Does the Waterpik really work?

May 22, 2024

Our philosophy on gum disease prevention and management

Kristina Sales-Cuadra, RDH

Waterpik for treatment of gum disease at Chaney Family DentalWaterpik… Does it really work?

The Waterpik is a tool we often recommend for those with a variety of oral hygiene and health concerns. The Waterpik uses a pulsating rhythm to stream water through a small tip opening, causing the pressure of the water to increase as it exits the unit, which massages your gums (think percussion). From bleeding gums, to deep pockets, braces, to better prosthetic health management, the Waterpik is a great tool that can increase the quality of your oral health, and quality of life! 

Waterpik use for Gingivitis (bleeding gums)

When used angled towards the gums and at low pressure settings, the Waterpik can effectively reduce the amount of plaque adhered to the tooth surface, as well as massaging the tissue, stimulating healing-factor-rich blood-flow to the tissues, and clearing food debris. 

Waterpik use for Periodontitis (deep pockets)

The Waterpik can be used to manage deep periodontal pocketing: when used at a 45 degree angle toward the base of the tooth, on low-to-medium pressure (using your Waterpik should never cause pain), you are introducing massaging action deep in the pocket where there would otherwise be not stimulation, as well as introducing oxygen deep in the pocket, which reduces the activity and virility of anaerobic (oxygen hating) bacteria. The Waterpik is also effective at removing food debris in deep pockets, allowing your body to begin healing without obstruction.

Waterpik use for Peri-Implant health

Peri-implant disease is simpler than the name implies and simpler than regular gum disease. Because the implant is not organic material (a fake tooth), the body’s soft tissue attachment (gums) to the implant is one-sided, whereas the natural tooth has a bidirectional attachment coming from both the gums and the tooth. Because of this weaker attachment, the inflammation required to disrupt this attachment is lesser, making implants far more susceptible to failure and health issues. To maintain an implant optimally, dental floss should be used to rub the surface of the implant on either side, sliding under the crown. This should be followed by the use of a low-pressure Waterpik to introduce oxygen, use water to push out loose food and bacterial debris, and massage the gums surrounding the implant. 


  • Are Waterpik shower heads good?

Our philosophy rejects the use of the shower head as a Waterpik, as well as the shower flossers seen on the market. A Waterpik is preferred because of the pulsating action, pressure control, maneuverability, and resounding scientific data which supports the efficacy of the tool, as compared with similarly marketed items. 

  • Can Waterpik replace flossing?

The simple answer is no. A Waterpik is used to clear debris, massage the gums, and introduce water and friction in pockets that otherwise would not be stimulated outside of a dental office. The action of floss is mechanically rubbing the surface of the tooth structure and releasing the bond between plaque and the tooth (think rinsing vs. scrubbing a dirty dish)

  • Will Waterpik remove plaque

Yes and no. the Waterpik will effectively remove plaque buildup, but because it is not rubbing on the surface of the tooth, it is not able to remove the base layer of plaque that more plaque will grow on, so while it’s a great adjunct tool for flossing and can benefit people who struggle flossing, it is not a total-plaque-remover and cannot replace flossing.

  • Waterpik, when to use?

Like flossing, there are no bad times to use a Waterpik! A Waterpik can be used to refresh the gums even when brushing isn’t possible, but is best used in conjunction with brushing and flossing. Kristina recommends incorporating Waterpik in the following order for the most thorough clean:

 - First floss, removing plaque and debris from between teeth and behind back molars

 - Second, brush to remove plaque and let toothpaste go between the cleared out spaces between the teeth

 - Third, use the waterpik on low pressure to massage the gums and clear any remaining debris from in between the teeth

  • Waterpik, where to buy?

Waterpik is a brand that has a website you can conveniently order their products from. Prefer in-store shopping? Check out Target, CVS, or your local drug store.

About the author of this article:

Kristina is the lead hygienist at Chaney Family Dental Group. They graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College with their Associates of Science in Dental Hygiene and began working for the practice in Summer of 2022. Kristina is passionate about the oral-systemic health connection and has dedicated their life to giving accessible feedback for specific oral health concerns. 

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