Most online sources will tell you: “Yes, water flossers are more efficient than string floss”.
The problem is that they base their answer on scientific studies that have been funded by water flosser producers (most commonly Waterpik), so to a sceptic there’s no guarantee those studies aren’t biased.
So, let’s assume that the water flosser and the string floss give the same (or at least comparable) results if used regularly. With that in mind, are water flossers worth it? I managed to survive this far without one, why do I need to spend the money?
It mostly depends on you, and being honest with yourself.
The honest answer is that you could probably do fine without one. String floss does a very similar job and it is cheaper. The key here, however, is to be honest with yourself. Do you have the discipline to use string floss diligently every single day?
If you are this disciplined and it doesn’t bother you, then you are probably fine sticking to string floss. Most people, however, are not as diligent. Flossing sucks – it takes a lot of time and it hurts your fingers.
Lying to yourself that you are flossing regularly while not actually doing it will hurt your oral health in the long run.
A water flosser can solve this problem – it is much, much easier and pleasant to use. Moreover, having a cool gadget that you like might give you the additional motivation needed to use it daily.
Many dentists think that even though a regular brush could in theory work as good as an electric toothbrush, in practice people tend to use electric brushes more frequently and for longer, which gives better results in the long run. The situation is similar with water flossers vs string floss.
In other words, the reason a water flosser might be better for you than a string is similar to the reason why an electric toothbrush is better than a manual one.
Diligence aside, are there actual oral health differences of using a water flosser vs string floss?
You can often read about studies (usually about Waterpik water flossers) claiming that water flossers give better results. It is important to mention, however, that these studies don’t compare directly the effectiveness of Waterpik vs string floss in reducing the likelihood of cavities. The studies show that water flossers are more efficient specifically at removing plaque than string floss and that water flossers are better at reducing the risk for gingivitis.
Talking from experience, it is Anna’s opinion that water flossers are better at cleaning the gum line (where your teeth meet your gums). This, combined with massaging the gums, is why they are better at preventing gingivitis. String simply doesn’t do that job.
On the other hand, string floss could be better for cleaning between your teeth especially if the space between them is very narrow (the water jet might not be powerful enough to get all the way in).
Water Flosser Pros:
- Easier and more pleasant to use, which might result in more frequent/diligent flossing and overall better long-term health effects
- Massages gums and removes plaque better, which is beneficial against gingivitis
Water Flosser Cons:
- More expensive, require some maintenance, and take up more space
- Might be worse than string for cleaning between teeth which are tightly pressed together, which might result in cavities in those particular spots