Are Water Flossers As Good As Dental Floss?

Flossing your teeth daily is an essential part of your dental health regimen. It’s necessary to get the food and plaque lodged between the teeth and around the gumline which, if left, act as a buffet to acidic bacteria that leads to cavities, decay, and gum disease. For decades, string dental floss was the primary option for cleaning between the teeth, but over the past few years, water flossers have been an extremely popular option. Are they as effective as good ol’ string floss? Even more important, with only 31 percent of the population saying they floss on a daily basis, are people more likely to use them? Our family dentist in Fuquay Varina is taking a closer look at water flossers to see if they are a good option.

How Do Water Flossers Work?

Their function is in the name in that they are meant to floss your teeth with water. These handheld devices are equipped with a hose to connect to a faucet or a water reservoir along with a small motor inside to propel a pressurized stream of water at the surface of the teeth, around the gumline, and spaces between. This stream dislodges the food and particles where they’re most likely to get missed by brushing alone.

How to Use a Water Pick

While they’re easy to use, they aren’t necessarily intuitive, in that most people are inclined to look into the mirror to use them. This doesn’t affect effectiveness, but it does lead to a big mess. Instead, this is the method to use them properly for the best results and to minimize spraying water all over your bathroom vanity:

  • Fill reservoir with warm, clean water, or connect to a clean faucet;
  • Plug in if necessary and adjust the water pressure, starting at the lowest setting;
  • Lean over the sink and place the tip of the sprayer into your mouth;
  • Adjust to where the stream of water is at a 90 degree angle to your teeth and gums to maximize effectiveness;
  • Slowly spray along the gumline, pausing between each tooth to spray in between;
  • Avoid looking up into the mirror to prevent mess;

Advantages and Drawbacks of Using a Water Flosser

Like dental floss, there are pros and cons to using the water flosser. Let’s consider them to help see which is better.


  • Can be ideal for people with arthritis or disabilities who struggle to use traditional dental floss;
  • Doesn’t get stuck in between teeth;
  • More gentle than string floss as it doesn’t inflame or irritate gums, no risk of bleeding gums;
  • Much easier for people with orthodontic appliances, specifically, braces;
  • Massaging action can be good for your gums and reach areas behind teeth where floss can’t get.


  • It’s bulky and takes up quite a bit of room, plus it’s a challenge for travelling;
  • Requires cleaning, batteries, and maintenance;
  • Expensive, particularly compared to dental floss;
  • Can be messy;
  • Leaves plaque on the teeth as it doesn’t effectively scrape it away like properly using dental floss does.

The Verdict on Water Picks and Flossers

Properly using dental floss is ideal for ensuring the plaque is removed from between the teeth. However, if it’s not possible for you to use floss comfortably, a water flosser can be a good substitute. Because everyone’s dental health needs vary, it’s important to discuss the best option for you with your family dentist.

Schedule Your Dental Checkup with Our Dentists in Fuquay Varina

If you don’t have a dentist or are looking to switch, we are accepting new patients at our office in Fuquay Varina. With quality care in a welcoming environment, we provide comprehensive dental services to the whole family. To learn more, call us at 919-552-2431 or schedule an appointment today.