5 Water Flosser Tips

By: Sara Elliott

There are plenty of choices when it comes to water flosser tips.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to water flosser tips.
©iStockphoto.com/Amorphis

Good daily dental care can give you a whiter smile and keep you healthier, too. Your mouth may be the doorway to bacterial infections that can cause any number of problems ranging from gum disease to heart disease, and although the link between dental care and whole body health is ongoing, there are a few things that are a sure bet. Flossing helps keep plaque growth, gum disease and tooth decay under better control, and using a water flosser is an effective option. Although flossing with water may not be as effective as traditional string flossing in all circumstances, a study conducted by the University of Nebraska in 2005 concluded that it was as effective as brushing in combination with string flossing for the reduction of plaque, gingivitis and bleeding. Because water flossers are easy and fun to use, kids and adults may be more likely to use them regularly, too, which offers a huge potential benefit over not flossing at all or only flossing occasionally [source: Barnes].

Let's take a look at five popular water flosser tips that with a focused, pulsating water spray, help blast bacteria and banish plaque.

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5: Pocket Tip

Periodontal pockets are areas where plaque buildup has irritated the surrounding gums enough to make them pull away from the teeth, leaving gaps that can be ground zero for bacterial growth, additional plaque development, infections and bone loss. Even if you've been treated for gum disease, pockets can still persist, making it harder to keep gum problems under control. Water flossers are effective at getting pulsing water jets down deep into periodontal pockets to remove bacteria and developing plaque where a toothbrush and even a string flosser can't reach. Pocket cleaning tips are designed to irrigate up to 90 percent of even deep periodontal pockets. This specialty tip is designed to clean only periodontal pockets on the lowest power setting. It's not considered a general cleaning tool.

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4: Tongue Cleaning Tip

That furry buildup on your tongue harbors bacteria that can migrate to your teeth and gums, reducing the effectiveness of your morning brushing routine. It can also contain smelly sulfur compounds that cause persistent bad breath. One nifty tool in the fight against halitosis and tooth decay is the handy tongue cleaner available with some water flossers. It's actually a gentle scraper that removes tongue film and gently washes it away in one easy step. Used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing, the occasional tongue cleaning can help protect your teeth, gums and breath by giving tongue-dwelling bacteria the boot.

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3: Plaque Seeking Tip

Plaque is a bacterial film that forms on teeth between brushings. It produces an acid that gradually destroys tooth enamel. You may recognize it as a white goo or furry coating you can feel on your teeth after a meal or eating a candy bar. Left untreated, plaque hardens into tartar, a crunchy mortar that damages teeth and gums. Regular brushing helps control plaque growth, but a little neglect can result in a biofilm coating of plaque that's resistant to brushing. Flossers have plaque-busting tips with soft bristles to get into hard-to-reach spots between teeth and scrub away plaque without damaging the surrounding gums. They also use water pressure to break up biofilm and plaque buildup. Plaque seeking tips are particularly effective at removing build up around dental restorations like bridges, crowns and implants.

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2: Toothbrush Tip

Water flossers add another level of clean to the routine of twice daily brushing by bringing high-powered water pulsation to the task of removing food particles and bacteria from teeth. A water flosser toothbrush tip looks similar to a standard electric toothbrush tip but adds pulsating water action to loosen stubborn food particles trapped between teeth and wash them away. It can be used for daily brushing, too. A water flosser's toothbrush tip doesn't even need toothpaste to do the job. When used in conjunction with a plaque tip and tongue cleaner, it makes a water flosser one stop cleaning for your teeth and gums.

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1: Orthodontic Tip

A favorite of metal mouths.
A favorite of metal mouths.
©iStockphoto.com/Amorphis

With some time and a little discomfort, wearing a fixed orthodontic device can help create a beautiful smile, but getting there usually means months of frustration trying to brush around brackets and wires. Dental plaque and bacteria can flourish in, around and behind braces, and not getting into all the nooks and crannies regularly can result in tooth decay, white spots (decalcification) and gum disease long before you're ready for your close up. Even spongy manual flossers have limited effectiveness when dealing with the complexities of orthodontic devices, unlike liquid flossers that use water to flush bacteria and food particles from hiding. An orthodontic tip uses dual action to brush and rinse braces simultaneously, keeping your mouth cleaner and your teeth and gums safer [source: Smart Health].

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Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Academy of Periodontology. "Floss Your Teeth—On the Double!" 8/5/08. 8/23/11. http://www.perio.org/consumer/flossing08.htm
  • American Dental Association. "Dental Care Products." 2002. 8/23/11. http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_20.pdf
  • American Profile. "Levi Spear Parmly - the Father of Dental Floss." 7/26/03. 8/23/11. http://www.americanprofile.com/articles/levi-spear-parmly--the-father-of-dental-floss/
  • Barnes CM, Russell CM, Reinhardt RA, Payne JB, Lyle DM. "Comparison of Irrigation to Floss as an Adjunct to Toothbrushing: Effect on Bleeding, Gingivitis, and Supragingival Plaque." 2005. 8/23/11. http://www.dewittetandenwinkel.nl/docs/research/jocd/jocd_wp.pdf
  • Barnes
  • Dental Picture Show. "Dental flossing problems: Shredded or stuck floss, bleeding gums, rough edges on dental fillings and crowns." 8/23/11. http://www.dental-picture-show.com/tooth-flossing/a4-floss-stuck-shreds.html
  • Dental Picture Show. "Using dental floss: Flossing technique tips, pointers, and explanations." 8/23/11. http://www.dental-picture-show.com/tooth-flossing/a3-dental-floss-flossers.html
  • Finley,Marcus. "Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser Review – A Fantastic Alternative to Flossing!" Electric Toothbrush Reviews. 8/23/11. http://electrictoothbrushreviews.org/waterpik-ultra-water-flosser-review/
  • Infinitec.org. "Dental Hygiene." 8/23/11. http://www.infinitec.org/live/health/dental.htm
  • Oral-B. "Choosing The Best Dental Floss For You." 8/23/11. http://www.oralb.com/topics/choosing-the-best-dental-floss-for-you.aspx
  • Shibly, Othman, DDS, MS, Sebastian Ciancio, DDS, Sandra Shostad, DDS, MS & Maryann Mather, BS. "Clinical Evaluation of an Automatic Flossing Device vs. Manual Flossing." School of Dental Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo. 2001. 8/23/11. http://worldbrands.eu/pdf/Flosser_Clinical_Study.pdf
  • Smart Health. "Why Do I get White Spots on My Teeth. It is de-Calcification?" 8/23/11. http://www.smartahealth.com/white_spots_on_tooth_decalcification.html
  • USC Health Now. "Do dental water jets, like the Waterpik, really work?" University of Southern California. " 8/22/11. http://healthnow.usc.edu/2009/03/dentalwaterjets.html
  • Water Pik, Inc. "How to Use a Water Pik Water Flosser Video." 9/7/10. 8/23/11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-sErOkFFgg&feature=related
  • Waterpik, Inc. "Waterpik Water Flosser Model WP-100 Operating Manual." 2009.
  • Water Pik, Inc. "Introducing the Waterpik Water Flosser (Dental Professionals)." 8/26/10. 8/23/11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By4ZnRhyj8k&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_517317
  • Water Pik, Inc. "Specific Dental Needs." 8/23/11. http://www.waterpik.com/oral-health/dental-needs.html
  • YouTube. "Water Pik Water Flosser Review and Instructions." 5/7/10. 8/23/11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nre_nruDcog

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