What is a water pik? Do I need one?

Water piks (also known as oral irrigators) are a great addition to your regular oral health care routine of brushing and flossing. An especially helpful tool for those folks who suffer from periodontal disease (gingivitis) and for our patients in orthodontic treatment with full braces, water piks use tiny, but powerful bursts of water to dislodge bits of food, bacteria, and other yucky debris hiding in the nooks and crannies of your mouth. Patients in orthodontic treatment may find using a water pik helpful if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on the wires or brackets.

When you use a water pik, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging your gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums, keeping them healthy. Do keep in mind, however, that while water piks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are NOT capable of completely removing plaque. That’s why Dr. Horner and Dr. Barrow and the team at Horner Barrow Orthodontics want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day, and to continue to see your family dentist every six months for your regular dental checkups.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, a water pik can be a good way to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water piks to flossing because they don’t cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem when using floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other type of dental restoration, you may also find that using a water pik helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

How do you choose the right water pik for you?

Water piks are available for home or portable use. The home models are larger and use standard electrical outlets, while the portable versions use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in essentially the same way, both using pulsating water streams. A more critical difference in water piks is the ability to adjust the water pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, which can be very important, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable versions have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pik, first check the label. Some water piks recommend using water only.

Please give us a call at our Sioux Falls, SD office if you have any questions about water piks. You can also ask Dr. Horner or Dr. Barrow about them during your next visit.