Should You Cut the Strings?

Are Water Flossers Effective?

Flossing is important to your oral health. However, some people skip this step, or don’t give it the same priority as brushing. Many individuals would prefer some alternative to putting string between their teeth. Thankfully, the Placerville Dental Group is familiar with the news, methods and technologies in the dental industry, including alternatives to traditional dental floss.

One device that you can use instead of string floss is known as a water jet, oral irrigator, or water flosser. It shoots a pressurized, pulsating flow of water into the mouth, removing plaque, food particles and bacteria — much the same as traditional flossing. But could shooting a stream of water on your teeth be as effective as dental floss? Are there any caveats to using a water flosser? Before discussing the benefits and challenges with water flossers, let’s first discuss its history.

The Backstory on the Oral Irrigator

The idea of using a jet of water on your teeth and gums was first developed in 1962 by dentist Gerald Moyer and engineer John Mattingly. Directing the water flow towards the gum tissue next to the teeth, a jet stream of pulsating water removes bacteria and plaque. Since that initial development, over fifty studies have tested the effectiveness of water flossers, verifying that they have a positive effect on oral health and prevention of gum disease. One study listed in the National Library of Medicine reported a 74.4% reduction in overall mouth plaque, as compared to 57.7% for users of waxed string floss. Other studies show a reduction in gingivitis and gum bleeding when water flossing is used as part of an oral hygiene routine, along with brushing and mouthwash use.

Benefits of Water Flossing

Water flossers are easy to use, and the ability to direct the flow of the water stream means it can often reach areas that traditional flossing cannot. Many medical professionals note a benefit for diabetics, who are often susceptible to gum disease. For patients with orthodontic appliances, water flossing offers less struggle than traditional dental floss, and is often more successful at dislodging food particles from braces. The same is true for patients with temporary or permanent bridgework.

Challenges with Water Flossing

The initial cost of the device is high when compared to traditional floss. You can purchase many yards of dental floss for a couple of dollars or less. Most water flossing devices range from forty to a hundred dollars. Less expensive devices typically run the risk of compromising the quality or performance of the device.

Along with that, a small pack of dental floss can fit into a pocket, whereas a water flossing device is much larger. They also require electricity and a water source to work properly. There are cordless versions now available, but they often limit their effectiveness while raising the price for the convenience.

If you can afford it, water flossing is a safe and effective addition to your oral hygiene arsenal. Some patients use it in conjunction with traditional dental floss or in place of string flossing. Please contact the Placerville Dental Group to discuss whether water flossing is right for you, or what product versions would best suit the needs of your oral health.


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