We’re often asked by patients whether it’s better to use dental floss or a water flosser (like a Waterpik), also known as an oral irrigator. Each one has its pros and cons. However, if you’re just looking for a quick answer, dental floss is the superior option for maintaining your oral health. But using both can be a highly effective part of your oral care regimen.
Pros of Dental Floss
Dental floss is highly effective. Here are some reasons it’s so good when considering which flossing option to choose:
- Great at cleaning in the tight spaces between teeth
- Scrapes plaque off the sides of your teeth
- Gets rid of plaque that turns into tartar, which promotes tooth decay and gum disease
Cons of Dental Floss
Dental floss does have some drawbacks. In particular:
- It can be irritating or painful and cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums
- It’s hard to use when you have braces
- It’s also less effective when you have braces
Pros of Water Flossers
Water flossers definitely have their benefits, and even offer some advantages over dental floss. They’re:
- Gentle and much less likely to cause irritation, pain, or bleeding in people with sensitive gums
- Easier to use – especially with braces
- More effective at cleaning behind the wires of braces
- Good for flushing particles and bacteria out of the pockets that form when the gums recede from the teeth if you have gum disease
Cons of Water Flossers
Water flossers have one significant downside that makes them less preferable when you’re deciding whether to use dental floss or a water flosser:
- They don’t remove plaque from the teeth as effectively as floss
- Also, quality ones are more expensive than floss
- And they can be a little messier than floss, too
Conclusion: Dental Floss or a Water Flosser?
Again, because a water flosser doesn’t remove plaque as effectively as dental floss, it’s not an adequate substitute. After all, this is the main goal of flossing. Proper brushing and flossing with dental floss at least twice per day are important daily habits for promoting oral health.
But using a water flosser in addition to dental floss is a great idea. It’s especially useful if you have braces, and it can help you achieve a superior clean if you have sensitive gums or gum disease.