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A woman using a waterpik instead of floss to clean her teeth.

Should You Use an Oral Irrigator Like Waterpik or Floss to Clean Your Teeth?

Taking care of your teeth and braces is important. Even for those who brush twice a day, flossing can seem like a chore – but it’s too important to skip! You may have heard about oral irrigators like Waterpik and wondered which is better: Waterpik or floss? Before you throw out your floss, read on to learn the facts about cleaning your mouth with an oral irrigator!

What is an Oral Irrigator?

Oral irrigators, like Waterpik, are specialized tools designed to clean between your teeth with a thin, forceful stream of water. The water uses its pressure to remove plaque and bacteria, as opposed to scraping. In addition to cleaning between your teeth, it’s effective at cleaning around your gums.

Water flossing is considered by many users to be an easy way to floss without the risk of missing surfaces, or the pain and discomfort of flossing with traditional dental floss. Especially with permanent braces, like traditional metal braces or ceramic braces!

What Are the Advantages of a Waterpik vs Floss?

Are you deciding whether to use a Waterpik or floss? There are several advantages to the Waterpik and other oral irrigators that make them popular for people of all ages:

Easy to Use – The steady jet of water requires far less precise movement and gripping versus normal floss. For those with arthritis, this can be a huge benefit! The ease of water flossing greatly reduces your chance of missing surfaces or incorrectly flossing, a common issue with dental floss.

Gentle on Gums – Do you often deal with bleeding gums or pain when flossing? Maneuvering dental floss through the gaps and contacting surfaces in your mouth can be difficult. With water flossing, it’s relatively effortless and eliminates the pains of accidentally pushing too much force on your gums.

Promotes Healthy Gums – Extracting food particles and plaque from the corner of your gums is hard, even with floss or a toothbrush.  Oral irrigators are good at getting these sensitive areas and removing most bacteria. Additionally, the pressure from the stream actually massages the gums and promotes better health.

Does a Waterpik Replace Floss?

Person with braces using a floss pick to clean their teeth

With all the benefits of a Waterpik or other oral irrigator, you may decide it’s a great alternative to flossing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While oral irrigators are excellent at dislodging particles of food, it’s not nearly as effective as floss for scraping away plaque or bacteria.

The gentle pressure of the water doesn’t have enough force to break up harder plaque build-up, which means you’ll still have colonies of bacteria eating away at your teeth after using an oral irrigator. Without flossing, you’ll still experience the effects of gradual decay.

However, due to the ease of using an oral irrigator versus flossing, it is more likely to see daily use than traditional floss. While oral irrigators don’t replace flossing, using them in addition to brushing is far more effective than simply brushing alone.

If you skip your daily flossing, bacteria can hide between your teeth for weeks. This will build into corrosive concentrations of plaque and cause long-term tooth or gum damage.

Oral Irrigators for Orthodontic Patients

It’s important to note that, for those undergoing orthodontic treatment, oral irrigators can be uniquely effective. While they’re still not comparable to floss, they can dramatically simplify the task of keeping your braces clean.

If you’ve had braces for even a few weeks, you likely know the difficulties they can add to your daily oral care routine. Oral irrigators offer you another tool to quickly and conveniently clean your braces, preventing food particles from hiding in hard-to-reach places inside your brackets or near teeth that are difficult to floss due to your braces.

For those that want to make sure their teeth stay healthy as they undergo orthodontic treatment, an oral irrigator is a great addition to their daily routine!

Information on Types of Braces

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