Can an irrigator replace flossing?

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Can an irrigator replace flossing?

Flossing Vs Irrigation

We all may know that good oral hygiene is based on two principals: daily brushing with a toothbrush and flossing. But can flossing be replaced with currently trending irrigators?

Brushing removes plaque (a thin film of bacteria and food particles) widely from tooth surfaces. While flossing removes plaque from places (such as contact surfaces of the tooth) which you can’t reach effectively through brushing. It takes both: brushing and flossing, to benefit and prevent all kinds of oral diseases.

Many people are facing difficulties to use both techniques daily. Some of them lack manual skills, while others don’t have physical ability to adequately floss. What is more, people with orthodontic appliances, such as braces, also doesn’t floss as efficiently as they could.

Fortunately, there is oral irrigation, which is a great alternative to regular flossing. Oral irrigator, or water flosser, is usually a handheld device with a special nozzle, which is pulsating water directly to the tooth. It is an effective method for plaque control.



  • Dental floss is less expensive
  • Helps you to keep your teeth and gums healthy
  • Effectively cleanses tight spaces between the teeth (it is important for plaque removal and to prevent tartar formation, which is a risk for gum diseases, such as gingivitis).


  • It can be abrasive
  • It can be irritating for people with sensitive gums and can cause bleeding
  • People with braces can’t use this method because floss can’t reach gums because of wires
  • You need to have good manual skills to correctly floss




  • Gentle on the gums
  • Less likely to cause gums bleeding
  • Good for people with sensitive gums
  • Easy and fast to use
  • Ideal for people who wear braces (flushes out food particles)
  • Great for people with active gum disease (because it can cleanse the bacteria from deep pockets, what flossing can’t do)



  • Doesn’t remove plaque as well as floss (flossing scrapes off the sticky film of bacteria, while irrigator just rinses it)
  • More expensive

All in all, irrigation isn’t a substitute for flossing but it is very beneficial for people with orthodontic appliances and those, who have periodontal problems. If you have gum disease or just want to be diligent about oral care, consider using both: floss and an irrigator. In this case, we would recommend that you floss first, in order to loosen plaque and then use irrigator to flush it away, follow-up with brushing, using fluoride toothpaste.
If you want to get a regular check-up or learn more about good oral hygiene contact us: (949) 538-3008 to schedule your appointment.

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