Flossing is a pivotal aspect of your oral health hygiene — it helps remove food particles from between your teeth, decrease plaque, fight gum disease, and prevent cavities when done correctly. Though it’s important to use traditional dental floss daily, you may be wondering about other oral hygiene tools such as the water pick, which uses a concentrated jet of water to clean along the gum line and between teeth.
Also known as oral irrigators or water flossers, these easy-to-use devices can fill a valuable role in your dental health routine. But how do they work? How can they benefit your teeth? And can they really replace flossing in your oral health routine?
What are Water Picks?
The first water flosser was developed in 1962 by Water Pik, Inc. with the invention of the Waterpik®. The company finally established the ideal design on their 146th try, creating the first version of their unique oral irrigator. By 1967, it was commercially available. Since then, many other water pick designs and brands have come on the market – offering consumers a valuable way to support their oral health at home.
How do Water Picks Work?
Water picks work by concentrating a jet of water between your teeth to dislodge food particles. The varying intensity settings on many models mean that you can control how powerful the stream of water is, especially if you have sensitive teeth and gums. Many models of water flosser feature a pulsing action, and help you focus on those tight spaces and crevices between teeth.
Some studies have shown that water flossers offer a very efficient way of reducing bacteria from “periodontal pockets” — or the area of your gum line where bacteria often gathers. The stream of water from oral irrigators also helps remove biofilm that gathers on the teeth, with some studies showing that water picks can help reduce plaque and calculus when used regularly with other dental health interventions.
Who Can Benefit from a Water Flosser?
Though it’s important to talk to your dentist about options that work best for your oral health, water flossers can be a great addition to your routine.
- Crowns and bridges. For those who’ve had crowns, bridges, and other dental implants, you know how important it is to keep your teeth especially clean and particle-free. Oral irrigators can be a convenient way to clean difficult-to-reach places.
- Deep Clean. Although it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for flossing, brushing, or rinsing, many people love the deeper clean feeling they get from using an oral irrigator.
- Braces or retainers. If you have traditional wire braces or a retainer, a water pick can help you remove particles that may become lodged in difficult-to-reach areas. With their relative flexibility, pulsing action, and varying intensity, an oral irrigator can help you dislodge food particles from all angles of your braces.
- Ease of use. For some people, flossing properly can be a bit of a challenge. If you perhaps aren’t as attentive as you could be with regular flossing, using a water pick regularly can help you pick up some of the slack. Using a water pick can help remove food particles and decrease plaque while you’re perfecting your string floss technique.
Can Water Picks Replace Flossing?Although water picks can be a great addition to your dental health routine, they shouldn’t actually replace string flossing. At Barron Family Dental, we like to emphasize that traditional string flossing is still an important aspect of your oral hygiene, whether or not you choose to combine it with a water pick. The string in dental floss, when used correctly, allows you to effectively scrape plaque and remove food particles from the inside surfaces of your teeth. While the jet of water from a water pick can be very helpful at dislodging particles and removing some plaque, they simply don’t offer the important scraping abilities of traditional dental floss.
In addition, there are plenty of other benefits to dental floss that you simply won’t encounter with a water pick:
- Dental floss is extremely inexpensive
- Dental floss doesn’t require charging, batteries, or plugs
- Dental floss is convenient and easy to take on-the-go
- Dental floss takes up almost no room in your bathroom or on your counter space
Why is Flossing so Important, Anyway?
If you’ve been to a dentist recently, then you already know how you’re supposed to care for your teeth: brush twice a day and flossing daily. Though many of us are used to brushing every day, we may wonder why flossing is so important.
First, it’s important to understand how plaque and calculus impact your oral health. When you eat food throughout the day, starches in the foods you eat interact with bacteria in the mouth to create an acidic substance called plaque. Then, plaque adheres to all the surfaces of the teeth — including hard-to-reach places. Left unchecked, plaque can contribute to gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay.
Where does floss come in? Well, while brushing regularly helps remove plaque that forms on the surface of your teeth, floss is necessary for the areas in between teeth and at the gum line that toothbrushes can’t reach. This can help plaque from sticking to the surface of your teeth and forming calculus — a hard substance that only your dentist can remove.
How to Choose a Water Pick
If you’d like to add a water pick to your dental hygiene routine, it’s important to choose carefully. Here’s some of the major factors to keep in mind:
1. Space & Portability
When you’re choosing a water flosser, make sure you choose one that suits your needs. Counter top water flossers are a great choice for those with sufficient counter space. Usually, these devices will plug directly into the wall, so you won’t need batteries. In addition, they have a rather large reservoir of water inside that you can use. On the other hand, those who travel frequently might want to consider a portable water flosser. They will require batteries, and often have a smaller reservoir capacity, but are easier to take on the road.
2. ADA Seal of Approval
The American Dental Association carefully reviews interdental devices like water flossers to ensure that they meet the appropriate standards. In order to earn the ADA Seal of Approval, a product has to present scientific evidence that their product is safe and effective. This Seal also shows that the product has been shown to reduce plaque and gingivitis more effectively than brushing alone. When shopping for your water flosser, choose a product that features the ADA Seal of Approval
3. Your Dentist’s Advice
Your dentist is an amazing resource when it comes to recommending oral hygiene supplies. If you’re not sure if a water flosser would be helpful for you, or you need a recommendation on how to choose your water flosser, asking your dental team for help is a great idea.
The Final Word on Water Picks
When it comes to using a water pick, you might find that incorporating one into your oral health routine helps give you an even cleaner, brighter smile. However, it’s important to maintain other key aspects of dental health, like brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly.
Whether or not you choose to use a water pick, one fact remains: it’s important to make regular flossing an everyday part of your dental routine. If you need extra guidance on how to floss properly, feel free to get in touch with us. At Barron Family Dental, we’re happy to offer the guidance you need to make the right oral health decisions!