If you are a follower of our blog or if you’ve had your teeth cleaned any time within the past ten years you’ve been Fotolia_194988_XS-300x200told that flossing is incredibly important for dental and periodontal health. A common question about flossing that I receive is: Are there alternatives to traditional floss? And, can I use a Waterpik instead of floss?

  • Waterpik falls under the category of a water flosser. This device uses a stream of air and water to clear debris from between the teeth and around the gingival area. Another popular brand of water flosser is the Sonicare AirFloss.
  • Some studies show that there is little difference between effectiveness of water flossers vs. traditional floss
  • My professional opinion is that mechanical flossing when done correctly is more effective than using a water flosser. My first recommendation to the majority of patients is to use traditional floss.
  • However, effectiveness is contingent on flossing correctly. Many people do not floss correctly either because they were never taught how to, or lack the manual dexterity to do so. Flossing incorrectly although still helps to keep the teeth clean, can cause you to be less effective while flossing. And, may cause minor irritation to the gums.
  • Some patients who have had an injury or have a disability such as arthritis simply may not capable of flossing. Patients who can not floss at all or are causing more damage than good with traditional floss will show better results with a water flosser.
  • In general, if you are curious if a water flosser is appropriate for your home care we recommend  asking  your dentist or hygienist if a water flosser is a good option for you. They will evaluate you as well as teach you the best method to clean your teeth and gums.
Comparison of Irrigation to Floss as an Adjunct to Tooth Brushing: Effect on Bleeding, Gingivitis, and Supragingival Plaque; Barnes RDH; Russell DMD, PhD; Reinhardt DDS, PhD; Payne DDS, MDS; and,  Lyle RDS, MS Interdental Cleansing; Jacquelyn L. Fried, RDH, MS