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!

The Nitty Gritty on Floss

Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. And like toothbrushes, there are different types of floss. Which is the right floss for you? We’re going to break down the differences between types of flosses and give some tips on how best to use this important dental tool.


Waxed vs. Unwaxed

The biggest decision you have to make when it comes to floss is whether or not to use waxed or unwaxed. The choice is completely up to you and each has their own pros and cons, but the main determining factor seems to be tooth spacing.

Those with tightly positioned teeth tend to prefer unwaxed floss. It is thinner than waxed floss and can therefore more easily slip in between tightly packed teeth. The downside to unwaxed floss is its tendency to break and shred.

People with more space between their teeth prefer waxed floss. Since they don’t need to worry about needing a thin floss to get into tight spaces, they can afford to use the thicker, more durable waxed version. Waxed floss also has the added benefit of less friction as it moves across your teeth and gums.


Unwaxed Nylon vs. Polytetrafluoroethylene

That’s right, we said polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE. Your typical floss (waxed and unwaxed) is made from nylon, whereas PTFE floss is made from the same material as high-tech rain gear like Gore-Tex. When used as a floss, PTFE is great for tightly packed teeth AND is less prone to breakage. For those with tightly packed teeth, the choice is between unwaxed nylon or PTFE, and this comes down to personal preference – some prefer the feel of one over the other.


Waxed Nylon vs. Dental Tape

We discussed the reasons why those with wider spaces between their teeth prefer waxed floss. Dental tape, a broader, flatter alternative to floss, is also great for loosely spaced teeth. Again, the choice here is personal preference with regard to what feels better.


Proper Flossing Technique

Here’s a short video on proper flossing technique in case you need a refresher.


How you floss is very important, so let’s review proper techniques and common mistakes. 

DO use an arm’s length of floss. Any shorter and you won’t have enough to cover all of your teeth.

DO wrap 6 inches of floss around your middle fingers and use them to control the movement of the floss.

DO move the floss in an up-and-down motion between where the tooth and gum meet to remove food particles.

DO use a new and clean section of floss each time you move in between two new teeth.

DO floss once a day.

DON’T slide floss lengthwise between your teeth, as this could injure your gums.

DON’T move floss in an overly aggressive manner. Pushing too hard or flossing too fast won’t remove any more bacteria than flossing gently and could harm your gums.

DON’T skip days – make sure you floss every day!


Flossing with Braces

Having braces is no excuse for a lax attitude toward flossing, but having orthodontics does make it more difficult to floss successfully. For those with braces, we recommend using waxed floss with a floss threader. Use the threader to pull the floss between the wire of your braces and your teeth, then floss between your teeth as you would normally. Remove the floss and repeat this process with the next two teeth.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to floss this way for every space between your teeth, top and bottom. But remember, the benefits are worth it – a happy healthy smile once your braces are taken off!

Still have flossing questions? Give us a call at 207-781-5900 – we’re happy to help!

To Floss or Not to Floss – This is NOT the Question!

You may have seen the big headlines recently about flossing not being what it is cracked up to be. The Food and Drug Administration, along with the entire dental industry, has been promoting flossing as an important part of your oral health regimen since 1979. Unfortunately, the FDA was forced to recant the importance of flossing because of a ‘lack’ of solid research. We at Falmouth Dental Arts remain steadfast in our recommendation for flossing once a day. Here’s why.

Though research is important in any scientific or medical field, so is anecdotal proof. We, and many other dental professionals, have countless stories of patients who have suffered from a lack of flossing. We have seen the benefits people gain from flossing daily, and the harm a lack of flossing can cause.

Think of a tooth as a cube. Brushing helps clean the top and two sides of the cube, but cannot make direct contact with the two adjacent sides. This is where flossing comes in, being able to remove food particles where brushing cannot. Not flossing is like getting your car washed, but never cleaning the salt off the undercarriage – every New Englander knows how that will end!

The recent Associated Press article and Food and Drug Administration decision will lead to more thorough flossing research being performed. We, along with the vast majority of the dental industry, are confident that we know what the results of this research will be – floss, Floss, FLOSS!

If you have any questions about flossing or other oral health recommendations, please give us a call at 207-781-5900.