So yes, flossing reigns supreme as the best way to clean the spaces between teeth, but oral irrigators have their place.
First, there are the non-flossing people. At some point you have to concede that a patient does not, perhaps cannot, and/or will never EVER use floss. This is where the Waterpik comes in. Its’ ease of use is highlighted in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmFsdYCiYTc#t=38. We won’t argue the point that
“water flossing” is better than no flossing at all.
Second, there are special situations where a Waterpik can really help. Orthodontics, for one. How difficult it is to floss under wires and around brackets! A Waterpik can clean in nooks and crannies that would otherwise be filled with food and debris. When you invest the time and expense on braces, it’s worth it to spend a little more and buy an irrigator to protect that investment and keep the teeth clean and disease-free during ortho treatment.
You also might want to get an irrigator if you have implants, crowns, or bridgework in your mouth. Implants, especially, which can be difficult to floss around, will benefit from the cleansing that a Waterpik provides. Studies show that irrigation can disrupt bacteria down 6 mm into the pockets around implants and teeth, which can greatly reduce inflammation and keep things healthy.
And then there are those who have recession and many spaces between their teeth. A combined regimen of brushing, flossing, and irrigating can keep these teeth and root surfaces clean, free of the bacterial film that so easily reattaches itself to the rougher exposed roots that those “long in the tooth” have. The irrigator here is an adjunct – an additional step in the home care routine that can have dramatic beneficial effects. We are continually impressed with our patients that floss AND irrigate: they stay healthy long term.
Next time: Kiwi’s and Canker sores