A few patients have asked me recently about the “Waterpik” water flosser, so here’s a quick review of the product. First off, what exactly is it? It is a type of ‘oral irrigator’ or ‘dental water jet’. Essentially it delivers a steady stream of water through a small tube, designed to help clean the spaces between the teeth and around any dental work such as implants or braces. Let’s look at this technology in more detail.
Why do we need to clean between our teeth?
We all know why we have to brush our teeth… To get rid of plaque, which causes decay and gum disease (and bad breath). But brushing alone does not get into the spaces between the teeth. In order to prevent these common problems, we need to clean ‘interdentally’. See more on the need to floss here.
“Ok, but I don’t like flossing!”
Join the club! No-one ‘likes’ flossing, but it is important to clean inter-dentally. So if you are among the many that don’t don’t clean interdentally, you may want to consider a water pick. A water flosser (vs string floss) has the advantage in that it is not as awkward or time-consuming..
Does ‘Water Floss‘ work?
The research seems fairly favourable as to the efficacy of water flossers. When I say ‘efficacy’ I mean that it:
- Removes plaque build-up from the areas between the teeth
- Reduces bleeding from gums (a major sign of inflammation).
However more research needs to be done to compare water flossing to traditional string flossing. This is particularly true for those that don’t have any spaces between the teeth or under the gums.
Can I hang up my toothbrush?
No! Brushing your teeth is still the most important thing. Cleaning between the teeth needs to be done in conjunction with brushing, not instead of it. So hold onto your Oral-B, Sonicare or regular brush!
Who might benefit most from a Waterpik?
Again, there needs to be more research into what groups will benefit most from a water flosser, but I can see clear benefits for patients with:
- Dexterity issues. An oral irrigator seems easier to get around than a string of floss
- Orthodontic appliances. Braces are notoriously difficult to clean around, but the effects of not plaque build up around brackets and wires can be disastrous. This technology seems ideal for those wearing braces. A water flosser for kids (aged 6-12) is also available.
- A history of gum problems including bleeding or receding gums and periodontal pockets (spaces left where the gum has stripped away from the tooth). Here the spaces and areas between the teeth may be too great for floss to be effective. An alternative to string floss is to use interdental brushes, but again hydro floss seems ideal here.
- Implants, bridges, crowns etc. As these can have spaces underneath that are very awkward to clean. But they need to be cleaned to prevent problems later such as gum disease around implants and decay under bridges.
Here’s a promotional video from the manufacturers:
The video alludes to how easy it is to pick up how to use a waterpik, certainly much easier than conventional interdental cleaning.
Note that other products like the air floss and Interplak units are available, but the Water pik reviews most favorably. Furthermore, there is a wide range of products available in the range.
Do you ‘need’ a waterpik? Probably not. If you are brushing and flossing properly daily you should be fine without. But the issue is that so many of us just don’t floss, and there are some circumstances where it is difficult to do so (see above). So if a water flosser encourages you to clean in between your teeth (helping to prevent so many problems down the line) then it can only be a good thing.
For more information (buyer’s reviews etc.) see the Waterpik on Amazon here.