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Are water flossers good?

Are water flossers good - featured. Mirror reflection of woman using a water flosser

If you have trouble using dental floss, a water flosser may be your best bet, but are these oral tools all they’re cracked up to be?

Using one of the best water flossers regularly can really elevate your dental hygiene, particularly when it’s used in conjunction with an electric toothbrush. The action of the water flosser can loosen and remove food particles stuck between your teeth, reducing the likelihood of bacteria and plaque. A water flosser can also get to the areas of your mouth that a brush simply cannot, like the tight gaps between each tooth.

But are water flossers actually a good choice for your teeth? How do they compare with traditional dental floss? And are there any downsides to using them?

We spoke to Dr Chanpreet Kalsi, general dentist at Hermes London Dental Clinic, and Dr Mani Bhardwaj, at The Smile Studios Dental Group, who both gave us their professional opinion on what makes water flossers a good investment for your oral health.

How do water flossers work?

The effectiveness of a water flosser is due to a combination of water pressure and pulsations. Studies have shown that the stream of pulsating water makes it easier to dislodge food debris from hard to reach areas, and the pulsations also stimulate your gum tissue, helping to prevent inflammation.

Still wondering how to use a water flosser? It’s pretty simple: first, you fill the handheld device with warm water; then you direct the nozzle – and its thin stream of water – at a 45-degree angle, towards your gum line and between your teeth.

Regularly using your water flosser – once or twice daily, for two minutes each time – will help prevent plaque buildup. It’s also a good idea to water floss before brushing your teeth, as this helps remove food particles before your fluoride toothpaste does its work.

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Who can benefit from using a water flosser?

Though anyone can use a water flosser, they’re particularly beneficial “for individuals who have difficulty using traditional floss, or those with orthodontic appliances”, said Dr Kalsi.

So, they’re useful if you have impaired manual dexterity for any reason, or if you just find regular dental floss a little too fiddly in practice. Similarly, if you wear braces, a dental plate or a bridge, or if you have crowns, a water flosser could be a good option. And if you simply have sensitive gums that make using traditional floss painful, you may also benefit from using a water flosser.

Do dentists approve of using water flossers?

Yes, water flossers are a dentist-approved tool. “Dental professionals do recommend patients incorporate water flossers into their dental hygiene routine, as they can help with incidental cleaning between the teeth”, Dr Bhardwaj told us.

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Can I use a water flosser instead of regular dental floss?

In a word? No. Just as a toothbrush on its own is not enough to completely protect your mouth against disease, the sole use of a water flosser is also insufficient.

Are water flossers good. Dental floss, a cup with two manual toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, a dental flosser and some towels on a bathroom surface

Water flossing is not intended as a replacement for regular dental floss. As Dr Kalsi warned: “While water flossers can be effective in enhancing oral hygiene, these tools should not be used as a substitute for regular flossing.”

For the best results, you should be using the best water flosser and regular dental floss to rid your mouth of as much plaque as possible.

The reason that various oral tools exist – tools such as interdental brushes and flossers – is to help with different aspects of your oral health. In this case, the back-and-forth scraping motion of string floss is required to remove stickier bits of plaque from the tooth’s surface – something which a jet of water simply can’t achieve.

Are there any downsides to using a water flosser?

The main drawback of water flossing is incorrect usage. Blasting the water between the teeth for a few seconds is not enough and, instead, a methodical tooth-by-tooth approach is needed, taking aim at the top of each tooth and the baseline of the gum in turn, and making sure that both the outside and the ‘tongue-side’ of each tooth is treated.

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Are there any other considerations?

There are a few other aspects that you might bear in mind if you’re thinking about water flossing:


Especially when compared with regular string floss, a water flosser is more expensive. Prices can range from the relatively budget-friendly Oclean W10, at around £60, to the reasonably expensive Waterpik Cordless Advanced, at £120, either of which is a far cry from a pack of Oral-B string floss that you might pick up for around £3.

Are water flossers good. Side view of the Oclean W10 Portable Oral Irrigator standing on the edge of a bathroom sink


Using a water flosser is hampered by their need for electricity – even a top-of-the-line cordless model will only run for 10 minutes or so before it needs recharging – and a water supply. So most water flossers are not particularly travel-friendly.


If you have sensitive teeth, the force of the water pulses might feel a little strange, and you may even find that your gums bleed the first few times you use it. That said, this is equally likely with first-time users of string floss too.


Improperly cared for, a water flosser can be a breeding ground for bacteria. So, the water reservoir should be emptied every night and thoroughly cleaned after use. And the tips should be changed every 6 months.

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Is it worth buying a water flosser?

Despite all these considerations, there are still numerous upsides to using a water flosser. Not least of all being so much easier to use than string floss, which will naturally make people more inclined to use one regularly.

Ultimately, using any flossing tool to clean between your teeth is better than doing nothing, so it’s definitely worth adding a water flosser to your oral hygiene routine.

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