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A common problem that dental hygienists and dentists see is a lack of flossing in their patients. Flossing is an essential step in good dental hygiene as it helps remove food and plaque that forms between the teeth and helps prevent gingivitis. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to floss citing a lack of time as the primary reason. Water flossers have become increasingly popular in recent years for this very reason.

What Are Water Flossers?

Oral irrigators, commonly referred to as water flossers, work by using a high-pressured, fine stream of water that irrigates the mouth. The water stream is powerful enough that it removes food debris and plaque in-between the teeth and in other hard-to-reach areas in the mouth. Water flossers may be used to replace traditional floss and interdental cleaners.

Are They Effective?

Though many dental experts were skeptical when water flossers were first invented, studies show that they are more effective than traditional flossing. One clinical study found that water flossers are 51 percent better at preventing gingivitis than traditional flossing. Additionally, they have been found to be more two times more effective at reducing gum bleeding due to gingivitis and 29 percent more effective at removing plaque.

How to Use a Water Flosser

Using a water flosser is simple. First, thoroughly brush the teeth for two minutes. Water flossers should never be used to replace brushing. Make sure to brush all of the surfaces of the mouth, including the back of the teeth, tongue, the roof of the mouth and the sides of the mouth.

Fill the reservoir of the water flosser with warm water. Next, turn the water flosser onto the lowest setting and place the tip in the mouth. Closing the mouth almost all of the way will prevent overspray from occurring. Turn the flosser on and aim the tip at the gumline. Allow the water to flow into the sink from the mouth. When done, simply turn it off and remove the tip.

Dentist Recommendations

Most dentists recommend using a water flosser one to two times daily. Those with severe plaque or dental decay should speak with a doctor before using a water flosser as traditional floss may be preferable in these cases.