- Oral Health
Waterpik: A Personal Review
A Closer Look at the Waterpik
After using the Waterpik WaterFlosser Ultra, I decided I wanted to provide a review of it for others who might be considering it for themselves.
While I have been diligent about brushing my teeth at least twice a day and flossing with dental floss at least daily, visits to my dentist in the past couple of years indicated that my regime wasn't working. I was showing clear signs of gingivitis. My gums were beginning to recede and I was starting to even develop some bone loss around my lower molars.
The dental hygenist suggested that I try using a Waterpik for flossing. She indicated that it tended to be more thorough at removing plaque causing food as well as the harmful bacteria that forms and that it would even go further below the gum line than what I could do with dental floss. It was suggested that I try a model that inculded a "Pik Pocket Tip" which would do the best job of getting deep below the gumline.
Later, I purchased the Waterpik Waterflosser Ultra.
So Why Does It Matter?
Millions of people avoid flossing altogther. Others, like me, floss but don't do an effective job. Some have other factors that make it very difficult to avoid developing problems with plaque (and eventually tartar) formation on their teeth, decay, and gum disease despite their best efforts. Braces and dental work itself can present problems.
My problem was gingivitis which is an inflammation of the gums, it's a problem that a majority of people have to some degree. It's not terribly serious in some cases, but can advance into a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis and tooth loss.
However, the problems extend beyond dental health to your overall health. Research indicates that periodontitis has been linked to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or lung disease. It's even been linked to diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. You can learn more about this by reviewing this article and supporting documentation.
An Overview of My Experience
The Waterpik Water Flosser Ultra comes with tips. The Plaque Seeker tip is particularly useful for areas that are hard to reach such as implants, crowns, bridges, and veneers. There is also a tooth brush tip for brushing and flossing at the same time, an otrhodontic tip for people with braces, a tongue cleaner, a jet tip, and the Pik Pocket tip for going deeper, especially for people with periodontal pockets.
The tips store in a case that forms the top of the water tank on this Waterpik unit. The only flaw I found, is that the case has slots for 4 tips. A 5th tip is presumably attached to the handle at any time, but that leaves the 6th tip with no home for storage.
The unit delivers a stream of water that pulsates. The strength of the water stream can be varied by adjusting a dial on the front of the unit. There are 10 levels. Most new users should opt for level 1 until they feel they can or want to up the pressure.
The Waterpik WaterFlosser Ultra does seem to be quite stable, well built, and has no leaks. It has a clean attractive look which means you won't mind leaving it set out on the counter.
This unit is however for home use, not for travel. There are portable Waterpik flossers, but this isn't really one of them. It's approximately 5 1/2" wide and 7 1/2" tall.
Ease of Set Up and Use
I'm not a mechanical person, but I didn't really need the instructions to set up the Waterpik. There is no assembly required. There is a quick start card in addition to a full instruction manual. Users just need to remove the lid/tip storage section, remove and fill the tank with warm water, replace it on the unit, and reattach the lid. The tip is then selected, inserted into the handle, the unit plugged in, and it's ready to use.
The device has two buttons on the handle. One is a small button that is to be depressed when removing a tip. The other is a large concave button that falls naturally where your thumb rests as you grip the handle. It is the pause button which stops the water stream when desired.
The unit itself has only an on/off switch and a dial that allows you to select the water pressure. I find all of the controls to be easy to operate even during the task of flossing.
Performance and Effectiveness
I've used my Waterpik Waterflosser for 12 weeks now. The only tip I have used is the Pic Pocket. It has performed reliably thus far, with no leaking. The Pik Pocket tip has made it easy to direct the stream of water exactly where I want it. Since it's only been a matter of weeks, I haven't yet been back to the dentist to determine if the unit has managed to bring my gingivitis under control. However, I can say that I see no plaque on my teeth, no debris the couple of times I have flossed with dental floss just to see if I could find any debris between my teeth, and the bit of tingling I would get at night time on my gums previously is now gone.
I'll provide an update on the issue of effectiveness after my next dental visit.
The instructions are brief and easy to understand. Instructions cover how to set up the unit, care for it, how to troubleshoot minor problems, and tips on how to use the Waterpik Waterflosser, and it's various tips, properly.
The upfront cost of the Waterpik Waterflosser Unit I purchased was just under $60 with tax. It comes with a three year warranty. The rubber tip on the Pik Pocket attachment will likely split at some point and need to be replaced. It's estimated to last 6 months. The replacement is priced around $8-$9 although I found them online for somewhat less. If I find that using the Waterpik does arrest my gingivitis, the investment will pay off well. I would consider the value at that point to be outstanding.
Six Month FollowUp
I returned to the dentist for my routine visit 6 months after I started using the Waterpik. During this time, I used it once a day and flossed with regular dental floss as well. I also rinsed with an anti-bacterial mouthwash each evening. Signs of gingivitis were gone. No bleeding or further recession of my gums was present. Obviously, I was doing a number of things to help get this result, but certainly the water flosser was the primary thing I added to my routine dental care and thus, I feel it must be a significant part of that positive outcome.
The Advantages of Water Flossers
The Waterpik Waterflosser offers a number of advantages that I find very attractive:
- It is faster than flossing.
- It's easy. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to determine when I was in the right spot with the water jet, but it's easy. I can feel the Pik Pocket tip running along my gum line. It's very intuitive and I don't have to mess with wrapping floss around my fingers and advancing it after each tooth.
- My dentist indicates it's more effective than flossing. The Waterpik literature says it's 93% more effective than string floss.
- There is never any discomfort or bleeding. It was never a big problem for me, but now flossing is pleasant and there are no signs or sensations of anything even remotely traumatic going on with my gums.
- No more broken string floss. Occasionally I would get dental floss that would break or shred, something that could never happen with the Waterpik.
- Fresh feeling. My mouth feels wonderfully fresh once I've finished flossing with this unit.
Tips for Using the Waterpik Waterflosser
To use the Waterpik Waterflosser, the tip should be held in the mouth with the lips closed and your head over the sink. When using the unit for the first time the lowest pressure setting should be used. The tip should be held along the gumline at a 90 degree angle.
The unit is then turned on and the tip is slid slowly along the gumline, pausing for just a second between teeth. You can allow water to flow out of your mouth and into the sink, or keep it in your mouth, pressing the pause button as you finish each section of teeth, to spit the water out periodically. I typically do my teeth in four sections: upper front, lower front, upper back, lower back. The tip can be rotated to make reaching the back of your teeth easier.
Taking the time to get comfortable using the pause button (which can prevent splashing) and the rotation of the tip will make process go smoothly.
I would also recommend (as the instruction manual does) to use warm water especially if your gums are a bit sensitive to cold. The Waterpik Waterflosser can also be used with some mouthwashes and antibacterial solutions, but I believe you should check with your dentist to assure you are using something they would recommend. I use an antiseptic mouthwash separately.
Of course for those who travel or who want to be able to floss throughout the day while they are at work or school, a portable flosser would be a better option than the home unit that I have. I haven't used them, but based on my experience with the Waterpik Waterflosser Ultra, I would expect similar quality and performance.