Nothing is more flattering than a gorgeous, healthy smile, but taking care of your teeth and gums is about more than just good looks. Poor oral hygiene can cause cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease.
Gum disease can negatively affect heart health. The bacteria that causes gum disease can also get into the bloodstream and target the fetus, possibly leading to prematurity and low birth weight in babies.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is a good start, but regular brushing may not be enough to clean out food particles, plaque, and bacteria from between teeth.
Toothbrush bristles aren’t small enough to clean effectively in these tight spaces. For this reason, interdental cleaning, such as flossing, is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).
You may be trying to decide which is better for cleaning in between teeth: dental floss or a Waterpik water flosser. Getting input from your dentist is always a good idea.
It also helps to understand the differences and similarities between the two so that you can decide which will provide the most benefit for you. It’s important to understand each tool and understand what they can and can’t do.
Waterpiks: Pros and cons Waterpik water flossers are also referred to as dental water jets or oral irrigators. The first oral irrigator was invented in 1962 by a Colorado dentist who was helped by his patient, a hydraulic engineer. Water flossers use a pressurized stream of pulsating water to clean away food particles, bacteria, and plaque between teeth and under the gumline.
Who should use a Waterpik? You may prefer to use a Waterpik instead of floss if you:
have nonremovable bridgework
have dental implants
A Waterpik may also be easier to use than standard floss for people with arthritis, or for anyone who finds string floss difficult to maneuver and work with.
What are the benefits? Pros
easy to use
gets in hard-to-reach areas
cleans between tightly spaced teeth
Using a Waterpik can be especially helpful for getting into hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, tightly spaced teeth, and periodontal pockets that may be caused by early gum disease. They can also help to keep breath fresher, longer, which is an added plus. Waterpiks are easy to use. Some people may experience a learning curve while figuring out their most comfortable water temperature and power setting. In order to be as effective as possible, new users should remember to place the tip in the mouth before turning on the unit and to go slowly, gliding the tip along the gumline gently. For best results, it’s recommended to start with the back teeth and work toward the front teeth. Continue until you have cleaned the inside and outside of both the upper and lower teeth. This can help ensure that the entire mouth gets cleaned thoroughly.
What are the disadvantages? Cons
may not remove all plaque
can be costly
The rinsing action of Waterpiks may not be enough to remove plaque completely from the surface of teeth. Some people like to use string floss first, to scrape off and loosen plaque. A Waterpik can then be used to efficiently rinse out residue and plaque left behind. Waterpiks are safe to use and contain no risk, except to the wallet, when compared to traditional string floss.
Flossing: Pros and cons An oldie but a goody, dental floss use dates back as far as prehistoric times. It was first recommended in print by a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly, in his book, "A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth,” in 1819. Floss was formally patented 55 years later by Asahel M. Shurtleff. He designed floss in packaging that included a cutter, similar to the way some floss is sold today. The floss of the 1800s was usually made from unwaxed silk. It didn’t gain in popularity until after World War II, when silk was replaced with nylon. Today, floss is available precut in plastic holders called dental picks, and as long strands you cut yourself. You can find floss in flavored varieties, and as waxed or unwaxed strands.
Who should use floss? Everyone should floss. Flossing is an important part of dental hygiene to reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.