Flossing is a critical component of every at-home oral care routine. It should be performed at least once daily, along with brushing twice daily, to keep gum disease and other oral health issues at bay.
With that being said, both traditional flossing with string floss and using a water flosser or oral irrigation tool such as a Waterpik®, are two popular and effective methods for cleaning between the teeth and below the gum line.
While both of these methods can effectively eliminate bacteria and prevent periodontal disease, they work in slightly different ways, and each possesses unique advantages and potential drawbacks.
In this article, we will compare both traditional flossing with Waterpik to help you determine which method of gum care may be most appropriate for you.
Flossing with traditional dental floss involves using a thin strand of string to clean between the teeth.
To floss properly, the floss should be wrapped around the index fingers and inserted between the teeth. Gently move the string in a zigzag or sawing motion down and up below the gum line. Make sure to curve it against each side of each tooth to remove plaque and food particles, and use a fresh section of string for every pass.
The Advantages of Dental Floss
Using dental floss offers many advantages, including the following:
- Affordable: Traditional dental floss is an inexpensive tool for cleaning in between the teeth, whereas Waterpiks are considerably more costly.
- Convenient and portable: Dental floss can be purchased at any drugstore and is compact enough to be carried on the go for emergencies.
- Easy to control: With enough practice, most people find it easy to manoeuvre string floss in between each tooth for an effective clean.
- Highly accessible: String floss can be easily found at just about any grocery or convenience store, while Waterpiks may only be available at larger stores.
The Drawbacks of Dental Floss
Dental floss also has its disadvantages, such as:
- Challenging to use in some situations: Some people may find flossing difficult, particularly if they wear braces, have tight spaces between their teeth, or have areas that are harder to reach.
- Not reusable: String floss must be discarded after each use, which can be a drawback for individuals not keen on creating waste.
- Gums may bleed more easily: If you mistakenly push the floss downward or upward using too much force and have particularly sensitive gums, this may cause the gums to bleed.
Waterpiks and Oral Irrigation Devices
A water flosser or oral irrigator, such as a Waterpik, is an oral hygiene device that uses a pressurized stream of water to clean between the teeth and below the gum line.
To use a Waterpik, you must first fill the device with warm water and select your desired level of water pressure. This stream of water is then directed toward the gum line and between the teeth to flush out food particles and bacteria.
The Advantages of Water Flossers
The advantages of using water flossers in your oral hygiene routine include:
- Easy to use: Many people find water flossers more convenient or easy to use than traditional string floss. Moreover, it can be an excellent option for people who have difficulty flossing, such as those with arthritis or mobility issues.
- Cleans areas that are harder to reach: Water flossers can also be more effective at removing debris from tighter spaces between the teeth, cleaning periodontal pockets and allowing access to harder-to-reach areas of the mouth.
- Customizable and ideal for gum sensitivity: Water flossers come with several pressure settings so that you can choose the pressure level that feels most comfortable. This is an especially great feature for individuals with particularly sensitive gums.
- Great for those with braces or other oral appliances: Oral irrigators are an ideal option for people with braces or permanent bridgework, crowns, and/or dental implants, as they are easier to manoeuvre and present a lower risk of potential damage to these treated areas.
The Drawbacks of Water Flossers
There are some drawbacks to using water flossers, such as:
- Greater price point: Water flossers can be more expensive and bulky than dental floss, and they require access to a water source.
- May not be as effective as string floss: While water flossers also allow you to thoroughly clean in between each tooth, the water pressure may sometimes not be adequate for eliminating all of the plaque on the teeth.
- Not as convenient or travel-friendly: Oral irrigation devices require access to both electricity and water, which can be limiting if you need to floss while travelling.
Which flossing method is best?
As previously stated, both flossing with string floss and using an oral irrigation device like a Waterpik are effective for cleaning between the teeth and preventing gum disease. With all things considered, though, the best choice for an individual will depend on their personal preferences, including factors such as budget, lifestyle, and physical limitations.
If you still have questions regarding your oral care routine at home, we encourage you to consult with one of our team members at our Hamilton clinic to determine the most suitable hygiene tools and practices.
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To learn about our dental services and sedation options, or to schedule an appointment with our dental care specialists in Hamilton, call Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery at 289-272-8696 or contact us here.