Dental floss has been around for decades, and while water flossers aren’t exactly new, they aren’t quite the same fixture in bathrooms around the world as classic wax-coated floss. If you’ve ever been curious about making the switch to a water flosser but you aren’t sure if it’s worth the investment, the information below – some of which comes from the experts at the Mayo Clinic – should help.
What Is a Water Flosser, Anyway?
Before you can really understand the differences between traditional floss and a water flosser, it helps to know what a water flosser does. It is a device that sits on your bathroom counter and sprays a stream of water that is designed to dislodge food and plaque from between your teeth. Though it sounds amazing in theory, there are a few drawbacks associated with these machines that keep many people from buying them. They include:
- They take up a lot of space. Water flossers have a pretty big footprint for what they do, and many people just can’t spare the counterspace in their bathrooms to have one.
- They cost a lot of money. Water flossers range in price from just over $20 to $200 or more depending on the model you buy and the features it comes with.
- They have a significant learning curve. Learning how to use a water flosser is a trick. Figuring out how to hold the device to get the stream of water exactly where you need it takes time, and even then, it’s easy to make a mistake or miss a spot.
Which One Does a Better Job?
Almost all dentists agree that traditional dental floss will do a much better job of cleaning tight spaces between the teeth than a water flosser. Whereas a water flosser is point-and-aim and never comes into contact with your teeth, dental floss is easier to manipulate, and you can scrape along the front, back, and sides of your teeth to remove tartar and plaque. This is something a water flosser simply cannot do.
On the other hand, a water flosser does do an exceptional job of reducing bacteria in your mouth – even below the gumline. However, you can mimic these results by brushing your teeth gently, using dental floss regularly, and swishing with some mouthwash after each brushing.
But What if Floss Gets Stuck in Your Teeth?
Many people who opt for water flossers say they do so because traditional floss gets stuck in their teeth. This is relatively common, especially for folks who have very little space (if any at all) between their teeth. You might try a waxed floss in this case, which adds some lubrication and makes it easier to move the floss between your teeth, or you might even try floss holders, picks, or other devices designed to clean between your teeth, instead. These will all do a far better job of removing potentially harmful tartar and plaque.
Though a water flosser might look neat, and while the box might claim that it does a better job of removing buildup and food from your teeth than floss, this is simply not true. Even the experts agree that there is nothing like regular-old dental floss for getting the spaces between your teeth clean and protecting your oral health.