Dr. Brodsky with a patient

What is a Waterpik and How Does it Work?

As a Brodsky Orthodontics patient, we know you’re already well aware of how important it is to maintain a good dental hygiene routine while you’re in braces. You are probably also aware of how challenging that can be thanks to the nooks and crannies created by the brackets and wires. It’s easy for plaque and food to accumulate around your braces, forming bacteria and leading to white marks, cavities, and even gum disease. Brushing and flossing regularly is an essential part of avoiding any complications, but flossing can be tricky at the best of times, let alone when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment like braces. Fortunately, there are tools designed specifically for orthodontic patients that can help make this a less frustrating process. One that we are especially fond of and recommend often is an oral irrigator, like a Waterpik.

The traditional method of flossing with braces requires guiding the floss underneath the archwire of each tooth, flossing that tooth, removing the floss, then repeating the process throughout your entire mouth. This can be time-consuming at first and there’s a bit of a learning curve, but you’ll find you get better and faster at it with practice. But when you’re having a hard time getting the hang of flossing with braces, an oral irrigator can be especially helpful. Although they should never take the place of flossing, adding one to your cleaning routine can help keep your pearly whites sparkling and free of debris! To learn a little more about what exactly a Waterpik is, how it works, and the ways it can make cleaning your teeth easier, keep reading below. 

What is a Waterpik?

Oral irrigators are an oral health appliance designed to provide extra dental care at home, of which Waterpik is generally regarded as the most well-known brand. These irrigators use a combination of pressure and pulsation to release a targeted stream of water into the mouth, removing plaque, food particles, and bacteria. The pulsating action also stimulates the gum tissues. Waterpik flossers that are designed for use with braces come with a special orthodontic tip that has a tapered design to help remove hard-to-reach plaque around the brackets and wires. It needs to be replaced about every three months, or as often as you would (or should!) replace a manual toothbrush.

As we’ve discussed, flossing regularly is especially important for orthodontic patients in braces, because of how easily food particles can get stuck in the tiny crevices around the brackets, and how difficult it can be to effectively remove them. When you’re not flossing at least once a day, you increase your risk for cavities and other oral issues. While you should never use a Waterpik to replace regular flossing, oral irrigators can be used as part of your nightly dental hygiene routine for getting rid of any missed food debris and plaque. You can also use them in between meals to freshen up your mouth!

women with braces using water flosser

Waterpik models and features

Sizes and features vary, but all Waterpik water flossers include a motor with a pump, a water reservoir, and a special water flosser tip. They offer multiple designs for your convenience, including cordless, travel, countertop, and kid’s designs.

Complete Care WP-900: This space-saving model is a water flosser and sonic toothbrush in one.

Ultra WP-100: Featuring ten pressure settings, a covered reservoir with tip storage, and six unique tips, this Waterpik is both quieter and smaller, and offers the ultimate in water flossing performance.

Aquarius Professional WP-660: The Aquarius is one of the most advanced oral irrigators available, and includes an on/off water control on the handle, an LED information panel, seven brush tips, a one minute timer with a 30-second pacer, and pulse-modulation technology to provide maximum plaque removal when used in Floss Mode. That’s a whole lot of function in just one water flosser! The Hydro-Pulse Massage Mode will give you enhanced gum stimulation, as well.

Water Flosser For Kids WP-260: Designed for kids over the age of six, this model is full of safety features and also has easy fingertip controls for the On/Off switch and the Pressure Control System. The reservoir can be used as a cover to keep the unit clean. Everything in the system is covered under a two-year warranty.

Cordless Plus Professional WP-440 : This rechargeable unit also comes with the Nano-Sonic toothbrush, and is a great choice for orthodontic patients on the go.

Traveler Water Flosser WP-300: Another design that works well for patients who travel. This compact Waterpik is ideal for smaller bathrooms and features global voltage compatibility for ease of use in any country. It also includes four tips, a pressure control system, and a premium travel case.

How does a Waterpik work?

Waterpiks are really easy to use, and really effective once you get into a rhythm with one! To get the most out of your chosen model, follow these steps:

  1. Fill the reservoir with warm water and place it firmly on the base. Select your desired tip and click it into the handle. If this is the first time you’ve used your Waterpik, set the pressure control dial to high and point the tip into the sink. Turn it on until the water begins flowing, then turn it back off again.
  2. Begin with the lowest pressure setting available. Lean over the sink, place the tip in your mouth, and turn the unit on. Let the water flow from your mouth into the sink, making sure your lips are closed to prevent splashing.
  3. Move the tip of the flosser along the gums and gum line until you achieve a thorough cleaning. When you’re finished, turn the unit off and use the eject button to remove the tip.

Dr. Brodsky with a patient

Brodsky Orthodontics will help keep your smile – and your braces! – shining brightly

The pressure, pulsation, and specially designed orthodontic tips that come with a Waterpik are an excellent way to remove the kind of sticky plaque and bacteria that can sneak in the spaces of your brackets and wires. They also massage and stimulate your gums, giving them a healthy boost. By using an oral irrigator like a Waterpik for only one minute every day, you can help reduce bacteria and improve gum health, giving you a bright smile as we work together to straighten it!

Waterpiks can be an excellent addition to your daily dental routine, and our doctors are happy to recommend one for you based on your particular needs, but always remember to use your Waterpik with dental floss, and not in place of it. Cheating just is not worth it when it comes to your orthodontic treatment! For more information on how oral irrigators like Waterpik can keep your teeth squeaky clean while you’re in braces, get in touch with us today. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve the straight, sparkling smile you’ve always wanted!