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Patients with braces can find flossing to be more challenging than those without braces. After all, there’s a big wire in the way when you’re trying to shimmy that dental floss up and down between your teeth. At Wilson & Hendrickson Orthodontics, we encourage our patients to use floss threaders to get under those wires. Some patients, however, have opted for water flossers, such as a Waterpik. What are water flossers, and is a water flosser effective in cleaning between your teeth? Let’s take a look!

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What is a Water Flosser?

A water flosser is a device that shoots a tiny, powerful stream of water between your teeth. There are several brands and types of water flossers, but people often refer to them as Waterpik, is a top brand name. 

How does a water flosser work? The water flosser, technically called an oral pulsating irrigator, is used to loosen and remove plaque and particles from between the teeth. The force of the stream of water pushes the plaque and particles out from between the teeth. 

Does water flossing work? Yes, to an extent. There are benefits to a water flosser vs. floss, but those benefits may not be enough.

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Benefits of a Water Flosser

A water flosser does have some good things going for it. Braces patients find several advantages to using a water flosser. Let’s find out whether Waterpiks are better than flossing. 

Water flossers remove food particles from your teeth, but they also remove particles from your gums. Patients with bleeding gums find the water flosser is gentler on their irritated gums. They help reduce bleeding and help reverse gum disease

Water flossers have shown to be great at removing food from those little pockets between the gums, someplace dental floss doesn’t always reach. These little “periodontal pockets” can get irritated if the food isn’t removed, which could cause bleeding and even infection. Water flossers have also been shown to reduce plaque on and between the teeth. They work well even with temporary or permanent crowns, fillings, or veneers. 

Water Flossers for Braces

Braces patients can find using dental floss a challenge. It’s not easy weaving the dental floss around those brackets and wires. A water flosser can make it easier to remove particles between the teeth. It also can help remove particles around the brackets and under the wires — places that might be hard to reach for your toothbrush or dental floss. Water flossers tend to have a pulsing stream and intensity adjustments that allow you to dislodge nearly any food particle from hard-to-reach places. 

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Does a Water Flosser Work?

We know what a water flosser is made to do. The big question is, does a water flosser work? Water flossers have been shown to work well dislodging particles, particularly in hard-to-reach places. It’s also good at rinsing off some plaque from the tooth’s surface. Bottom line, it’s a great addition to your oral hygiene tools, which should include a soft-bristled toothbrush and regular dental floss. 

Water Flosser vs. Dental Floss

While the water flosser has some advantages, it shouldn’t replace actual dental floss. That’s because water flossers don’t have the scrubbing power dental floss has. The movement and friction of the dental floss against the tooth scrubs the plaque completely off the tooth. The water flosser will rinse off some plaque, but it usually leaves a thin film on the tooth’s surface. 

Dental floss has other advantages. It’s in a small container and very portable. It’s inexpensive. It doesn’t require recharging or batteries, and it even comes in different flavors. It can be more challenging to use dental floss with braces, but floss threaders make it much easier. 

Floss threaders look like giant needles but are made of very thin plastic. You simply thread the floss through the “eye of the needle” and use the floss threader to go under your archwire and through your teeth. 

Dental floss is still necessary for good oral hygiene, but a water flosser can help get to areas your toothbrush or dental floss can’t reach. It’s a good addition to regular flossing and brushing. 

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Flossing Tips

What’s the best way to get the most from your flossing? Here are a few pointers:

  • Use waxed dental floss. Waxed dental floss tends to slide better between the teeth. It also tends to fray less. 
  • Use a floss stick for better maneuverability These plastic sticks have a small piece of dental floss strung between two prongs. The small size makes it easier to reach your back teeth rather than trying to get your hand into your mouth! 
  • Use a floss threader with braces. Floss threaders make it easier to get dental floss under your archwires and around your brackets. You can find floss threaders and major retailers and pharmacies. 
  • Use a water flosser to get whatever is left after the regular floss. You can also use the water flosser to get hard-to-reach places like around brackets or crowns. 

Floss first! Floss your teeth first, then rinse, then brush your teeth. Flossing first removes the particles and plaque so they can be swept away by rinsing and brushing.

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Are Waterpiks Better Than Floss?

Waterpiks and other water flossers are great tools to have when it comes to practicing great oral hygiene. However, they shouldn’t be considered a substitute for true dental floss. They cannot scrub the surface of your teeth like dental floss can. However, they work great to floss your teeth if you don’t have dental floss available or if you want to remove food particles outside of your routine daily flossing. 

Wilson & Hendrickson Orthodontics encourages our patients to do all they can to keep great oral hygiene. We know our patients in Topeka, KS want amazing smiles, and we know flossing and great hygiene habits are big keys to those smiles. While you’re brushing and flossing regularly, we’re working hard to create an amazing smile with braces on Invisalign. If you’re not a patient and would like to be, schedule a no-obligation evaluation. Together, we can create the smile of your dreams!

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