What is a Waterpik and why does my dentist get so excited when talking about it?

A Waterpik is one of the best dental tools you can own. It is a great addition to your dental hygiene protocol.

“But I already have an electric toothbrush! Why do I need a Waterpik?”

An electric toothbrush is fantastic. We are big fans of them. We are also big fans of flossing! Many patients use their electric toothbrush daily, and floss regularly, but it’s not always enough. The question to ask yourself is, “What is my goal in brushing and flossing everyday?” The answer is, “To remove plaque buildup.” Plaque, a soft sticky film builds up on your teeth everyday.  You can’t avoid plaque. But you can avoid TARTAR. Tartar is a hardened, mineralized form of plaque. Tartar occurs when the plaque on your teeth is not sufficiently removed DAILY. Once tartar forms on your teeth, there is no getting it off, no matter how much brushing and flossing you are doing. Only a dentist or hygienist can scrape it off. When tartar sits on your teeth for a long period of time, it begins to cause gum inflammation. Eventually this leads to bleeding, swelling, and finally, bone loss around the teeth. That is why regular visits to the dentist are so important-to remove any remnants of tartar that may have formed.

One way to avoid tartar buildup is to brush. That will help remove the plaque around the gums. Flossing will help remove the plaque BETWEEN your teeth. But even doing these two important things doesn’t always remove ALL the plaque. That is where the Waterpik comes in!

A Waterpik is a motorized jet spray that comes out thru a thin clear nozzle. You direct this nozzle toward the junction between your teeth and gums, and move it along the entire mouth. Because people have different shapes to their teeth, the thin toothbrush bristles and the narrow size of floss can’t always remove everything. The strong water stream of the Waterpik helps to remove any remaining plaque and food particles that may still be lodged in various crevices around the teeth and gums. It’s amazing to see more “stuff” flying out of your mouth into the sink even after brushing for 2 minutes and flossing!


The first few times you try it, your mirror will be splattered with water, and maybe even your face. But after you get the hang of it, your mouth will feel sooo clean. And your gums and teeth will be at their healthiest!


What’s the deal with flossing?

Let’s face it, many people don’t floss. A hygienist’s mantra might as well be “You must floss daily! Or your teeth will fall out!” How many of us actually heed this advice? Most think, “Come on, that’s not going to happen.”

There is truth to this mantra. Is it an exaggeration? Perhaps. The point is this, brushing alone cannot reach all those “in-between” spots. That’s where floss comes in. Why should you care about those spots? Let’s go back to the basics.

Q: Why do we brush in the first place?

A: It is to remove PLAQUE, a biofilm that forms on your teeth daily. It is white and soft, but sticky.

Q: Why do we need to remove plaque from our teeth?

A: If plaque is not removed, it will soon become hardened by minerals in your saliva. The plaque changes into something called, TARTAR, or CALCULUS (no, not the dreaded math class).

Q: Why should I care if my plaque turns into tartar?

A: While plaque is easily removed by brushing and flossing, tartar is not. Once it is stuck to your teeth, it cannot be removed, except by a dentist or hygienist. Tartar is a breeding ground of bacteria and minerals. Overtime, it causes inflammation, bleeding, and eventually, loss of bone around the teeth if not removed. Most of these symptoms will go unnoticed by the patient, because it doesn’t cause pain in the initial stages.

Q: Are there other benefits to flossing?

A: YES! It helps with bad breath, believe it or not! The more plaque you can remove on a daily basis, with brushing your teeth and tongue, in addition to flossing, the fresher your breath will be!