How to Water Floss – Guide to Caring for Your Water Flosser, Your Routine, and Your Oral Health

Water flossing is extremely effective, easy to use, and will have you following a better oral health routine in no time

If you are looking to improve your oral health, water flossing is a great way to do so. Many people are jaded and turned off at the idea of flossing due to experience with string floss. It’s hard to use, it hurts your fingers and gums, and just seems like a bigger hassle than it’s worth.

Flossing is effective at removing some plaque, but many people just stop messing around with flossing and use mouthwash (if they even go that far). If your dentist asks if you floss and tells you that you really should, there is a reason behind that. String floss might just be too much of a hassle for you, but that’s no excuse.

► See my comparison chart for picking the best water flosser here◄

Water flossing is extremely effective, easy to use, and will have you following a better oral health routine in no time. Let’s look at how to water floss using the various flosser features, as well as how you clean and maintain your new oral health tool. A water flosser is an investment, so make sure you’re doing it right. Don’t let your flosser just sit on your counter and get dusty- you paid for it, so make the effort and use it!

Six Steps to Effectively Use Your New Water Flosser

Using a water flosser has some learning curve, but the results are worth the effort to learn and the time it might take you to adjust. It’s no different than a child learning to brush their teeth- there’s a first time for everything, and that first step is the most important in establishing your health. When water flossing is truly as effective as it is, it’s worth any hassle you might find.

Clinical studies found that water flossing is 51% more effective than string floss at reducing gingivitis, twice as effective at reducing bleeding, and 29% more effective at removing plaque. Compared to the string flossing you might be doing already, that is a really great improvement. If you’re not flossing at all, any improvement is a 100% improvement! Whilst string flossing (and not flossing all together) have few steps, water flossing takes a bit more effort to learn in the beginning. Once you use a water flosser with regularity, you’ll find it easier and more intuitive to do so.

Take a look at what Waterpik recommends you should be doing:

  1. Fill the reservoir with lukewarm water and make sure it’s seated on the base properly.
  2. Select the tip you want and attach it to the handle.
  3. Adjust the pressure control to a low setting and place the tip in your mouth.
  4. Close your lips to prevent splashing, but allow the water to flow out into the sink.
  5. Starting with your back teeth, aim the tip 90 degrees at the gum between the teeth, for a few seconds each time.
  6. Eject the tip using the button provided when you’re done, and store properly.

Some water flossers have different features that might change the steps you need to follow. For example, you might be needing to apply medication using your flosser or you might need to use a specialized tip. If you’re using an oral medication, this usually entails pouring a small amount into the reservoir or wherever your specific unit tells you to. Braces and dental work might require the use of a specialized tip, which your unit might provide or that you will have to purchase.

The Reasoning Behind Each Step…

With only a few steps you need to master, water flossing isn’t that intimidating. To better understand the function and use of your flosser, you should understand why each thing is being done.

✅ Lukewarm water helps to reduce sensitivity associated with hot or cold water, and is more comfortable even without sensitivity issues.

✅ Different tips should be used for different people as a sanitary precaution. You might have to change tips to use with any dental works or special needs you might have.

✅ Low pressure should always be used to start with- many flossers go quite high in terms of pressure and you should adjust as you go, or to accommodate any sensitivity or work.

✅ Closing your lips prevents the pressurized water from splashing, as well as allowing it to exit your mouth into the sink without a mess.

✅ Starting with the back teeth is easiest and this is the most important area to focus on. Food is chewed in the back of the mouth, so a lot of debris gets stuck, and plaque builds up easily.

✅ Removing the tip when you’re done makers for more sanitary storage and usage for the next person.

How to Clean a Water Flosser in Six Easy Steps

Now that you have an idea of how you should be using your flosser, you should be using it regularly. Doing so requires you to clean the flosser and its parts and attachments with some frequency. Cleaning a water flosser is simple, but very important. Preventing mold or sediment build-up is key in keeping your flosser working, but also in keeping it a safe product to use. An effective way of cleaning is to use vinegar. Waterpik details this method:

  1. Remove the reservoir of your flosser and wash in the top rack of your dishwasher, or by hand. Your specific flosser might not be dishwasher-safe.
  2. Place the reservoir back on the unit when cleaned, and fill with 16 ounces of water and 1-2 ounces of vinegar.
  3. Turn the flosser on and allow half of the solution to run through the flosser and out the handle.
  4. Let the other half drain out by placing the handle in the sink, with the unit turned off.
  5. Soak the water flosser handle in vinegar for 5-7 minutes, with the tip removed, then rinse with water.
  6. Soak the tip in hydrogen peroxide or vinegar for 5-7 minutes, then rinse with water.

You might find yourself having to clean your water flosser on a schedule that depends on your water condition and usage of the flosser. Mineral build-up might happen much faster for some than for others. The unit and its parts should be cleaned regularly regardless of if there is any visible buildup or not. The tips should be replaced twice yearly at the very least, even with regular cleaning.

Keep These Important Details in Mind!

Whilst it is a different experience than using string floss or not flossing at all, using a water flosser is not a difficult experience at all. Learning the steps you should be following and how to clean the flosser will give you the best results possible, and make it easier for you to get them. Once you get the hang of it, it should become a part of your routine that doesn’t require much thought, just as brushing your teeth already is.

Pay attention to your needs and what is safest for your teeth and gums, and adjust your use accordingly. Never use high pressure just because you think it gets more done- only use it if appropriate, or you risk traumatizing your gums or damaging dental work.  It’s extremely important to clean your flosser, as even the most proficient user will be held back with mineral buildup or even mold.

As always, keep in touch with your dentist or other oral health specialist. Your oral health is a team effort between yourself, the professionals you trust, and the tools that you wisely choose to use.


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