WATERPIK REVIEW: Do Water Flossers Work?

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WaterPik Water flossers have taken off in the last decade, and most people look at water flossers as an alternative to dental floss. Flossing is crucial to dental health because it eliminates plaque responsible for tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. So in this Waterpik review, we will discover if water flossers work. The short answer is the Waterpik water flosser does work, but they don’t work as well as regular dental floss. In the video that accompanies this article, I show how well the Waterpik water flosser cleans my teeth, and I will reference that video throughout this Waterpik Review.

For my water flosser efficacy demonstration, I start by staining all the plaque in my mouth pink and then brushing. The water flosser that I will use today is Waterpik, but you can also see other water pick reviews on my YouTube channel. The Waterpik water flosser can go up to 100 PSI which is not the highest pressure water flosser I found on the market, but it is the most popular.

Should You Use A Waterpik Before Or After Brushing?

The first thing you should know about water flossers is you should use them before brushing because the Waterpik will remove all the fluoride from the toothpaste if you do it after. Also, brushing is more effective in studies and my videos when you floss first. Therefore, you should water floss before brushing, not afterward. If you want to water floss after brushing, you can mix some fluoride rinse into the water. You can also rinse with a fluoride mouthwash at the end of your mourning brushing routine. However, I used the water flosser after brushing to show the water flosser's efficacy. I also used a toothbrush that I knew would leave plaque behind to test the Waterpik adequately.
Waterpik Water Pooling In the Mouth
Waterpik rinsing out all the toothpaste.

What Are The Problems With A Waterpik Water Flosser?

There are specific problems or downsides of all water flossers, and then there are some particular problems with each type of water flosser. So first, I will go over the issues with all water flossers and then specifically Waterpik. General problems with water flossers are that they don’t remove as much plaque as regular dental floss, they are messy, usually have basins too small, and cause water pooling. This Waterpik review will cover these downsides.

Are Water Picks Better Than Floss?

In my demonstration of Waterpik's efficacy, you can see that they are not better than floss. In fact, from my demonstrations, you can see all water flossers are consistently and substantially worse than dental floss for plaque removal. Pictures in this section show that pink-stained plaque is left behind after using the Waterpik water flosser. For example, I focused the Waterpik water flosser on one spot left behind for an additional 10 to 15 seconds. As you can see in the images here, there was still a substantial amount of plaque left behind. Now, that was just the plaque that you can see. Farther between the teeth, there is likely more plaque left behind.

Another day I used a higher-powered water flosser and did the same experiment. Unfortunately, the new water flosser left a pink stained plaque on the tooth as well. Then I focused on the plaque spot again for a few seconds, and it still left plaque behind, just like the Waterpik. Lastly, I took my favorite floss to the plaque spot, and the dental floss quickly removed the plaque. Thus the Waterpik is not as effective as dental floss.

My demonstrations show that Water picks are not better than floss. However, there are two official studies on the subject. The first shows that floss is slightly better than water flossers when removing plaque. The other shows that Waterpiks are better than floss at removing plaque. However, in my opinion, both are irrelevant due to the terrible manner in which they measure the data. Both studies were visual inspections of how much plaque is left behind. In both studies, they did not stain the plaque at all. Plaque is tough to see when it isn’t stained, and therefore the studies are likely inaccurate.

When I floss with the Waterpik, there's still pink plaque I pull out. You can compare the results with all my images in this section. Dental floss is more effective than using a water flosser. Waterpik water flossers only remove loose plaque but are ineffective at removing tightly bound plaque.
Plaque Level After Water Flossing
Plaque amount on lower right 1st molar after water flossing.
Focusing Water Flosser On Missed Plaque Spot
Water flossing an extra 15 seconds on a spot we water flossed
Plaque Level After Water Flossing 15 More Seconds
Faint pink plaque left behind after a water flosser focused for 15 seconds.
Floss Works Better than Water Flosser
Ezzi floss easily removing plaque missed by 15 seconds of a water flosser. 
Plaque Removed After Floss Not Water Flosser
Plaque removed after using floss that Waterpik water flosser missed.

Is The Waterpik Reservoir Too Small?

Waterpik’s recommendation is to water floss for one minute. Their reservoir holds enough water to water floss for about 1 minute 10 seconds at the highest setting. People usually have about 30 teeth which means you have about 2 seconds to use the water flosser on each tooth. Therefore, you have only about one second to water floss the front side and one second for the backside of each tooth. Two seconds per tooth is not enough time to remove a sufficient amount of plaque, and therefore, the reservoir is too small.

In my video Waterpik review, I only water flossed each tooth's front side, which was about 2 seconds in total for each tooth. Two seconds per tooth was insufficient to clean the plaque off my teeth. I needed at least 15 seconds on one side to get the results close to adequate. To water floss my whole mouth with 30 seconds per tooth, the reservoir would need to be at least 15 times bigger. Unfortunately, the basins on the newer handheld models are getting even smaller. As a result, the Waterpik reservoir is too small to water floss efficiently though it is enough for their Waterpik’s time recommendation.
Waterpik water flosser size
Tooth decay that causes Irreversible pulpitis and cold-sensitive teeth.

Is Waterpik Messy?

Waterpik uses a lot of water to remove plaque. The higher the water pressure, the better it removes plaque and the more water you need. Unfortunately, your mouth can’t hold the water, so you must release the water used from your mouth while water flossing, and it tends to splash all over. The constant release and splash make the Waterpik very messy though it is just water. You can see all of this in my video Waterpik review.
Messy Water flosser splashing and spraying
Water splashing with Waterpik water flosser.

Is Waterpik Water Pooling a Problem?

Water pools in your mouth as you use more water to floss your teeth. If you spray water into a pool of water, the flosser becomes less powerful. As a result, you will get uneven results using a water flosser, especially on the lower teeth. Water pooling is an issue because the longer you use the Waterpik without spitting, the less efficient it works. And as we covered earlier, if the water is constantly flowing out of your mouth, the messier it will be.
Waterpik water flosser messy
Waterpik water pooling inhibiting water pressure

What Is Good About The Waterpik Water Flosser?

One of the best things about water flossers is adding other products to the water. For example, if you are prone to cavities, you can add ACT fluoride rinse to administer fluoride between your teeth. Or, you can add peroxide to the water to kill bacteria that cause gum disease between your teeth. If you are aware of the benefits of ozone and can produce it, you can use ozone water to decimate bacteria and control gum disease as well.

The other good thing about the Waterpik is that it is an excellent adjunct to your daily oral hygiene routine. Some people are prone to cavities and gum disease, and Waterpik is a great extra measure to improve oral health.

Act Fluoride Rinse
Act fluoride rinse that can be added to water reservoir.

Does A Waterpik Replace Flossing?

As you can see from everything we covered in this article, especially the before and after images, a Waterpik cannot replace flossing. The Waterpik does not replace flossing because it doesn’t remove plaque at the same magnitude as dental floss. However, you can use a Waterpik water flosser in addition to flossing for increased oral hygiene benefits.

Remember, flossing is the most important thing you can do for your oral health, and you do not want anything like a water flosser that will not adequately clean your teeth. If you are in the market for the best dental products, I suggest using my favorite floss, which you can find by clicking here.
Plaque Levels after Quip Brush then Ezzi Floss
Plaque levels after brushing with Quip then using an expandable floss.
Plaque Level after Quip Brush then Water Floss
Plaque levels after brushing with Quip then using a water flosser (not Waterpik in this case).
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