Feeling Flossy: Alternatives to Traditional Flossing

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: Floss your teeth!  It’s just as important as brushing and crucial to preventing gum disease.  And yet, only about 30% of Americans floss daily.  We understand that it can be a hard habit to fit into your daily oral health routine–the floss gets stuck in your teeth, sometimes your gums bleed, and it feels like it takes forever!  We are often asked if there are any alternatives to flossing and the answer is…yes!  Let’s look at what other options you have for cleaning those hard to reach places between your teeth.

Water Flossing

Water Flossing is a way to clean around and between your teeth with a pressurized steady stream of water.  Perhaps you’ve seen or experienced the device in our office.  Water Flossers can be particularly helpful for patients with braces, dental bridges, dental implants, or gum pocketing.  You can find a Water Flosser with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.  While more expensive than traditional floss, it is a helpful tool for reaching areas that are hard to access with floss and a great option if you find flossing difficult or painful. This is also a great alternative if you are concerned about little plastic floss containers ending up in the landfill. 

Interdental Brushes

Another easy and practical option is an interdental brush.  Studies have shown that when used in combination with regular tooth brushing, an interdental brush can be more effective than floss in removing plaque from between your teeth.  These small, cone-shaped brushes are designed to be inserted gently between your teeth and can be rinsed and reused a few times.  Patients with braces, food traps, dental bridges, or mobility issues may find this a good alternative.  It’s also less of an investment than a Water Flosser.

Dental Picks

As the name suggests, these are small wooden or plastic picks that can be used to remove plaque from between teeth and gums.  Picks aren’t quite as effective as floss and you risk moving bacteria around your mouth unless you use a new pick for each tooth, but they allow for better maneuverability for patients who have braces and thus some hard to reach areas.  Again, it’s always important to look for a product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance

Whichever option you choose, the most important thing about cleaning your teeth is to do it!  Find a routine that works for you and stick with it…your teeth and your gums will thank you!  Also, if you experience bleeding gums from flossing this may be an early sign of periodontal disease–please be sure to inform us of any bleeding at your next visit to our office.  If you have any questions about whether flossing or one of these alternatives is right for you, let us know.  We are here to support you and provide you with the best oral health care!

Also, please note, our office opened on June 1 with new protocols and procedures in place to keep you and our staff safe.  You can also read the full list of these updates on our COVID Protocol Page, easily found in the top menu bar of our website, so you know what to expect before your next appointment.  If you are overdue for your appointment, rest assured we will be in touch soon as we catch up with our backlog. We do look forward to seeing you again.  Thank you for being our patient!

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!