Waterpiks® can be intimidating. Whether your dentist has recommended you or your child use one for sensitive gums, or a friend says it changed their life, it can still be tough to know where to start. For many who are used to flossing, using a Waterpik for the first time can feel messy and unwieldy.
Once you get past the learning curve, many people find this to be the preferred way to remove debris from the hard to reach places of the teeth. This easy-to-understand overview can help you learn what you need to know in order to use a Waterpik effectively as part of a larger dental treatment plan.
Also called an oral irrigator or water flosser, Waterpik is the brand name for the most widely used form of this device. A Waterpik pumps pulses of pressurized water through a tip to remove plaque and food particles from the gumline and between the teeth. Waterpiks can be used for the following situations:
- As a substitute for flossing, particularly for people with sensitive gums
- As a way to clean food particles and debris from braces and other orthodontic devices
- To help clean the mouth after oral surgery or gum procedures
Waterpiks can have a detached water reservoir, while many newer devices have an integrated tank. There are also a range of tips that can be used for different applications.
What to Know About Purchasing and Using a Waterpik
Waterpiks and other water flossers are available at most major online and brick-and-mortar retailers. They are also often available to purchase through a dentist’s or orthodontist’s office. Before purchasing, think about your budget for the device. For example, there are wireless models that can be used in the shower, but these generally run at a higher price point.
Standard Waterpiks generally come with one type of tip for everyday use, but there are also a number of specialty tips that can be used for different applications. Types of specialty tips can include:
- Tips that can replicate brushing the teeth
- Tips that are designed to eliminate plaque
- Orthodontic tips for cleaning braces
- Periodontal tips for people with deep periodontal pockets in the gums
Regularly using a water flosser device can lead to cleaner teeth, healthier gums, and better outcomes for dental and orthodontic treatments.
Practical Tips for Using a Waterpik
While it can take a few tries, once you get the hang of using a Waterpik, it can become a regular and easy part of your regular oral hygiene routine. Here are the easy steps that anyone can follow to learn how to use a Waterpik:
- Fill the water reservoir with warm water
- Select and attach the tip you want to use for that day
- For first use, prime the pump by setting pressure to high and pointing the tip into the sink until the water flows
- Set pressure to low
- Lean over the sink
- Turn the device on
- Keep mouth partially closed to limit splashing
- Allow water to flow from the other side of the mouth down the drain
- Aim at the gumline, and starting with the back teeth, clean the front and back of each tooth
- The whole process should take about one minute
How to Clean the Waterpik
To prevent the buildup of mineral deposits that can reduce pressure and effectiveness of the unit, cleaning the Waterpik every one to three months is important. You can use the following steps to keep the unit working effectively:
- Clean the outside of the device with a cloth and a mild cleanser
- The water reservoir can be cleaned in the dishwasher and then air dried
- The internal parts can be cleaned by running a solution of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 16 ounces of water and then another cycle of just water to rinse
- The handle can be soaked in a mixture of one part vinegar to and two parts water for five minutes and then rinsed under warm water
- The tips can be soaked in a mixture of one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts water for five minutes and rinsed with warm water
Regular cleaning can help you achieve maximum product life and effectiveness.
How Often to Use a Waterpik
As a substitute for flossing, you or your child can use a Waterpik once a day, for a minute of water flossing. Ask your dentist or orthodontist about the recommended routine that is best for your needs. He or she can also give you practical advice for using and maintaining your model of Waterpik, as many offices use a Waterpik or a similar device for in-office care.
As part of a larger oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, regular checkups, and a healthy low-sugar diet, a Waterpik can be a fantastic way to limit plaque buildup and prevent tooth decay that leads to cavities and other problems.
The knowledgeable team at AC Pediatric Dentistry would be happy to provide a demonstration of water flossing and information about how to integrate it into your daily hygiene routine.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!