Battle of the Flossers: Traditional String vs. Water Flossing

By : Abby R

Flossing is an integral component to any great oral hygiene routine. If you are brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day, you are on the right track to maintaining healthy gums, stronger teeth, and a brighter smile! It is recommended that we floss at least once a day because it is able to clean 40% of tooth surfaces that our toothbrushes alone are not able to reach. As important as flossing is, only 31% of people are actually flossing every day. We all know we should be doing it, however what exactly is stopping us from reaching for our floss? Some people may have a hard time getting floss in between tight spaces or underneath dental work; some people have limited hand dexterity and are not able to get the floss all the way to their back molars; and others just find it way too time consuming and would rather just head straight to bed. If you have a hard time reaching for your traditional string floss, than water flossers may be a great aid to consider adding in to your oral hygiene regime. As we breakdown the battle between traditional string floss and water flossers, we hope that you will be able answer any questions that you may have had and also encourage you to ask which aid is more suitable for your needs at your next dental visit! As your Mississauga family dentist, we make it our duty to help you in every step of the way in order to achieve your optimal oral health.

The Tried-and-True: Traditional String Floss

Dental floss is a soft thread or string of silk or similar material used to clean your teeth. When it comes to regular string floss, you do have a few different options to choose from. For example, there’s waxed floss, which has a light coating of wax that makes it more durable, and there’s unwaxed floss that makes it easy to clean tight spaces between teeth. There is dental tape, which is flatter and broader to provide comfort to those who have more space in between their teeth, and there’s polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) floss, which is less prone to shredding and can easily slide between tighter spaces.

Pros of Flossing:

  • Flossing is a very efficient way to remove excess food and debris from your teeth
  • Floss is inexpensive, convenient, and easily accessible
  • It is quick and easy – you can do it almost anywhere
  • Reduces the risk of gingivitis and gum disease

Cons of Flossing:

  • It is difficult for floss to reach some areas of the mouth
  • It can cause minor bleeding if it isn’t done properly
  • Some people have a hard time getting the hang of it

Technology Takeover: Water Flossers

A water flosser is a specialized device that shoots a thin stream of water. When aimed between your teeth or at the gum line, it uses the pressure of the water to massage the gums and push the food away from the teeth. Clinical studies show that using a water flosser results in a penetration of 50% of the depth of the pocket, about two times as far as can be reached with dental floss.

Pros of Water Flossers:

  • Easy to use, especially for those with braces or other types of dental work (such as bridges, implants and fixed retainers)
  • Great choice for those with arthritis or limited dexterity
  • The massaging action can improve gum health and reach areas where traditional floss can’t

Cons of Water Flossers:

  • More expensive
  • Takes up storage space on your bathroom counter and requires electricity and water
  • Difficult to use outside your home

And The Winner Is…

Actually, we recommend a combination of both! Water flossers are extremely effective, however they are still not a complete replacement for traditional floss. Although it is definitely better than not flossing at all, flossing is definitely still important because it removes bacteria colonies from teeth and gums, whereas water flossers simply rinse these areas. Ideally, people should be using both by starting off with string floss to help loosen up the plaque and food particles, and then following up with the water flosser to help flush them all away.

Which Is Best for You?

We hope this guide has given you some insight on the advantages and disadvantages of the types of flossing tools available. If you still have any questions, please give us a call or visit our office at Credit River Dental Centre and we will help you in assessing the best way and most effective way to care for your teeth and gums at home!