Waterpik vs Floss
The fact that flossing is an important part of oral hygiene is indisputable.
We know this because this is what we are told every single time we visit a dentist. It is recommended by the American Dental Association to floss once a day. Studies support the effectiveness of flossing by showing a big reduction in gingivitis in those who floss and brush regularly, when compared to those who only brush.
For the longest time flossing has been considered the only way to fully clean plaque out of those hard-to-reach areas between teeth and gums. Floss is attributed to removing the remaining 40% of plaque that is left after brushing! This is important, because sticky bacterial film and plaque produces acids that can cause cavities and gum disease.
We are not the the first or the last ones to say this:
Brushing alone is really not enough!
So what are your options?
At the moment, the two most popular methods to get rid of bacterial plaques from the hard-to-reach sports are:
String dental floss
Let’s start with the obvious.
What is dental floss?
Dental floss was invented in 1818 by a New Orleans dentist to remove plaque and pieces of food from tight spaced between teeth. And in that time it has evolved through different materials and shapes over time. But the basic structure stayed the same- floss is a string made out of thin filaments.
Floss can be:
Floss is not a one-side-fits-all kind of item. Different floss suits different people with different type of teeth. But one thing stays the same- floss is extremely effective and everyone should be using it in 21st century.
What is a water flosser?
Water flosser is a device that shoots a stream of water at high pressure between teeth in order to remove plaque. In the past 5 years water flossers have become very popular, mainly because they are easy to use and due to a widespread acclaim that they are an effective alternative to flossing.
Water flossers use a small tank of water and spray it under pressure through a cord. Water flossing is done by leaning over a sink and aiming the device between your teeth while the water is sprayed.
Which is better: normal floss or water floss?
To help us answer this question we need to look at a number of different factors.
We are going to evaluate such variables ad price, ease of use, effectiveness, irritation/pain and time consumption/frequency.
Additionally, we’ll take a look at some expert opinions to see if they hold weight in the final decision.
This is actually a tricky one.
Water flosser costs approximately $40 - $70.
Floss is approximately $3 a roll.
In the short term floss is cheaper by far!
The water flosser, on the other side, should be considered like an investment. You pay more up front but over time it can actually be more economical than the floss.
Think about it this way: critical point here waters down to quality.
Better quality floss ($5-$7) with frequent use will add up over the years, while a good quality water flosser( $60-$100) will last years.
Tip: Whether you pick a regular floss of a water flosser, always opt for a trusted brand!
EASE OF USE
Most of us will agree that traditional floss is not the easiest tool to use.
There is a learning curve.
You need a certain amount of dexterity to floss effectively without hurting your gums (and/or your fingers!).
You need to use a fresh piece of floss after every tooth.
There are plenty of resources online and you can ask a your dentist to refresh your technique at your 6 month dental checkup.
Another obstacle when it comes to traditional floss is that people with different distances between their teeth may have harder time flossing if the string is too big or too small.
Water flossing, however, is much easier to use. It is similar to electric toothbrush in a way, that all you have to do is just follow your gumline and adjust the pressure to your liking.
Now this is the hot topic amongst many dentists. It has been generally accepted in the dental community for many decades, that traditional floss is the most effective tool for removing plaque between teeth and gums. Being a newbie in the dental market, water flossers received a lot of skepticism about their effectiveness. But let’s dig a little bit deeper!
Nowadays, both traditional floss and water flossers are considered to be extremely effective at cleaning plaque and food out from between teeth and gums, and preventing gum disease such as gingivitis.
There are a couple disagreements about which is best at what, but here’s what we think:
Water flosser is better at removing food and plaque from places like under and around braces, in certain spots under the gums that are too sensitive to rub with dental floss, and other hard to access areas.
Dental floss is overall more efficient at ‘spot cleaning’ plaque, as dental floss ‘wipes’ the plaque away whereas water flossers merely ‘rinse’ the area.
Here is a number of recent studies comparing the two methods and their conclusions:
Water flossers are 29% more effective at removing dental plaque than regular floss [Study]
They are 51% more effective at reducing gingivitis [Study]
They are 2 times as effective at reducing gingival bleeding [Study]
What exactly does it mean for you?
The main gist of these studies is that if you are confident with your flossing skills and are thorough, then there is no reason why you should abandon the standard floss.
But if you think you could be doing a better job flossing, use a water flosser. They’re easier to use and generally do a better job for people with braces, implants, crowns or difficult gums.
If you really want to go to town, use both!
Despite common thinking, water flossers can be gentle or aggressive, depending on the level of water pressure you set.
Best advice is to test out the lowest pressure and gradually increase, if you think it would be more effective.
Sadly, traditional dental floss can be abrasive for your gums.
A lot of people report bleeding and sore gums after flossing. Not even mentioning that can also cut off the blood supply to the tips of your fingers!
The thing is, people often choose the wrong type of floss for their type of gums/teeth. If you think your floss is giving you hard time, we recommend testing out different kind of floss or even switching to a water flosser as they are more gentle.
No matter what your method of flossing is, both dental floss and water flossers should be used once per day( or more if needed). If your gums get irritates, reduce the amount you are flossing and check to see if the floss or the water flosser pressure is the issue.
Depending on your skills, thorough flossing can take somewhere between 2-4 minutes.
With water flosser things are much simpler in this regard. You can move the device freely along the gum line, no need to try to fit all your fingers inside your mouth. We can easily say that water flossing takes less time and less effort on your side.
Experts seem to be relatively undecided on the issue of Waterpik vs flossing.
After reading through numerous opinions it becomes clear that some experts stick to what they have been taught: that dental floss is the best solution.
Some experts look at the studies done and conclude that the water flosser is actually the superior tool.
But most experts simply care about the dental health of their patients. The difference between these 2 methods is so minimal that as long as their patients are doing something and they are able to consistently do it, the dentists are happy.
To summarize in one sentence: use whichever method you prefer.
We can safely say, whichever method you use, you should floss daily. We can't stress that enough!
There are good arguments on both sides, there are studies, and there are expert testimonies. But at the end of the day you have to choose the method that is right for you.
You should focus on the aspects that are specific to you, like gum sensitivity, price, or dexterity.
Try both water flossing and dental flossing and see which you like to use better, because there’s one thing that all dentists agree upon and that is that anything is better than just brushing!