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Periodontics & Implantology Blog

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Flossing vs. Water Flossing

Flossing vs. Water Flossing

Flossing: the bane of human existence. We’ve all been there (aside from a few outliers who actually have their lives together), laid back in a dental chair, bright light shining in your face. Maybe you’re wearing awkward sunglasses, maybe you’re not, but you feel that stinging in your gums as your dentist pokes you with a metal tool. Then they’re looking down at you with that face, telling you that your gums wouldn’t be bleeding if you would just floss more! Maybe you floss every once in a while, maybe you do it every single day or maybe you don’t do it at all.  

Either way, one fact remains: just brushing your teeth is not enough to keep your oral health at its very best. Neglecting your flossing needs can result in a variety of problems, such as tooth decay and gingivitis. But, flossing is not the only tool you can use to enhance your oral health! Here at San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, we treat patients struggling with periodontal disease, a severe form of gingivitis. We want to help prevent you from having to go through an expensive and uncomfortable dental treatment because of bad oral health, so here is some information on how best to keep your gums healthy. 


Flossing is highly recommended by virtually all dental professionals, including the American Dental Association (ADA). Dental floss is a thin cord that is used between the teeth to help get rid of plaque and food build up, helping to prevent the production of tartar. The combination of tooth brushing and flossing curbs the production of bacteria in your mouth, reducing tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing has plenty of benefits, but it also has some downsides. Let us walk you through them!

The Up Side:

• Flossing does its job – It removes the extra build up of plaque from your tooth. Because of how easily you can control it, floss can clean each tooth in full, if used correctly. 

• Low cost – Dental floss doesn’t cost a lot, and it is easy to access from any pharmacy or grocery store. You don’t need to go out of your way or save up to get dental floss, just stop by the dental section of your local grocery store. 

• Quick and easy – Flossing can be done practically anywhere and is portable, easily fitting in your purse or pocket. Stuck at a party with food stuck between your teeth? Fear not! Just whip out that dental floss in your pocket, remove that food build up and get back to socializing. 

The Down Side:

• Difficulty reaching – Even the most experienced flosser will miss some parts of the mouth. Sadly, while effective in scraping off plaque build-up, floss can be difficult to maneuver to all areas of the mouth. This means it can be hard to get the most out of your flossing experience.

• Vigorous flossing – If you don’t floss often, have sensitive gums, or floss a little too enthusiastically, your gums might bleed. This can worsen or cause sensitivity in your gums, weakening your teeth. Be sure to floss with care. 

• Difficult for some – For people with arthritis, for instance, it can be very difficult to use floss. There are also plenty of people who simply have a hard time learning how to use floss and can’t be bothered to try. 

• Braces – Flossing with braces can be very difficult. A special tool is required to weave in and out of the wires and brackets, and sadly, some decide the effort is just not worth it. It is also very difficult to maximize the effectiveness of floss when wearing braces. This is because it becomes even harder to manipulate the floss and reach all of your problem areas when you have all those brackets and wires in the way. And, not to mention, food and plaque starts to fill up around the braces themselves!

For tips on how to get the most out of your floss, contact the outstanding staff at San Antonio Periodontics and Implants with any of your questions.

Water Flossing

Remember when we mentioned that other tool that can help you to further enhance your oral health? Well, this is it! But, what even is water flossing? 

A water flosser is a dental cleaning device that uses a thin stream of water to remove food particles and bacteria. To use a water flosser, you only need to direct the jet of water in between your teeth and along your gum line, and the flosser will do the rest. There is quite the debate on the effectiveness of floss when compared with water flossing, so let us walk you through the ups and downs to water flossing so you can make an informed decision. 

The Up Side:

• Use with ease – Water flossing devices are very easy to maneuver around the mouth, though it can get a bit messy! Though it does take a bit of time to learn to manipulate water flossers, once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to reach places in the mouth that your toothbrush and floss can’t reach! It is especially easy to use for people with braces and other dental work. It’s even easy to use for people struggling with arthritis or other health problems that make it hard to use your hands. 

• Gum health – Water flossing has been found to be highly effective in reducing gingivitis, gingival bleeding and plaque. Even just water flossing for one minute a day can give you healthier gums. Plus, since water flossing’s stream of water massages the gums instead of scraping them like dental floss, you don’t have to worry about bleeding or irritated gums like you do with dental floss. 

• Fresh breath – Because water flossing can reach into those problem areas in your mouth that your floss and toothbrush have a hard time getting to, your breath stays fresher longer.  

The Down Side:

• Inconvenient – Like we mentioned in the flossing section, it’s pretty easy to slip a pack of dental floss into your wash bag, purse, pocket, etc. Water flossing, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. Because it uses water and electricity, most devices include large tanks of water and need to be plugged into a power source. That makes it hard to water floss on the go, or even to pack it up for a vacation. And if you’re already running out of space on your bathroom counter, good luck trying to fit the water flossing device. 

• Cost – While dental floss is relatively inexpensive and can be found conveniently in most stores, the water flossing devices are a bit more complicated. Most devices range from about $20-$85, which is way more than you’d be paying for some dental floss. 

• Messy – While it is easy to manipulate once you get the hang of it, water flossing can still be a bit messy, especially when you’re still getting used to it. Word to the wise, make sure the tip of the device is already in your mouth and you’re leaned over the sink before you turn it on. 

• Difficulty removing all plaque – While water flossing is great for getting into those hard-to-reach places in your mouth, when used by itself, water flossing has a hard time removing all of the plaque that builds up on your teeth. This is because water flossing merely rinses your teeth of food particles, while floss actually scrapes and loosens plaque from your teeth more forcefully. 

For any questions about how to use your water flossing device and get the most out of your dental tools, contact the staff at San Antonio Periodontics and Implants today!

Which is the Best?

It’s all come down to this. Which one, dental floss or water flossing, is the superior dental tool? Well, according to most experts, the answer is both. We know, what a shocker. While water flossing definitely has some benefits that dental floss does not, and vice versa, most dentists agree that water flossing should not be used to replace dental floss. Instead, dental floss and water flossing can be used to compliment each other for optimal dental health, with floss scraping and cleaning the tooth while water flossing cleans out the excess debris that the floss missed. 

Dental floss is still the most highly recommended by doctors, while water flossing is a great compliment or alternative for people who have sensitive gums, braces, or dexterity problems. While we recommend you use dental floss no matter what, if you’re really not willing to, using just water flossing is better than nothing. 

If you need more tips to get into the world of flossing, have questions about how to use a water flossing/floss or need treatment for any periodontal issues, feel free to contact San Antonio Periodontics and Implants online, or call us at 210.824.0111.

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