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Review of: Waterpik Waterflosser

This is a great product, and easily worth its purchase price. If you don't have one or don't have a similar product, make a note to get one in the very near future. You will not regret that decision.

To fully understand how I arrive at this evaluation, it helps to understand my experience with these devices. I do have a basis for comparison.

Years ago, I bought a competing brand (Sunbeam, if I recall correctly) of a dental irrigation system. It cost much less than the Waterpik equivalent. But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. That system worked OK, and I got some cleaning from it. But I was underwhelmed by what it actually did. When it failed after a couple of years, I decided to try a Waterpik unit.

Why did I decide to give this process another chance? Because several dentists (including one who was a random seat mate on a jet flight) told me they personally do this and they recommend it as part of good dental care. When I countered with the lame results I got, every one of them said they didn't know about other brands but Waterpik does a fantastic job.

My experience with Waterpik totally validated what they said. The very first time I tried the Waterpik system, I was astounded at what it did. The experience with this product vs. its predecessor was like night vs. day.

The Waterpik unit operates on a totally different philosophy, and it got my teeth clean. I could feel that with my tongue; no rough feeling, just as smooth as could be.

Subsequent visits to the dentist for cleaning revealed that, unlike the other unit, it even removed plaque below the gum line. Each visit to the dentist was characterized by improved margins, too. Essentially, my dental age was receding while my gums were advancing. Normally, it's the other way around.

But now my gums are healthier than they were thirty years ago, if we use margins as the metric. I went from mostly fours to all twos. Not only that, my gums feel firm to the touch. I can massage them vigorously with a fingertip and there's no sponginess or pain, as there once was (I considered it a normal part of aging, but it's not).

Though the Waterpik manual said you can "use your favorite mouthwash," I have refrained from doing this as the chemicals in most (if not all) mouthwashes are carcinogenic and there's no way I want them pulsed into my gums. Because of my diet and my dental care, I have no need to mask any mouth odors with chemicals. My breath smells fresh without them.

I have used white vinegar to clean the unit, and I have even used it with 50/50 white vinegar and water for an amazingly clean set of teeth. I do this vinegar cleaning maybe once a month.

When I go to the dentist, there is almost no plaque at all. A dental exam and cleaning for me is just pro forma. But I still think it's important to have a pro look things over, because you just never know. Better to be safe than sorry.

Now the fly in this particular ointment is my Waterpik is, like all devices with moving parts, aging. I have to jiggle the tank to get the system to start pumping. It still works great, once "the gears mesh," but it's only a matter of time until it won't work.

So when I came across the "Waterflosser," I decided to try it as a backup to my current system. It works just as well, and even has some enhancements. Most notably, IMO, a timer that interacts with the stream and a covered tank.

Like my other Waterpik, it does an astounding job of cleaning. Not only that, it provides a good gum massage. It will get particles that string flossing misses. Because of this device, I do less string flossing. This means less cutting into my fingers and dealing with floss waste, among other advantages.

But I don't agree with Waterpik's promotion of this as a substitute for string flossing. This unit and string attack debris/plaque in two different modalities. In some cases, for example when stringy vegetable matter is caught between teeth, the Waterflosser can't get it out but string flossing can. Also, if you have a temporary crown you will need to floss around it using a special technique that doesn't put "pull off" pressure on the temp.

This device is an adjunct to, not replacement for, string flossing. My recommendation:

  • Brush after each meal, using a soft-bristled brush and either baking soda or a baking soda/hydrogen peroxide mix. Don't use commercial toothpastes, as they contain abrasives and petroleum-based chemicals.
  • String-floss once or twice a day.
  • Use the Waterpik after each meal (if you're eating at home) and again before going to bed. Follow up with a quick baking soda brushing job and rinse.

The best thing you can do to prevent plaque and its consequent gum recession, caries, and bad breath is to watch your diet. Don't eat processed grains or refined sugars, and don't drink "dental disease in a can" (commonly known as "soda pop"). Eat plenty of green vegetables and fruit; these will leave little, if any, crud on your teeth.

Make that effort pay off by doing what dentists call "good home care," making a Waterpik brand dental cleansing system the core of your strategy. Brushing does little to actually clean your teeth (the bristles are huge compared to the features of the tooth surface), but the Waterpik nozzles are designed to solve that problem. Waterpik has made a huge difference for me, and I doubt I will ever try another brand. I will however, try other Waterpik products. Like this one, for example!



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