Are Water Picks Better Than Flossing?

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A healthy smile can boost your confidence. You can achieve this confidence boost by maintaining quality oral hygiene. Poor dental health can lead to issues like tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Gum disease can impact heart health, and the bacteria that cause it can affect the fetus in pregnant women.

While regular brushing of your teeth with appropriate toothpaste is good for your oral health, it may not be sufficient to get rid of plaque, bacteria, and food particles stuck in the gaps between your teeth. Toothbrush bristles alone may not reach all the tight spaces.

However, the good news is that there are different methods you can consider to prevent tooth loss and decay. For instance, water picks and flossing are often recommended by dentists. In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know about interdental cleaning to make an informed decision.

What Are Water Picks and Who Should Use Them?

Water picking is also called water flossing and utilizes a special device known as a water pick. This machine directs a stream of water at your teeth and gums. It helps remove food particles from your teeth and massages the gums to prevent bleeding and disease. A water flosser can be used by a person who fits into the following categories:

  • Has crowns
  • Wears braces
  • Someone with dental implants
  • An individual with nonremovable bridgework

Water picking offers advantages and disadvantages depending on how you utilize it.

Benefits of a Water Pick

  • Reaches areas that are not easily accessible
  • Easy to use
  • Cleans tight gaps between teeth
  • Water picks also enhance fresh breath

When you choose this method, you must first learn how to use the device. If you are a new user, you need to place the tip of the device in your mouth first before turning it on. Glide the tip gently along your gum line, starting from the back of the mouth.

Disadvantages of a Water Pick

  • Can be expensive
  • Does not remove all plaque and bacteria from your teeth
  • Can be messy

You cannot use a water pick without scrapping or loosening the plaque on your teeth. Water picking is ideal for rinsing plaque and residue left in your mouth after brushing your teeth.

What Is Dental Flossing?

Flossing is an effective way of eliminating food plaque from the tight gaps between your teeth. Dental floss consists of a string that is used to scrape on the surface of each tooth to remove food particles. Everyone can use traditional floss to clean their teeth. Flossing plays a pivotal role in our dental hygiene since it helps reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. However, the method has pros and cons you should be aware of.

Advantages of Flossing

  • Effective in removing bacteria, food particles, and plaque from teeth
  • Easy to use

When using a string of floss, you can easily control it, allowing you to clean each tooth.

Disadvantages of Flossing

  • Not ideal for hard-to-reach areas in your mouth
  • Can cause gum bleeding

If you rely on flossing to clean your teeth, the major challenge you are likely to encounter is that you may not be able to reach specific sections in your mouth. Cleaning tight gaps between your teeth can also be a hurdle. After flossing your teeth, you must rinse your mouth to remove the residue left in it.

You can either floss your teeth before or after regular brushing. If you brush first, you can remove the bulk of obstacles to allow easy movement of the floss. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, it can penetrate all areas to maintain your oral hygiene.

woman flossing her teeth

Water Picks or Flossing: Which Is the Best?

Now that you know how to use each method, as well as its pros and cons, you need to know the best option for you. When it comes to the use of these two techniques, there is no right or wrong answer since they give you positive results depending on your situation and usage.

A water pick that is correctly used along with a manual toothbrush plays a crucial role in helping you maintain quality oral hygiene. Once you establish that this method is ideal for your teeth, its consistent use will lead to a significant reduction of plaque.

People who use water picking also witness a reduction in gum diseases like bleeding and gingivitis. A stream of water does not cause any harm to your gums. However, it cannot remove food debris stuck between your teeth.

On the other hand, flossing is perfect for the removal of food particles, bacteria, and plaque between teeth. Regular floss keeps your teeth clean and improves the quality of your breath. When you choose this option, make sure you also brush your teeth. String flossing can cause gum bleeding, and you may not be able to reach other spaces in your mouth. If your teeth have tight gaps, this method may not be ideal.


Choosing between water picking and flossing is a matter of personal preference. Both methods are effective in preventing tooth loss depending on how you use them. Manual flossing gives you total control of cleaning your teeth while a water pick provides deep cleaning and fresh breath. However, there is little difference regarding plaque removal between these two methods.

Therefore, the best oral health technique is one that suits your teeth, that you enjoy using, and that you can stick to consistently. Be sure to consult your dentist first before you settle for a particular method. You should also outline all your concerns to a professional, so they can help you choose the best option that suits your condition.

To maintain overall quality oral health, in addition to water picking and string flossing, here are the best practices you can consider.

  • Thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Practice regular flossing (use both water and string flossing if possible).
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleaning.

Good dental hygiene is not only meant for clean teeth and healthy gums, but it can affect your well-being in many ways. It is vital to be proactive and prevent a plethora of periodontal diseases.