Pros & Cons: Floss
Dental floss is an inexpensive way to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. MayoClinic.com indicates that floss is effective for cleaning tight spaces between teeth and will also scrape up and down the sides of each tooth. This is important because if plaque is not removed it can become tarter, a risk factor for the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis, according to the ADA.
On the other hand, the mechanical nature of floss can be abrasive. “Flossing can be irritating for people who have sensitive gums and may actually cause bleeding in some people,” Hayes notes. Also floss can’t be used by people who wear braces because it won’t penetrate the wires in order to reach the gums, Hayes adds.
Pros And Cons: Waterpik
One benefit of a Waterpik is that it’s gentle on the gums and is less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums, according to Hayes. A Waterpic is also ideal for people who wear braces — water will get behind the metal wires and flush out food particles. A Waterpik is sometimes recommended for people who have active gum disease because it flushes out bacteria from deep pockets that form when gums pull away from the teeth. “Floss can’t reach these pockets,” Hayes says. The downside: A Waterpik doesn’t remove plaque from teeth as well as floss. “Flossing scrapes off the sticky film of bacteria, while a Waterpic just rinses it,” Hayes explains. MayoClinic.com says using a Waterpik isn’t a substitute for flossing.