There are many different names for the device that shoots jets of water into your mouth to “floss” your teeth; water pick, water floss, oral irrigator, and water flosser are all common terms for this device. But how does the water pick stand up against the time-honored tradition of using string floss to get those unpleasant particles of food and plaque out from between your teeth?
The Advantages of Floss
Floss is inexpensive, effective, and fairly easy to use. A single package of traditional dental floss costs less than $5.00, and multipacks are widely available. String floss scrapes up and down the sides of your teeth, and dentists undisputedly agree that it is effective in removing plaque. It’s just a matter of getting the string floss between each of your teeth. Another advantage of floss is that, if you find your fingers are not dexterous enough to work with a traditional roll of unwaxed or waxed string floss, there are picks and floss holders with string floss attached that make it easier. Plus, a package of string floss or floss holders takes up very little space on the counter of your bathroom or in a drawer.
The Disadvantages of Floss
Unfortunately, string floss, by its very nature, can be abrasive. As a result, those with sensitive gums may find manual string floss irritating or even painful. Also, traditional floss is not very effective for people who wear braces, as the floss cannot fit through the wires to reach the gumline. Another disadvantage of floss is the dexterity required; older adults and those with arthritis have a difficult time using it. Some people also simply avoid the unpleasant task due to a lack of convenience.
Advantages of Water Picks
A water flosser is considered to be easier to use and far more convenient than string floss. When comparing a water flosser vs. floss, many agree that water floss is gentler on sensitive gums as well. It is also is excellent for those who wear braces since it easily gets food particles out from behind the metal wires. A water pick also removes bacteria from pockets that can form around the gumline when someone has active gum disease. Floss cannot reach these areas.
Disadvantages of Water Picks
A major disadvantage of water picks is the cost. Water picks can easily cost $30-$70. In addition, a water flosser requires more space on your counter, and it requires electricity, which may be inconvenient for some or cause clutter for others. Another issue with water floss is that dentists cannot agree on whether or not it is actually better than or a replacement for string floss. Some suggest water picks are good at removing food particles but cannot remove plaque effectively, while some studies suggest that water picks offer a significant reduction in plaque and gum infections. With this controversy, it is difficult to know whether or not it should be your preference unless you have braces or issues with dexterity.
Water Pick vs. Floss: The Verdict
At the moment, science and dentists cannot agree completely on a verdict in the water pick vs floss debate. More studies have to be done before a solid conclusion can be drawn. However, if you are unlikely to use dental floss, and you also do not use the floss holders or floss sticks, a water flosser is better than nothing. Also, if you have active gum disease, early stage gingivitis, braces, sensitive gums, or dexterity issues, a water pick may be the answer. In the case of those with gum disease, it may be best to use both string floss and a water flosser. If you are more comfortable going with what is tried and true with plenty of data to back it up, go with the string floss.
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