Flossing with water is a fairly new idea compared to using tooth picks and strings (of hair or thread) that have been the trend since ancient times. The advancement of cosmetic and restorative dentistry has given rise to the need of modifying and enhancing better flossing techniques by using a modernized version of a floss.
A water flosser is a home care dental cleaning device that uses pulsating water jet stream to remove food and plaque from in between the teeth. It is highly effective in cleaning dental braces, brackets, wires and other orthodontic devices. Plaque around brackets and wires can cause decalcification of the teeth leading to worsening of gum disease. Brushing and flossing around these devices can be a challenging task. That’s where a water flosser comes in handy. It is basically a simpler, portable version of the waterpiks we see at a dentist’s office.
The first water flosser was invented by Dr. Gerald Moyer and engineer John Mattingly in 1962. The use of water and optimal combination of pressure and pulsation is vital in attacking and picking up food particles to effectively clean and refresh our teeth.
An oral irrigator, dental water jet, waterpik and hydro floss are the different terms used for a water flosser. Different brands manufacture different kinds of water flossers, but their function is the same. Flossing with water!
Water Flosser vs Regular Floss
Water flosser is a good alternative to regular floss if your gums bleed when flossing or when you are trying to maintain a healthy oral hygiene in an effort to grow back receding gum line. However, it should not be a replacement of regular floss if you have healthy gums or do not use any of the dental devices. If you CAN floss, you SHOULD.
When Flossing is done properly, it is more effective at removing the sticky bacterial plaque from our teeth than a water flosser. However, many people do not know the proper flossing technique so they are not able to manipulate the floss effectively. Others are simply not willing to floss daily. For them, using a water flosser in combination with brushing is definitely better than brushing alone.
Most of the people who use water flosser have some kind of dental problem. Either they have some restorative procedure done or they have a periodontal disease. Water flossers do a great job of flushing food debris out from under braces and arch wires, under and around fixed bridges and between crowns that are attached together. If you have lots of restorative work done, you will make them last longer, saving you money. If you have minimal work done, it will keep your gums disease free. Water flosser is three times as effective as regular floss and five times as effective as manual toothbrush for cleaning around braces.
Combining both regular flossing and water flosser can achieve greater results. If you are a flosser, you should floss first to loosen and dislodge plaque, then use a water flosser to flush it out. It is best to do it at night when you are least rushed and will get maximum benefit from cleaning your mouth of food debris and bacteria before going to bed.
Do Water Flossers Work?
According to a report on Interdental Cleansing, published by American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), studies have been done to prove the efficacy of water flosser over regular string floss, air floss and toothbrushing.
It is evident by research data, that has evolved supporting the use of water for flossing, that an oral irrigator can effectively:
- Remove Plaque:
Contrary to what many think that an oral irrigator can only rinse and not remove plaque biofilm, a study done at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry states that a 3 second treatment of pulsating water (1,200 pulses per minute) at medium pressure (70 psi) removed 99.9% of plaque biofilm from treated areas. The stream of water jet from the flosser is powerful enough to strip dental plaque.
- Reduce Bacterial Count:
A study conducted at the University of Missouri Kansas City examined 32 extracted teeth, each with pocket depths of 6 mm and no prior instrumentation. Half the teeth were treated with a water flosser at 60 psi for eight seconds. The specimens were then scanned under electron microscopy for evidence of tissue damage. It was found that the water flosser reduced the number of microorganisms up to 6 mm. In comparison, the untreated teeth had thick mattes of microbes.
- Reduce Gum Bleeding:
It has been tested on patients with implants and found to reduce bleeding 87% better than rinsing with chlorhexidine. Adolescents who used the water flosser removed three times as much plaque as those who flossed with regular floss. There was also a 26% reduction in bleeding.
- Reduce Gum Inflammation:
A 2005 University of Nebraska study demonstrated that the addition of water flosser once daily, used with a toothbrush, was an effective alternative to string floss. It provided superior results, up to 93% reduction of bleeding, and up to 52% reduction of gum inflammation over string floss. An oral irrigator can aid in the prevention of bad breath, gum disease and dental decay and can address the many limitations of the string floss. It also has a massaging action that promotes healthier and stronger gums.
- Clean 100% :
A water flosser can dig deep into the gum pockets to take out food debris and other particles. When you floss with a string floss, you can sometimes have difficulty flossing the back of your teeth and those that are located far away from the opening of the mouth. Water flossers have slanted tips that can get inside these hard-to-reach areas so you can achieve 100% cleaning.
- Effective in Diabetics:
Water Flosser provided significant periodontal health benefits, both clinically and biologically to people with diabetes. Diabetics used the product post scaling and root planing and had a 44% better reduction in bleeding and 41% better reduction in gingivitis than those who used traditional oral care.
- Lasting Dental Work:
Water flossers are the perfect dental care devices for people with restorative and cosmetic work done on their teeth. When the implants and fillings are better taken care of, they last longer.
Guide To Dental Irrigation
Maintaining good oral care is vital in promoting healthy gums and teeth. Just like brushing twice a day is an essential part in warding off unwanted oral health conditions, dentists recommend flossing every day after brushing. Using a water flosser/oral irrigator to remove particles stuck between the teeth gives an added benefit.
Which is the Best Water Flosser in Town?
It all depends on your budget and need. Products vary according to cost, ease of use and effectiveness in reducing gum bleeding and inflammation. With so many options available, people need a professional’s guidance to determine which choice to make. Dental hygienists can assist by recommending the best water flosser based on your need and ability.
When considering which water flosser to get, it is always best to look at the specifications of each brand. Some brands have pulsations over 1200 while others differ. There are basically four types of water flossers or oral irrigators available in the market.
1. Hand-held Oral Irrigator: They are very flexible as you can aim the water jet at hard to reach places which can be missed while brushing. To make sure that multiple people can use one flosser, manufacturers provide color-coded tips.
- Faucet Flosser: These can attach to your faucet (tap) and need not be refilled. There are no batteries or cords involved. With some brands, there is an automatic shift from floss to faucet. Then you don’t need to manually take out the flosser from the faucet when you wish to use your tap.
- Shower Flosser: These can attach to your shower system so you can floss while taking a shower. Again, no refills, batteries or recharging involved.
- Cordless Oral Irrigator: These are rechargeable, battery operated flossers that are slim, small and portable. These are ideal for travelers where there can be voltage and storage issues. These include water jet air that comfortably massage the gums and remove bacteria. However they are not as powerful as counter tops.
2. Counter Top Oral Irrigator: These are bulky and heavy with a bigger unit that needs space on a counter top near an electricity socket. However they come with various detachable attachments that can enhance your oral care experience. Ideal for the whole family.
How to use a Water Flosser?
- Before you turn on the device, make sure that the knob is adjusted to the lowest setting and that the water flosser is already inside your mouth. This is so you don’t get wet. You can gradually increase the power as your gums start tolerating better.
- Remember to bend over slightly so the water drips directly into the sink.
- Use warm to hot water. For a fresher breath, add drops of mouthwash into the reservoir.
- Position the water tip at a 90-degree angle relative to the gumline and teeth. The water stream should be directed straight in between each pair of teeth starting with your back teeth and working your way around. Do not direct the stream “down into” your lower gums or “up into” your upper gums.
- Pause for 3-4 seconds in between each tooth.
- Take your time, go slow and do all the upper teeth spaces from outside to inside, all the lower teeth spaces from outside to inside, then repeat on your upper and lower teeth from inside to outside.
You will be amazed at what comes out of your mouth from in between your teeth and how great your mouth feels afterwards.
Selecting The Right Tip:
1. Classic jet tip: for general use
2. Orthodontic Tip with tapered brush : for dental braces, brackets, wires and other orthodontic hardware.
3. Plaque Seeker Tip: for General use, implants, veneers, crowns and bridges
4. Pik pocket tip: for deep gum pockets
5. Tongue cleaner
How to Clean a Water Flosser?
Run plain white vinegar through the water flosser a few times, and perhaps even let the vinegar just sit in the tubing for a while before rinsing seltzer or carbonated water through the unit. The acidity of the vinegar should soften the mineral deposits and the seltzer/carbonated water should rinse it away. You may want to run warm water through the unit a few times to rinse out the taste of the vinegar afterward.
Whether you are trying to keep your gum disease in remission, have implants, suffer from diabetes, or just do not like to floss, water flosser can help you improve your oral health.
They not only wash away accumulated bacterial toxins in hard to get, under-cleaned areas around restorative dentistry, tight spaces between teeth and shallow gum pockets but you will also find that using water flosser regularly will make your breath smell fresher, your food taste better, your mouth feel cleaner, and your bridgework last longer!