Which is Better: Waterpik or Flossing?

There’s nothing better than a healthy, great-looking smile, but taking care of your mouth is about more than appearances. Improper oral hygiene causes gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss, among other problems. Furthermore, the bacteria that cause gum disease can get into the bloodstream, affecting heart health and increasing the risk of certain birth defects.

Brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste is a great place to start, but brushing might not be enough to remove bacterial, plaque, and food particles from between the teeth. That’s why flossing and other forms of interdental cleaning are recommended by the ADA (American Dental Association).

You may wonder which is the best way to clean in between your teeth: dental floss or a water flosser, such as a Waterpik. While asking for your dentist’s input is a great idea, it’s also helpful to understand the similarities and differences between the two options. Below, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of these two types of dental cleanings.

Flossing: Is It Really Necessary?

Before we discuss these two types of floss, let’s restate the obvious: if a patient doesn’t feel as if it’s important to floss, no gadget will convince them to do it. However, the spaces between the teeth can hold a lot of built-up plaque, which leads to gum disease if left untended.

Flossing removes the plaque from the mouth before it can build up. A good oral care routine prevents the buildup of harmful bacteria, especially between the teeth.

Waterpik 101

Water flossers, also known as oral irrigators or dental water jets, are sometimes referred to by a common trade name (Waterpik). The first water flosser was invented by a Colorado dentist back in 1962. Using a pressurized, pulsating stream of water, these appliances clean plaque, food particles, and bacteria from under the gumline and in between the teeth.

You may want to use a waterflosser or Waterpik if you:

  • Have a non-removable bridge
  • Wear braces
  • Have dental implants
  • Have crowns

Water flossers are easier to handle than dental floss for those with arthritis or dexterity issues.

Water Flosser Pros

Waterpiks are especially useful for tightly spaced teeth, periodontal pockets, and difficult-to-reach parts of the mouth. They’re easy to use, but there’s a slight learning curve as you figure out the best power setting and water temperature.

For the best results, it’s important to remember to put the tip of the flosser in your mouth before turning it on and to proceed slowly and gently along the gumline. Start at the back of the mouth and work your way forward until all your teeth have been cleaned.

Water Flosser Cons

The rinsing motion of a Waterpik might not be enough to remove all plaque from the surface of the teeth. Some people prefer to use traditional dental floss to loosen plaque before using a water jet to rinse it all away. While it’s safe to use a water flosser every day, these appliances can be costly to replace.

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The Benefits and Disadvantages of Flossing

An old but effective oral care tool, dental floss has been used for hundreds of years. However, it wasn’t patented until 1874, and the packaging has remained largely the same until today. The floss sold back then was made of unwaxed silk, but the nylon floss made after World War II became quite popular.

Today’s dental floss is sold in rolls and in plastic holders known as dental picks, as unwaxed and waxed strands, and in flavored options. That means it’s easy to find a type of dental floss that meets your needs and suits your preferences.

Flossing is an important part of an overall oral care routine, and everyone should do it to reduce the risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Floss is easy to maneuver, and it works to remove food particles, plaque, and bacteria from between the teeth. 

While floss has numerous benefits, there are a few disadvantages to consider. Some users are unable to reach certain areas of the mouth, and vigorous flossing may make the gums bleed. If your teeth are close together, you might find it difficult to get between them with floss. It’s crucial to rinse your mouth after flossing, as it removes residue and plaque that’s been scraped off the teeth.

Is it Better to Floss Before Brushing or After?

According to the American Dental Association, either way is okay, as long as it’s done properly. Some people prefer to floss beforehand to loosen debris and food from between the teeth, which makes it easier to brush it away afterward.

Others like to brush first to strip away most plaque before they floss, which allows the fluoridated toothpaste to reach areas that may be blocked by debris. However, the American Academy of Periodontology and the ADA suggest brushing and flossing (in either order) to keep your mouth healthy. It’s up to you!

Is A Water Flosser Better Than Regular Floss?

The ADA says that approved water flossers can remove plaque, which becomes tartar and leads to gingivitis and cavities. However, some research shows that Waterpiks don’t remove plaque as effectively as ordinary floss.

It’s best not to discard your dental floss in favor of a water flosser, as most dentists still consider floss the most effective way to clean between the teeth. While flossing may be a bit uncomfortable if you’re not used to it, it does get easier.

Closing Thoughts

The best oral care routine is one you will enjoy, stick to, and use every day. Many people like the control that comes with manual flossing, while others prefer the deep clean and fresh feel of using a water flosser.

Research shows there’s little difference between the level of plaque removal with these methods, so it all comes down to your budget and your preferences. No matter which method you use, though, be sure to do it daily for a healthier smile.

If you have questions or concerns, we’d be happy to address them for you. Call Wilmot Family Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.