Waterpik vs. Flossing Should I use one or the other? Or both!

Cleaning between your teeth

It is recommended you brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth at least once a day. Poor oral hygiene can cause cavities, bad breath, tooth loss, and gum disease. Brushing your teeth is a great place to start improving your oral health. Just brushing, alone, is not enough. Those pesky food particles, plaque, and bacteria that hide between your teeth need attention too. The bristles of your toothbrush are not small enough to clean effectively in those tight spaces. To reach these areas, some sort of interdental cleaning is recommended. What tools for cleaning between your teeth are best for you? Your hygienist or dentist can help make suggestions for your specific needs. Two main tools include dental floss and the Waterpik. Which one is better? Should you use both?

Waterpik

The Waterpik, or water-flosser, is a tool that uses a pressurized stream of pulsating water to clean away the food particles, bacteria, and plaque between your teeth and under your gums. The American Dental Association says water flossers, with the ADA seal of acceptance, can get rid of plaque. This plaque can lead to cavities and gum disease if not removed. The Waterpik is more effective for people with braces, bridges, crowns, or dental implants.

Pros:

  • It is easy to use. Because of the design of the handle, it can be easier to use for people with arthritis, or anyone who finds string floss difficult to maneuver.
  • It gets into the hard-to-reach areas. These areas include tightly spaced teeth and periodontal pockets caused by gum disease.

Cons:

  • It may not remove all plaque. The Waterpik may not be enough to remove all the plaque from the surface of the teeth.
  • They cost more than string floss. A Waterpik can range in price from $35-100.
  • They can be messy and take time to get used to. A tip for best results: place the tip in your mouth before turning it on, glide the tip along the gumline gently, starting in the back and working forward. Make sure to clean both the inside and outside of both the upper and lower teeth.

Dental Floss

The good-old string floss! Dental floss was first recommended by a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly in 1819. It was traditionally made from unwaxed silk and gained popularity after World War II when it was replaced with nylon. Floss now comes in a variety of flavors, waxed, and unwaxed strands. Everyone should floss as it is an essential part of dental hygiene.

Pros:

  • It is easy to control.
  • Flossing allows you to wipe down each tooth and maneuver the floss between teeth.
  • It removes bacteria, plaque, and food particles from between your teeth.
  • It allows you to wipe each tooth clean of the sticky plaque before it can turn to tarter.

Cons:

  • It can be difficult to reach some areas. Teeth that are close together can be difficult to floss. -People with arthritis or dexterity issues, may have a difficult time controlling the floss.
  • Aggressive flossing can cause bleeding. If you floss too far below the gumline or too forcefully, your gums may bleed.

Flossing can be done before or after brushing. The American Dental Association states that either way is acceptable as long as you do it. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology, showed that the amount of plaque between the teeth was reduced more from the floss first, brush second method.

The Bottom Line

Finding the method that works best for you and one you will stick to, will give you the best results. Many people prefer the control they get from string floss, while others rave about the deep-clean feeling they get from the Waterpik. Research has shown little difference in plaque removal between using floss versus the Waterpik. But why not do both! They each have their own benefits. For the ultimate clean and plaque removal, consider using both at least once a day. The routine is up to you. Your dental hygienist or dentist can help make suggestions about the tools that are best for you. Make sure you are brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth at least once a day, and your oral health will improve!

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