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Updated on August 16, 2022

Waterpik vs Flossing

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The Importance of Flossing

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 your bloodstream and affect a fetus. This has been linked to premature and low birth weight of babies in pregnant women.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is essential. However, regular brushing doesn't always clean food particles, plaque, and bacteria between teeth. Toothbrush bristles are not small enough to clean between these tight spaces.

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

young woman using oral irrigator in bathroom

What are Waterpik Water Flossers?

Waterpik is the most popular brand of water flossers. Water flossers use a pressurized stream of pulsating water to clean between your teeth and under your gum line.

Waterpiks can help reduce bleeding and gum disease.

A Waterpik should not be used as a substitute for brushing. It is a floss replacement that helps reduce bacteria and keep your teeth and gums healthy.

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

  • Struggle to floss daily
  • Wear braces
  • Have non-removable bridgework
  • Have crowns
  • Have dental implants
  • Have arthritis or poor mobility

Scientific studies have shown that water flossers are just as effective, or more effective than string floss at removing plaque.

PubMed.gov

How to Use a Waterpik Water Flosser Correctly 

There are a few easy steps to follow in order to use a Waterpik Water Flosser correctly: 

  1. Fill the reservoir with warm water
  2. Press down firmly on the device’s base
  3. Choose a tip and click it into the handle
  4. Start with the lowest pressure setting and then place the tip into your mouth while leaning over the sink so you don’t get water everywhere
  5. Turn the unit on and close your mouth just enough to prevent water splashes
  6. Let the water flow from your mouth into the sink below
  7. Aim the tip at your gum line
  8. When complete, turn the device off and press the “eject” button to remove the tip

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 main drawback of Waterpiks are their cost. They range in price from about $50 to $200.

Some people report that water flossers can be messy, and take some time to get used to.

What is Traditional Dental Floss? 

Dental floss use goes back as far as prehistoric times. Dental flossing was first recommended by a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly in 1819. Floss was officially patented 55 years later by Asahel M. Shurtleff.

Today, floss is available as rolls of string or pre-cut in plastic holders called dental picks. Traditional dental floss is available in flavored varieties and as waxed or unwaxed strands.

Pros of Dental Floss

String floss is significantly cheaper than water flossers. It typically costs $5-$10 for several yards, which will last months.

String floss 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 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 gum line or too aggressively, your gums may bleed.

Waterpik vs. Flossing: Which is Better?

Further research is needed to answer this question. However, scientific studies agree that water flossers are at least as effective as traditional floss, and may be more effective at removing plaque.

One study from 2013 found that water flossers were significantly more effective at removing plaque. Another study from 2021 found that water flossers and floss were equally efficient at removing plaque.

So what does this mean?

The best dental hygiene method is one you will stick to. If you struggle to maintain a daily habit of flossing, a Waterpik may help you change your habits.

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

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

Best Overall Floss (Editor’s Choice)

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. 

Features:

  • 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

Best Cordless/Travel-Friendly

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.

Features:

  • 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
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Waterpik-ION-922x1024.jpg

Waterpik ION

Best Cordless Countertop Device

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.

Features:

  • 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
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Waterpik-Cordless-Freedom-1024x1024.jpg

Waterpik Cordless Freedom

Best on a Budget

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.

Features:

  • 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?

7 Sources Cited
Last updated on August 16, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. 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 : 37-42
  2. Abdellatif, Hoda, et al. “Comparison between Water Flosser and Regular Floss in the Efficacy of Plaque Removal in Patients after Single Use.” The Saudi Dental Journal, Elsevier, 31 Mar. 2021.
  3. Is it more effective to floss teeth with a water pick or standard dental floss?, Mayo Clinic, February 2020
  4. 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 : 824-832
  5. 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 : 278-80, 282
  6. 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 : 170-177
  7. Countertop Water Flosser, Waterpik
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