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- Water flossers have recently gained a lot of hype online, like this Waterpik model with over 7,800 5-star reviews on Amazon.
- The company points to studies that found it to be more effective than traditional flossing in a variety of important areas.
- I tested the Waterpik out, and overall it’s a great option for people who either don’t enjoy traditional flossing or want a more effective clean.
As a kid, my teeth grew in straight but with ample gaps. To avoid the cost of braces, the powers that be (who also respond to “mom” and “dad”) decided that I would be getting bonds to fill in the spaces rather than braces. My underbite would have to remain quirky.
Thanks to instant gratification and the opportunity to leapfrog right over the foundational years of losing a retainer in a lunch napkin, I was excited.
A decade later, I’m still thankful, but I might have opted for braces if it had all been the same. I’ve chipped those bonds on toasted bread and, yes, even just whilst flossing – and they’re not cheap fixes.
But it’s not exactly an excuse to stop practicing great oral hygiene; my dentist and I both agree that flossing is a necessary habit. There’s no way around it. Without it, plaque can build up in places toothbrushes can’t reach and lead to gum disease and cavities, according to the ADA.
So, imagine my excitement about the fanfare water flossers were receiving on the internet. This one by Waterpik has over 7,800 5-star ratings on Amazon. If they lived up to the hype, I could save myself a lot of anxiety, and potentially a lot of money. Even for people who don’t have the exact same situation, water flossers are supposed to be way easier to use than string floss and also more effective.
Dental floss only works if you’re doing it regularly and in the correct motions and intensity. So for string floss, it comes down to two things most users are arguably less-than-confident about: perfect execution and consistency.
Waterpik is the leading name in water flossers, and offers studies that show it to be 51% more effective than dental floss for reducing gingivitis, 2X as effective as dental floss at reducing gingival bleeding, and 29% more effective as dental floss at removing plaque. It’s also ADA-accepted.
We were sent one of their units to test out, and my overall impression is that for people who prioritize their oral health and/or hate traditional flossing, this is a great option. It takes some getting used to, and was messier (in the beginning) and louder than I expected, but it has definitely made a difference in the consistency and effectiveness (as well as the possibility) of flossing. Especially for those with braces or permanent retainers, for whom flossing is a long and annoying process, this is certainly worth looking into.
Some of the nitty gritty details to keep in mind:
1. You can personalize brush heads and settings based on need.
There is a setting for flossing and massaging, so you can do either one. Start with the lower water pressure settings to help you acclimate, then customize based on preferences.
Waterpik also sends along different tips for different uses.
You’ll get 3 Classic tips, 1 toothbrush tip, 1 plaque seeker tip, and 1 pik pocket tip.
- Classic tip: This is the one that you’ll use to replace flossing/is meant for general use. Unless you have crowns and other more serious dental work, in which case you’ll want to opt for the Plaque seeker tip.
- Toothbrush tip: This is in case you want to Waterpik at the same time as you brush your teeth. While a good idea, I agreed with most reviews that found it to be less efficient than using their own toothbrushes.
- Plaque seeker tip: If you’ve got anything more serious than fillings in your mouth, you’ll likely want to use this tip as your daily option.
- Pik pocket tip: Meant for people with periodontal pockets or furcations and is meant to be used at the lowest pressure.
2. At first, it’s going to be messy. But there are ways to avoid this.
The first time I used this, the water ricocheted off my teeth and hit the mirror. I was startled by both the amount of water used and how messy it was. I quickly learned to close my mouth around it while using the water flosser/leave only a very small gap – pretty much exactly like you do at the dentist.
And after using, make sure to empty the remaining water to keep the device clean.
3. It isn’t silent, so plan accordingly.
It uses a little motor to work, which you will hear while using it. If you have roommates, you’ll probably want to use it before they head to bed. It will also need countertop space, so don’t buy one if you have nowhere to put it.
All in all, if you’re looking for a more effective mode of flossing and have the countertop space, this might be one way to improve consistency and efficacy. And if you, like me, find the normal process of flossing painful or horribly long and dull, then this is a great buy if you still want the benefits of clean teeth.