You will probably be asked nearly every time you visit the dentist “have you been flossing your teeth regularly?” Not many of us can truthfully say we do. In fact, only half of Americans floss daily, and almost one in five people do not floss at all.
Flossing your teeth removes stuck food debris, plaque and bacteria and gets to the areas that your toothbrush cannot, meaning that it improves the effectiveness of your tooth brushing too. Flossing is therefore strongly recommended by dental professionals, with backing from the American Dental Association (ADA), who describe interdental cleaning (such as flossing) as “an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.”
You have a choice of more than just dental floss to clean between your teeth. There are now hundreds of products on the market for interdental cleaning, ranging from wooden sticks to interdental brushes, and now even oral irrigation devices also known as water flossers. Water flossers are becoming increasingly popular, and so we are going to focus on one of the most popular brands of water flosser, the Waterpik, with conventional dental floss.
Table Of Contents
Methods Of Interdental Cleaning
What Is A Waterpik?
Waterpik is a brand of dental devices which produces a range of water flossers. They also make electric toothbrushes, but we are going to concentrate on the Waterpik water flossers for this discussion. A water flosser is an interdental cleaning device which you can use to direct a thin jet of water between your teeth and along your gum line to remove food debris and plaque. The Waterpik is the most popular brand, most likely due to its award and association with the ADA.
What Is Dental Floss?
This you probably already know the answer to, but we’ll talk about it anyway. Dental floss is a fine cord which you can use to insert between your teeth to remove dental plaque and food debris. It is the most well-known method of interdental cleaning, although it requires skills to use it correctly and effectively, so if you haven’t got much dexterity, it can be tricky to do, not to mention painful.
Which Is More Effective, Water Or Dental Floss?
Clinical studies of the Waterpik have found that the water flosser is 51% more effective for reducing gingivitis, twice as effective at reducing gingival bleeding, and 29% more effective at removing plaque. The Waterpik can give you healthier teeth and gums when being used for just a minute per day.
As well as reaching areas of your mouth that your toothbrush cannot get to, you can also use it to reach areas that dental floss, such as periodontal pockets or pockets around wisdom teeth.
A study in 2008 that used twins to compare the effects of combined tooth brushing and flossing with tooth brushing alone confirmed that combining tooth brushing with flossing significantly reduced the abundance of bacteria in the mouth which are associated with gum disease and tooth decay.
This study was conducted over only two weeks, and the results suggest to us that a lifelong routine of dental flossing is extremely beneficial for your oral health.
Waterpik Vs. Dental Floss For Cleaning Braces?
The Waterpik is thought to be three times more effective than dental floss for cleaning around braces. The study conducted by the manufacturers found that using the Waterpik was more than three times more effective than flossing and more than five times more effective than brushing alone at reducing the film of plaque on teeth. It was also 26% better than flossing and 53% better than just brushing in terms of reducing bleeding gums.
The ability to manipulate the water flosser to direct the water towards the teeth and gums makes it a lot easier to use when cleaning around braces too. You can easily clean behind wires and blast away food debris that is caught behind the braces, which is hard to do with conventional dental floss. This is definitely not a substitute for brushing though, to look after your oral health properly, ensure you are cleaning your teeth and braces with a toothbrush and paste twice a day thoroughly as well as flossing with the water flosser once a day.
Which Is Easier To Use?
There is an element of skill to using both a water flosser and traditional dental floss properly and get the full benefits. However, if you get it wrong with regular floss, it can easily result in sore, bleeding gums as it is easy to get carried away with vigorous flossing, whereas you are less likely to cause damage to your oral tissues with a water flosser.
On the other hand, you are more likely to make a mess with a water flosser! To minimize this though, make sure the tip is in your mouth before you turn on the water pressure. It is advised that you lean over the sink as you use your water flosser anyway so that you can let the water drip out of your mouth.
You know now how much better the Waterpik has been found to be than dental floss, but how does it compare to the ease of slipping a box of dental floss into your wash bag? There are several different versions of the Waterpik, including those that sit on your bathroom counter, those which include an electric toothbrush and portable designs. There are even models specifically to aid teeth whitening!
On the other hand, if you are tight on bathroom space, or would like to be able to take it away with you, choose a battery-powered option such as the Freedom Flosser, which even has a carry case. Sure, it will take up more room in your suitcase than a box of floss would, but it is undoubtedly easy to pack and travel with. Plus, the battery is estimated to last between 1 and 2 months, so you can reap the greater rewards of water flossing over regular flossing for your entire trip and longer.
Hopefully, now you have more of an understanding of how water flossing with a Waterpik compares to using regular dental floss. The Waterpik shines through with great results in their clinical trials, especially if you have braces. Of course, there is nothing to say that this has to be an either-or decision. Combining both types of flossing into your dental routine is sure to give you a sparkling smile again. Just don’t be too vigorous with the dental floss!