Flossing is an essential part of everyone’s daily oral hygiene routine, or at least should be. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once a day in order to remove plaque and bits of food from between your teeth that a toothbrush is unable to reach.

However, as many as one-fifth of Americans don’t floss at all, much less as routinely as once a day. There are lots of reasons people skip flossing, such as:

  • Gum or Tooth Sensitivity
  • Braces
  • Difficulty Holding Floss
  • Impatience

If patients have any of these issues, using a Waterpik Water Flosser may be a good compromise. Waterpiks are a type of oral irrigator that shoot a thin, pressurized jet of water between the teeth and along the gum line to accomplish much the same thing regular dental floss does. The water jet also pulsates in order to further clean and strengthen the gum tissue.

Both methods of cleaning between the teeth carry advantages and disadvantages. Standard floss is:

  • Less Expensive
  • Can Be Purchased At Any Grocery or Drug Store
  • Doesn’t Require Access to Water or Electricity

And Waterpiks are:

  • Able to Reach Areas Floss Can’t
  • Easy to Use With Braces, Bridges, and Other Dental Work
  • Proven to Further Reduce Gum Disease and Bleeding

Both methods are significantly better than not flossing at all. They both reduce plaque, gum disease, clean areas toothbrushes aren’t able to, like between the teeth. Ultimately though, traditional dental floss is still considered the superior method of cleaning between the teeth, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The pressurized water jet of the Waterpik can clean away a lot of food particles, and in fact is recommended by some dentists for some patients to be used in conjunction with string flossing and brushing. However it’s not generally an ideal substitute for string flossing, as string flossing is capable of removing far more food and bacteria when performed correctly. Waterpiks should also never be relied on a substitute for brushing.

The main reason string floss wins out over water floss is because of how effective it is at loosening the plaque and food particles that cling to the sides of the teeth. When done properly, the motion of pulling the floss against the side of the tooth and then up and under the gum line is ideal for gently scraping away any particularly stubborn bits. Waterpiks can touch the area, but they do not have the frinction that makes it as effective.

What if I REALLY Hate Flossing?

Flossing becomes more comfortable the more you do it. It also is simply the best way to clean between teeth, and we strongly recommend you floss as it is a critical and effective part of good oral hygiene. But if you refuse to floss, waterpiks can at least provide some of the benefits until you’re ready to start flossing. There are also many other potentially effective alternatives to straight string floss that are capable of providing floss benefits, including:

  • Waxed Floss
  • Dental Tape
  • Floss Picks
  • Interdental Brushes

String flossing is still more effective, but these alternatives can reach some of the harder to hit places.

Still, before making any changes to what your dentist has previously recommended, patients should consult with their dentist. There may be a specific reason these alternate varieties of dental floss haven’t been suggested already, and your dental health may play a role in which choice is best.