Sometimes referred to as an oral irrigator or water jet, a water flosser is a device that helps with dental care by delivering a stream of high-pressure, pulsating water. A water flosser is specially designed to remove food particles and plaque between teeth and below the gum line. As such, water flossers are often recommended for use as an integral part of an oral-hygiene routine.
When used properly, especially on a low-pressure setting and with warm water, a water flosser is highly effective and does not cause damage to your gums.
In fact, research has shown that using a water flosser can reduce the bleeding that many people suffer when using traditional string floss. However, although water flossing is also very gentle on your gums, it is recommended that you do not use a water flosser around areas that have suffered an injury.
Interestingly, one of the main benefits of using a water flosser is the positive impact it can have on periodontal disease. Inadequate flossing and brushing can result in buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria, which, in turn, can result in periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the flesh that surrounds your teeth.
If the plaque that has caused the gum disease is not removed, it can ultimately damage the gums so severely that tooth loss can occur. Therefore, it is important to ensure that plaque does not build up on your teeth. Additionally, it is important to understand that the areas between your teeth represent a large percentage of the overall plaque buildup within your mouth and are highly prone to developing inflammation, which, if left untreated, can lead to serious gum disease.
Gum inflammation is an extremely common condition. Unfortunately, it can be an early sign that you might be at risk for developing a more serious form of gum disease. Additionally, gum inflammation can be a sign that your mouth as well as your body are suffering from the effects of chronic inflammation. Furthermore, gum disease has been linked to a variety of health issues, including lung infections, diabetes, and heart disease.
Fortunately, proper oral hygiene helps prevent the buildup of bacteria that can lead to gum disease. While many people are familiar with the recommendation to brush and floss on a daily basis, recommendations regarding the use of a water flosser might not be as well known. In fact, many people might not be familiar with the benefits that a water flosser has to offer.
Are Water Flossers Good For Gum Disease?
The short answer is a resounding yes. In fact, using a water flosser is an excellent way to help prevent the buildup of plaque, which, as previously stated, can lead to gum disease. For instance, compared to string flossing, water flossing is 29 percent more effective at removing plaque.
However, because gum disease can be painful, you should be sure to choose a water flosser that provides you the option to choose between a variety of water pressures. In fact, although many water flossers are comprised of a range of pulsing water pressures, not all offer very low settings, such as 10 psi.
As you can imagine, it is important to choose a water flosser that allows for the choice of a variety of psi settings as multiple options will provide you effective as well as gentle cleaning around sensitive gums and teeth. You might also want to consider a water flosser that includes a massage setting designed to stimulate blood flow to your gums as increased blood flow is an important component of the healing process.
Additionally, as your gums break down, they can separate from your teeth, resulting in pockets where bacteria can quickly multiply, leading to tooth, bone, and tissue loss. Unfortunately, traditional methods, such as flossing, are not equipped to address deep pocketing issues. As such, it is important to choose a water flosser that includes a pocket tip.
A pocket tip is specifically designed to gently flush out food debris and plaque that can get trapped deep within a pocket. For instance, a pocket tip incorporates a soft rubber tip that is designed to deliver a low-pressure therapeutic rinse without causing further gum irritation.
Finally, for an extra bit of help in fight against plaque buildup, you might want to consider mixing mouthwash or an anti-bacterial rinse with the water in the reservoir.
Do Dentists Recommend Water Flossers?
Because many people have difficulty flossing properly, many dentists recommend incorporating the use of a water flosser into a daily routine. However, not all water flossers are the same. For instance, in addition to providing different water pressures and accessories, some water flossers have earned the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
Choosing a water flosser with an ADA seal ensures you will be purchasing a flosser that is both safe and effective when it comes to removing plaque. Additionally, a water flosser that boasts an ADA seal has been shown to help reduce inflamed gums, otherwise known as gingivitis.
Although gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease that is non-destructive, it can lead to tooth loss if not treated. As such, many dentists recommend the use of a water flosser to help remove unwanted plaque. Without this preventive maintenance, it is extremely likely gingivitis will develop.
Furthermore, research has shown the efficacy of water flossing on the reduction of plaque formation. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry compared the efficacy of utilizing string floss versus a water flosser in combination with a manual toothbrush. The results showed a 74.4 percent reduction in plaque for participants that used a water flosser. Participants using string floss showed a 57.7 percent reduction in plaque.
Additionally, a study conducted at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry showed water flossing removed up to 99 percent of plaque. These results support the assertion that water flossing can be significantly more effective in the removal of plaque and the reduction of gingivitis as compared to traditional string flossing.
Can Water Flossers Replace Dental Floss?
There are a few instances in which you might want to opt for using a water flosser to clean between your teeth rather than using string floss. In fact, your dentist will most likely recommend the use of a water flosser if you have any of the following dental components.
- Non-removable bridgework
- Dental implants
Additionally, if you have trouble flossing by hand due to arthritis or simply find it too difficult to use string floss, a water flosser might be a good option because you do not have to wrap string around your fingers and maneuver your fingers in the tight space of an open mouth. However, even if you are advised to switch to a water flosser and leave string floss behind, you can benefit most by understanding both advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
Advantages Of Water Flosser
- Easily cleans between tightly spaced teeth
- Effectively cleans hard-to-reach areas
- Safe to use around implants and dental restorations
Disadvantages of Water Flosser
- Can be messy
- Can be expensive
- Might not remove 100 percent of plaque
That said, in general, it is not usually recommended that you forego your daily routine of using string floss to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, string floss has been shown to be extremely effective in the removal of plaque, food particles, and bacteria.
String floss also provides the tremendous benefit of control. For instance, with string floss, you have the ability to control exactly where the floss scrapes up and down on each individual tooth. This precision is invaluable. However, as with a water flosser, string floss comes with advantages as well as disadvantages.
Advantages of Dental Floss
- Can clean each tooth individually
- Allows for fine-tuned control
Disadvantages of Dental Floss
- Can cause gums to bleed
- May not reach all areas, such as periodontal pockets
One thing you should remember is that no matter your dental situation, you should be sure to consult your dentist before deciding to permanently replace your string floss with a water flosser.
Clearly, using a water flosser brings with it a variety of benefits. For instance, if you suffer from gingivitis or another more severe type of periodontal disease, a water flosser is an invaluable tool in the fight against the buildup of food particles and plaque. Additionally, research has shown the use of a water flosser to be more effective in the removal of plaque than the use of traditional string floss.
Finally, in regards to the safety of your gums, using a water flosser does not cause damage to your gums. In fact, using a water flosser can actually lessen the likelihood of bleeding that often occurs when using string floss.