If you’ve ever looked in the mirror while you were flossing and noticed an annoyed expression on your face, you aren’t alone—many people run into a little difficulty when they’re flossing. Working that tiny piece of fiber between all your teeth can be tedious, but there’s no reason to get angry; there are alternatives to traditional dental floss, like a Waterpik. But you might be wondering: which method is the best option for your teeth? Here’s a side-by-side comparison of traditional dental floss and the Waterpik.
This handy invention was first recommended in print by a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly in 1819—and ever since, it has heavily influenced the way we clean our teeth. It is typically made of nylon and comes in waxed or unwaxed strands as well as a wide variety of different flavors. You can also buy dental picks, which are precut strands of floss attached to plastic holders.
Dental floss is very easy to use and control, and it can fully clean every tooth in your mouth. It effectively removes bacteria and food particles from between your teeth and helps to prevent sticky plaque from turning into tarter. However, you might have a little trouble when trying to floss between teeth that are very close together. You could also cause minor bleeding if you floss too far below the gumline or too forcefully.
Waterpik water flossers, also called oral irrigators, were invented in 1962 by a dentist and one of his patients, who was a hydraulic engineer. They use a pressurized stream of pulsating water to clean between your teeth and under your gumline. The power and temperature of the water stream can be adjusted based on your needs.
Waterpiks make flossing noticeably easier for many patients, including those who have braces, crowns, implants, or nonremovable bridgework. They are also ideal for people with arthritis or other mobility issues. Not only are they easy to operate, but they provide access to spaces in the mouth that dental floss has difficulty reaching.
It’s important to note that Waterpiks might not remove plaque completely from the surface of teeth. Not only that, but they can sometimes be both costly and messy. However, there is no safety risk when using one, compared to traditional floss.
Which Is Better for My Teeth?
The bottom line is that either of these methods can be highly effective, so long as you stick to it—when it comes to oral hygiene, consistency is key. Many people prefer traditional flossing, as it gives them full control and autonomy over the cleaning process. Others claim that nothing cleans their teeth quite like their Waterpik. However, research shows that there is minimal difference in plaque removal between the two methods—meaning that both are viable options for your teeth!
Flossing might not always be easy, but it is always worth it; utilizing one of these methods is a sure way to protect and preserve your smile for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Chris Devlin received his dental doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and now serves patients and families in the State College area. His practice offers a wide range of services including general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. Dr. Devlin also is associated with the Dawson Academy, the Pankey Institute, and The Society of Dental Anesthesiology. If you have any questions about the article, you can contact Dr. Devlin through his website or by phone: (814) 238-3553.