Why use a water flosser to clean your teeth?

BY Payal Bhalla

13th Sep 2023 Health

2 min read

Why use a water flosser to clean your teeth?
Dental water flossers are becoming more popular and here's how they keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy and why to consider using one in your oral hygiene routine
Your oral health is imperative, yet many people tend to rush their routines of a morning and evening, not giving any thought to what they’re actually doing. One dental tool which has become increasingly more popular recently are dental flossers, much like normal floss they work to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and free from debris.

Here, Payal Bhalla, Lead Dentist and Clinical Director of Quest Dental reveals everything you need to know about water flossers.

What is a water flosser?

A water flosser, also known as an oral irrigator or dental water jet, is a dental hygiene device designed to clean and maintain oral health. It works by utilising a combination of water pressure and pulsations to remove food particles, debris, and plaque from between teeth and along the gumline. The key components of a water flosser include a water reservoir, a motor and pump system, a nozzle or tip, and a control interface. When activated, the motor pressurises the water from the reservoir and propels it through the nozzle as a focused stream.
"A high-pressure jet of water into the spaces between teeth and along the gumline flushes out impurities"
This high-pressure jet of water is directed into the spaces between teeth and along the gumline, effectively flushing out impurities and promoting better oral hygiene. Water flossers offer an alternative to traditional string flossing, making them particularly useful for individuals with braces, dental work, or limited dexterity. They are appreciated for their efficiency, ease of use, and potential to contribute to improved gum and dental health.

How does a water flosser work?

Dentist holding a water flosser device
A water flosser works by using a combination of water pressure and pulsations to clean between teeth and along the gumline.
Here's a step-by-step explanation of how it works:
Water Reservoir: The device has a water reservoir or tank that you fill with water. This reservoir is typically located at the base of the unit.
Motor and Pump: Inside the water flosser, there is a motor and pump system. When you turn the device on, this system pressurises the water in the reservoir.
Nozzle or Tip: The water flosser comes with a nozzle or a tip that you place in your mouth. The nozzle is designed to direct the pressurised water where you need it.
Pressurised Water Jet: When you activate the device, the motor and pump create a focused, pressurised stream of water, which is then expelled through the nozzle.
Cleaning Action: You control the nozzle's placement in your mouth and direct the pressurised water between your teeth and along your gum line. The force of the water helps dislodge and remove food particles, debris, and plaque from these areas.
Adjustable Settings: Many water flossers allow you to adjust the water pressure settings to your comfort level. Higher pressure settings can provide a more thorough cleaning, but it's essential not to use too much pressure to avoid damaging your gums.
Water and Debris Removal: As the pressurised water jet dislodges debris and plaque, it is simultaneously flushed out of your mouth and into the sink or a separate reservoir within the device.
Repeat as Needed: You can move the nozzle to different areas of your mouth and repeat the process until you've effectively cleaned all the spaces between your teeth and along your gum line.
Clean and Refill: After use, it's important to clean the device's nozzle and reservoir, and then refill the reservoir with clean water for the next use.

How does it differ from traditional flossing?

Woman using water flosser and smiling
A water flosser differs from traditional flossing in its method of cleaning between teeth and along the gumline. While traditional flossing uses a thin piece of dental floss to manually scrape away debris and plaque, a water flosser employs pressurised water to flush out particles and plaque. This means that water flossing is less manual, making it potentially easier for individuals with braces, dental work, or limited dexterity to use.
It can also provide a gentle and soothing cleaning action for sensitive gums. However, some may prefer traditional floss for its precision in reaching tight spaces. Ultimately, the choice between a water flosser and traditional floss comes down to individual preferences and needs.

Is a water flosser considered more effective?

Whether a water flosser is considered more effective than regular flossing depends on individual preferences and needs. Both methods have their advantages:
A water flosser is effective at removing food particles and plaque from between teeth and along the gumline and is also suitable for individuals with braces, dental work, or limited dexterity. It’s gentler on sensitive gums too and can be less time-consuming than traditional flossing.
"It’s gentler on sensitive gums and can also be less time-consuming than traditional flossing"
Regular flossing, however, provides precise cleaning by physically scraping debris and plaque from between teeth, while also requiring no equipment other than a piece of dental floss. Regular flossing can also be more portable and convenient for travel. They are also, typically, less expensive than a water flosser.

What are the benefits of using water flossers?

Man using a water flossers to clean his teeth
Using water flossers, also known as oral irrigators or dental water jets, can offer several benefits for oral hygiene:
Efficient cleaning: Water flossers effectively remove food particles, debris, and plaque from between teeth and along the gumline, promoting better oral health.
Gentle on gums: They are often considered gentler on sensitive gums than traditional floss, reducing the risk of irritation or bleeding.
Accessibility: Water flossers can be easier to use for people with braces, dental bridges, or limited hand dexterity, making them an accessible option for a broader range of individuals.
Customisable pressure: Many water flossers allow you to adjust the water pressure to your comfort level, ensuring a personalised and comfortable cleaning experience.
Reduced bleeding: Regular use of water flossers may help reduce the occurrence of bleeding gums during flossing, especially in individuals with gum sensitivity or gum disease.
Improved gum health: Water flossers can contribute to better gum health by removing bacteria and debris from below the gumline, reducing the risk of gum disease.
Orthodontic care: They are particularly beneficial for individuals with orthodontic appliances like braces, as they can effectively clean around brackets and wires.
Convenience: Water flossers can be less cumbersome and more convenient for some people than traditional floss, especially for those who struggle with the manual dexterity required for string flossing.
Enhanced compliance: Some individuals may be more likely to floss regularly when using a water flosser due to the ease and comfort it provides.
Complementary to brushing: Water flossing is an excellent complement to regular tooth brushing, helping to ensure a more comprehensive oral care routine.

Who should use a water flosser?

Water flossers can be beneficial for a variety of individuals. Individuals with braces or other orthodontic appliances often find water flossers helpful for cleaning around brackets and wires, which can be challenging with traditional floss. Those with dental bridges, crowns, or implants can benefit from water flossers as they help clean hard-to-reach areas around these restorations.
"Anyone looking to enhance their oral hygiene routine can benefit from using a water flosser"
People with sensitive gums or a tendency to experience bleeding while flossing may find water flossers gentler on their gum tissue. Individuals with limited hand dexterity or mobility issues that make traditional flossing difficult may prefer the ease of using a water flosser. Anyone looking to enhance their oral hygiene routine and reduce the risk of gum disease or cavities can benefit from incorporating a water flosser into their daily regimen.

Banner photo credit: Daria Kulkova
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