The Myth of Waterjets (Waterpik). Are they Really Effective?
By now, you’ve seen the ads, you've read the studies, and you've heard it discussed in continuing education courses: Water flossing is an easier and more effective way to floss. There is even TV advertising, and patients may be asking the dentist about water flossing—but you just aren’t sure. There are some questions you need to be answered. For example, can it prevent caries? can it effectively remove debris and food particles?. And besides, is it messy? OK, if you’re running into trouble answering either of these questions, consult your health care practitioner. Always keep in mind that a water flosser can not replace your toothbrush or traditional flossing.
Waterpik (Irrigators) is often touted for its flossing abilities because it dissolves food debris faster and easier than other flossing methods. But what you may not know is how many crumbs, oil remnants, and pieces of pizza go overlooked in the shower. The fact is that water flossing won’t rid your plaque as other existing flossing methods— no matter how long you use it, it will never dissolve hard food particles — However, it can slow it down from forming. The reason is simple, the rinsing action of Waterpiks may not be powerful enough to remove sticky plaque from the surface of teeth, a friction mechanism is needed and that can only be provided by a piece of floss string or an interdental brush, it is a matter of physics.
Most dentists have mixed feelings about recommending a water flosser. Our recommendation is no matter what method of flossing you use never stop flossing your teeth. Even though water floss may not be the best option to remove plaque compare with traditional methods, it does not mean you should stop using it. There is some evidence that water flossing can prevent tooth problems such as cavities. One study suggests flossing can lower the risk of tooth decay up to 25% when compared to not flossing. But how much flossing you do is important.
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