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New to Water Flossing / Water Picks? Here is A Crash Course to Get You Started.

Written by prositesdentalFeb 2 • 4 minute read

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Water Flossing is an Alternative to Conventional Flossing

Chances are, your dentist or dental hygienist has been trying to get you to floss daily for a long time. If you’re like most people, however, you probably don’t manage to floss every day. You might not even floss at all. This is because flossing can be painful, intimidating, and in general just feel like an annoying chore that is not enjoyable at all. We all know flossing is important, yet so few of us manage to do it on a regular basis and keep it up for years on end.

What can we do to help keep our teeth and gums clean short of flossing every day? Well, there is one option that might just do the trick. Water flossing is a flossing alternative done with a tool known as a water pick. A water pick is a tool that cleans your teeth and gums without physical contact by using a powerful and concentrated stream of water to flush out the plaque and bacteria. You can think of it as a sort of miniature pressure washer for your teeth and gums, and one which can be a lot more fun to use than dental floss ever will be.

Advantages of Water Flossing vs. Conventional Flossing

A big advantage of water flossing is that it does not inflict the pain on your gums that flossing can, and due to its contact-less nature, does not draw any blood either. These benefits can help to take the fear and stress out of flossing and lead to better dental hygiene habits. Water flossers are easier to use, easier to aim accurately, and usually do a more effective job of cleaning your mouth than that slimy piece of string that you might currently use!

Proof That Water Flossing Works

A study done by the University of Nebraska for the water flosser manufacturer Waterpik found that the use of a water flosser reduced instances of gum disease by more than 50% and eliminated cases of bleeding almost entirely, with a 93% reduction in gum bleeding reported by study participants.

Types of Water Flossers

Most water flossing devices feature a hollow tube connected to a remote water reservoir which holds a fairly large supply of water, similar to the way a coffee maker works. The water flows down the hose and is drawn up into the pressure washing nozzle, where it is sprayed onto the teeth and gums in a concentrated stream. This is the most popular style of water flosser, but there are also a few other options.

A second type of water flosser is the kind that features a reservoir directly in the handle of the pressure washing tool, which allows the entire device to be self-contained and cordless. It may even contain a battery to eliminate the need for a power cord. One drawback of this water pick design is that you need to keep refilling the small water reservoir over and over again if you need more time to finish cleaning your teeth. This is a potential issue that is not present with the remote reservoir style of water flossing machines.

There is also a third style of water flossing device which attaches directly to your bathroom faucet. These are more difficult to work with and occupy your primary faucet, so they don’t tend to be a popular choice with people who use water picks to floss their teeth.

Features to Look for In A Water Flossing Device

Generally, when looking for a new water flosser, there are some key features to look for that can enhance your daily water flossing experience and even the effectiveness of the tool in cleaning your teeth and gums.

Adjustable pressure is the first feature you’ll want to be on the lookout for. The ability to adjust the pressure of the water stream will give you a much finer level of control which can both help improve cleaning effectiveness and reduce any mess caused by overspray from the hose.

Reducing the pressure of the water stream is also critical for those with sensitive gums or teeth, as well as for those who are currently suffering from a canker sore. By turning down the pressure, you can eliminate any potential pain caused by hitting sensitive teeth, gums, or sore areas with a powerful stream of pressurized water. These adjustable pressure water flossers allow you to select a very precise amount of water volume and pressure to use which makes them much nicer to work with than those which lack this feature.

A few other useful features that can help add to the experience of using a water flosser include the following:

Pulsating Water Pressure

Pulsating water pressure can help knock lose any accumulated deposits of plaque or bits of food which a steady stream might not be able to clean.

Interchangeable Spray Nozzle Tips

These differently designed tips can be optimized for people with braces to help clean in all the awkward and hard to reach places. They can also be designed to further increase pressure, which can be helpful for those with especially stubborn plaque deposits.

Rotating Head

A rotating head design allows you to angle the spray head to reach spots that are difficult to access with a fixed spray head, again making the tool more effective at cleaning plaque from all corners of the mouth.

Other Water Flosser Features to Consider

After you have considered all of the above features, it is good to consider a few final things in your selection of a water flossing tool. These factors include, but are not limited to, price, size, and the ease and speed of changing or replacing batteries.


Regardless of which water flossing device you choose in the end; your dentist and dental hygienist will probably be very happy that you are cleaning your mouth much more often and effectively than you had been before. As we saw in the aforementioned study at the University of Nebraska, using a water pick can greatly reduce your risk of gum disease and instances of gum bleeding, while also removing plaque and bacteria which will lead to better overall dental health.

Have you tried a water pick, and do you have a personal favorite? Feel free to share your pick with us in the comments below!

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