How to Use Water Flosser

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The pros of flossing daily are known by all of us, yet it’s still often neglected as part of people’s oral health routine. Flossing is intended to maintain your oral hygiene and health, which can also affect your body’s overall health.

While traditional string floss was invented in the 1880s, more modern techniques have emerged in the dental world, making flossing easier than ever. Water flossers, or oral irrigation systems, offer a flossing alternative and are a simple way to clean between your teeth and the gumline without the effort (and sometimes pain) of regular flossing. Regular flossing is important because:

  • It will reduce the risk of cavities.
  • It will prevent conditions such as gingivitis, gum disease, and periodontal disease.
  • It removes plaque between teeth, which can erode the enamel in teeth and make them weak and discolored.

In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to use water flossers easily and without making a mess.

How Does a Water Flosser Work?

First, let’s briefly explain how these machines work. Water flossers use dental water jets to be directed toward the area you are cleaning. Instead of using a piece of string that can be uncomfortable and even painful, water flossers are gentler on gums and use water to remove plaque, food particles, and bacteria from the gum line and between teeth to provide a professional cleaning feel.

How to Use Water Flossers – Step by Step

The process is actually very simple; however, it’s always best to be prepared so that you can get it right the first time.

Step 1 – Setting up

The are different types of water flossers. The two most common types are those that have a self-contained water reservoir and are typically cordless models. Older models typically use a hose that connects to your tap or faucet for water flow. Nevertheless, bear in mind that water flossing can be quite messy depending on the settings you use.

It’s best if you stand over a basin of water or in the shower, where the extra water spilling won’t be an issue. Keep a mirror in front of you for the first few uses, as it will help you get into a flow.

Step 2 – Placement of the flosser

Water flossers typically come with a default tip; however, there are specific designs available for special cases, such as cleaning around braces. As a beginner, it’s advisable to stick to the default tip until you’re comfortable with the process.

Next, you’re going to place the flosser tip or nozzle in your mouth, starting with your molars. Hold the flosser slightly away from your gums and teeth, not directly on them. Be sure that you’re positioned over the basin or in the shower so you don’t make a mess once you switch the flosser on.

Step 3 – Select your preferred water pressure setting

When it comes to pressure settings, it’s always advisable to look for a water flosser brand that provides setting options that allow you to adjust the pressure of the water. If you have sensitive teeth and gums, you should change the settings accordingly to reduce any discomfort that you experience.

During your first attempt, it’s advisable to use the lowest pressure setting first and gradually increase it as you get more comfortable using the machine and find the ideal flow of water. Once you turn the flosser on, you will feel a soothing massage on your gums. Try keeping your lips close together to reduce splashing.

Step 4 – Learn the technique

Once the flosser is turned on and flowing, use the flosser tip to trace around your teeth and gums, one tooth at a time. Aim at the baseline of your gums, then the top of the tooth, and finally to the spaces between the teeth.

Repeat the process on both sides of your teeth, spending between two to three seconds per tooth until you’ve covered your entire mouth. This may be a little longer on your first couple of attempts but you will get faster with daily flossing. The entire process shouldn’t take longer than three minutes to complete.

If your teeth are sensitive to cold temperatures, try using warm water instead of cold or tap water. Be sure that you test the water temperature beforehand so that you don’t hurt yourself on the first attempt. For a greater antibacterial effect, add a little bit of salt.

Step 5 – Drain the flosser

Once you’ve completed the process, turn off the machine and remove the nozzle. Thereafter, ensure that you empty the flosser reservoir of any remaining water that may still be inside. Bacteria can form in the stale water left behind and will be introduced to your mouth in the next use. 

Step 6 – Clean the flosser

The entire point of using a water flosser is to improve your oral hygiene, so you should take the time to ensure that your flosser is as clean as possible at all times. After each use, run your flosser under a steady stream of water to remove any debris left behind. Be sure to rinse out the reservoir as well. A good tip is to use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to clean the flossing machine and the tips after each use.

man cleans his mouth and teeth with a white electric irrigator in the morning close-up.

Pros and Cons of Water Flossers


  • Water flossers are an especially beneficial option for people that have braces, or other oral fixtures, such as dental implants and crowns. The flow of water dispensed by the flosser can clean between the wires of braces and flush out any food particles or bacteria that may be present.
  • They are great for individuals with conditions that make it difficult to use regular floss, such as arthritis. Water flossers remove the difficulty these individuals experience of having to tightly wrap traditional dental floss around the fingers.
  • People with sensitive teeth and gums will have great joy using a water flosser because the gentle nature of the process reduces discomfort and prevents bleeding since there is no direct contact with the gum, except for the water.


  • The most obvious downside of a water flosser is that it costs significantly more than string dental floss. However, if maintained and stored properly, your water flosser could last a substantial period of time. Over time, it will pay for itself. 
  • Water flossing can be quite messy while you’re still perfecting your technique. It will improve as you gain more experience.
  • When compared to string flossing, water flossing can be a little more time-consuming. It can also be a little inconvenient to do if you’re not at home or near a bathroom, for example, after you’ve had a meal in a restaurant.


Switching to a water flosser can be a great decision. While they can be a little messy, you can always start slowly and work your way up to higher pressures as you become more comfortable. The key is to perfect your technique and find a rhythm that suits you while ensuring that you do not neglect any part of the gums or teeth. Water flossers can be a great investment over the long term, not only financially, but for your health as well.