On April 6, 2010 my dentist declared I had gum disease pockets, one 7mm deep and fourteen 6mm deep. On December 10, 2012, my dentist told me I had "no problems" and gave me only a regular cleaning, not a periodontal cleaning. In the 32 months between those two visits, I used no floss and little toothpaste, but I did faithfully sleep every night with teeth cleaned by sonic brushing and Waterpik irrigation.
On that April 6, I knew I had to do something serious. I knew that floss and I do not get along. My teeth are crooked and tight. Floss breaks. And it hurts my fingers. I had also been looking for a reason to fast a bit longer than 2 or 3 days.
So that day I bought a Waterpik irrigator and a Philips Sonicare toothbrush (plus some other items I didn't end up using much in the long run such as Stimudents, GUM brand plastic plaque brushes, and povidone iodine) and began preparations for what turned out to be a 12-day water fast. And since that day I have followed nearly 100% faithfully the following daily program.
1. Swish after all snacks with small quantities of plain water.
2. Fast nightly on water alone for 12 hours and occasionally up to 24 hours.
3. Clean teeth before each night's fast with at least 2 minutes of sonic brushing (no toothpaste, but occasional germicide like Listerine or hydrogen peroxide)
4. Clean/irrigate after brushing with more than one tank full of water (plus occasional Listerine or bleach) in the Waterpik on 2 to 3 power.
5. Rinse with germicide (Listerine or hydrogen peroxide) usually after irrigating. (2013 update: Note that Listerine is very helpful, but there are probably cheaper and better things to use on your teeth. See comments below.)
To accomplish the above, I had to slow down my life. I had to get a water bottle and keep it at my side nearly always. I had to learn to detect and dislike the feeling of dirty teeth.
About the Waterpik. There's also the possibility of flossing. But I can't conceive how dental floss could ever clean and disinfect as
well as an irrigator. Flossing is a drag, and irrigating is a blast (hmm, quite literally, actually). Flossing: painful, limited, gross. Irrigation: refreshing, penetrating, disinfecting, cool. And the price of the irrigator is trivial
compared to the cost of dental problems. I am a total advocate now for having an oral irrigator in every home. How do you irrigate with more than one tank full of water? Put the Waterpik without its lid in the sink under the spigot and run the water at a trickle while you irrigate.
Along the way, I had the constant reward of a clean and fresh feeling body and mouth every morning and cleaner smelling breath without perfumes.
My way isn't the only way to beat gum disease, I'm sure. Some promote brushing thrice daily, oil pulling, frequent professional cleanings, etc. But to be totally frank, I think my way was a lot more simple and fun.