Dental Health Question of the Month


Flossing or using a Waterpik, which is better?


Both flossing and using a Waterpik have many great benefits. In many situations it depends on the person and the condition of their mouth. If patients are doing an effective job with floss they should continue using floss. However, some patients have areas that are hard to reach with floss or the patient may have dexterity issues. For patients who have braces, bridges, implants or have gum disease the Waterpik benefits them a great amount in hard to reach areas. The water stream has a pulsating action that allows plaque biofilm to be removed and it is easier to maneuver the water stream into these areas than it is the floss. The water stream should be moved along each tooth at the gum line for a full 5 seconds to be effective in removing the plaque biofilm.

Patients with braces, bridges, implants and gum disease usually have to use floss threaders to be able to floss around each tooth. This is a very time consuming and difficult process. There are specially designed inserts for the Waterpik with brushes on the end to allow these areas to be cleaned around quickly and easily without having to thread floss through the teeth. Patients with gum disease will have areas of bone loss and recession leaving large spaces in-between all their teeth making it hard to clean the area effectively with a thin piece of floss. The water actually works by flushing these spaces with a thick stream of water clearing out all the plaque and food particles.

People that have dexterity limitations are recommended to use a Waterpik. Men can have troubles due to having large hands, elderly people could have difficulty using their hands from arthritis or other ailments, and small children have not developed the motor skills needed to maneuver floss throughout the mouth. Many of these patients cannot effectively remove the plaque in their mouth with floss alone. The Waterpik allows them to only have to insert a small tip into the back of their mouth giving them much better coverage of all their teeth. Using floss can be very tedious and takes a high level of motor skills to use in the mouth. The Waterpik has a large handle that is easier to grip and is much like using a power toothbrush. This allows more area to grip for the patient and a lower level of motor skill is needed to remove plaque on the teeth.

Ideally it is recommended to use floss and a Waterpik; however, for some this is very difficult. As long as a patient is working hard at home and coming in to see their dentist regularly they should have great results with either method. It may take time and effort on the Dentist and patient's part but eventually, together, they can come up with a home routine that fits each individual patient the best. There is not a "Cookie Cutter" answer; therefore, it strictly depends on each person as an individual.

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