Water Flosser vs. String Floss

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
October 22, 2018

An older woman flossing her teeth looking in the mirror

To use a water flosser or string floss: that is the question. And it’s an important question because you want to take the right steps daily to keep as much plaque off of your teeth as possible.

The right flossing technique can help keep tooth and gum problems at bay, but there are pros and cons associated with using a water flosser vs. string floss. That’s why we’ve broken it all down for you below.

String Floss: The Pros

  • As the name implies, string flossing involves the use of a thin string that you gently pass in between all of your teeth. Using a semi-circular motion helps you target the sides of each tooth, as well as the gums, so that you can effectively scrape away damaging plaque, as well as remove small particles of food that you might’ve missed while brushing. Simple enough, right?
  • Another reason why string floss is so popular is because it’s inexpensive. Simply purchase some string floss while you’re grocery shopping! A single package could last quite a while, too, which is definitely a plus.
  • You could purchase floss picks, so you don’t have to worry about cutting enough string and wrapping it around your fingers as you make your way throughout your mouth. Plus, with a floss pick, which consists of a small amount of string on a plastic handle, you might even find it easier to reach your back teeth.
  • There are different types of string floss that you can choose from. For example, waxed floss might be easier to use if regular floss tends to get stuck in between your teeth. Or, you could look for floss that’s specially designed for those with tight teeth. Now, that’s a relief!
  • With some string floss handy, you can floss anytime and anywhere!

String Floss: The Cons

  • Flossing with a string might cause bleeding, especially if you’re too aggressive or fast. The more you floss, though, and the gentler that you are, the less likely it might be that your gums bleed. In the event that your gums continue to bleed, or you experience gum sensitivity, despite a consistent brushing and flossing routine, it’s best to consult with your dentist to rule out conditions like gingivitis.
  • Some people find it really difficult to floss in between their back teeth, whether they use regular string floss or a floss pick. That’s a problem!
  • Using the same string between multiple sets of teeth (as would be the case when using a floss pick) might actually lead to the distribution of bacteria or food particles. You definitely don’t want that.
  • It could be difficult to figure out how to hold string floss properly, and that can make flossing more time-consuming or frustrating than it needs to be. Some people never really get the hang of it, and that might even discourage them from flossing at all. Not good!

Water Flosser Pros

  • When most people think of flossing, they think of string floss, but there is another option to get the same job done. Also referred to as water picking, water flossing uses an electronic, handheld device that shoots a stream of water with the right amount of pressure. Directing this stream into the areas between your teeth can help remove plaque and food particles just like string floss would.
  • The massaging action of a water flosser might help boost the health of your gums, provided that you use the product correctly and avoid causing irritation.
  • You might find it easier to reach every area of your mouth when you use a water flosser. It may even be a better choice for those have braces, as well as those who have bridgework.  
  • You might discover that you’re able to spend less time water flossing than string flossing. There’s no need to fumble with wrapping string around your fingers while ensuring that you use the right motions to scrape the surfaces of the teeth and gums. Plus, water flossers could be a better choice if you have arthritis.
  • Here’s a big one: when researchers compared water flossing to string flossing, they found that water flossing was more effective at reducing plaque. Experts also determined that water flossing could be more effective at reducing gum bleeding and gingivitis. Wow!

Water Flosser Cons

  • Unlike string floss, which is easy to find and inexpensive, water flossers can be pricey. Plus, because there are so many different types of water flossers to choose from, the buying process could become daunting or confusing.   
  • Water flossers come in a range of models, some of which are larger than others and require more storage space in your bathroom. Also, water flossers need to be plugged in or charged up for use. If your flosser uses a rechargeable battery and you forget to charge it, you won’t be able to floss. Yikes! And packing your water flosser when you have to travel might be a hassle as well.
  • You may feel as though you don’t have as much control when using a water flosser, as opposed to string floss, particularly if you’re trying to target a specific area.
  • When using a water flosser, you’ll need to lean over the sink and move the flosser along your teeth, ensuring the stream gets in between them, while allowing the water to flow out of your mouth. It might take a bit of time for you to get used to how the pressure feels, and it might get messy as you learn how to avoid splashing water everywhere.

Daily Flossing: You Have Options!

Brushing your teeth twice a day is a good start when it comes to removing plaque, but your brush will really only work on the surfaces of your chompers. To get to the areas in between your pearly whites, flossing is a must. Your dentist or dental hygienist can teach you how to do it right. And the best part is that it only takes a couple of minutes to floss your whole mouth, so you can easily do it once or twice a day as part of your oral hygiene routine.

Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of the types of flossing tools available. You might decide to try string flossing before purchasing a more expensive water flosser to see if you like it better. Ultimately, though, your dentist will be able to tell you whether or not your flossing is on point, and he or she can also help you choose the right tool for your particular oral health needs. So don’t forget to schedule those dental checkups!


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