Dental Hygiene,  Products

Best Water Flosser – What Is Water Flossing Waterpik vs. Flossing

Some parts of this article are taken directly from our Tooth Decay Masterclass. It's the most complete course on solving the problem of tooth decay once and for all!

A water flosser, Waterpik, or oral irrigator are all names of fairly simple device that sprays water under high pressure to remove food stuck between your teeth. It is highly effective at removing food particles from between your teeth, and it does this job way better than classic floss. But the whole idea of using floss in tooth decay prevention is to remove or disrupt dental plaque and studies show that water flossers are not as good in this field. Water flossers compared to classic string floss are more comfortable to use and more effective for improving gum health (that includes reducing bleeding), so it’s a great idea to use both floss and water flosser. Therefore you should not consider water flosser and classic string floss as alternatives, but rather as complementary tools that work in a synergistic manner. You start with removing food debris from your teeth with a water flosser and after that, you have perfect conditions for use of classic floss.

How to use a water flosser?

Fill the reservoir with lukewarm water (this is important – hot or cold water will be unpleasant), select a tip (if it’s not already attached to the device), then attach the power cord to the wall and put the flosser tip in your mouth. Lean over the sink to avoid a mess – splashing water will be all over the place if you don’t do that. Place the tip in your mouth holding the handle at a 90-degree angle to your teeth, and turn the power on. Glide the tip along the gumline and pause briefly between teeth, letting the water flow into the sink. Water comes out in steady pulses, cleaning between your teeth. Be sure to carefully clean the inside and outside of both the upper and lower teeth, the whole process should take about 1 – 1,5 minutes (average water reservoir should last for 90 seconds of flossing time without refilling).

What tip and power setting should I use?

If this is your first time with Waterpik, start with 50% power and gradually move it up to even 100% power as you acclimate to the device. You need to find maximum power at which using the device is comfortable to use (and your gums don’t bleed) – this usually is somewhere between 70% and 100%. Keep in mind that Waterpik is not only removing food debris from between teeth, on a high-power setting it should be able to clean most of the plaque, too (but floss still performs this task better).

Water flosser usage recommendations:

In our dental masterclass course, we divide patients into 3 risk groups: low, medium, or high and give recommendations specific to each group. You can assess your risk by checking the application questionnaire (there is no need to purchase anything)
– if you’re LOW RISK you can try to replace classic floss with a Waterpik if that’s more convenient for you, use it at least twice daily, and remember to still floss at least every other day
– if you’re MED or HIGH RISK it’s recommended that you use a water flosser after every meal (if possible), please remember to use your floss too.

Tips for using a water flosser:

  • your water flosser needs to be cleaned from the outside, and from the inside too, especially if the water in your area is highly mineralized
  • the cable that connects the handle to the device may wear over time if you use the device frequently, you can prevent it by wrapping it in tape
  • if you share your water flosser make sure you use personal tips!

Recommended best water flossers

What’s the best water flosser?

We recommend classic Waterpik Countertop Oral Irrigators as the most reliable. At the moment their flagship product is Waterpik WP-660 Aquarius Water Flosser which is what we would buy!

What’s the best budget water flosser?

If you’re on a budget you can still get a great water flosser for a bit less. In this case, we recommend Turewell Countertop Irrigator, which can be ordered here at Amazon: Turewell Oral Irrigator. This product is a copy of Waterpik’s classic WP-100 water flosser which was a great and reliable product.

Which Waterpik tip is best for braces?

Any water flosser that has orthodontic tip included will just fine for braces. In case of the most popular brand Waterpik this tip name is OD-100E, and it should be included in the product box, so there is no need to purchase anything extra. This kind of tip is also included in the budget Turewell Oral Irrigator that we have recommended above. If you have bought a product without this tip (especially if you have bought it second hand) these can be purchased separately, too.

Questions & answers section

We are aware that this kind of device may be something new to most readers, so you probably have a lot of questions to ask. This is why we have decided to answer all of the possible questions we could think of! If you have any other questions just ask them in the comments section and we’ll update the article with an answer!

Is a water flosser a good idea?

Yes, it’s a great idea! It’s a perfect addition to toothbrushing and flossing and it’s the best tool to remove food particles from between your teeth. But if the question is if it’s a good idea to replace flossing with water flosser (Waterpik) then we say no, it’s not! Although according to the ADA (American Dental Association) water flossers with their Seal of Acceptance are able to remove plaque from teeth (bacterial biofilm that may turn into tartar or cause cavities and gum disease) there are studies showing that these devices don’t remove plaque as good as regular string floss. Therefore we recommend water flossers for everyone, but only those without problems with cavities or gum disease may try to use it instead of string floss (but even in that scenario you should remember to floss every other day).

Do dentists approve of water flossers? Do dentists like Waterpik? Do dentists recommend water flossing?

Yes, dentists usually approve of the use of water flossers, and most of them like it, but only some of them recommend it to their patients. Waterpiks are most often recommended to patients wearing braces because it’s the only really effective way to clean them.
If you are asking if dental associations approve/recommend water flossing then the answer is also yes! When we were writing this article the ADA (American Dental Association) had the following Powered Interdental Cleaners on their list (these are products that got ADA’s Seal of Acceptance):

  • Philips Sonicare AirFloss, AirFloss Pro and AirFloss Ultra
  • Waterpik Battery Operated Water Flossers
  • Waterpik Sonic-Fusion Toothbrush/Flosser
  • Waterpik Water Flossers
  • Waterpik Whitening Water Flosser

Which is better a Waterpik or a water flosser?

Actually, there is no difference between the two. A water flosser is a general name for this kind of product, and Waterpik is a name of a top brand that makes water flossers. The company is so well known that its name and the product itself have become synonymous.

How often should you use a water flosser?

Waterpik on their website claims that you should use a water flosser at least once per day. But if possible, we recommend you use it right after every meal to instantly remove all the food particles from between your teeth. Since this product has no side effects like brushing or mouthwash you can’t water floss too much. Frequent use of a water flosser will improve the health of your gums and also reduce your risk of interproximal caries (tooth decay between your teeth).

Can Waterpik damage your teeth or gums?

No, it cannot. Water flosser does not cause enamel wear, even if used right after a meal, and is considered to be safer for your gums than regular floss. If it’s your first time using a Waterpik just make sure you increase the power gradually use after use so that your gums can get adapted to it.

Can a water flosser remove tartar (or calculus)?
Will a WaterPik remove hard plaque?

Short answer is no, the water flosser can’t remove tartar or calculus, which is a form of hardened plaque if you ask the question this way. But the good news is it can remove plaque from your teeth (all of the plaque dislodged by brushing or flossing, and some of the sticky plaque on your teeth), and doing this reduce your chance for new calculus deposits in the future.

What is the most effective water flosser?

Please check the paragraph on recommended water flossers above.

Do you brush your teeth before or after using a Waterpik? Do you use the Waterpik before or after brushing?

We recommend that you use the Waterpik first, then floss, and finally, brush. If you plan to skip flossing at that time we recommend using the Waterpik first, then brush your teeth. By doing so, the water flosser dislodges food particles and plaque between teeth and below the gumline, which can then be more effectively brushed away. It also makes it easier for the remineralizing agents (fluoride or hydroxyapatite) to reach interproximal areas of your teeth.

What should I look for in a water flosser?

Waterpik is a pretty simple device – it sprays water under high pressure. Most of the water flossers on the market offer similar pressure, so it may be confusing which one you should choose. We recommend simple models manufactured by top brands so that the product is high quality and will be reliable. Also, keep in mind that this device will frequently get dirty so the simpler and cleaner body it has, the better. If you want to compare devices consider factors like water pressure settings, reservoir capacity, size and design, power source, and availability of different tips or attachments for specific dental needs. Also, it is advisable to look for a water flosser that has been awarded the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

Can Waterpik damage crowns?

No, a water flosser should damage crowns or any other types of restoration. If your restoration got damaged when using a Waterpik it means that it was loose already and needed to be replaced anyway. Remember to start with a lower pressure setting initially, and gradually increase if comfortable. Also, avoid aiming the water jet directly at the edge of the crowns, as this might loosen them over time.

Can a family share a water flosser?

Yes, but you need to use separate tips and only use your own tip, sharing a tip is not recommended because you can transfer bacteria between family members. It’s also crucial to store the tips separately and clean them properly after each use to maintain hygiene.

Can you put Listerine in Waterpik? Can I use Listerine in my water flosser? How much mouthwash should I add to my Waterpik?

According to the manufacturer, it is perfectly safe to use standard mouthwash, antiseptic mouthwash, and antimicrobial solution in a water flosser – meaning it will not damage the device. The only forbidden liquids to use are pure essential oils (ie. tea tree oil), iodine, and saline solutions (this only applies to cordless units, it’s okay for countertop units). The recommended maximum ratio in the solution is 50:50 mixed with water (so less than 50%, ideally around 30%). Do not use mouthwash instead of water in the irrigator as it foams and significantly reduces the pressure of the jet – using it mixed with water reduces this problem. Keep in mind that the only mouthwash we recommend at dentalfreak is alkalizing hydroxyapatite mouthwash without antimicrobial agents, and we do not recommend using these with waterpik – just because it’s more effective when it’s in your mouth for an extended period of time (and not diluted). If you decide to use acidic mouthwash in your water flosser you should not brush teeth afterwards, as this may cause enamel erosion!

Does a Waterpik make your teeth whiter? Does Waterpik whiten teeth?

Waterpik actually offers a product called Whitening Water Flosser, and the company claims that it’s clinically proven to remove an additional 25% of teeth stains vs. brushing alone. It’s supplied with 30 Fresh Mint Whitening Tablets which should be added to the water reservoir (starting package should last for 1 month). We are not able to say how effective this product is because we have not tested it. But in terms of regular Waterpik use: it can contribute to the overall cleanliness of your teeth, but it does not have a direct teeth-whitening effect.

Why does my water flosser hurt?

If using water flosser is painful or unpleasant this usually means one of three things – you are either new to the product using too high setting (your gums have not adapted to it yet), you’re using the device incorrectly, or you have some sort of problem with your gums that needs to be checked by a dentist. If this situation persists we recommend visiting your dentist to consult this situation. Using Waterpik should not be a painful experience, even in a high-pressure setting.

How many times a day should you use a Waterpik?
Is it OK to use Waterpik twice a day?

Yes, it’s a great idea to use Waterpik twice a day! However, what we recommend is to use it even more frequently – because it’s perfect for removing food debris after a meal we recommend using it right after each meal. If you are frequently away you may consider a portable cordless Waterpik for your convenience.

Do you use toothpaste with a Waterpik?

No, toothpaste should not be used with a Waterpik. Water flossers are designed to be used with water or a mixture of water and mouthwash. Toothpaste should be used separately when brushing your teeth.

Are water flossers better than string floss?

These 2 hygiene procedures should not be compared, because they serve different purposes, and you should use them both, not one or the other. Waterpik is better at removing food particles from between the teeth, it’s also a better product for gum health. But floss is superior when it comes to removing plaque from between teeth, making it a better product for preventing tooth decay. So which one should you use? The answer is both of them. If you have to go with only one then string floss is better!

How long does a water flosser last?
What is the life expectancy of a Waterpik?

The lifespan of a water flosser depends on the brand, model, and how well it’s maintained. Generally, a good quality water flosser can last several years with proper care. Waterpik models often have a life expectancy of around 3-5 years. To extend the lifespan of your water flosser, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and cleaning, and replace the water flosser’s tips and other replaceable parts as needed. The most important part of water flosser maintenance is the frequent use of an irrigator descaling agent to make the whole system clean and free of any scale deposits. In our area the most recommended product for this task is Redesept, but it may be not available where you live. It’s also a good idea to clean and store your water flosser properly when it’s not in use.

Can WaterPik reverse gum recession?

WaterPik devices are designed to clean the teeth and gums and can help to remove bacteria and debris that can contribute to gum disease, but it cannot reverse gum recession once it has occurred. It’s important to use it as a preventive measure and in conjunction with regular dental check-ups.

How do you use a Waterpik?
How do you use a water flosser without making a mess?

To use a water flosser without making a mess, follow these steps:

  1. Position the water flosser near a sink so that the water from your mouth can flow back into the sink.
  2. Fill the water reservoir with lukewarm water, attach the desired tip, and adjust the pressure setting to the desired level.
  3. Lean over the sink and keep your lips slightly closed around the water flosser tip while using it. Place the nozzle in your mouth and turn on the device.
  4. Direct the stream of water at the spaces between your teeth and along your gum line, using a gentle back-and-forth motion. Gradually increase pressure as needed.
  5. Spit the water out into the sink after each pass, and rinse the nozzle with water between uses.
  6. When finished, turn the device off and expel any remaining water from your mouth into the sink, also empty the water reservoir. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly with water, and allow the device to air dry before storing it.
Can WaterPik damage receding gums?

When used correctly, a Waterpik should not damage receding gums. However, using excessively high-pressure settings or improper technique can irritate sensitive gums. It’s recommended to start with lower pressure and consult a dentist for advice on proper usage.

How do I keep mold out of my WaterPik?

To prevent mold from growing in your WaterPik, it’s important to clean and disinfect the device regularly. Here are a few steps you can follow to keep your WaterPik free of mold:

  • After each use, empty the water reservoir and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
  • Once a week, fill the water reservoir with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Let the solution sit in the reservoir for at least 30 minutes, then rinse the reservoir thoroughly with clean water.
  • After each use and weekly cleaning, remove the tip and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
  • Allow the WaterPik to air dry completely before storing it.
  • Avoid storing your WaterPik in a damp or humid environment, as this can encourage mold growth.
  • If you notice any mold growth, clean and disinfect the device as soon as possible to prevent the mold from spreading.
What is the difference between a water flosser and an oral irrigator?

The terms water flosser, Waterpik and oral irrigator are often used interchangeably. All of them refer to a device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove food particles and plaque between teeth and below the gumline.

How do I clean my tongue with a WaterPik?

To clean your tongue with a WaterPik, follow these steps:

  • Fill the water reservoir with warm water and add a small amount of mouthwash or dental rinse if desired.
  • Attach the special tongue cleaning tip to the device.
  • Place the nozzle in your mouth and turn on the device.
  • Gently press the tip of the nozzle against the surface of your tongue and move it back and forth to loosen and remove bacteria and debris.
  • Spit the water out into the sink after each pass, and rinse the nozzle with water between uses.
  • When you have finished cleaning your tongue, turn off the device and empty the water reservoir. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly with water, and allow the device to air dry before storing it.

It’s important to be gentle and avoid pressing too hard, as this can cause discomfort or damage to your tongue.

How much hydrogen peroxide should I use in my Waterpik?

It’s not recommended to use hydrogen peroxide in your Waterpik. Hydrogen peroxide can be damaging to the tissues in your mouth and can cause irritation and sensitivity. Instead of using hydrogen peroxide, it’s best to use warm water and a small amount of mouthwash or dental rinse to clean your Waterpik. This will help to remove bacteria and debris without causing harm to your mouth. If you really need to use hydroxen peroxide go for a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide.

Can I use salt water in a water flosser?

Yes, you can use salt water in a water flosser. Saltwater can have antimicrobial properties and may soothe irritated gums. To make salt water for use in a water flosser, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Mix the solution well to ensure that the salt is fully dissolved, then pour it into the water reservoir of your water flosser. Use the device as you normally would, directing the stream of salt water at the spaces between your teeth and along your gum line. Spit the water out into the sink after each pass, and rinse the nozzle with water between uses. When you have finished flossing, empty the water reservoir and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Does Waterpik do deep cleaning?

While Waterpik is effective in cleaning between teeth and below the gumline, it does not replace professional deep cleaning done by a dentist. It should be used as part of your daily oral hygiene routine in conjunction with regular dental check-ups and cleanings.

Can a water flosser replace flossing?

A water flosser is an alternative to traditional flossing but doesn’t necessarily replace it. Some individuals may find water flossing more comfortable or effective, especially those with braces or dental restorations. However, using both traditional floss and a water flosser can be the most effective in maintaining oral health. It is important to note that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using traditional floss as part of a daily oral hygiene routine, along with brushing and rinsing with mouthwash. A water flosser can be a useful addition to your oral hygiene routine, but it should not completely replace traditional flossing.

Why do my gums bleed when I water flosser?

There are several reasons why your gums may bleed when you use a water flosser. One common reason is that you may be using the water flosser too aggressively or at too high a pressure setting. This can cause the water jet to damage your gums, leading to bleeding. Another possible reason is that you may have gum disease, such as gingivitis, which can cause your gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. If your gums consistently bleed when you use a water flosser, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Is using a Waterpik messy?

It can be messy if you’re not accustomed to using it. It’s best to lean over the sink, keep your mouth slightly closed around the tip, and use lower pressure settings initially to avoid splashing. Also, be sure to clean up any spills or splashes promptly to keep your bathroom tidy.

Can a Waterpik cause infection?

Theoretically, it is possible, if the device is not used and maintained properly. If the water in the flosser is not changed frequently or if the flosser’s nozzle is not cleaned regularly, bacteria and other germs can grow inside the flosser. If these germs are then introduced into your mouth, they can potentially cause an infection. To reduce the risk of infection, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintaining your Waterpik, and replace the flosser’s water and nozzle as recommended.

Will a Waterpik remove coffee stains?

A Waterpik can help in removing loose surface stains but is not effective in removing set-in stains like those caused by coffee. For such stains, professional dental cleaning and whitening treatments are recommended.

Does a Waterpik help with yellow teeth?

A Waterpik contributes to overall oral hygiene but does not have a direct effect on the color of teeth. Yellowing is often due to stains or enamel thinning, which requires specific whitening treatments.

Should you use a Waterpik in the morning or at night?

You can use a Waterpik at any time that suits your routine. However, using water flosser at night can be beneficial as it ensures that your mouth is clean and free of debris and bacteria before sleep.

Is water flosser a gimmick?

No, water flossers are not a gimmick. They are an effective tool for maintaining oral hygiene, especially for those who find traditional flossing challenging or have braces, dental implants, or other restorations.

Why isn’t my Waterpik flossing?

There could be a few reasons why your Waterpik is not flossing properly. Here are a few things to check:

  • Make sure that the Waterpik’s reservoir is filled with water. The Waterpik uses water to floss, so if it is not filled with water, it will not be able to floss properly.
  • Check the reservoir to make sure it is properly attached to the Waterpik. If the reservoir is not properly attached, the water may not be able to flow through the Waterpik and into the flossing tip.
  • Check the flossing tip to make sure it is not clogged. If the flossing tip is clogged, the water may not be able to flow through it properly, which can affect the flossing performance of the Waterpik.
  • Make sure that the Waterpik is turned on. The Waterpik will not work if it is not turned on.
  • Another problem you may encounter is malfunctioning pulp or device clogged with scale deposits. In this scenrio you need to use descaling agent like Redesept

In case of other problems consult the user manual for troubleshooting tips or write a comment below this article and we will try to assist you!

Can you Waterpik too much?

Using a Waterpik too frequently or with too high pressure can cause gum irritation or sensitivity. It’s generally recommended to use it once or twice daily with moderate pressure, but for those with dental problems using it after every meal should also be OK.

Can a Waterpik cure periodontal disease?

A Waterpik cannot cure periodontal disease but can be an effective tool in managing and preventing the progression of the disease by keeping the gums and teeth clean.

What is the black stuff in my Waterpik?

The black stuff could be mold or mildew, which can develop if the Waterpik is not cleaned regularly or if the reservoir is not allowed to dry properly. If you spot these it means your water flosser requires urgent thorough cleaning.

Can I use baking soda in my Waterpik?

It’s not recommended to use baking soda in a Waterpik as it can clog the device. Stick to water or a mixture of water and alkaline mouthwash for optimal performance.

What are the disadvantages of using a Waterpik?

Some disadvantages include the initial cost, the space it occupies on the countertop, the need for an electrical outlet, and the learning curve for using it without making a mess. Additionally, some people may find the sensation of the water pressure to be uncomfortable or painful, especially if they have sensitive teeth or gums.

How do you clean a Waterpik?

It’s important to clean your Waterpik regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other germs. This will help ensure that your Waterpik remains effective and hygienic for long-term use. Clean the reservoir with warm soapy water or a vinegar solution, and allow it to air dry. Clean the tips with a soft brush and soak them in a vinegar solution for 5-7 minutes once a week to prevent mineral buildup. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the water reservoir from the Waterpik unit and empty any remaining water.
  2. Rinse the water reservoir thoroughly with warm water to remove any debris or buildup.
  3. Fill the water reservoir with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar or use soapy water.
  4. Reattach the water reservoir to the Waterpik unit and run the device for several minutes to flush out the vinegar solution.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 as needed until the Waterpik is clean.
  6. Rinse the water reservoir thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining vinegar.
  7. Dry the water reservoir and the Waterpik unit completely before storing.
Should I use distilled water in my WaterPik?

Distilled water is a type of purified water that has impurities removed through a distillation process. This makes it a good choice for use in a WaterPik because it can help to ensure that the device is free from any mineral build-up or other contaminants that could clog the device or affect its performance. However, please note that this type of water is expensive, and manufacturers of water flossers do not claim that it is necessary or recommended to use this kind of water. We believe it is far more reasonable to use regular tap water and clean Waterpik using chemical compounds that remove mineral build-up instead of using more expensive distilled water.

Is it worth buying a Waterpik?

Yes, we recommend that you buy and frequently use a Waterpik! For many individuals, especially those with braces, dental implants, or difficulty using traditional floss, investing in a Waterpik can be a gamechanger in their oral hygiene routine.

What can you put in a Waterpik besides water?

It is advisable to consult the user manual or your dentist before using any other additives. We recommend using these devices only with lukewarm water but since you have asked here are some ideas:

  • Mouthwash: for added freshness and antimicrobial benefits. Be sure to dilute the mouthwash with water in at least 50:50 ratio.
  • Saltwater: mixing a saline solution by dissolving a small amount of salt in warm water can help alleviate gum inflammation and promote healing.
  • Essential oils: adding not more than a few drops of essential oils like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, or clove oil to the water in your Waterpik can provide antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Be cautious with the quantity, as using too much can cause irritation or damage to the device!
  • Antimicrobial or prescription rinses: if your dentist recommends a specific rinse for your oral health, you may be able to use it in your Waterpik. Always follow your dentist’s advice and the product’s instructions for use.
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This article is complete and was published on August 15, 2022, and last updated on June 13, 2023.

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