Is a Water Flosser as Good as Flossing?

Is a Water Flosser as Good as Flossing?

Is a Water Flosser as Good as Traditional Dental Floss?

An oral irrigator (or water flosser) is an at-home device used to remove plaque and debris between teeth and around the gum line. Often used as an alternative for dental floss, the water flosser was developed in 1962 by a dentist and engineer. The ADA says, “Water flossing is a way to clean between and around your teeth. A water flosser is a handheld device that sprays streams of water in steady pulses. The water, like traditional floss, removes food from between teeth.”

But does this handheld pressure washer for your teeth do a better job than traditional floss? According to the dental community, standard dental floss is generally considered the most effective tool for cleaning between teeth, however, this doesn’t mean a water flosser is not a good option for removing plaque, especially if paired with traditional flossing. Moreover, water flossers are particularly helpful in certain kinds of situations. Before we tackle the types of situations for water flossing, let’s talk about the benefits of flossing in general.

Why You Should Floss

By and large, experts say that dental floss has a long history of controlling plaque and gingivitis. According to the American Dental Association:

Interdental cleaning helps remove debris and interproximal dental plaque, the plaque that collects between two teeth; dental floss and other interdental cleaners help clean these hard-to-reach tooth surfaces and reduce the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay.

Use of an interdental cleaner (like floss) is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reaffirmed flossing as “an important oral hygiene practice” in an August 2016 communication to the ADA.

Interdental cleaners come in a wide range of options from waxed and unwaxed thread floss to water flossers. Each has their pros and cons, but the most important thing, according to dentists, is that you clean your teeth regularly (twice a day to be exact).

Who Would Benefit from Using a Water Flosser?

If you are having trouble using your hands to floss (arthritis, for example), or have braces, permanent or temporary bridges, and/or implants, then you might be a good water-flosser candidate. The high-powered stream of water can reach places that traditional floss cannot access. Plus, the device is light-weight and easy to handle.

Are there are drawbacks to using a water flosser? Disadvantages include:


The general consensus in the dental community is that water flossers can be an excellent solution to traditional floss for those people with dexterity issues, or those with restorative or orthodontic treatment.

If you are having trouble flossing or have questions about which floss to use, contact your dental office to make an appointment. Your dentist can offer support and recommend the type of interdental cleaning tool best for your dental health.