Should You Get a Water Flosser?

The most effective product in the world is rendered useless if it never makes it out of the box. Juicers, exercise machines, even the latest low-calorie snack you purchased can help us acquire the healthy body we desire. Yet, unless we actually prepare the fruits and veggies, take the laundry off the treadmill, and eat healthy, we’ll see none of the benefits these products can deliver. The same is true with flossing. It works. But only 2-15% of the population flosses regularly. Perhaps considering a product you’d actually use might do the trick? Have you thought about an oral irrigator?

In 1962, a Colorado dentist Geald Moyer developed a concept that would help his elderly patients increase the effectiveness of their dental hygiene. Idea in hand, he teamed up with a hydraulic engineer by the name of John Mattingly, and together, they developed the world’s first oral irrigator. It later became known as WaterPik.

Today, there are oral irrigators of all shapes, sizes, and brands on the market. Each designed with an eye toward helping you keep your mouth as healthy as it can be. But how can you be sure you really need one?

Here’s a quick quiz. If you answer yes to each of the questions below, you might benefit from an oral irrigator:

  1. Is your floss getting dusty? We all know you intend to do well. After all, you do (at least!) own a package of dental floss … (You do, right?!) And, you buy the floss that tastes best to you, glidesmost effectively, and doesn’t hurt your gums or fingers when you use it. But if you haven’t used it since the few days after your last hygiene appointment, you’re really not helping yourself very much.
  2. Do you have a lot of space between your teeth? Food, bacteria and plaque all love a great place to hide, and the spaces between your teeth provide plenty of comfort. If your dentist ever recommended you use an interproximal brush to get between your teeth, and you answered yes to question number one, please advance to question number three. You’re getting closer to the prize!
  3. Is your mouth occupied by dental prosthetics? Bridges, braces, partials … if your mouth is home to one or more of these dental devices, you can benefit from an oral irrigator.
  4. Will you use it? This, of course, is the million-dollar question. Believe it or not, adoption rates for oral irrigators are pretty high. They tend not to sit on the countertop and collect dust. Anecdotally, using these devices seems to be less cumbersome for most people than flossing – it’s somewhat … fun.  So, if you like the idea of massaging your gums each night before bed, don’t like flossing lectures, and have a true desire to avoid dentures, implants and gum disease later in life, you’ll probably find an oral irrigator to be quite useful.

So how did you do? Did you answer yes to each question? Also, be sure to ask your dentist for their recommendation for the irrigator that’s best for your specific needs. Believe it or not, not everyone should purchase the same type!

Lastly, keep in mind there is no dismissing the power of regular brushing and flossing. We’re not recommending you give up flossing in favor of an irrigator. In fact, if you were to brush, floss AND irrigate, your efforts at maintaining an inflammation-free zone in your mouth would be medal-worthy. But if you’re not inclined to floss, you might wish to consider an oral irrigator. Like flossing and brushing, they have been proven to help reduce the harmful effects of plaque on teeth and gums. So, the next time you’re in for a cleaning, ask your dentist for their recommendation. They might just have one on offer for you as well!

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