I have been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 13 years.
The Importance of Flossing
We all know that brushing your teeth is important to have good dental health, to avoid cavities, tooth loss, or dingy colored teeth. However, another important component of caring for your teeth and gums is regular flossing.
Flossing helps to remove food particles and harmful bacteria from the area between your teeth and at your gum line where your brush can't go. By doing this, it reduces the risk of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
Failure to remove built-up food particles and plaque can result in tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and possibly a number of other general health problems thanks to the germs and bacteria present in this residue. When inflammation and gum disease takes hold, bone loss in the mandible (jaw) can begin.
While research hasn't defined how they are linked yet, gum disease also seems to have a relationship to serious medical conditions like heart disease, dementia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
Several years ago, research came out which was misrepresented by several entities which brought into question the necessity and importance of flossing. In this article, the ADA sets the record straight.
For this reason, flossing should occur at least once a day. If you have signs of inflammation, bleeding gums, and so forth, flossing should occur after every meal ideally.
The Problem with Flossing
Unfortunately, many of us don't floss as we should or have some difficulty doing it. For others, regular flossing is simply not enough to assure bacteria doesn't take hold.
When done properly, 18" of floss should be used so that each tooth comes in contact with clean floss. Each tooth should have the floss moved up and down, and side to side by wrapping the floss slightly around the tooth. This process takes time, but it is also important to be gentle in order to avoid damaging your gums.
For some people, flossing is difficult. The floss breaks, it becomes wedged between teeth, or it's simply too time-consuming. For others, they just don't do it properly or as thoroughly as they should and need to do something additional to effectively care for their teeth and gums.
The Proper Way to Floss
A Power Flosser Might Solve Some Problems
A power flosser can be the answer to these problems. These devices can make flossing easier. Some people can use water flossing alone, allowing them to forego the potential trauma to their gums of forcing the floss between the teeth and abruptly hitting the gums. Gums won't be traumatized. With these devices, the motion is gentle and requires almost no effort. In fact, for many kids, anyone with retainers or braces, or those with dexterity problems, a power flosser may be the only real solution.
For others who are more prone to gum disease, water/power flossers need to be used in conjunction with traditional flossing to effectively address the issue.
Most of these devices operate on a replaceable battery or electricity from a wall socket. They are simple to operate. They are inexpensive, but users do have to purchase replacement tips occasionally. Typically, however, replacements are necessary only every 2 or 3 years and are very affordable.
After using a power flosser, the mouth generally feels refreshed. Most of these devices have a pressure adjustment so that users can set it where they can tolerate it best.
For extra bacteria and plaque-fighting power, dentist recommended rinses can be used in the flosser rather than water if necessary.
What the Science Tells Us
There are some studies out there which prove that adding water flossing is effective in improving dental health by reducing plaque. A few of the more recent ones are mentioned here.
This PubMed article discusses the results of one such study which showed that water flossing was 24-39% more effective in removing plaque than regular string flossing. (Results varied between areas of the mouth.)
In addition, this 2012 study demonstrates the use of power flossing in addition to brushing versus brushing alone. The results indicated a 70% reduction in gum bleeding when water flossing was added to the dental care routine.
Tips for Power Flossing
An important part of using a power flosser is to use the right tips. Some are designed specifically for use with braces and retainers and others are especially useful for getting in deep pockets. Users should check with their dentist and the manufacturer to determine which tip is right for them based on their special needs.
For hygienic purposes, tips from a flosser should not be shared with others. Just as dental floss wouldn't be shared, neither should flosser tips.
Warm water is recommended, this is to avoid discomfort for those with sensitive teeth or gums. A dentist can recommend an oral rinse if necessary.
New users should start with a low-pressure setting and work their way up as they become accustomed to the flow.
Complete instructions should come with the power flosser, but users should run the tip at the gum line, in front of and behind the upper and lower teeth being sure to stop briefly between teeth at the gum line.
© 2010 Christine Mulberry
reddog1027 from Atlanta, GA on May 28, 2010:
A power flosser, what a great idea. Thanks for the info, it will make my purchase so much easier.
ThePartyAnimal on May 27, 2010:
Boy I can use one of these too
Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on May 27, 2010:
I need one of these. I really don't floss like I should.
Holle Abee from Georgia on May 25, 2010:
Great review for a useful product!
Nell Rose from England on May 25, 2010:
Hi, this is a great idea. I have tried the normal floss but get fed up with the stupid things! anything new is a great improvement! thanks nell
theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on May 25, 2010:
I need one of these!! I floss religiously and this last time instead of buying traditional dental floss I bought a bag of those "cool looking" little plastic things that have one strand of dental floss at one end and a pick at the other. The floss breaks after one tooth I swear! lol That's what I get for choosing something that looks interesting. I really should get one of these power flossers!