Brushing does a good job of removing food particles from the surface of your teeth, but it can’t reach all areas of your teeth — specifically between your teeth, where bacteria and plaque can easily build up and cause problems.
The Importance of Daily Flossing
The only way to reach these areas is through regular flossing. Flossing is an important part of every daily dental hygiene routine — but it’s one of the most neglected hygiene tasks. Until recently, traditional flossing was the only reliable way to clean between teeth. That is, until the Waterpik came onto the scene.
What is a Waterpik and what makes it different? Is it more effective than traditional dental floss? Which do dentists recommend their patients use to help them maintain their dental health? Let’s explore the Waterpik vs. flossing debate, some of the advantages of each, and see which dentists prefer.
What is a Waterpik?
A Waterpik is a machine similar to a dental irrigation tool at your dentist’s office. The appliance uses electricity and a reservoir of water to force a pressurized stream of water through a small mouthpiece that can be directed at and between teeth to push food pieces, plaque, and particles awa. You can adjust the pressure and pulsation of the water stream to your comfort level. The Waterpik can be a little messy at first until you figure out how to use it, but with a bit of practice, it can be an effective tool to add to your dental hygiene routine.
Waterpik vs. Flossing
The Waterpik is a useful appliance for many — but can it actually replace traditional flossing? Let’s compare the methods of using a Waterpik vs. flossing.
Using a Waterpik is effective at removing food pieces and helping keep your teeth clean. It comes with less discomfort than traditional floss, particularly if you’re not a regular flosser. The Waterpik is unlikely to cause your gums to bleed, except in extreme cases of sensitivity or inflammation. This appliance can help you to reach some areas of the mouth that are difficult with brushing and regular flossing, even under the gumline. The Waterpik is especially helpful if you have braces — it can easily get around brackets and under wires.
Disadvantages of a Waterpik
It’s important to note that the Waterpik is more expensive than dental floss. It also takes up space to store, and due to its size and reliance on electricity, it can’t travel with you.
The Waterpik can be a valuable step of your dental hygiene routine — either to remove large particles prior to brushing, or to rinse your mouth after — but can’t completely replace flossing. It just isn’t as effective as floss at removing stubborn plaque. The movement of actual dental floss is necessary to dislodge some particles, and the scraping action of floss removes plaque more effectively than a targeted stream of water.
For these reasons, even if you’re a dedicated Waterpik user, it’s a good idea to keep some traditional floss on hand to use occasionally, either to follow up after brushing and rinsing, or to check the effectiveness of your Waterpik technique.
Flossing the traditional way involves using a thin strand of string between your teeth. You hold an end between your fingers of each hand, and move the string back and forth between teeth and around the base of each tooth to remove lodged food pieces, plaque, and bacteria.
Traditional flossing is very effective when done regularly. It’s able to get pretty much anywhere between and around teeth. In many cases, it can get at difficult-to-remove plaque better than the Waterpik. In regards to the potential discomfort, if you floss every day, your gums won’t be sensitive or prone to bleeding.
If you have braces, traditional flossing is a little more complicated. It requires the use of a special flexible “needle” from your dentist to thread the floss under the wires. Any additional steps or complications to flossing are going to make you less likely to do it regularly.
Waterpik vs. Flossing: What Dentists Recommend
Flossing is difficult for most adults to keep up with. Often, the less flossing is a part of a daily routine, the smaller the chance it ever will be. This is because the less often you floss, the more sensitive your gums will be next time you go to complete the task. If the process is uncomfortable, painful, or causes your gums to bleed, there’s not much chance you’ll want to continue, and you’ll be prone to skipping this important dental hygiene step in the future.
For this reason, dentists tend to recommend whichever flossing method — Waterpik vs. flossing — you’ll be most likely to keep up with on a regular basis. For many, the Waterpik is more comfortable and easy to get used to, so it’s not hard to make it part of their routine. Others, however, prefer the simplicity and zero-mess quality of dental floss. As long as you’re doing a thorough job of brushing and flossing, your dentist will be happy to see cleaner, healthier teeth at your regular dental cleaning appointments.
Been awhile since you’ve flossed or picked up that Waterpik? Call Creason, Weber & Mountford to get your next cleaning on the schedule.