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Why Flossing Your Teeth Isn’t Working & What To Do Instead

You hold yourself in high regard when it comes to your oral care. You visit the dentist every six months, you brush twice per day, you use our kits and strips to maintain your Pearly White smile, and you even floss after every meal. But at the end of the day, you still have problems. Your teeth are sensitive. Your gums are raw and wounded. So what gives?

Well, there’s new news that old dental floss may be on its way out the door. In an article released by PR Newswire, it appears that “water flossing” may be more beneficial than traditional string flossing. Here’s the scoop:

The title of the article at hand reads “Waterpik® Agrees With AP Report That There Is Little Proof That String Flossing Is Effective”. Now, it’s likely a shameless plug for Waterpik and their water flossing equipment, but the facts do appear to be in their favour. But first things first, what is water flossing?

Water Flossing

Water flossing is a flossing technique that utilises pressurised water to spray in between teeth as well as the surface of your gums. Like traditional flossing, water flossing removes food debris, and it mitigates the growth of bacteria in the mouth. So what’s the difference between traditional floss and water flossing?

The Shortcomings of Traditional Flossing

Unlike traditional flossing, water flossing can clean the gap between your teeth above and below the gumline. It is here that traditional floss falls short. This tiny gap is home to all sorts of microscopic food debris that’s a breeding ground for bacteria. And bacteria (as we’ve mentioned time and time again) produces acid that eats away at tooth enamel, a tooth’s protective surfaces. String floss just can’t make its way into this gap. Water flossing can.

What Are the Findings?

Here’s the data as presented by Deborah M. Lyle RDH, BS, MS (a representative of Waterpik): "Unlike string floss, the Waterpik® Water Flosser has been clinically shown to remove plaque and reduce bleeding gums. The first study was conducted at the University of Nebraska in 2004 and showed up to 52% better improvement in gum health. To date there are a total of five clinical studies that compare the water flosser to string floss, consistently demonstrating that water flossing is more effective than string flossing for better oral health." Simply put, water flossing is more effective than string flossing. While string flossing can aid in partially removing debris, water flossing removes more debris and it removes debris in the dreaded trough between our gums and our teeth.

What’s the Conclusion?

Again, Lyle enlightens us on “proper” cleaning techniques: "The important thing that people have to realise is that cleaning between your teeth and below the gumline is critical. That is where bacteria can hide undisturbed, continue to grow and cause gum disease. The good news is that if you dislike using string floss, you have other alternatives that work."

Carol A Jahn, RDH, MS provides reprieve to those of us who are pained at hearing that string flossing isn’t cutting it. Jahn notes, “What's really important is that people shouldn't feel guilty about not using string floss. As a dental hygienist, I have seen first-hand that most people struggle to use string floss correctly. When you are not able to master the technique, you are not going to get results. What I would like people to know is that you still need to clean between your teeth and there is a better way. Water flossing is easy to do, only takes a minute a day, and in clinical studies has consistently been shown to provide significantly better improvements in gum health over string floss."

In short, flossing your teeth doesn’t hurt, regardless of whether you opt for string floss or a water flosser. Both techniques remove debris and may reduce plaque. However, string floss can’t reach every nook and cranny in your mouth, while a water flosser can. Water flossing appears to be a more thorough option, and that can lead to better oral hygiene and oral health. Now, if you want a Pearly White smile, flossing won’t do much to whiten your teeth. Fortunately, you can pair your water flosser with our professional, at-home teeth whitening kit to give your teeth the royal treatment.

dental health oral hygiene

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