At the risk of sounding unhygienic, up until a few months ago, I hadn’t been to the dentist in years. And no, I’m not gross — it was, slash still is, a pandemic! Prior to the pandemic, I was freelancing and had no dental insurance. Suffice to say, it had been a couple of years.
When I first walked into my now dentists office a couple months ago, she was shocked that I hadn’t had a cleaning, didn’t floss twice a day, and had no real regimen to maintain the overall health of my teeth. One of the main things she suggested after a rigorous 90-minute deep clean was daily flossing. Wincing at her with a mouth so numb it felt like the size of the Brooklyn Bridge, I explained how flossing is boring and asked if there was another option. Enter the Waterpik.
And because nothing is better than a healthy smile, we break down below exactly what a Waterpik is, the benefits, and tips and tricks on how to use one.
What is a Waterpik?
Regular brushing is not enough to clean out food particles, bacteria, and plaque in between your teeth. Essentially, the bristles in most toothbrushes aren’t small enough for such tight spaces — making it paramount for interdental cleaning (the act of cleaning between the teeth) to occur.
The best option for interdental cleaning of course, is flossing. A Waterpik, invented in 1962, is an oral irrigator that uses a pressurized stream of pulsating water to clean off all the gunk between your teeth and under your gum line. Waterpiks are great for people with impeccable teeth, those who wear braces, have crowns or even have dental implants.
What is the difference between a Waterpik and dental floss?
To start with: The Department of Public Health says either dental floss or a Waterpik is acceptable. Although standard dental floss is considered the most effective tool for cleaning the tight spaces between the teeth, according to dentists, dental floss can occasionally scrape up and down the sides of the tooth.
The main difference between the two is dental floss’s ability to remove visible film and plaque on the teeth. On the other hand, a Waterpik, aims to push water to your teeth, to help remove food particle, reduce bleeding and gum disease. But don’t confuse the tool with an excuse to skip brushing or flossing — you will need all three for optimal dental health.
Most dentists will recommend you use traditional dental floss and then use your water flosser to remove food particles from between your teeth — simultaneously the trio (brushing, floss, and Waterpik) will also help prevent cavities.
What are the benefits of a Waterpik and when should I use it?
Using a Waterpik is fairly straight forward: simply close your lips around the tip and lean over the sink to avoid water from spilling everywhere. (Bonus tip: if it sprays too much water and you can’t stand it – use it in the shower where you won’t have to worry about clean up). Then, angle the water flosser towards the gums and move throughout each tooth (inside and out) following the gum line.
The small machine could be used at night or in the morning, and make sure to start at the back of the mouth, and work your way forward. Benefits include:
- Easy to use machine.
- Ability to get in to hard-to-reach areas and tightly spaced teeth.
- Rids teeth of plaque, food particles, debris, and bacteria before it turns into tarter.
- With the help of mouthwash in the machine, it keeps breath fresh for longer.
- Helps reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
So, should I get a Waterpik?
Unsurprisingly, poor oral hygiene can cause cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease. Waterpiks can step in to help combat this. So, if you are interested in developing better interdental cleaning habits, a Waterpik is absolutely the way to go. Granted they are a bit on the pricey side, the benefits very much out weigh the coins. Happy cleaning!
Photo via Waterpik