What Is a Water Pick (And Should I Be Using One)?

water pick

A water pick is an electronic device that uses a pulsing stream of water to clean plaque and tartar from between the teeth. Though water picks have been around since their invention in the 1960’s, it is only recently that modern technology has allowed them to become commonplace. Today, many dentists recommend water picks as a replacement for or complement to traditional dental floss.

What is a Water Pick and Should I Be Using One? Allow Us to Answer All Your Questions:

What is a Water Pick?

Otherwise known as an oral irrigator, a water pick is comprised of a handheld device connected to a water reservoir. After filling the reservoir with lukewarm water, a nozzle can be attached to the handheld device and then inserted into the mouth. Close your mouth and lean over the sink to avoid spraying water all over your bathroom, then turn on the device so that water flows around your mouth then out into the sink.

Just as you would with floss, move the water pick in between each tooth so that the water sprays through the teeth and around the gums. Repeat this process throughout your entire mouth before turning the device off and draining it of any excess water. Repeat daily to remove debris from the teeth.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Water Pick?

Water picks are particularly beneficial for those with permanent retainers or other orthodontic appliances that may be permanently affixed to the teeth. Because it can be more difficult for individuals with dental appliances to cleanse teeth using traditional methods such as dental floss, increased levels of plaque and gingivitis are not uncommon after the placement of such devices.

In an attempt to discover a remedy, one study in the American Journal of Orthopedics & Dentofacial Orthopedics tested the levels of plaque and gum bleeding in three groups of people. The first group used a manual toothbrush and a water pick daily. The second group used a manual toothbrush and flossed daily. The third group used only a manual toothbrush. Levels of plaque and gum bleeding were tested after two and four weeks of using each method.

Unsurprisingly, those that used a water pick had significantly less plaque than those that didn’t, as well as significantly less gum bleeding than those that didn’t. Because of this, water picks may be a healthy alternative to dental floss when it comes to providing a cleaner mouth and lower incidences of plaque-associated diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

Should I Be Using a Water Pick?

Water picks can be beneficial to anyone who wishes to reduce plaque and increase gum and tooth health. They can be especially beneficial for those at risk of dental or gum diseases, or for individuals with braces, permanent retainers, or other dental devices that may make flossing more difficult.

Water picks are not a replacement for professional dental cleanings, though they may be a complementary option in between visits. Contact Dr. Dondo for more information or to schedule your next appointment.


Dr. Dondo provides general and cosmetic dentistry in Bend, Oregon. With everything you need to perfect your teeth, bite, gums, and smile, our goal is to provide a pleasant and comfortable experience for all of our patients. Schedule your appointment today.

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