You already know it’s important to go to your twice yearly teeth cleaning exams and to brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. But if you’re like many dental patients, following up brushing with flossing can be difficult, especially if your teeth are very crowded or you have mobility issues. Or, maybe you just hate the feeling of shoving string in between your teeth. If you’re having any difficulty or hesitation flossing every day, you might be a great candidate for a water flosser.
Water Flossers: What is a Water Flosser and How is it Used?
A water flosser is a small, pick-like device that sprays a concentrated stream of water in between and around the teeth. It is NOT a replacement for tooth brushing, but is an excellent alternative to string floss, plastic flossers or even “tree brushes” that patients use under bridges or braces.
Water flossers are typically a standalone device that includes the “pick”, a base and a water reservoir. They perform the same function as flossing: they help you get to those hard-to-reach areas to remove plaque. Removing plaque from these areas with a water flosser not only helps prevent stains, tartar build up and bad breath, it can also keep gingivitis and other gum disease at bay.
Water flossers are especially useful for patients with very tight, crowded teeth, patients with braces, bridges or other dental appliances that are difficult to floss under or around, or patients with mobility issues. Since a water flosser is essentially a “point and shoot” tool, just about anyone can use one. In fact, some patients who have struggled with traditional flossing methods in the past find greater success and daily adherence with water flossing.
Water flossers are used more like a traditional electric toothbrush, but with a slightly different technique. Electric toothbrushes don’t require as much “scrubbing” as manual toothbrushes. In fact, many electric toothbrushes can simply be moved gently around the teeth while the bristles do the work.
The same principle applies with a water flosser. The flosser will spray a steady stream of concentrated water. The user needs to guide the water flosser gently along the gumline, point it in between the teeth and spray under and around bridges, crowns and braces.
Since water flossing can be a bit messy, it’s easiest if patients water floss directly over the sink, and let the water run out of the mouth as they move the flosser from tooth to tooth. Don’t try to “see” exactly where the water flosser is going…you’ll just end up spraying water all over the mirror (and probably your face a bit).
Water flossing is quick and easy and some patients like it so much, they ditch traditional floss forever. We do recommend keeping traditional floss on hand, just in case, especially if you get an especially stubborn bit of food stuck in between your teeth. Sometimes traditional floss is a better tool for that particular job, but don’t worry about needing to use both techniques forever. One of the other will do!
If you’re looking to try a water flosser, talk to your dentist about options. Many dentists will encourage patients to use whatever tools work best for them to achieve and maintain their optimal oral health, so if traditional flossing hasn’t been easy for you in the past, they will happily recommend a water flosser. They may have a preferred brand of water flosser they recommend, or even have in-office discounts and pricing. Most water flossers cost around $40, though some can be in the $100 range.
No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong with this gentle and effective flossing method. This is especially true for patients who have struggled with gum disease in the past, have severely crowded teeth, have mobility issues or just hate traditional floss. Combining water flossing with great brushing habits and twice yearly teeth cleaning exams can help you achieve and maintain your best oral health.
Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and you should not use this information to diagnose yourself. If you are concerned about your teeth, you should contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.
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