Everyone knows taking care of your teeth is crucial for preventing dental problems. Regular dental exams, brushing your teeth, and flossing can help patients avoid uncomfortable symptoms, like tooth sensitivity or infections. However, taking care of oral health isn’t as simple as completing a to-do list.
People learn the basics of brushing and flossing from a young age, but there are more options than a standard toothbrush or string of floss. While toothbrushes have 2 main options, electric or classic, flossing is available in various alternatives.
The most common floss alternative is a Waterpik. But does a Waterpik replace flossing? Or is the original better for your oral health?
What Is a Waterpik?
Although “Waterpik” is the most recognizable name, the device can also be called an oral irrigator, dental water jet, or water flosser. A Waterpik uses a pressurized stream of pulsating water. Patients can reach between teeth and along the gum line to remove bacteria, plaque, and food particles.
Waterpiks have multiple pressure settings to allow patients to choose the most comfortable option. Generally, it’s recommended that you start with the lowest setting. You can also decide the water temperature, which can take some trial and error.
Using a Waterpik can sometimes get messy. It’s recommended you keep your lips slightly closed to prevent splashing. However, you must keep your mouth open enough to let the water flow out. Positioning yourself over the sink can help direct the water from your mouth to empty into the sink.
Water Flosser Pros
- Easy to use
- Can clean between tight spaces
- Gets into hard-to-reach spots
Water Flosser Cons
- Can be messy
- May not remove all plaque
- More expensive than dental floss
Waterpiks vs. Dental Floss: Which Is Better?
Water flossing can be less effective than traditional floss. Waxed or unwaxed, dental floss allows more flexibility. You can more effectively reach buildup under the gumline, using a “C” shape to wrap around the tooth. However, the difference between the 2 techniques is minimal, so using water flossing is still a healthy choice.
Some patients may use both. Flossing first removes more plaque and loosens stubborn spots. Then, the water flosser can remove any remaining plaque or help you get into areas you may have had trouble reaching.
There are reasons patients may benefit from water flossing. Using a water flosser can be easier than using floss, particularly for people who find maneuvering with dental floss difficult, such as people with arthritis.
Waterpiks can help when you need to clean hard-to-reach spots, especially if you have dental work or orthodontic appliances. For example, a water flosser may be more effective if you have:
- Braces or fixed appliances
- Crowns or bridges
- Dental implants
- Crowded or tight teeth
Using a water flosser can help many reluctant flossers start—and continue—a healthy oral habit. A water flosser can make the task more manageable if you find traditional flossing unwieldy.
More Floss Alternatives
The Waterpik is one of the most popular alternatives to traditional flossing, but it’s not the only alternative. Take a closer look at 2 more options: floss picks and interdental brushes.
Floss picks are small, disposable sticks that use a precut amount of floss secured between a u-shape. The handle can also double as a toothpick. Floss picks are typically made from wood or plastic.
Although floss picks are better than not flossing, they’re less effective than the traditional method. The secured bit of floss is rigid and can’t navigate the same angles, restricting where the floss can reach.
Again, if you’re deciding between not flossing or using floss picks, choose floss picks! It can also help you build the habit and maybe try traditional flossing once you’re used to the routine.
Interdental brushes are like toothbrushes, but for flossing. The device features bristles attached to a thin wire. The bristles are inserted between your teeth, like dental floss. Then, you gently scrub back and forth, up and down, to remove plaque.
Although interdental brushes can be as effective as flossing, they’re less common, making them more challenging to purchase. Additionally, the bristle heads are available in different sizes based on the gaps between teeth, so you’ll need to find an appropriate size.
Soft-picks are almost a hybrid of a floss pick and an interdental brush. The disposable tool features rubbery bristles you can use to scrub between teeth. Soft-picks are gentle on gums and easy to handle. Additionally, they can be easier to find than interdental brushes.
Like most flossing alternatives, soft-picks may not be as effective as traditional floss. However, a soft-pick can still scrub away bacteria, plaque, and stubborn particles your toothbrush can’t remove.
Floss Your Way
Flossing is a crucial part of your dental hygiene, whichever method you choose. But, if you’re not sure which method might benefit you, talk to your dentist. We can explain the pros and cons of each and offer more recommendations for your home dental care.
At Ti Dental, we customize our services to fit each patient’s unique needs and expectations. So when you have questions about your oral health or need advice about flossing, we’re here for you. We take every opportunity to make you feel at ease and confident with our service.