String Floss Vs. Water Flossers

Posted on Oct 20, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Dental floss has been around for almost 200 years. With nearly two centuries of dentists pleading to excuse-laden patients, no wonder water flossers were invented.

The goal, whether using dental floss or a water flosser, is to remove food debris caught between teeth and scrape away the bacterial film formed during the day. This film is the beginning of plaque and, when not removed daily, hardens into calculus. Calculus is the cement-like substance that adheres to teeth. It consists of reproducing oral bacteria that feed on tooth enamel and gum tissue. Once formed, calculus cannot be brushed or flossed away. Only a dental professional can remove it using special tools.

When water flossers first emerged, the debate was whether they were as effective as dental floss. However, as water flossers have been fine-tuned over the years, they have proven to be more effective than standard flossing.

Although the companies who developed these water flossers provided early research showing the benefits of their product versus dental floss, dental researchers wanted their own proof. One study found that a water flosser combined with tooth brushing was nearly 93% more effective than using floss with brushing. It also showed that adults can have up to 52% better results at reducing gingivitis, which is the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Additionally, international research showed that combining a water flosser with brushing provided twice the effectiveness at reducing gingival bleeding than using brushing and dental floss.

For adults who have arthritis or find using floss is too awkward, water flossers are an excellent alternative. When combined with thorough twice-daily brushing, today’s water flossers can do a better job at removing oral bacteria, food particles and preventing the sticky film that forms plaque.

However, it is the commitment of the individual that makes the most difference. A thorough, committed oral hygiene regimen at home and twice a year visits to your general dentist is the best way to prevent oral bacteria buildup and the problems that result. In addition to cavities and gum disease, research has shown that oral bacteria can trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies and impotency.

Adequate brushing and flossing (whether standard floss or a water flosser) can help you avoid cavities, gum disease, tooth loss and the heightened risk of health problems elsewhere in the body. Rather than plead with patients to floss daily, I’d much rather recommend an easy-to-hold device that has proven safe, effective, and promotes more compliance than that of string floss.

If you have delayed dental check-ups and suspect gum disease, call (828) 274-9440 to schedule an examination.

Recent Posts