Early last week we discussed how important flossing is in our post The Cost of Forgetting to Floss. Today we’re going to look at the Waterpik and how it also can help with those spaces in the oral cavity that a toothbrush just can’t get to.
What is a Water flosser?
An oral irrigator, often referred to as a Waterpik or water flosser, is a personal device primarily used to clean out plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gum line, improving gingival health. It is often also recommended for people with permanent orthodontic devices or periodontal treatments to keep the oral cavity clean and minimize tartar build-up around their pieces.
The power flosser was first developed in Colorado in the 60s by dentist Dr. Gerald Moyer and engineer John Mattingly of Waterpik, Inc. and the name stuck for this specialty oral tool.
Can it Replace Flossing?
Flossing is often under-utilized in oral health regiments. When oral irrigators are suggested as an adjunct to their oral health routine, often a patient will ask if this means they don’t need to floss. Many studies about whether water flossing is equal to string flossing have been conducted and the conclusions vary. One study published by American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics stated that “A dental water jet with a specialized orthodontic jet tip is effective for adolescents in fixed orthodontic appliances; it demonstrated beneficial results for the reduction of plaque and bleeding.” It went on to say that both the water flosser and a strictly flossing/brushing routine had similar results.
Nature.com conducted a review of periodontal disease studies surrounding the dental water jet, and concluded two things. Firstly, that the pulsating water of the Waterpik didn’t reduce visible plaque. However, it “reduce[s] the levels of inflammatory mediators in the gingival crevice/ pocket, and alter the gingival response to microbial challenge, thereby contributing to gingival homeostasis and health.”
Despite the handful of positive resulting studies, it’s widely accepted that waterpiks should be used in conjunction with brushing and string flossing for optimum oral health.
Types of Water Flossers
As with most products, there are many commercial products out there. Prices range from $40 for a single-tip, cordless contraption with a rechargeable battery and small water well to an $80 counter top tank appliance with tubes that run to the jet stream. The mid-to-high priced varieties often come with alternate tips for the Waterpik, such as brushes for orthodontic devices and a tongue cleaner (see below). Please note, the jet tip attachment is the most effective, as it maintains the water pressure you need for most desired oral health results.
Other Ways a Water Flosser Can be Utilized
The price of a Waterpik is worth the oral benefits, but if you are still daunted by the higher price tag, consider that you can use it for other household or oral needs as well. Water flossers can help remove tonsil stones, flush out swollen tissue in the throat and nasal passages during infections or illnesses, and can treat and prevent canker sores in people with chronic outbreaks when used at lower pressure levels. They also work well to clean jewelry and other finely detailed items. These added uses might just make the cost worth it for you.
Is a Waterpik right for me?
If you think that a Waterpik might be a great solution for your dental needs, we highly recommend contacting your dentist and discussing it. Your dentist knows your oral conditions better than anyone and can help you make the best decision. If you don’t currently have a dental professional, we’d love to be your new dentist! Simply give us a call to set up an exam and we’ll help you get the most beneficial plan in place to maintain a healthy mouth.