Dentist Questions Flossing

Is water-flossing as effective as regular flossing?

I am trying to get my boyfriend to start flossing. Is using a waterpik just as effective as using regular floss? I used one when I had braces but since switched back to regular floss.

64 Answers

The newer waterpiks (not the ones from decades ago though) are showing great promise as an alternative to traditional flossing. Peer reviewed studies are documenting their effectiveness in proper cleaning of the interproximal areas...between the teeth. They are a bit messy though as I have found out myself. Do either or both if possible.
Regular floss is beter. On the principle- you know what water falling on a stone can make. Enamel is breakable. But watch out to do in right. In and out not in left right out.
No, use regular floss. Water flossing is better that not flossing, but leaves a film on the teeth.
The short answer is: water-flossing is much less effective than regular flossing which done the right way. Regular flossing will remove plaque between teeth, waterpik removes food particles (large pieces). Water-flossing is a great tool for the beginners, hopefully your boyfriend will switch to the regular flossing later on.
Water picks are great! Floss is great as well. Anything that mechanically removes the debris and bacteria from the teeth and gums is OK in my book! Hope this helps
A waterpik is a good adjunct to regular flossing, it is not as effective though. Correct and regular use of string floss goes a long ways in preventing gum disease and cavities.
Water flossing is not as effective but is still better than not flossing at all. using floss helps clean an area (interproximal) between the teeth that helps prevent decay between teeth and also keeps your gums healthy. Most of our patients use both or alternate between the two.
Water flossing is an excellent adjunct to regular flossing, but is absolutely not as effective on its own.

Francis C. Mecadon DMD
Flossing and using a waterpik are both effective ways to remove plaque bacteria from your teeth and gums. Using string floss can be cumbersome and difficult for many people, and in some cases, can be useless or damaging if done improperly. A waterpik is easier and it does all the work for you. So although flossing may technically clean better if used properly (like done by your dental hygienist), a waterpik will most often do a better job for most people, because it is so much easier to use.

A waterpik is a great tool for flushing out debris from in between your teeth. Unfortunately, it does not do as good a job as traditional floss because the floss actually wipes the plaque away from in between your teeth. If your boyfriend isn’t flossing as all (like most people) then water flossing is better than nothing. A waterpik is also great for people with dexterity issues who may never be able to floss otherwise. So, yes a waterpik is great, but not a substitute for mechanical flossing.

Good luck and happy flossing!
Short answer? No. But it does have its uses. There is nothing better than the actual mechanical removal of plaque by flossing, and water-piks and other devices just do not have the ability to remove all of that material. They do have some useful applications, however; most notably as you mentioned, with braces or other appliances in place where the physical removal of plaque is compromised. They are also useful in delivering medication such as Listerine or prescription mouthrinses to the gum tissue. So while actual flossing is the best, a water-pik is better than nothing at all.
Any type of cleaning of the oral tissues is good. Brushing correctly is the
most reliable. Flossing is recommended but unfortunately most do not floss
correctly. Water pics/ floss is effective but again, it needs to be
performed correctly. At your next dental appointment, have the hygienist or
dentist actually show you how to perform these tasks
A waterpik is not as effective and regular flossing and is not intended to replace regular flossing. A waterpick will help remove any food particles from in between the teeth but regular floss will help scrape plaque on each side of the tooth. Waterpiks are useful with braces as regular floss can be hard to get in between the teeth with the wire but even with braces, regular floss should still be used with a floss threader.
Great question! The answer is no, the actual physical contact with " fabric floss" allows for a more effective method of plaque removal than a water pick.

Thank you for your question and continue to be a great "oral hygiene role model" for your boyfriend!! Continue to encourage him!
No. It is not. But better something than nothing
Traditional flossing, using proper technique, has the edge in terms of
removing plaque, especially between teeth and under the gum line. Water
flossing is great for removing food debris from hard to get to areas which
is why it is so useful when wearing braces. Either one is way better than
no flossing at all. If your boyfriend just won't do regular flossing than,
by all means, encourage him to water floss.
Yes, it is equally as effective. Most people find it easier than traditional floss.
It's much more effective. !! It's easier to clean and it's takes much less time once you get the hang of it
I am a big fan of flossing. It is cheap, easy and clean. With that said, no matter how hard some folks try to create the habit, it just won't stick. To a healthy individual, a waterpik can be a great alternative. There is an upfront expense and a learning curve (the bathroom mirror may need wiping down afterwards), but if all other aspects of oral health are present, it can take the place of flossing. It is better than not doing anything inbetween the teeth.

Hope this helps!
Jossi Stokes, DDS
Manual flossing is still the best! Water flossing is great for the tissue line but standard floss cleans the contact between the teeth as well and at the tissue line.
Both has benefits and disadvantages. I would let him pick the one he likes better and stick with it. This is a continuous effort. He ll stick with the way he likes better.
Water irrigators works best for food disruption but it is still important to use floss as it stimulates the tissue.

Healthy Smiles Dentistry, PC
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In my opinion, no device currently available can replace regular floss. Waterpik can be used as a good adjunct in addition to regular flossing. Waterpik alone will be recommended to someone who refuses to use regular floss. In some cases like patients with disabilities, devices such as the waterpik will be a good choice.
I don't think so. It's a good adjunct. To remove oatmeal from a pan, you really just can't rinse. You have to scrub the oatmeal off. I think the analogy to plaque is similar. You may want to go the American Dental Association web site to see if there have been any trusted studies.
Water flossing is a help, its great at removing bits of food around braces,
and it tones the gums. Regular floss is most effective at removing
bacterial plaque from between the teeth.
A waterpik is great for braces but it is not as effective as flossing.
You need to mechanically rub against the surface in between the teeth and this is only achieved by flossing.
It is like rinsing out a dirty plate with only water as opposed to getting a sponge and actually rubbing off the caked on food on the plate.
Hope this helps
Nothing can replace the regular floss as it gets in between the right areas. But if he is not flossing and that's the only methtod he will do, then it is better than not doing anything.
Using a water flosser in lieu of traditional floss is an adequate technique if that person doesn't like to use traditional floss. The water flosser is certainly better than nothing and if they have a lot of crowns/caps or other restorative work then it is great for getting into the nooks and crannies around teeth that thread floss can't reach. I often recommend that to patients who say they can't floss or don't like to floss!!!
Both are effective ways to cleanse in between the teeth. One way to find out if water flossing is effectively cleaning in between your teeth is to use regular floss afterward. If food particles and plaque are still coming off on the regular floss, then water flossing may not be effective enough. It depends on how tightly your teeth contact one another and if the water can penetrate between the teeth effectively enough to cleanse them properly.
My personal opinion is that nothing beats regular flossing 2 times a day and following with your hygienist/dentist every 6 months. All the other options out there are more marketing gimmicks. I am just the surgeon so you should ask this to your personal general dentist and hygienist who are experts in this field.

Jeff Litman DMD
Water flossing is effective to remove large particles of food from between the teeth. It does not effectively remove the plaque layer that flossing can physically remove. I prefer to use a rubber tip stimulator between the teeth to both remove the plaque layer AND stimulate the gum tissues simultaneously. Also, only one hand is needed to use the tip, versus two hands to use conventional flossing techniques. The use of floss picks help to resolve this issue, but I still prefer the use and advantages of using the rubber tip.
This is strictly a matter of opinion but either are the most efficient method to achieve close to Ultimate oral hygiene. Myself, I would prefer regular floss and I happen to like dental tape as it is a bit thicker and easier to manipulate. Some patients love floss AIDS as it gives them more leverage and control especially older patients. Keep up the good work
Waterpiks can be effective in cleaning between teeth, but usually they are an addition to flossing and brushing.  In the case of a full mouth of braces, where regular brushing and flossing is extremely difficult, the Waterpik is a wonderful aid.  However, in patients with beginning gum problems involving deeper pocketing around the teeth, proper flossing is most essential, as is regular care at the dental office. Everyone would like a quick fix in life, but sometimes "shortcuts" do not take care of the entire issue.  Certainly if the patient has a problem with using hands to floss or there is some other mechanical issue with flossing, then the Waterpik is the best choice, and certainly better than not cleaning at all.  If you can floss, that's the best thing.  Then, also using the Waterpik can only help keep you healthier!
From a clinical perspective- yes a WaterPik seems to be just as effective in regular floss.
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The water irrigation system is a great way to replace flossing. Generally speaking, airflosser (Sonicare) and most water irrigation system can replace about 80-90% effectiveness as the good old flossing, providing you are flossing correctly with your techniques. Since flossing is quite technique sensitive, and not everyone is flossing the right way, airflosser is a great way to help you improve your daily oral care if using it consistently....just like flossing. However, I still recommend my clients to try flossing once a while even you are using an airflosser daily.
Waterpik is very effective and I have seen major improvement in plaque reduction with my older patients. The manufacturer claims that waterpik replaces the flossing, however I feel that you still need to floss to have the physical contact in between the teeth to get the plaque out from the tight contact areas.
A water pik is good for removing pieces of food from teeth, for example when wearing braces. However, a water pik does not remove the sticky bacterial plaque that causes decay and gum disease. Dental floss is needed to do that. So you are correct and your boyfriend should switch to regular flossing for a sweeter kiss.
A waterpik is a very effective adjunct for oral hygiene. You can replace it
with regular floss if you think it gives you better results. Its like a
'whatever works for you' situation. As long as you use it regularly you
will start seeing results. Your dentist/hygienist will start noticing the
healthier gums.
Keep up the good work.
J Singh.
Dear patient, there is nothing as effective as good old regular flossing. Water picks are great for braces and also elderly without any good hand coordination. The physical friction of floss against the gum tissue disrupts the bacterial activity. I don't even recommend floss picks, I highly recommend the thread itself since you can manipulate it to the curvature of your own tooth and actually remove debris from underneath. I hope this answer your question. I'll be happy to assist you further if you need any help.
Dr. Ramona
Almost as effective as flossing and certainly much better than doing
Not according to the study is that I have read. While a WaterPik does help remove major food debris, it does not remove finer plaque and as of today, the best way to remove plaque is with mechanical removal. (Brushing and flossing). It's akin to using a water hose to clean your garage floor versus scrubbing with a brush. Sorry, no easy way around this one, however, if you ass flossing to your morning routine, it does not take much time and you are much more likely to get it done.
Yes if not more effective. We now know through clinical studies that using a waterpik water flosser is at least as effective as flossing if not more so.
In my own practice we have been recommending the Aquarious Waterpik water flosser for the last several years. My hygienist and I personally have seen remarkable results from using it, especially in conjunction with an electric toothbrush, like Oral B. We also have seen much better compliance from our patients, than regular flossing.
Waterpik is a great tool to use for a person who has braces, or dental
appliances such as bridges and dentures. However, water flossing won't be
enough to remove plaque between teeth, and plaque between teeth can
eventually cause a cavity, if not removed and cleaned properly. The only
way to remove or clean plaque between teeth is to actually floss. Flossing
will also help to maintain healthy gums, and it can't be solely achieved by
water flossing only.
Today the standard is that water flossing is as effective as regular flossing if not more so. This is especially true in relation to the supporting periodontal tissues.
Water-flossing is a great addition to your oral care routine, but nothing
replaces traditional flossing completely. Ideally, we would all do both!!
Flossing helps to disrupt plaque and removed food particles from the curved
surfaces in between your teeth. A water-flosser helps to flush food
particles out of the same area, as well as gums on the inside and outside
of the teeth. However, it does not mechanically disrupt plaque as well as
traditional floss does. Water-flossing is definitely better than doing
nothing, but flossing will always be an important part of the recommended
oral hygiene routine.
That's a great question. I don't care what the manufacturer says about the product, there is no way that these are as good as regular flossing. The real purpose of flossing is to remove dental plaque buildup that is "below" the gumline don't see how these devices could really achieve that. Save your money!

Thanks for asking,
Scott A Terry, DDS
Waterpiks do a great job of flushing food and debris out from between teeth, under braces and arch wires, and especially under and around fixed (non-removable) bridges. They are also helpful in washing away accumulated bacterial toxins in hard to get and chronically under-cleaned areas around restorative dentistry , tight spaces between teeth, or shallower periodontal (gum) pockets. Unfortunately, they DO NOT remove plaque (bacterial colonies) like floss does because effective flossing literally “wipes” the sticky plaque off teeth and Waterpiks can only “rinse” these areas. However, combining both flossing and Waterpiks can achieve great results!
Waterpik is just as effective as dental floss, and it is more convenient. I do use waterpik myself and recommend that to all my patients who have teeth or dental implants.
Most dental diseases are caused by bacteria. To prevent these dental issues, reducing the amount of bacteria is very important. This is why, we recommend that our patients brush and floss well at least after breakfast and before bed.

A Water flosser may be helpful for people who find it difficult to floss and won’t floss, such as patients with braces. However, it not as good at preventing dental diseases as regular flossing.

As an analog, lets say you have a really dirty plate and you take it to the sink and spray it off. Does it look clean afterwards? Most people would say No. To get it clean, you have to take a scrubber and physically touch the surface to remove the debri from it. The Water flosser is like the water spray from the facet. It reduces the amount of debri but leaves a lot behind.

We have seen multiple patients over the years, who use a Water Flosser thinking it will prevent cavities and periodontal disease. Unfortunately, it does not. See the link below for more explanation about periodontal disease.
The Waterpik is a great tool in aiding oral hygiene. Although not a replacement for flossing, it can be very effective in removing interproximal plaque and plaque (or biofilm as it is now called) along the gumlines. There are many new attachments and modern gadgets that make Waterpik a great tool for people age 5 to 85! Thanks for the question!
Nothing is going to substitute the mechanical action of flossing, and brushing to remove the soft plaque that is deposited on your teeth during the course of the day. You are totally right about it. Before you go to sleep, your teeth should get the luxury to be clean for the night.
Regular floss is the best way of flossing and there is no way that a waterpik is better than regular old-fashioned floss.
The new water flossers have been shown to be more effective than the waterpiks of yesteryear. This has a lot to do with the amount of water pressure being used by the new water flossers. Regular floss, if used correctly is the best, but a water flosser can supplement the regular flossing.
Water flossing is great to remove loose food particles from your teeth and gums and also helps stimulate your gums, but will not remove the plaque biofilms on the teeth as floss will. Use both.
Combination shows to be the most effective way. Floss + H20 pik is best for you.
To answer your question, flossing is more effective than water pick. There is AirFloss by Sonicare, he may/can try to use it.
Simple answer is NO! Unfortunately, water-flossing is NOT as effective as regular flossing! It's the best if you have braces, dental implant, and/or dental bridge! For our daily routine teeth cleaning, it's good if you use it AFTER regular flossing!
Generally speaking, using a WaterPik along with flossing will yield the best dental health.
A water pik does not remove plaque as well as conventional flossing.
If you are able to clean between your teeth waterpik will be enough, otherwise you should use floss.
water flossing is not as effective as regular string flossing . for example go to the spray car wash . then drive home when your car drys you still see dirt. the mechanical action of the floss scrapping the tooth remove the plaque .just like a sponge removes the dirt