Waterpik vs. Flossing: Pros and Cons

waterpik vs flossing - ThoroughDent Smiles

Not everyone is a fan of flossing. Some people floss too hard, jamming the floss into their gums causing them to bleed. Thankfully, you can use a Waterpik. They’re easy to use and don’t cause your gums to bleed. But which of the two is better? In this article, Dr. Kristina Neda and Dr. Jordan Smith from ThoroughDent Smiles explores Waterpik vs. flossing. 


Did you know that brushing only gets about 60% of your mouth clean? That means 40% of your mouth still needs to be cleaned. If the leftover food particles and bacteria are not cleaned it leads to plaque, a sticky substance around the teeth. Plaque can be cleared by dentists but if plaque continues to build up then you’re likely to develop gingivitis or more serious issues like tooth loss. 

Luckily, you can prevent plaque buildup. You can clean out the remaining 40% of food particles and bacteria that are leftover between the teeth and the outer layer of the gums by flossing. Flossing requires the use of a thin string that can easily slide in between teeth and take out any remaining particles from it. It can even go into the gum line to ensure any lodged particle in the gum is also cleaned out. 

You find there are different types of floss available with the most common being made out of a thin nylon thread. There are also interdental brushes, which work like floss that are thin brush that fit between teeth. But interdental brushers aren’t as effective as they are unable to go into the gum line. 

Pros and cons of flossing

If you look online, you will find a lot of argument that support and are against flossing. But rather than relying on them, we asked the experts at ThoroughDent Smiles, Dr. Kristina Neda and Dr. Jordan Smith for their input on flossing. The gave the following insights about the pros and cons of flossing.

Pros of flossing

  • Readily available – Floss is easy to find, you can find it at any general store or pharmacy near you. Access to it is a lot easier which makes using it easier also.
  • Can use anywhere – You can floss anywhere at any time you like. A small box of floss can easily be carried around in your pocket to restaurants or anywhere. You can use them after every meal if you please.
  • Requires physical contact – While using the floss, the string actually makes contact with the teeth and gum, dislodging and particle or small build-up. This is considered to be slightly more effective at cleaning the area.
  • Inexpensive – The cost of floss is relatively cheaper than Waterpik.

Cons of flossing

  • Can be difficult – Flossing requires the maneuvering of your hands. It can be difficult for people with big or shaky hands or even to reach some places between the teeth due to the awkward position your hands need to be in.
  • Takes time – Flossing takes time because you need to go in between each and every tooth and its gum line. 
  • Can cause gums to bleed – Floss can cut the gum tissue with results in bleeding. It can even hurt when too much force is applied while flossing.
  • Learning curve – There is a technique to flossing that users have to learn. It is much more than just squeezing the floss between your teeth. You need to move it around properly to ensure you get particles that remain. 


Waterpik is actually the name of the brand that makes one of the most popular water flossers. As it leads the market in water flossers, the brand’s name has become synonymous with the product. 

Water flossers are an alternative to your regular floss. But instead of a string, a pressurized water stream is used to clean in between teeth and under the gum line. The product provides enough pressure to dislodge particles and move newly-formed plaque. 

The pressure in water flosser is applied through a pump that pulls the water from a water tank and into the nozzle. You have the option to choose between two types of water flossers, cordless and countertop. Cordless flossers give users more convince while countertop offers slightly more benefit. 

Pros and cons of water flossing

Similar to regular floss, you find numerous pros and cons to water flossing. The expert dentist in Georgetown, KY breakdown both for us.

Pros of water flossing

  • More control – The Waterpik comes with a handle which provides users with greater control over where to direct the flosser.
  • Easier to use – There is no need to maneuver your hands while using a water flosser, it has a long nozzle which reaches into the mouth.
  • Pressure settings – Users can vary the pressure with the help of pressure settings on the Waterpik. 
  • Reach – Water penetrates into the gum line and may even reach places that a regular floss may not. 
  • Nozzles and tips – You can get different types of nozzles and tips for the Waterpik which changes how it cleans and gives you different experiences, something floss can’t really do.

Cons of water flossing

  • Cost – You will need to spend a lot more than you would on regular floss to purchase and maintain.
  • Availability – They aren’t as commonly available as regular floss.
  • Power – They may require a source of power to function. They also aren’t as portable as regular floss making it hard to carry around with you everywhere.
  • Plaque removal – When it comes to plaque, the pressure applied by the Waterpik may not be enough to dislodge plaque. With regular floss, users can apply more pressure which can be more effective with plaque removal. 

Picking between the two

We asked our friend, Dr. Chris Green, a dentist in Parker, Colorado, about Waterpik vs. Flossing. Dr. Green says that there is no one right choice it all depends on the user’s preference. Both are effective in terms of cleaning in between the teeth and gum line with regular floss edging out only because users can apply as much pressure as they want. However, users need to see which of the two they feel more comfortable with and decide which of the two suits them better.