Everyone wants to look good, and there is nothing more flattering than a beautiful, healthy smile. However, taking care of your teeth and gums is as important as maintaining those good looks. Proper oral hygiene helps keep the mouth and teeth free of common dental problems such as dental cavities, gingivitis (gum inflammation), periodontal (gum) diseases and bad breath. Gum diseases can have a detrimental effect on the heart and may even contribute to low birth weights and prematurity in infants. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is a good start. However, brushing itself is not enough to maintain proper oral hygiene. We’ll consider the benefits of waterpiks & traditional flossing to supplement and improve your oral hygiene.
Dental floss is described as thin flexible strands of nylon or plastic filaments, which are mechanically used to remove food debris trapped between the teeth. Dental floss also removes bacteria before it has a chance to harden and form plaque on the enamel.
Many types of floss (waxed, unwaxed, woven) are available on the market due to the fact that people have differently shaped teeth and gums, and their teeth are spaced differently. Dental floss is extremely effective but it can take some practice to master the technique.
A waterpik, also known as an oral irrigator or dental water jet, is a device that shoots a stream of water at your teeth to remove food particles. It is used to rinse off plaque and dislodge food particles that are unreachable by toothbrush. Waterpiks generally have a small tank of water which is connected to the device by a cord. Now some even have a smaller reservoir of water attached to the device itself allowing cordless use. Waterpiks have become extremely popular in recent years due to their ease of use and widespread acclaim as a viable alternative to flossing.
Dental Floss or Waterpik: Which is Right for You?
In order to make a decision which is best for you, you’ll need to consider a number of factors such as price, ease of use, effectiveness, irritation/pain, and time/frequency. This can help you figure out which method is right for you and your lifestyle.
Dental Floss: approximately $2- 5
Waterpik: approximately $40-70
In the short term, dental floss is way cheaper. However, waterpiks should be considered as investments. Although you pay more up front, over the time a waterpik becomes the most economical choice. However, if you’re thinking long-term and quality is the main concern, a waterpik would be the best choice for you.
Ease of Use
Dental Floss: there is a learning curve with dental floss. You need the right amount of dexterity to use floss effectively without hurting your gums or finger’s while doing a good job.
Waterpik: relatively very simple to use as compared to dental floss. The pressure of the water jet is adjusted to the level which is comfortable to your gums and it is run over your gum lines and in between teeth. It is advised to move from the back teeth towards the front teeth for the most effective cleaning.
Both dental floss and waterpiks are considered to be extremely effective at preventing gingivitis (gum inflammation) and cleaning plaque and food debris from between the teeth and the gums.
- Waterpiks are able to remove food and plaque from places that dental floss cannot reach. For example: certain spots under gums that are too sensitive to rub with dental floss and spaces under and around braces
- Dental floss is more efficient at ‘spot cleaning’ plaque, because dental floss mechanically wipes away the plaque, whereas waterpiks merely rinse the areas
- Numerous studies have comparing the effectiveness of one method over the other and results have left the medical community divided.
- Traditional dental floss can be abrasive to your teeth if used improperly. Many people complain of bleeding gums or pain in their gums after flossing. This is generally associated with poor flossing technique, incorrect floss, or sensitive gums.
- Waterpiks can be fairly aggressive depending upon the setting of the pressure you choose. Normally, it is recommended you use the lowest water pressure and gradually increase until you find a pressure point that feels best to you.
Flossing can be irritating for people who have sensitive gums. It can cause bleeding around the gums if done improperly. Waterpiks can cause gum irritation and sensitivity if incorrect or too high pressure is used.
- Flossing mechanically scrapes off the sticky film of bacterial plaque whereas Waterpik simply rinses it.
- Waterpik may be a viable option for individuals who wear braces, have non-removable bridgework, and have crowns or dental implants. They may also be a good option for individuals who have arthritis or lack the maneuver control needed for dental floss.
The dental professionals simply care about the dental health of their patients. The difference between either of the two techniques mentioned is so minimal that as long as the patients are doing either consistently, the dentist will be happy.
The best oral hygiene methods are the ones which you will stick to and enjoy. Some people prefer the manual control associated with dental floss. Others rave about the refreshing feeling of a waterpik.
Both manual flossing and waterpiks are great w supplements to twice a day brushing routines. Flossing helps mechanically loosen plaque, while waterpiks rinse off the loosened plaque. In order to have the best result, one should consider adding both methods to their routine oral hygiene care.
At the end of the day, you have to choose the method that is right for you. The important thing is that you choose one of these methods and stick to it. One thing that all dentists agree on is that is anything is better than nothing!