Water flossers have been around for years, but are only recently gaining popularity with patients, dentists, and dental hygienists. Although known for being a little messy at first, shifting to water flossing can have tremendous long-term benefits on your oral health. If you constantly struggle with flossing—or don’t do it as often as you should—investing in a new water flosser is a great solution.
Here are just some of the reasons why our periodontist in The Woodlands recommends water flossing to our patients:
1. To Clean Periodontal (Gum) Pockets
When it comes to having healthy teeth and gums, there’s one significant advantage to using a water flosser: it reaches down below the gums to clean moderate to severe gum pockets. If you’re someone who has struggled with periodontal disease in the past, this benefit is extremely worthwhile. Since traditional floss can only clean 2-3mm below the gum lines, people who have deeper periodontal pockets may never be able to fully clean their mouth. In turn, they’re more prone to relapse and chronic gum disease, including tooth loss.
The stream of water from a water flosser can reach down into gum pockets as deep as 7mm or more, targeting bacterial colonies that would otherwise go undisturbed. Using a water flosser each day flushes away the loose dental bacteria before it calcifies into tartar across the roots of the teeth. In turn, these cleaner environments are less likely to experience additional bone loss, pocketing, bleeding, or spread of disease.
For individuals with moderate to severe periodontitis, this reason alone is more than enough to invest in a water flosser!
2. Hard-to-Reach Spaces Around Teeth
Is there a tight contact somewhere in your mouth, where floss is practically impossible to get between? A water flosser can easily be aimed into that space without having to hassle with any strings shredding, breaking, or getting caught between your teeth.
Sometimes wider areas that pack food easily can also be a challenge to clean. If you tie a knot in your floss or use tufted floss, dragging it through that space might pull the food debris out. Or it might not. But the powerful jet coming from a water flosser is typically more than enough to flush everything out.
Let’s not forget to clean the teeth around the back of your mouth. If you have large hands, a sensitive gag reflex, or crowding, it may be nearly impossible to clean between your back teeth with dental floss. Fortunately, the thin tip of a water flosser is long enough that it can easily reach behind the teeth furthest back in your jaw.
3. Underneath Fixed Dental Bridges
Traditional and implant-supported dental bridges are one of the first encounters that people have with hard-to-clean teeth. Since it’s not possible to floss down between those spaces like normal, you have to find other ways (like using a floss threader or proxy brush.) A water flosser can be used alongside your toothbrush to clean around the supporting teeth or implants, as well as under the bridge itself.
If you’re not flossing around your dental bridge every day, the supporting teeth or implants will accumulate buildup just under the restoration. After several days, the gums in that space will start to get infected. Decay can also develop (around teeth, not implants.) Since using a water flosser around bridges is easier than flossing, you’ll have a simpler time sticking to a good home hygiene routine. In turn, your fixed bridge will likely last much longer.
Since water flossing is safe and effective around all dental restorations, you can easily work it from one tooth to the next. There’s no need to switch back and forth between different oral hygiene aids; the same tool can be used for cleaning your entire mouth at one time.
4. No Floss Threaders Required
Floss threaders are a needle-shaped plastic tool that’s used to weave dental floss between tight spaces. Such as under orthodontic wires, dental bridges, or where teeth are crowded. The tedious nature of having to thread the floss through each space in your mouth makes it difficult to comply with each day. Especially for someone with multiple dental bridges, braces, or limited dexterity.
Water flossing practically eliminates the need for using a floss threader. Since the jet of water sprays directly through the space you need to floss, there’s no reason to physically thread the strand in that space, to begin with. Simply apply the tip of the water flosser and allow the water to flush that space out for a few seconds.
5. Water Flossing is Safe for Dental Implants
Some types of products can be rough on dental implants. Even though implants are stronger than natural teeth, it doesn’t make them invincible. You’ll also need whatever you’re using to be gentle enough for the gums around each implant. Something as simple as brushing too aggressively or flossing too hard can compromise the tissues keeping your implants in place. But not water flossing.
Water flossing is powerful yet gentle enough that it’s safe to clean along the edges of your dental implants. Since peri-implantitis (the implant form of gum disease) is the greatest risk to implants, it’s important to clean just under the edges of your gum tissues next to the implant on a daily basis. Water flossing is effective for these spaces and won’t irritate your mouth. By keeping the gums extremely clean, they can remain as tight as possible around your implant to ensure they last for life.
6. Thoroughly Clean Under TeethXpress/All-on-4
Full arch dental implant systems like TeethXpress and “All-on-4” treatments feature a fixed, hybrid device that covers the curved arch of your jaw. Since it’s fixed permanently into place, you need a way to clean between the restoration and your gum tissues, as well as around the dental implants that support it.
In the past, your best option was to use a floss threader or tufted floss to weave in and out under your prosthesis. Unfortunately, this process could be quite tedious, which kept a lot of people from doing it every day.
A water flosser allows you to bypass the entire process of using extra tools or flossing aids to clean around TeethXpress. Instead, you simply aim your water flosser just along the edges of your full arch dental implants, tracing from one side to the next. Spend a little extra time where each implant is located. The water flosser is strong enough to flush out food debris, plaque, and keep those areas fresh. You might want to consider using it twice a day, just like you do your toothbrush.
7. It’s Better Than Flossing
There are a few reasons why using a water flosser is better than flossing.
For one, people tend to be more compliant with using a water flosser. Once you begin water flossing, it’s easier to stick to a daily routine. Whereas only a small percent of people actually use dental floss each day.
Plus, water flossing cleans more effectively than regular floss does. Not only does it reach down deeper into gum pockets, but it can also clean the concave areas between teeth that flossing can only skip over.
Since water flossing can remove more plaque bacteria in more areas of your mouth, it’s beginning to be the preferred method for cleaning between teeth.
8. Water Flossing is Gentler on Your Mouth
Does it hurt your gums whenever you floss? Maybe the string feels as if it’s cutting into your gum tissue or you experience bleeding every time you floss? Flossing might be too uncomfortable (or painful at times) to want to try to use it regularly. Fortunately, that’s not the case with water flossing.
Since a water flosser uses a gentle stream of water to clean your teeth and gums, it tends to be much more comfortable than using traditional floss. Especially in tight contacts where it can feel like you’re “snapping” the floss down between your teeth. Using a water flosser typically doesn’t cause any irritation whatsoever. If your gums are sensitive, some tickling sensations are fairly normal; fortunately, these tend to go away as you get used to using your hygiene device. More irritated gum tissues like areas of chronic gum disease could feel a bit tender or itchy when you clean them at first, but discomfort is highly unlikely.
When flossing is more comfortable, it’s easier to do it more often. Water flossing is a great way to transition from an uncomfortable oral hygiene routine to one you feel better about. Best yet, water flossing more frequently will naturally make your gums less sensitive. It’s a win-win!
9. Interchangeable Tips
Depending on which water flosser you get, you can enjoy your choice of specific tips that make cleaning your mouth as easy as possible.
For instance, a tufted-end attachment is ideal for cleaning along the margins of our dental crowns, bridges, and dental implants. It can also help you reach between teeth if there are wide spaces and gum recession. Dentists also recommend this specific attachment for individuals who are undergoing orthodontic treatment, since it’s effective for cleaning around wires and brackets.
Other interchangeable tips tend to impact the pressure and flow of water, especially if your machine does not have an adjustable nozzle to control it with. Smaller openings tend to have higher pressure with a thin stream of water, while wider openings have less pressure and more water.
You might try experimenting with the different tips at first to find the one you like. If your water flosser doesn’t offer this feature, it’s not a deal-breaker. Ultimately you want to be able to have one where you can control the flow of water, or a tufted tip if you have specific restorations that would benefit from one.
10. Healthier Gums
People who have gingivitis or periodontal disease will almost always see an improvement in their gum health after they start water flossing. Like regular floss, you’ll need to use it daily. After you water floss every day for about two weeks in a row, you should see a difference.
During your dental exams, you’ll probably find that you experience less gum irritation, bleeding, or probing depths (pocketing) around your teeth too. Since water flossers clean down below the gum lines, there’s much less of a risk for deeper gum pockets or heavy plaque buildup.
If you’re someone who typically has bleeding gums whenever you brush and floss, water flossing can make a significant difference in your gum health. As a general rule, healthy gums shouldn’t bleed when you’re cleaning your teeth. If they do, it’s usually because of an infection going on. Water flossing on a regular basis can prevent plaque colonies from irritating your tissues, which essentially keeps your gums from bleeding as easily. With time, any redness or inflammation should go away, leaving your gums smooth and nicely colored.
11. You Can Stop Using Floss
Yes, you heard that correctly. If you’re using a water flosser every day, you have our permission to quit using dental floss. Since most people don’t floss as often as they should, this news tends to be quite popular.
Being that water flossing can reach all of the areas cleaned with traditional floss, and some, you don’t need to do both. It’s perfectly fine to drop the flossing altogether if you are going to use a water flosser.
While it can be difficult to remember to floss every day, water flossing is one of those habits that makes you feel as if you need to get it done. Your mouth will feel clean enough afterward that the difference is noticeable enough for you to want to use it more frequently. When that’s the case, it’s easier to shift away from conventional flossing, especially if you don’t floss on a regular basis already.
Flossing definitely has its advantages and you might still want to keep a floss pick in the car or at your desk when food gets caught after a meal. But as far as daily oral hygiene, it’s completely acceptable to drop flossing from your to-do list if you’re water flossing every day.
12. They Work Around Braces Too
You might not be in braces, but if you’re thinking about orthodontic treatment or have a family member about to get braces, a water flosser is a must! Water flossers—especially those that have brush-tip designs—work excellently around fixed brackets and orthodontic archwires. Since plaque buildup around braces can leave lasting white spots on teeth, the investment in a water flosser can help target areas that a toothbrush might miss.
Adults are never too old to get braces and having a healthier smile can statistically reduce your chances of TMJ disorder, gum disease, and tooth decay. For a healthier smile from day one, always use an electric toothbrush and water flosser around braces. Having one in your household for younger family members is also a great idea.
13. A Different Design for Everyone
There are dozens of different types of water flossers on the market. Depending on your personal preferences, one may be better or more convenient than another. Here are some of the most common design choices and settings that you might want to consider:
Shower-Mounted Designs—Water flossing is almost always a little messy at first. Some people prefer to invest in a model that mounts directly inside their shower, preventing the need to worry about water getting anywhere. Shower-mounted water flossers are also convenient because you can easily use them each day without them interfering with your normal morning routine. There are also designs that can attach directly to your bathroom sink faucet if that’s something you prefer.
Portable Water Flossers—Do you travel frequently? Do you prefer to be able to use your water flosser in multiple areas over being tied to one specific sink or shower? If so, a portable version may be best. These designs have a built-in reservoir inside of the handle that you fill each time you use it. The one downside to a travel water flosser is that you might need to refill it once or twice every time you clean your mouth (since it holds less water.)
Traditional Countertop Styles—The majority of water flossers are a countertop version that features a large built-in reservoir, hose, and tip. You fill the reservoir with the desired temperature of the water or just keep it filled to use it at room temperature.
Adjustable Water Flow—An important feature to consider is buying a water flosser that allows you to adjust the pressure. This could either be one with a special knob where you turn the water up or down, has interchangeable tips with various openings (to impact the stream of water), or one that hooks directly to a faucet. Being able to adjust the pressure is usually just as important for a lot of people as is adjusting the temperature of the water, for sensitivity’s sake.
Interchangeable Tip Options—Just like being able to adjust water flow, you might also want the ability to change out various tips on your water flosser. Not every style offers this, but some do. This feature is particularly helpful for people who have wide contacts, dental implant bridges/All-on-4/TeethXpress, and braces.
14. They’re Easy to Use
When you’re using a water flosser, all you’ll need to do is trace around each tooth near the gumline, pausing between each one to clean those tight spaces. For someone who might not have great dexterity, suffers from arthritis, or just can’t put their fingers in the back of their mouth because of a sensitive gag reflex, water flossing is much easier to do!
At first, you might beg to differ. But once you get the routine down of water flossing without making much of a mess, the process is quite simple. Practically everyone in your family—at least junior high and up—can use a water flosser effectively. Many of them even have color-coded tips to where you can share the same device with your family members, changing out the attachment depending on who is using it.
The more you practice using your water flosser, the easier it gets. Just be patient the first few times. The extra water and tickling sensations get easier to manage the more you use it.
15. Your Dentist will Notice a Difference
It’s easy for your dentist and dental hygienist to tell if you’ve been flossing between your checkups. In most cases, flossing is so infrequent or done so quickly that the tissues remain slightly red and irritated.
However, that isn’t usually the case with people who use water flossers. Since water flossing tends to be easier to comply with (meaning you’re doing it more frequently) and is more effective than string floss, it significantly impacts your oral health. So, when it’s time to schedule your next dental cleaning and exam, your gums will typically look far healthier than they did during the previous appointment.
The difference isn’t just visible when you smile. During your cleaning, your hygienist will be able to tell that there’s less inflammation, bleeding, and pocketing around teeth when you’re using a water flosser.
Just like using an electric toothbrush, the night-and-day difference of switching to a water flosser is easy for your dentist to see. That reason alone is enough of an incentive to toss the floss for good and permanently shift to using a water flosser system.
Trouble Cleaning Your Teeth?
Preventative dental care is the key to keeping your smile healthy for life. But when areas of gum pockets or hard-to-reach spaces make it difficult to clean your mouth, professional treatment with our gum specialist can get you back on track. We’ll show you how gentle therapies like laser disinfection and cleanings can provide you with the blank slate you need for maintaining dental health between checkups.
For more advice on water flossing or to schedule a screening with our gum specialist in The Woodlands, call today!