What is Better for your health? Water Flosser vs. String Floss [Comparison]

For many, flossing can be a somewhat dreaded part of the daily hygiene routine.  Bleeding gums, tricky hand positioning and tedious maneuvering can drive some wild, and can really press you for time if you are in a rush.  Water flossers offers a new technological solution, tempting users by being easier on the hands, faster, and less painful/irritating for gums.  If you’re one of the many who hates flossing by hand, could water flossing be the solution for you?

Things to Consider:


Flossing by hand will have water flossing beat handedly here.  String floss is an almost negligible cost, and a single spool of floss will last you for quite some time depending on how much you use per flossing session.  However, a good water flosser can cost you anywhere from 30 to 70 dollars, and can add up to even more if you factor in replacement tips and other similar peripherals.  Even though a water flosser is a long-term tool, because string floss is so cheap, it will still take many uses over an incredibly long period of time for the money you save on floss to even out with the cost of the water flosser.

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string floss between teethUsability is important because you should be flossing 1-2 times a day – after all, we know flossing every single day is important. String floss can sometimes be troublesome because of the 34 individual gaps to floss in the adult mouth, and the awkward hand positioning required to reach all of those spots. However, an experienced flosser would probably still have no issue flossing all 34 gaps in about 90 seconds or so.  However, even for an inexperienced user, a water flosser would easily match that time and might even be faster.  This also spares the wrists and fingers of those who might have hand/joint problems or feel that they don’t have the time to really practice proper flossing technique.  In this category, flossing might be an equally good option for an experienced string flosser, but for someone who might not already know how to string floss, water flossing is a strong choice.


String flossing doesn’t really require much except that you buy more floss when you’re running out.  However, water flossing can require some preparation and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.  Routine cycling of the reservoir on the water flosser is essential to preventing the growth of bacteria and other organisms in the tank.  In addition, more intensive routine cleanings of the tubing and handpiece are also necessary to prevent the buildup of mineral deposits and germs in other less accessible parts of the flosser.

The Flosser requires an ample amount of counter top space as well as an electric outlet to operate.  For someone who might have a cluttered bathroom sink or already utilize a plethora of hygienic gadgets, this may pose a problem, although for most it shouldn’t.

Quality of Flossing:

waterflosser spraying plaque filled teethThis is probably the ultimate factor when considering if water flossers can “replace” string flossing.  The short answer from dentists, such as Alan Carr D.M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, say no.  Despite the fact that water flossing is very good at rinsing food debris from all parts of the mouth, including hard to reach areas, it can’t match up to string flossing at removing plaque.  Even though removing food particles and rinsing teeth is important, ultimately, plaque is what causes cavities, tartar buildup, and gum disease.  Some plaque can be removed by water flossing, but even with higher water pressure streams, the scraping motion of string floss is still decisively more effective.

Should Everyone String Floss?:

Again, the short answer is no.  Even though string flossing is ultimately the more effective option, for those who don’t have the time, physical ability, or simply can’t be bothered to string floss, water flossing is a quick and easy alternative, and still much better than doing nothing.  Dental health is a very important part of daily hygiene, and even though you may not appreciate good dental health while you have it, you will definitely miss it once it’s gone.  Water flossing will help you preserve this dental health for much longer than if you did nothing at all.


Water Flossing:

  1. Quick
  2. Convenient (Daily use)
  3. Requires Maintenance (Long term)
  4. Gentle on gums and teeth
  5. Expensive

String Flossing:

  1. Cheaper
  2. More effective
  3. Somewhat tedious
  4. Somewhat slower

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