Tools and Resources

Dental floss vs. water pick: Which is better?

Is it more effective to floss teeth with a water pick or standard dental floss?

Standard dental floss is generally considered the most effective tool for cleaning the tight spaces between the teeth. You can also use dental floss to scrape up and down the sides of each tooth.

A water pick (oral irrigator) is a device that aims a stream of water at your teeth. A water pick can help remove food particles from your teeth and might help reduce bleeding and gum disease but it isn't generally considered a substitute for brushing and flossing.

If plain dental floss gets stuck in your teeth, use the waxed variety. If you have a hard time handling dental floss, try a floss holder. Other options might include special brushes, picks or sticks designed to clean between the teeth.

Updated: 2/18/2012

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by MayoClinic.com/Mayo Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.