A water flosser is a great alternative to regular flossing. However, if you don't know how to use one, the process can be quite messy and ineffective. Many people prefer using a water flosser instead of floss because they're effective at removing plaque from around and in between the teeth, and they're fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it. Dentists agree that water flossers can be just as effective at removing plaque from between the teeth as flossing, but only when done correctly. With floss, you must put your hands close to even inside of your mouth, which means potential cross-contamination. Meanwhile, it's best to keep your hands away from your mouth, no matter how clean they are. 

Water flossers also make it easier to clean orthodontic appliances like braces because they can reach places regular floss can't. If you have a permanent retainer behind your teeth, you might prefer a water flosser because it's easier and more effective since you're able to reach around and under the metal wire. If any of these benefits sound great to you, you might be wondering how to use a water flosser. 

While the process of using one is fairly easy since all you have to do is fill it with water and turn it on, you must be careful. Using a water flosser incorrectly can be dangerous because water pressure can hurt your gums. It can also be messy if you turn your flosser on too soon and let water spew across your bathroom. Here are some tips on using a water flosser to help you get your mouth cleaner than brushing and flossing alone.

Use It Daily

Using your water flosser daily can help prevent plaque buildup by removing food particles and bacteria from your mouth. Cleaning your teeth regularly can help you maintain good oral hygiene and prevent cavities. If you prefer to floss in the morning after brushing your teeth, you can use your water flosser after eating to remove food stuck between your teeth to prevent bacteria from forming within your mouth. If you munch on some cookies, it is a good idea to use a water flosser after eating sweets. This can help prevent the sugar from sitting on your teach causing damage like cavities. You can also opt for sweetener alternatives that cause less dental damage than traditional sugared sweeteners.  

Continue to Floss

Using a water flosser can help remove food particles from between your teeth, but it's not a replacement for regular brushing and flossing. Flossing is typically more effective because it allows you to reach completely between your teeth and rub up against the teeth to remove plaque. 

Use Salt Water

Putting salt water in your water flosser can help remove germs from your gums and within the gum pockets. If you want to try having a cleaner mouth, consider adding warm salt water instead of regular tap water to your flosser to allow you to reach those hard-to-reach spots like the back teeth. Using a water flosser can help those with gingivitis remove germs between their teeth and within their gums to remove signs of infection and reverse gingivitis before it turns into gum disease. 

Keep Your Lips Partially Closed

Water flossers can make a big mess if you don't keep your mouth partially closed when using them because they shoot pressurized water that's strong enough to remove plaque from the surface of your teeth. By partially closing your lips, you can let the water run from your mouth into the sink. You should also aim the water towards the gumline to massage the gums and promote blood flow. 

Choose the Right Tip

Water flossers come with a few different tips to choose from, which control how the water will come out. Some tips are designed for orthodontic appliances like braces, while others are designed for the treatment of oral health concerns like gum disease and gingivitis. When shopping for water flossers, look at the different tip options or talk to a dentist about which tip is right for you based on your unique circumstances. Choosing the right tip is important because it can make your water flosser more or less effective, so you may have to experiment to find the one that works best. 

Replace Tips Regularly

Replacing your water flosser tips as recommended by the manufacturer can ensure it stays just as effective for however long you have it. Depending on the brand and the tip you use, recommendations for when to replace tips can vary. Some brands will recommend changing the tip every six months, while others need to be changed every three months. If your water flosser has a tip with bristles, you should replace it more frequently because bristles are more prone to bacteria buildup than completely plastic tips. 

Find the Right Pressure

Using the right pressure setting is key to ensuring your water flosser is effective at removing plaque and food from the surface of your teeth. If you're using the water flosser to treat an oral health problem like gum disease, you'll need a different pressure than someone using it to clean braces, your Invisalign, or crowns. Most water flossers have a few different settings to allow you to choose the right pressure for you. Some brands may recommend starting with the lowest setting because the pressure of the flosser can be uncomfortable the first few times you use it. You can also talk to your dentist, who can recommend the right setting based on your specific needs. 

Clean It Regularly 

Water flossers need to be cleaned regularly. Because they're used to clean bacteria in your mouth, you should rinse your flosser off after each use and allow it to air dry. You should also deep clean your water flosser every few months and replace the tip every six months or less. Depending on the quality of water you use, you may get mineral deposits that prevent you from achieving the ideal pressure. You can clean your water flosser by running white vinegar through it to remove bacteria and mineral deposits.

Taking Care of Your Teeth

Using a water flosser is just one part of a complete dental health routine. Poor dental health can eventually lead to other health complications if left untreated. Always remember to brush and floss at least twice daily. However, you can use your water flosser to remove food particles and plaque that can build up throughout the day, especially after eating a meal. Talk to your dentist to see if a water flosser is right for you. 

Julia Olivas

Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a freelance writer and loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, painting, and her pup Ruby.