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The Benefits of Using a Water Flosser

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What is a Water Flosser?

Water flossers, such as the Waterpik, are at home oral health appliances that use a jet of water to remove plaque, food particles, and bacteria from between our teeth and below our gumlines.

Flossing is an important part of any oral hygiene routine. While brushing is able to remove plaque and food particles from the majority of each tooth’s surface, flossing is able to get into the places our toothbrushes can’t reach. According to the Canadian Dental Association individuals who do not floss end up missing more than one third of each tooth’s surface area.

If plaque isn’t removed within twenty four to forty eight hours it hardens into tartar (also called calculus), which can only be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist, and is the leading cause of gum diseases such as gingivitis. By flossing at least once per day you are able to keep plaque from forming into tartar.

Water Flossers verses Traditional Dental Floss

Studies have shown that flossing with a water flosser is up to 29% more effective than traditional floss. Flossing is important because it allows you to clean under your gumline where your toothbrush can’t reach. However, many individuals find that flossing with traditional nylon or plastic floss irritates their gums. This can cause chronic bleeding, especially in individuals with sensitive gums. As such, many people avoid flossing, which leads to an increased chance of cavities and gum disease. You may want to consider trading your traditional floss for a water flosser.

Water flossers:

  • Are less abrasive. Water flossers offer a more gentle alternative to traditional floss and are less likely to cause our gums to become inflamed or bleed.
  • Improve gum health. Water flossers allow you to easily remove the plaque, food particles, and bacteria that get stuck in hard to reach places. By being able to clean those often overlooked places you can reduce your chances of developing gingivitis or other gum-related diseases.
  • Offer deep cleaning. Many dentists recommend using water flossers, especially for individuals who have already begun to develop gum disease. Unlike traditional floss, water flossers are able to clean deep into our periodontal pockets, removing plaque and food particles that traditional floss can’t reach.
  • Are ideal for braces. Braces and other orthodontic appliances make good oral hygiene a challenge because they act as barriers to regular cleaning devices. Water flossers are an excellent alternative for individuals with braces because the jet stream is able to easily clean around and behind the wires and flush out the leftover food particles that lead to plaque buildup.

How Often Should I Use My Water Floss?

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to floss at least once per day and brush at least twice per day. Simply swap out your traditional flossing routine for a water flossing routine. You should also make sure that you floss before you brush. Flossing before you brush removes more plaque than flossing after you brush, and also ensures that more fluoride remains on your teeth when you are finished. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making our teeth more resistant against the acids that form because of plaque.


Daily flossing is an integral part of your at home oral hygiene routine, and water flossers are significantly more effective than traditional floss. Water flossers are gentle and less likely to cause gum irritation, inflammation, and bleeding. They are also able to clean out the periodontal pockets in our mouths where both toothbrushes and traditional floss can’t reach and are an effective way for all individuals (but especially those with braces or other orthodontic appliances) to keep their mouths clean and happy.

Annual dental appointments and cleanings are also an important part of any oral hygiene routine. Dental visits allow your dentist to look for signs of disease, and allow your dental hygienist to give your mouth a thorough, professional cleaning and remove any tartar that has built up since your last visit.

Written by Dr. Kevin Hamm

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