Oral health is important. And while brushing your teeth in the morning and night is definitely a good start, if you’re not flossing, you’ve likely already heard a mouthful from your dentist.
If you’re ready to take flossing seriously, you’ve come to the right place. Any dentist you talk to will explain the importance of flossing, but in case you’re still wondering why you need to incorporate it into your daily routine, we did all the hard work for you. Ahead get the lowdown on all things flossing, according to certified dentists, plus the best water flossers they recommend to their patients.
“Flossing clears the debris that gets stuck in and around your teeth, in places that tooth brushing cannot reach. I always recommend flossing before brushing your teeth,” Dr. Sheri B Doniger from Preventive Dentistry, told the New York Post. “It reaches places in between the teeth and helps loosen the plaque, then brushing swishes it away from the gums and teeth and out of the mouth.”
Dr. Sharon Huang, who founded Les Belles NYC, specializes in general and cosmetic dentistry, reminded us of just how important flossing can be for the health of your whole body.
“Most people, including doctors, forget that the mouth is connected to the entire body. The same bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease are linked to many diseases and conditions in the body…[including] endocarditis, pregnancy and birth complications, pneumonia and diabetes,” Huang said.
What are water flossers and are they the same as electric flossers?
In short, yes, they’re essentially the same thing. “Water flossers and electric flossers are gentle power washers [that are used] to flush out debris around the teeth and gums. The pressurized stream of water pulsates and helps remove food particles,” Huang explained.
Are water flossers better than manual options?
“Electric or water flossing should only be in addition to traditional flossing and never replace it. As great as water flossing is, traditional flossing gets in between the teeth the way a water flosser does not. However, a water flosser is a great option for permanent dental appliances [like braces] to clean under or around them,” said NYC-based dentist, Dr. Lauren Becker.
While most dentists will say that water flossers or electric flossers are less effective than traditional flossing, they’ll also say that the best floss is the one you will actually use and enjoy.
So if water flossing strikes your fancy, we’ll consider it a win — as only about 30% of people floss daily.
How often do I need to floss?
In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day and manually flossing with string or interdental brushes, experts recommend following up with a water flosser everyday or at least three to four times a week.
How to use a water flosser
Most professionals recommend using your water flosser before brushing your teeth at night to clean/prep the teeth and gums ahead of brushing and manual flossing to remove the day’s food debris.
Here’s the best way to use a water flosser, according to Becker.
- Fill the water flosser with water if there is a tank, which can be mixed with a little mouthwash to add flavor, providing anti-plaque benefits that mouthwash offers.
- Split the mouth into four quadrants — going over the teeth and gums in four areas (inside, outside, on top of the tooth and throughout the gums and cheeks of the mouth) continuously spitting out the water. You’ll notice how much debris is collected in the sink while water flossing.
- Once finished, empty out any remaining water and let the reservoir dry completely to avoid bacteria collecting and a musty smell.
Best water flossers, chosen by dentists
Note: all options below have earned the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, unless otherwise stated.
1. Best Overall: Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser, $79, original price: $100
With more than 117,000 raving reviews and an impressive 4.6-star rating on Amazon — it didn’t come as a surprise that every dentist we interviewed raved about the popular Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser.
It features 10 settings (including one for braces!), seven different tips for a variety of needs, a built-in timer to track flossing time and comes in a variety of colors to match your bathroom.
“It has a large water reservoir which holds up to 22 oz of water and about 90 seconds of flossing time (3x average flossers),” said Huang. This is a powerful flosser [with many] pressure settings from gentle to pressured clean [and] operates on two modes: floss and massage.”
2. Best Budget-Friendly: Nicwell Cordless Water Dental Flosser, $31, original price; $80
If you’re new to water flossing and don’t want to shell out a lot of money to give it a try, Huang recommends the Nicwell Cordless Water Dental Flosser — currently on sale for just $31.
“This is the best value water flosser [that] has four flossing modes, five jet tips (orthodontic tip, tongue scraper, 3x standard, 1 oral flosser) and is easy to use. It has a small water reservoir, [it’s] cordless, waterproof and designed for travel,” Huang said.
3. Best for Braces: Oral-B Water Flosser Advanced, $89
Both Becker and Dr. Lilya Horowitz, from Domino Dental in Brooklyn, recommend the Oral-B Water Flosser Advanced for those working with braces.
“This is my favorite flosser for patients with braces. There are three flossing modes to choose from, which helps keep in and around braces, without too much pressure,” Becker said. “Its portability is also a benefit as patients with braces like to rinse after eating.”
4. Best Compact: Waterpik Power Flosser Flexible Tip, $7
For a compact, easy-to-use option that you can use anywhere (literally) the Waterpik Power Flosser Flexible Tip is the way to go.
“This on-the-go flosser is great to keep in a purse, making it the perfect travel flossing option. Although it does not require any water to be used, it’s very effective and only needs a battery to work,” Becker said.
This baby offers 10,000 gentle tip strokes per minute and costs less than $10.
5. Best Cordless: BURST Cordless Water Flosser, $70, original price: $90
Cords can get in the way and become an annoyance when it comes to limited bathroom counter space. If this is something that is important to you, go for a cordless water flosser.
“I love the BURST Cordless Water Flosser — it’s a beautiful cordless, compact option that offers 360 degree tip rotation, great battery life, water-resistance and a lifetime replacement guarantee when you purchase a subscription,” Huang said.
Our very own Commerce Editorial Director, Barret Wertz, is also a big advocate for this water flosser.
“I recently had the InBrace behind-the-teeth braces and was so thankful to have had the BURST Water Flosser. Not only was it perfect for using at home in the shower or over the sink, it was completely portable and easy enough to take in my bag with me to the office and even out to eat,” Wertz said. “Every time I had a visit with my orthodontist, she commented on how well I was cleaning around my braces. My braces may be off, but the Burst Water Flosser is still part of my daily routine.”
6. Best for Travel: Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser, $80, original price: $100
Who said you can’t travel a lot and take care of your teeth? If you’re on the hunt for the perfect water flosser that you can pack in your luggage, many dentists recommend the Waterpik Advanced Water Flosser.
“This waterpik is great for travel because it is cordless and compact. For such a small device, it offers two pressure settings as well for comfort,” Horowitz said.
“Not only is this a great option for travel, but it’s also a great option for cleaning around permanent dental appliances. This model has earned the ADA seal of acceptance as well,” Becker told The Post.
7. Best for Kids: Waterpik Countertop Water Flosser for Kids, $40, original price: $60
Encourage your kiddos to take care of their teeth as early as possible. The Waterpik Countertop Water Flosser for Kids is great for smaller hands (and smaller places) and comes with adorable stickers so they can decorate their own kit.
“For younger patients, I love this option which makes traditional flossing more fun. Especially for those orthodontic years, this water flosser gets in between braces and helps keep the wires and teeth clean,” Becker said.
“There are three pressure settings, two tips (on regular and one orthodontic), and a smaller 15 fluid oz. water reservoir,” Doniger told The Post.
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