Flossing has been the golden standard of dental hygiene for many years. Though flossing has come under scrutiny in the scientific community, it’s the only proven method to remove plaque buildup between teeth. More recently, people have started including a waterpik into their at-home dental hygiene kit.

The basic function of a Waterpik is as follows. A motor pumps a stream of pressurized water to flow from a reservoir to a handle, which sprays water into the mouth. This stream of water removes food particles and bacteria in a way that’s considered by some to be more effective, more comfortable, and easier than traditional string floss.

So how does it stack up to floss?

Floss: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Inexpensive way to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Effective for cleaning tight spaces between teeth and will also scrape up and down the sides of each tooth

Cons

  • Mechanical nature of floss can be abrasive
  • Irritating for people who have sensitive gums
  • Can cause bleeding in some people
  • Can’t be used by people who wear braces because it won’t penetrate the wires in order to reach the gums

Waterpik: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums
  • Ideal for people who wear braces — water will get behind the metal wires and flush out food particles.
  • Recommended for people who have active gum disease because it flushes out bacteria from deep pockets that form when gums pull away from the teeth.

Cons

  • Doesn’t remove plaque from teeth as well as floss
  • Mainly rinses sticky film of bacteria instead of removing it
  • Not considered a substitute for flossing

Which Is More Effective?

Regular Waterpik use will help keep you teeth and gums clean and healthy, but it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for flossing. Dental floss is the only proven method to clean the tight area at which the teeth physically touch each other. Floss is the clear winner here, but if you can’t floss, using a Waterpik is better than nothing. If you can incorporate both into your dental regiment, go for it!