Waterpik vs Flossing

Waterpik vs. Flossing: Which is Better?

Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease. With time, gum disease can adversely affect heart health. 

The bacteria that cause gum disease can also enter the bloodstream and affect the fetus, potentially leading to prematurity and low birth weight of babies in pregnant women.

Brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride is essential. However, regular brushing may not be sufficient to clean out food particles, plaque, and bacteria between teeth. Toothbrush bristles are not small enough to clean between these tight spaces well.

Interdental cleaning, such as flossing, is essential to maintain good oral health. There are two options for interdental cleaning: dental floss or a Waterpik water flosser. 

If you are unsure which option to choose, it helps to understand the differences and similarities between the two. It is essential to understand each tool and know what they can and cannot do.

Thinking about purchasing a water flosser?

Find the perfect one here: 7 Best Water Flossers of 2021.

What are Waterpik Water Flossers?

Waterpik Water Flossers are also known as dental water jets or oral pulsating irrigators. The first oral irrigator was invented in 1962 by a dentist from Colorado. 

Water flossers use a pressurized stream of pulsating water to remove food particles, bacteria, and plaque between the teeth and under the gumline. A Waterpik may also help reduce bleeding and gum disease.

Water flossers use a pressurized stream of pulsating water to remove food particles, bacteria, and plaque between the teeth and under the gumline. A Waterpik may also help reduce bleeding and gum disease.

Waterpik whitening water flosser

A Waterpik should not be used as a substitute for brushing. It does not usually remove visible plaque and film on your teeth but reduces bacteria even below the gumline.

You may prefer to use a Waterpik instead of flossing if you:

  • Wear braces
  • Have non-removable bridgework
  • Have crowns
  • Have dental implants

A Waterpik may also be easier to use than floss for people with arthritis or anyone who struggles to use string floss.

For the device to work as effectively as possible, new users should remember to place the tip in their mouth before switching on the unit. Users should move the flosser slowly, gliding the tip along the gumline softly.

For the best results, users should begin with the back teeth and work toward the front teeth. Continue until you have treated the inside and outside of both the upper and lower teeth. This ensures that the entire mouth is thoroughly cleaned.

Waterpik flossers are generally safe to use and offer no risk.

Find the perfect water flosser here: 7 Best Water Flossers of 2021.

Pros of Waterpik Water Flossers

Using a Waterpik flosser can help treat hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, tightly spaced teeth, and periodontal pockets that may result from early gum disease.

Waterpik flossers can also help keep your breath fresher for longer. Additionally, Waterpiks are simple to use. 

Cons of Waterpik Water Flossers

The rinsing action of Waterpik flossers may not be sufficient to remove plaque from the surface of the teeth. Some people prefer to use traditional dental floss first to scrape off and loosen plaque. Then, they may use a Waterpik to rinse out residue and any remaining plaque.

Some people report using water floss can be extremely messy due to the excessive water, and it takes time to get used to. Lastly, a water flosser is more expensive than traditional string floss. 

What is Traditional Dental Floss? 

Dental floss use goes back as far as prehistoric times. Dental flossing was first recommended in dentistry by a dentist called Levi Spear Parmly in his book ‘A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth’ in 1819.

Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss

Floss was officially patented 55 years later by Asahel M. Shurtleff. It was designed in packaging that included a cutter, much like the way some floss sells today.

The floss of the 1800s was made from unwaxed silk. However, flossing did not gain popularity until after World War II, when nylon was used instead of silk.

Today, floss typically sells pre-cut in plastic holders called dental picks. Users can cut the length they prefer from long strands. Traditional dental floss is available in flavored varieties and as waxed or unwaxed strands.

Pros of Dental Floss

String floss removes bacteria, plaque, and food particles from beneath the teeth. Using dental floss also enables you to clean each tooth of sticky plaque before it develops into tartar.

String floss also gives you plenty of control. Flossing manually enables you to clean each tooth in an up and down motion, moving the floss between the teeth.

Cons of Dental Floss

Some people may not be able to treat specific areas of the mouth easily when using string floss. You may also have a challenging time reaching between teeth that are very close together. If you floss too far down below the gumline or too aggressively, your gums may bleed.

Find the perfect floss here: Best Types of Floss in 2021.

Are Water Flossers Really More Effective Than Floss?

The best dental hygiene method is one you will stick to, enjoy, and can see yourself practicing daily. Many people prefer the control they can benefit from manual flossing. Others enjoy the fresh, deep-clean feeling they experience after using a Waterpik.

Research has illustrated that there is minimal difference in plaque removal between using traditional floss and a Waterpik. 

Both Waterpik flossers and string floss work effectively in taking care of teeth and gums in addition to brushing. Speaking to your dentist about the two options is always a good idea if you are still unsure.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day and cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss. 

Do Dentists Recommend Water Flossing?

Many dentists recommend using Waterpiks alongside traditional dental floss as a complementary tool to clean the teeth thoroughly.

How Much Do Water Flossers Cost Compared to Floss?

Professional water flossers are significantly more expensive compared to traditional floss. 

Waterpik flossers range from $49.99 to $139.99, while string floss usually costs a couple of dollars.

Best Water Flossers

Waterpik is the most recommended water flosser brand among dental health professionals. The brand sells several devices with varying price points for different needs and requirements.

Here are the top four water flossers:

waterpik countertop water flosser

Waterpik Aquarius

The best overall water flosser is the Waterpik WP-660 Aquarius Water Flosser. The Aquarius oral irrigator is best for at-home use. When used daily, the device can remove up to 99.9% of plaque between teeth. The Waterpik Aquarius is also 50% more effective than traditional string floss. 

The built-in timer/pacer briefly pauses at 30 seconds and 1 minute to help track the flossing time. The device also delivers 1400 water pulses per minute for a deep clean. 


  • Up to 90 seconds of flossing time
  • Two modes: hydro-pulse massage mode for gum stimulation and regular floss mode
  • Seven flossing tips
  • Ten floss settings 
  • Available in five different colors 
  • Large water reservoir that holds 22 ounces of water
  • On/off water control on the handle
  • Three-year warranty
  • Safe to use on implants, crowns, veneers, braces, and other dental work
Waterpik Cordless Flosser

Waterpik Cordless Advanced

The Waterpik Cordless Advanced is compact and does not have a large water reservoir. This model comes with four different flossing tips, three pressure settings, and 360-degree tip rotation. 

It also features a magnetic 4-hour rapid charging system, a waterproof design, and an ultra-quiet operation. It's perfect for small spaces, travel, and can even be used in the shower.


  • 45 seconds of flossing time
  • 4-hour rapid charge
  • Four water flossing tips included
  • Three different pressure settings (360-degree tip rotation)
  • Tip storage case 
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Waterproof and extra quiet
  • Available in six different colors
  • Two-year warranty
  • Safe to use on implants, crowns, veneers, braces, and other dental work
Waterpik ION

Waterpik ION

The ION Cordless Water Flosser provides maximum performance with cordless convenience. It is 30% smaller in size than traditional plug-in Waterpik models, so the ION is incredibly compact. The rechargeable cordless design also eliminates clutter, making it ideal for small bathroom counters. 

ION’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts up to four weeks per charge. It also features a convenient magnetic handle cradle and an on/off water control on the handle.


  • 90 seconds of flossing time
  • Four weeks of use per charge
  • Ten pressure settings (gentle to maximum clean)
  • Six water flossing tips included
  • Magnetic handle cradle and swivel base (to clean back teeth)
  • 1-minute timer with a 30-second pacer to track flossing time
  • Ideal for small counters and bathrooms
  • No cord or outlet needed
  • Three-year warranty
  • Safe to use on implants, crowns, veneers, braces, and other dental work
Waterpik Cordless Freedom

Waterpik Cordless Freedom

The Waterpik Cordless Freedom is portable and waterproof. It's great for small spaces, travel, or use in the shower.

It comes with three tips and two pressure settings. It runs on AA batteries, so no charging is required.


  • 30 seconds of flossing time
  • Waterproof, can be used in the shower
  • Two pressure settings
  • Three water flossing tips included
  • Travel Bag and Plug included
  • Ideal for small counters and bathrooms
  • No cord or outlet needed
  • One-year warranty
  • Safe to use on implants, crowns, veneers, braces, and other dental work

What's Next?


Is it more effective to floss teeth with a water pick or standard dental floss?, Mayo Clinic, February 2020

Mazhari, Fatemeh et al. “The effect of toothbrushing and flossing sequence on interdental plaque reduction and fluoride retention: A randomized controlled clinical trial.” Journal of periodontology vol. 89,7 (2018): 824-832

Lyle, Deborah M. “Relevance of the water flosser: 50 years of data.” Compendium of continuing education in dentistry (Jamesburg, N.J. : 1995) vol. 33,4 (2012): 278-80, 282

Goyal, C Ram et al. “Evaluation of the plaque removal efficacy of a water flosser compared to string floss in adults after a single use.” The Journal of clinical dentistry vol. 24,2 (2013): 37-42

Lyle, Deborah M et al. “Efficacy of the Use of a Water Flosser in Addition to an Electric Toothbrush on Clinical Signs of Inflammation: 4-Week Randomized Controlled Trial.” Compendium of continuing education in dentistry (Jamesburg, N.J. : 1995) vol. 41,3 (2020): 170-177

Countertop Water Flosser, Waterpik

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