You’re sitting in the chair at your dentist’s office, and you hear that dreaded question— “Have you been flossing?”
You knew this question was coming, but for some reason, you’re never quite prepared for the disappointment when you answer, “No.” 😞
If you’re finally ready to impress your dentist at your next dental check-up by telling them that you’ve been flossing each day, you might be wondering if a water flosser vs floss is better for you. While your gums, teeth, and dentist will thank you for using either option, some people are better candidates for one or the other.
Yes, You Need to Floss— Here’s Why
We know that flossing is a tedious task. And if you’re brushing your teeth every day, why would you need to floss in addition?
Well, we promise that your dentist doesn’t ask you about flossing at every check-up just to make you feel bad about yourself. In fact, they’re simply looking out for your health because they want your teeth, gums, and overall health to be as best as it can be.
And yes, flossing really does impact your overall health.
Flossing has numerous benefits, including:
- Reduces the risk of cavities
- Helps remove food particles and plaque between the teeth and along the gumline where your toothbrush can’t reach
- Removes more bad breath-causing bacteria than brushing alone
- Reduces the likelihood of sore and puffy gums
- Helps prevent gingivitis which can lead to periodontitis (gum disease)
- Improves the overall brightness of your teeth
Did you know that you have a 20% higher chance of developing heart disease if you have gum disease? Gum health really is a vital component of your overall health, and flossing plays a key role in protecting your gum health.
It’s ideal to floss at least once per day. If you don’t floss after every meal, opt to do it at the end of the day before you go to bed.
There are a few different ways you can floss, including:
- Waxed and un-waxed thread: Traditional string floss
- Water flossers: Use water pressure to flush out debris between teeth
- Floss picks: Convenient travel size for flossing on the go
- Air flossers: Use air pressure to push out debris between teeth
- Super floss: Beneficial for people with braces, bridges, or wide tooth gaps
The two most common types of flossing are traditional string dental floss and water flossers. Let’s take a closer look at the comparison between the two.
Traditional String Floss
The history of dental floss dates further back than most people realize. Many anthropologists have found evidence that prehistoric people used various tools to clean their teeth in ways that are similar to modern-day flossing.
Floss was first mentioned in print in 1819 in a book called “A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth” by Levi Spear Parmly. Then 55 years later, floss was formally patented by Asahel M. Shurtleff, who designed the packaging that included a cutter— very similar to the floss found in the aisles today.
To use traditional string floss, follow these tips:
- Unwind and cut about 12-18 inches of floss.
- Wrap the floss around your fingers so that two inches are left in the center.
- Hold the floss firmly with your thumb and index fingers.
- Place the floss in between two teeth and glide it up and down. (Avoid pressing the floss into your gums.)
- Curve the floss into a C-shape to get the area between your gums and teeth.
- Repeat these steps and cover every space in between each tooth. Re-wrap the floss around your fingers as you go to use a clean portion.
🦷 Pro Tip: Be mindful not to “snap” your floss quickly in and out of your teeth. This can cause damage to your gums.
👍 Traditional Floss Pros
There are many advantages to traditional string floss, including:
- Easy to control
- Able to clean each tooth in full
- Easily removes plaque
👎 Traditional Floss Cons
Additionally, there are some disadvantages to consider, such as:
- Can be difficult to reach back teeth
- Snapping can cause gum bleeding or discomfort
- Can be hard for people with arthritis or braces
Water Flossers (Water Picks)
Water flossers (also called water picks or waterpiks) are oral irrigators that were invented in 1962 by a dentist and a hydraulic engineer. Water flossers use a pressurized stream of water to clean away food particles, plaque, and bacteria between teeth and under the gumline.
To use a water flosser, follow these steps:
- Fill the reservoir with lukewarm water, then put the flosser tip in your mouth.
- Turn on the flosser and hold the handle at a 90-degree angle to your teeth.
- Spray the water to clean in between your teeth.
- Start at the back of your mouth, focusing on the top of your teeth, the gum line, and the spaces between each tooth.
- Go around your entire mouth again to get the back of your teeth.
- Empty any extra water from the reservoir when you’re done.
👍 Water Flosser Pros
Water flossers have some impressive pros, such as:
- Easy to use
- Helpful for people with braces
- Gets hard-to-reach areas
👎 Water Flosser Cons
However, there are some disadvantages to consider when it comes to water flossers:
- Usually require being plugged into an electrical outlet
- Messier process
- Can be costly
- Aren’t quite as effective at removing plaque as traditional floss
Which Option Is Best for You?
Both traditional string floss and water flossers are safe and effective to use. Overall, most dentists recommend traditional string floss if it is accessible for your body.
However, if traditional manual flossing is difficult for you due to dexterity issues, arthritis, or braces, water flossers are a fantastic and accessible alternative that will still keep your oral health in top condition.
Never Be Scared of the Dentist Again
Here at Wayzata Dental, we’re big proponents of flossing in whatever way works best for you. In fact, our entire philosophy of dental care is to be as relaxing and comfortable as possible. We offer laser dentistry with no lasers or drills to keep you healthy, smiling, and relaxed.
Feel free to ask any of our dentists and hygienists about different flossing methods to see what works best for you. And when it’s time to schedule your bi-yearly cleaning and check-up, reach out to our friendly staff!