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Dental floss vs. water flosser: Which is better?

Is it more effective to floss teeth with a water flosser or with standard dental floss?

Updated: 2022-12-06

Answer Section

Cleaning between your teeth every day is an important part of good oral health. Talk to your dentist to help you decide which tool is best for your needs.

Standard dental floss is an effective tool for cleaning the tight spaces between teeth and removing the sticky material, called plaque, that can build up in places a toothbrush can't reach. This may help reduce bleeding and gum disease.

A water flosser is a device that aims a stream of water at the teeth. It's also called an oral irrigator or a dental water jet. A water flosser can help remove food particles between teeth. It also can remove plaque from teeth.

If you use standard dental floss, and you don't have bleeding or other problems, there's no need to change. Using a water flosser can be helpful for people who have braces, other orthodontics or dental work that makes it hard to use standard dental floss. A water flosser also may be useful for people who have trouble flossing by hand. To lower the risk of contamination with bacteria, a water flosser should be used by only one person. Don't share it with other people in your household.

If plain dental floss gets stuck in your teeth, try the kind that is waxed. If you have a hard time handling dental floss, try a floss holder. Other options might include interdental brushes, picks or sticks designed to clean between the teeth.

To ensure good oral health, clean between your teeth once a day and brush your teeth twice a day. Get regular dental checkups to monitor your oral health. If you have questions about flossing and what's right for you, talk to your dentist.