Super clean teeth and healthy gums, here we come!
There's nothing like that just-left-the-dentist feeling after you get your teeth cleaned. With a water flosser, you could feel like that every day. They're often recommended for people with braces, but turns out that anyone could use (and potentially benefit from) one. So how exactly do they work? "Water flossers use a pressurized stream of water, in many cases a pulsating stream, to remove food particles and plaque stuck between teeth and along the gum line," says Adam S. Harwood, DMD, a New York City-based endodontist.
When shopping for water flossers, there are a lot of things to consider. If you're looking for portability, opt for a cordless water flosser so you don't need to bring a bulky charging base on vacation with you. Planning on sharing with the whole family? Opt for one with multiple tips included so that everyone can have their own. You'll also see that some have a couple of pressure settings, while others have way more options.
Since the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute haven't had a chance to do a category-wide test on water flossers, we spoke to dentists and scoured reviews on the internet to find the best water flossers. When compiling our list, we also kept the American Dental Association Seal in mind. Products accepted by the ADA meet certain criteria that prove they are safe and effective. (But it's important to note that only two water flosser brands carry the ADA seal: Waterpik and Philips.)
Not quite, but the two methods are different. Water flossing covers more surface area, while regular flossing is best for the spaces between your teeth and below the gum line to prevent tartar buildup and cavities between teeth. String floss is also able to wrap around the teeth, which water flossers can't accomplish.
"Both [water flossing and flossing] have their own specific areas of effectiveness, so the ideal dental hygiene program takes advantage of both methods," says Dr. Harwood. Here's a good rule of thumb to follow, according to dentists: Brush your teeth first, then use traditional string floss to remove anything stuck between your teeth and keep gums healthy, and finish off with a water flosser to flush it all out.
Both dentists agree that people with braces will benefit from a water flosser, because wires make it hard to use traditional floss. Sally Cram, DDS, a practicing periodontist in Washington, D.C., says that water flossers "are very good at flushing out food and debris that gets caught in and around the brackets." Water flossers are also a great option for elderly people or anyone with manual dexterity problems. "Wrapping the floss around their finger can be discomforting, especially if they suffer from arthritis," adds Dr. Harwood.
The bottom line: Water flossing should be an addition (not a replacement) to regular flossing for most people. But if you know that there's no chance you'll actually use regular floss, a water flosser is better than nothing. These are the best water flossers to buy in 2020: