Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
Cleaning between your teeth may not be an easy task, but dentists recommend flossing as part of their patient’s daily dental/hygiene routine for good reason. Your dentist can tell if you have been neglecting your daily flossing as soon as he or she begins your dental exam. Flossing has been used by patients for hundreds of years and according to many sources, the invention of floss can be attributed to a dentist from New Orleans who began asking his patients to use a thin silken thread to clean the areas between their teeth as early as 1815!
One of the many benefits of flossing is its ability to remove food particles and plaque build-up between teeth and below gum lines. The process works by rubbing the floss up and down at an angle along the sides of teeth to remove the film that is responsible for forming tartar. Tartar build up can lead to gum disease (periodontitis) if it is not removed on a daily basis.
One of the pitfalls of flossing is that it can be particularly difficult to maneuver floss around braces and dental restorations. Getting access under bridgework or wire from orthodontics often requires extra special care, not to mention specialized tools. It is easy to neglect areas of teeth and gums when using floss to clean around and between crowns and other restorations.
Using a Waterpik is quick and fairly easy with a little practice. It works by using jets of water to essentially blast away food particles and tartar from between teeth. A Waterpik can be purchased with different tips that are designed for specific purposes for example for use by patients with existing periodontal disease. The tips combined with the high pressure of the water can clean any debris from under the gumline that may not be reached by traditional methods of flossing. The Waterpik also works especially well for cleaning areas around teeth that have been restored including crowns, implants and bridge work because it is designed to penetrate areas that flossing is unable to reach. A Waterpik works especially well for patients who currently have braces or patients preparing for braces.
The biggest pitfall to using a Waterpik is the learning curve. A Waterpik can be messy to use and you may end up spraying water everywhere except where it needs to go. Another consideration is cost; replacement heads cost more than a couple of packs of dental floss and most manufacturers recommend replacing your Waterpik tips at least every 3 months.
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