Woman cleaning teeth with an water flosser

Let’s be honest; not everybody loves flossing. But we all know it is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile. Even if you are an avid flosser, you may be interested in what you can do to have even cleaner teeth and gums.

One new trend in at-home oral hygiene is water flossers. While they have been around for a long time, they have only recently become popular for home use. Many users swear by the clean they feel after using a water flosser, but how do water flossers hold up to good old traditional dental floss?

Why do We Floss?

In order to understand which flossing option is best, you must think about why we need to floss at all. Brushing your teeth correctly does an excellent job of cleaning the surfaces of your teeth and tongue and can remove some bacteria and debris from the gum line. However, the toothbrush bristles do not do a great job of getting into the small spaces between the teeth, just under the gum line, and into oral appliances like braces.

Floss, on the other hand, gets all the way between teeth to scrape away tiny food particles, tartar buildup, and even surface bacteria. It can be tricky, however, to get a good cleaning with floss if you have braces or other dental appliances, have very tight spaces between your teeth, or if you simply dislike flossing so much that you avoid it altogether. This leads many to wonder if there are other options out there and if they are as good as manual flossing.

Water Flosser vs. Traditional Floss

Water Flosser

A water flosser, or waterpik, is also known as an oral irrigator. It uses a strong and concentrated stream of water to clean the teeth and gums. This stream of water gets into hard-to-reach places, including between the teeth like traditional floss. A water flosser makes it easier to clean braces, implants, bridges, or very tight spacing between the teeth. Many people prefer the feel and maneuverability of a water flosser, and there is an argument that they can better prevent gingivitis and gum bleeding.

However, there are cons to water flossers. It is widely believed that water flossers do not clean the surface of the teeth and in between teeth quite as well as traditional flossing. In addition, a water flosser can be more expensive upfront. Lastly, they can be a little messy, especially as you first learn to use one.

Traditional Floss

Traditional floss comes in several varieties, including:

  • Unwaxed- good for those with small gaps between teeth
  • Waxed- for a more smooth gliding feeling
  • Dental tape- a wider version of floss for those with wide gaps
  • Floss picks- small plastic tools with floss attached for those with dexterity issues or small children

Traditional floss is excellent for getting under gums and between teeth and even cleans the surface of the teeth. Many dentists believe that traditional floss is still the better option for most patients.

Which Flossing Method Should You Choose?

The jury is still out as to which flossing method is truly better. Some studies suggest water flossing prevents gingivitis and is better at removing plaque, with less gum bleeding when it is used correctly. However, some dentists still recommend traditional flossing. It’s possible a combination is a good option as well.

So what is the takeaway? If you have trouble with traditional floss due to dexterity issues, braces, or strong personal preference, a water flosser may be an ideal option for you. If you prefer traditional flossing or are not interested in making a bigger investment or in the potential mess, then stick with what you know. The most important thing is to floss daily, regardless of the method you choose.

If you have questions about which flossing method is right for you or how to floss properly with traditional floss or a water flosser, ask us at your next dental appointment!