One of the most ignored aspects of oral care is flossing. Daily flossing is critical for maintaining a healthy smile and avoiding tooth decay and gum disease.
Despite how important it is, the act of conventional flossing is not an appealing one. String floss can be awkward and sometimes even painful to use.
Fortunately, there's a gentle yet effective way to keep your teeth clean and healthy: water flossers. Unlike traditional string floss, these simple devices spray a controlled stream of water into your mouth, clearing out any food and plaque that may be lingering in between your teeth and gums.
Here's how to use a water flosser, along with more reasons why you need to be flossing every day.
The Importance of Flossing
If you're not fully convinced about the importance of flossing, here's what's at stake if you skip this critical step in your dental care.
The Problem of Plaque
When you eat and drink, most of what goes into your mouth winds up in your stomach. However, there are still some particles that will wind up between your teeth, where they contribute to plaque buildup.
Plaque is a combination of saliva, food debris, and bacteria that can cause both tooth decay and gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis. Both of these start rather small but can escalate into serious issues with your oral and even your overall health.
What's worse is that plaque that's allowed to hang around in your mouth can eventually harden into stubborn tartar, which is far more difficult to remove without the help of professional cleanings.
Brushing Is Not Enough
While brushing your teeth twice a day every day can protect your oral health, it will not remove plaque from between your teeth. That's a job for either dental floss or a water flosser.
How to Use a Water Flosser
Hopefully, you're motivated to add flossing to your daily oral health routine. But if using traditional dental floss is unpleasant for you, then you'll be happy to know that the water flosser is an effective alternative for removing plaque between the teeth and gums. But first, you'll have to learn how to use a water flosser.
Step 1: Getting Your Water Flosser Ready
Fill up the reservoir with lukewarm water before you begin flossing. Warm water is important because cold water can be unpleasant, particularly if you have sensitive teeth.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Tip
There are a number of tips you can choose from with water flossers, including:
Classic Jet Tip: This tip is made strictly to clean the areas between your teeth — it's standard for water flossers
Toothbrush Tip: Combines your brushing and flossing — it looks like an electric toothbrush, but it sends out a pulsating stream of water between your teeth as you brush
Plaque Seeker Tip: All water flosser tips are designed to remove plaque, but this one has little bristles on it that are great for reaching plaque that's hiding below the gum line
Orthodontic Tip: Designed for people with braces who find it difficult to keep up with their daily oral routine while undergoing orthodontic treatment
While most people choose the classic jet tip, it's important to evaluate your specific needs and choose accordingly.
Step 3: Place the Water Flosser in Your Mouth and Start with the Lowest Pressure Setting
Most water flossers feature either an on button or a switch. When the water flows, which takes about two seconds to start, begin with your back teeth. Keep the water flosser a small distance away from the tooth. Lean over the sink or a small cup when using an oral irrigator so that you don't splash water all over the bathroom.
Step 4: Time to Use Water Pressure to Floss Away the Build Up
Now you can begin to use a Waterpik for flossing, but keep in mind that some experimentation is needed. For instance, you may be surprised by the water pressure at first, so start on the lowest pressure setting and work your way up.
Take a look at the product manual to learn about the settings. You can also play around with the pressure control dial until you've got a level of water pressure that's got some strength to it but is not uncomfortable.
As you lean over the sink, begin tracing your gum line with the water flow as you clean out the plaque tooth by tooth. Cover every part on either side, from the top of the tooth to the interdental area to the gum line, and then repeat. Using a water flosser should only take a minute or two.
Step 5: Clear Out the Water Reservoir and Wash
Once you're done, put all remaining water from the reservoir into the sink, as you want to maintain a sterile environment in your flosser. Leaving stale water in it can cause bacteria to grow. You should also clean the reservoir with chlorhexidine mouthwash every once in a while. Congratulations, you now know how to use a water flosser to protect your teeth and gums!
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding water flossers.
How Often Should You Use a Water Flosser?
Although it is a reasonable alternative to string floss, you should use your water flosser just as often as the American Dental Association recommends you use dental floss: once a day.
Can a Water Flosser Damage Your Gums?
When using a water flosser for the first time, you may find that your gums bleed. This is most likely because of gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of periodontitis. You can place your flosser on a low pressure setting to avoid this, but the bleeding should stop once you've regularly flossed for a little while.
How Often Should You Clean the Reservoir?
Clear out the unused water from your reservoir after each use, and clean it out with a chlorhexidine mouthwash once every few days or so.
Is a Water Flosser Safe on Dental Implants?
Yes, in fact, the water flosser is the safest way to clean the space between your teeth when you have dental implants.
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Flossing is Far Easier with a Water Flosser
With the help of a water flosser, you’ll never have to worry about string floss again. Once you find the right model and technique, your oral hygiene routine will be simpler and more effective than it’s ever been.