A water flosser, also known as an oral irrigator, is a handheld oral care device that directs a stream of water between your teeth and gums, removing food debris, plaque and bacteria. Combined with daily flossing, a water flosser enhances your daily oral care routine.
While there are many types of oral irrigators all feature a reservoir to hold the water, an electric motor to power the pump, and a special nozzle. The motor and pump cause a stream of pressurized water to flow from the reservoir, through the nozzle, and between teeth, to remove plaque food particles and bacteria.
Type - There are generally four different types of oral irrigators: countertop, cordless or battery operated, shower flosser, and faucet flosser.
- Countertop - Heaviest and bulkiest of the four types. It sits on your countertop and plugs into a nearby electrical socket. They also come with an irrigation tank that you have to refill whenever it runs out of water.
- Cordless or Battery-Operated - Typically slim, small, and portable. This type provides the most flexibility, and is Ideal for travelers. They may not be as powerful as countertop flossers, however.
- Shower Flosser - Attaches to your shower head so you can floss after (or before) you’ve showered. You don’t need electricity or batteries, and don’t have to worry about refills, but they’re generally more difficult to maneuver.
- Faucet Flosser - The most common type of water flossers, similar to shower flossers, but with a cord that attaches to the water basins instead of your shower head. Like shower flosser models, the drawback is maneuverability.
Pressure Settings - Most top rated water flossers have adjustable pressure capability, perfect for those with sensitive gums, implants or braces. A pulsating water setting is particularly effective at loosening tough-to-reach food particles.
Size - A compact and cordless design allows for greater maneuverability.
Water Flosser Benefits
Exceptional oral irrigators, like those in the Oral-B lineup, feature multiple modes—even one for sensitive gums—that are perfect if gum sensitivity is a problem for you. They’re also a gentle yet effective way to clean crowns, braces, bridges, and dental implants.
Another issue with daily flossing is that many people have a difficult time doing it properly. Most just put the floss between their teeth instead of making the recommended C-shape with the floss to insure it properly contacts all surfaces of the teeth. Plus, improper flossing can even cause gum tissue damage if done improperly. Water flossers are less technique-sensitive than string flossing, and don't require you to put your hands in your mouth or deal with used string floss. With less technique and pain involved, many people have more incentive to include flossing to their daily routine.
Should I Use a Water Flosser?
Water flossing should never be used as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing, but it is a great supplement to your daily routine. There are also instances where a water flosser may be an effective tool for you:
Bleeding Gums - There are a few common reasons why your gums would bleed. The first is gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a bacterial infection in your gums. Left untreated, it could lead to tooth loss. Flossing too hard can also cause bleeding gums. Oral irrigators can be a great way to clean problem areas without the pain caused by regular string flossing. You may even want to use an Oral-B water flosser set on the sensitive mode before flossing to gently remove as much food as possible.
You Have Braces - Food tends to get stuck behind brackets and underneath wires when you have braces. Water flossers are great for reaching those tough areas where food particles hide. Plaque around brackets can cause multiple dental problems, including gum disease if left untreated.
You Have Dry Mouth - Saliva naturally cleans your mouth and prevents sticky plaque buildup. However, certain medications and genetics can keep some people from producing enough. That could lead to gum disease and cavities. An oral irrigator easily adds moisture to a dry mouth and removes sticky plaque.
Food Always Gets Stuck In Your Teeth - Some people are more susceptible to getting food stuck in their teeth than others. It could be due to the shape of your teeth, or that they’re not perfectly aligned. Food can also get stuck around dental work like bridges and dental implants. Oral-B water flossers are the perfect tool to clean problem areas for people more prone to get food stuck in their teeth, whether from genetics, bridges or implants.