Getting into the Cracks: Waterpik vs. Flossing

It’s written in the history books at this point: the best way to maintain your dental health is by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. But in recent years, and with technology playing an increased part in our lives, the lines begin to blur as we continue to define best practices and medicine and treatment options continue to evolve.

The Waterpik and string floss are a timely example of how best practice lines blur in the dental field. Both have good and bad points, but at the end of the day, which best protects your dental health? We’ll run through a quick summary of the good and the bad of both to help you decide what method of flossing works best for you.



  • Efficient method of removing excess food/plaque from between teeth and below gum line
  • Quick and easy
  • Can be done anywhere
  • Affordable
  • Easily accessible at any pharmacy/grocery


  • Difficult to reach some areas of the mouth
  • Can cause bleeding if not done routinely
  • Can potentially worsen or cause gum sensitivity
  • Can be difficult to use or handle

All things considered, however, many dentists consider flossing to be a key part of the oral care regimen. If you find flossing painful or difficult, you should talk to us to explore alternatives and make sure there isn’t a more serious problem.

Water Flossing (aka Waterpikking)

Water flossing requires a device with a tool at the end of a hose connected to a docking station full of water – much like you may have seen before at our office. How does it work? The tool delivers a pressurized fine stream of water into the crevices between teeth and toward gums as guided by the user.


  • Easy to use
  • Can reach areas of the mouth that are difficult to reach with traditional floss
  • Keeps your hands comparably clean throughout the process
  • Certain devices also feature a massage function that can help improve gum health


  • More costly than floss
  • Requires countertop or storage space
  • Requires electricity and water sources for operation
  • Difficult to transport if you’re on-the-go

Some patients who might find the Waterpik to be a great alternative to traditional floss are those with braces or permanent and/or temporary bridges. Patients who damage their gums as a result of using traditional floss should also consider water flossing.

So which flossing method is better?

For now, the question of whether one method is better than the other remains unanswered. Both methods of flossing can lead to better oral health, but the results just have not been researched thoroughly enough compared to each other to make a generalization.

A good thing to keep in mind is that every person’s oral health situation is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Whichever method you choose, make sure to clean between teeth and along the gum line as thoroughly as possible every day.

Are you curious about water flossing? Want to brush up on how to floss properly? Schedule your next appointment or call us today to stay on top of your dental A-game!