Presently, a majority of dental disease occurs on interproximal surface areas of teeth (i.e. the surface areas between teeth). A program of good dental hygiene which includes keeping the interproximal surface areas clean helps prevent dental disease from occurring in these areas.
Flossing is a well known and commonly used method of good dental hygiene by which interproximal surfaces of teeth are cleaned. Proper flossing cleans the interproximal surfaces both above and below the gum line thereby reducing the likelihood of dental disease on these surfaces. Although flossing is a valuable part of good dental hygiene, it is a tedious and time consuming task and, therefore, is seldom done properly.
There are various methods of cleaning teeth. Toothbrushes are used to clean teeth. However, toothbrushes cannot adequately clean interproximal surface areas because of the lack of access to these areas. Toothpicks are also used to clean teeth and also suffer from an inability to reach all interproximal surfaces adequately. Hydraulic dental irrigation systems may be used to clean these areas. However, it is well accepted that hydraulic irrigation alone is inadequate to remove the sticky plaque film which build up on teeth surfaces including interproximal surfaces.
If done properly, dental flossing is a highly effective method of improving dental hygiene with autoclave sterilizer and health of both teeth and periodontium which is between natural teeth and/or dental restorations in the mouth. Flossing action actually mechanically cleans bacteria laden plaque from tooth surfaces, particularly from interproximal tooth surfaces. Essentially, the floss wipes or scrubs off plaque and other undesirable debris from tooth surfaces. Although flossing is commonly known to be as important and as necessary as tooth brushing, it is widely neglected. Some of the most common complaints about flossing include that it is difficult to perform and is time consuming.
A variety of supplies have been introduced which attempt to make flossing easier. Most of these devices simply act as holders for the floss to reduce the manual dexterity required to floss. While such floss-holder devices like dental instruments may simplify some aspects of flossing, they generally have a fixed or limited range of motion and, therefore, have limited cleaning action and effectiveness. In addition, floss-holder devices are used manually, the cleaning energy conveyed to plaque covered tooth surfaces must be supplied by the user.
Conventional supplies or implements for use in dental care include mirrors, lamps, compressed air jets, and water jets or hydrants. Dental mirrors are typically small, round mirrors attached at an angle to the end of an elongated rod-like handle. The angle of the mirror with the handle may typically be in the range of 20 to 60 degrees relative to the longitudinal axis of the elongated handle. Such placement facilitates the dentist or assistant’s observation of a patient’s upper teeth while standing or seated in an erect position, thus minimizing possible discomfort and awkward viewing angles.
Compressed air and water jets are each typically provided as separate implements because they are supplied from different reservoirs, the compressed air from an air compressor and storage tank for example, and the water from a water pump and storage tank. Both air and water supplies are fed via a hose connected to the respective storage tank, and a hand held control handle or foot-operated control. Illumination of a patient’s mouth is provided by a specialized overhead lamp fixture attached to a gimble assembly supported by a counterbalanced and articulated arm that may be positioned at will by the dentist or dental assistant. The dental equipment uk may be equipped with a lens to minimize scattered light and to focus the light on the work area of interest.
There are a number of disadvantages to this configuration of the dental supplies, both to the dentist and the patient. In many cases an assistant is required to hold and manipulate one or more of the dental implements while the dentist is at work performing dental treatment of or repair to a patient’s teeth. In civilian or military field treatment with autoclave sterilizer, outside a dentist’s office, handling the necessary implements can be even more awkward and cumbersome because they cannot easily support or hold except by the dental personnel themselves. For example, the dentist may need to manipulate simultaneously a drilling apparatus and a mirror, while an assistant manipulates a stream of water or air at the dentist’s instruction. Illumination from a suspended lamp may provide the necessary light.
However, to ensure maximum light upon the work area often requires that the hands and implements in use be positioned so as not to create shadows in the area of interest. Such positioning may require awkward, uncomfortable, or less than optimum orientation of the other implements to avoid blocking the light. Further, up to four hands may be in close, possibly interfering positions in order to properly manipulate the implements for a particular operation, resulting in compromised positioning, making the performance of the operation less efficient and more cumbersome, thus prolonging the time to perform the operation and increased discomfort to the patient.