Is Water Flossing the Perfect Tool for Better Oral Health?

Jul 16 2020

Good oral health involves more than having a beautiful smile; it is key if we are to enjoy food, feel confident about interacting with others and avoid oral pain. Statistics however show that many Americans could improve in this department. Over 90% of Americans have had at least one cavity, and one in four has untreated tooth decay. Meanwhile, around half of all adults above the age of 30 have gum disease – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Oral Health report. Dentists recommend brushing and flossing twice daily, but for those with gum disease and frequent plaque build-up, one gadget that should be present on your bathroom countertop is a water flosser.

How does a Water Flosser Work?

Water flossers usually consist of a small nozzle that sprays pressurized water, connected to a water reservoir by a tube. Water flossers  clean teeth and gums through a combination of water pressure and pulsations, which remove food residue and plaque from teeth. They work similarly to dental floss, but the pressure means that tiny pieces of food you don’t even notice can be efficiently removed. Water flossers can reach areas that floss cannot get into; for instance, beneath the gum line at the front of teeth. Users can alter the pressure according to their needs. Therefore, those with sensitive gums may use a lower setting, while those after a power clean can set their flosser on high pressure.

Are Water Flossers Effective?

The effectiveness of water flossers was put to the test in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry. Participants in the study were assigned to one of two groups. Group One used a manual toothbrush plus a water flosser, while Group Two used a manual toothbrush and waxed dental floss to clean between teeth. The results showed that the water floss group had a 74.4% reduction in whole mouth plaque and an 81.6% reduction in plaque between teeth. The dental floss group meanwhile, had a 57.7% and 63.45% reduction in plaque in these respective areas. The scientists noted that the water flosser was, therefore, a superior way to keep plaque at bay. It also indicates that dental floss is still a good way to improve oral health, even though it was less effective than the water flosser. 

When Might Your Dentist Recommend a Water Flosser?

Your dentist may recommend this method of daily cleaning if you have frequent plaque build-up or if your gums tend to become inflamed. If you have a condition like gingivitis, you may be recommended to wait until bleeding has stopped to use a water floss. However, a water flosser is not enough to treat more serious periodontal disease, and you should always consult with your dentist. You may be recommended a root scaling and planing treatment and perhaps later, a water flosser can play a role in the maintenance of your gum health. Water flossers also work well for teeth that are difficult to clean. For instance, if you have wisdom teeth that have not been removed, then teeth may be very tight and it may be very difficult to get dental floss in between then, but a water flosser may be a good alternative.

Because a water flosser cleans plaque and removes trapped food so effectively, it is ideal for teeth in odd positions, but it can also form part of a daily oral health routine for anyone wishing to obtain an optimal clean. Studies have shown that it is more effective than standard brushing and flossing, so if you are worried about decay and gum inflammation and disease, ask your dentist if a flosser is suitable for you. Flossers have removable tips, so one machine can be used by more than one family member.

Fallon, Jacqueline. “Is Water Flossing the Perfect Tool for Better Oral Health?”. The Dental Greek, 11 Dec 2018

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