AN OFTEN-ASKED QUESTION here at our orthodontic practice is whether or not to use regular string floss or a waterpik during daily oral care. Its true, flossing with braces can be quite difficult! So, lets talk a little bit about the pros and cons of each…
The pros/cons of regular floss:
Dental floss is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It is great at reaching those tight spaces in between your teeth, and it has the ability to scrape plaque off the sides of each individual tooth. This is important because it is able to remove the plaque before it can turn into tartar, helping prevent tooth decay and gingivitis.
However, for those of us with sensitive gums, flossing can be quite irritating and even cause bleeding. It is also less effective for patients with braces, as it is unable to penetrate the wires and reach the gums beneath.
The pros/cons of waterpiks:
Waterpiks are gentle on the gums and less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive teeth/gums. They are also ideal for patients with braces, as the water can reach behind the metal wires and flush away food particles where your floss cant reach. People dealing with gum disease also find waterpiks quite effective because of their ability to flush out bacteria from inside the deep pockets that form when the gums pull away from the teeth.
On the other hand, waterpiks cant remove plaque from teeth as well as floss can. Floss can scrape the sticky bacteria right off your teeth, but waterpiks just rinse it.
Whats the consensus? Waterpiks should not be used as a substitute for flossing. Though they are great tools for helping improve oral health, they are not a good enough tool on their own to keep your mouth gingivitis-free.
So, make sure you are brushing twice daily, flossing at night, and using your waterpik to reach the places that your floss can’t (like under the wires of your braces)!
Oh, and since plaque and tartar are nearly impossible to avoid completely, dont forget to to get your bi-yearly checkups from your general dentist! Your oral health will thank you.