Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

WaterPik ? or Floss? Which is Better?

Is a Waterpik as effective as using standard dental floss for cleaning the tight spaces between your teeth? Great question! 

A WaterPik (oral pulsating irrigator) is a device that aims a stream of water at your teeth, removing food particles from your teeth, reducing bleeding and gum disease. Research studies vary in their perspectives. The conventional point of view is that Standard Flossing is the most effective in cleaning between teeth to remove particulate matter because you can scrape the sides of your teeth.  This perspective feels a WaterPik is not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing, so don’t throw out your floss! Some feel the removal of plaque film on your teeth is more difficult to remove with an oral pulsating irrigator versus floss. 

HOWEVER, research studies have shown that these devices are as effective or more effective than standard flossing.  

A 2021 study indicated that WaterPiks are as effective as standard flossing. In fact, water flossers were as efficient as regular floss in removing interdental plaque on single use. It further recommended a water flosser for those lacking manual dexterity, with fixed prostheses i.e. bridges, or undergoing orthodontic treatment. In addition, it is also a good choice by caretakers for their clients’ plaque control.

People who wear braces, have bridgework, crowns or dental implants can benefit from using a WaterPik. Those struggling with arthritis or mobility may also find relief by from using a Water Pik. 

Other studies state that WaterPiks are more effective than standard flossing. The Waterpik Water Flosser and manual toothbrush proved significantly more effective than a manual brush and string floss in removing tooth surface plaque. A 2021 study demonstrated the Waterpik® Sonic-Fusion® is up to two times as effective as traditional brushing and flossing for improving gingival health.


Pros and Cons of a WaterPik:

WaterPiks are easy and safe to use. There may be a learning curve while you find the most comfortable water temperature and power setting. Also, it allows you to get in hard-to-reach areas and clean between tight spaces and perio pockets. Some feel it keeps your breath fresher longer. 

TIP: Place the tip in the mouth before turning on the unit, go slowly, gliding the tip along the gumline. Start with the back teeth, working forward. Clean the inside and outside of both upper and lower teeth to ensure you clean the entire mouth thoroughly.

Some cons of a WaterPik are their cost, they can be messy, and take precious counter space in your bathroom. A WaterPik may not remove all plaque from the tooth surface. 

Pros and Cons of Flossing:

Floss is relatively inexpensive and easy to control, allowing you to clean each tooth completely, removing bacteria, plaque and food particles from between teeth. Flossing facilitates the removal of sticky plaque before it turns into tartar. Manually flossing allows you the control to meticulously clean each tooth up and down between each tooth. 

However, even with the control that floss affords, you may not be able to reach some areas, and you may experience some bleeding depending on the health of your gums. Remember to rinse your mouth after flossing, as this helps remove plaque and residue from the teeth. 

Should I Floss/WaterPik before Brushing?

Though one study published by the Journal of Periodontology showed it is more effective to floss first and then brush, the critical point to remember is:

Whether you floss or use your WaterPik before or after brushing, is not as important as thoroughly doing both! 

In conclusion, no matter whether floss or a WaterPik is your preference, do more than just brush your teeth. If using Standard Floss, we recommend using the waxed variety as it has less chance of shredding and getting stuck between your teeth. If you have a hard time flossing for various reasons, consider using a floss threader, picks or sticks designed to floss, or better yet, use a WaterPik-type device. 

Any questions? Call us at Kesteven Dental Care Studio at 604-826-8087 or email us at We would love to help you!

By Lorelei Kesteven