The truth about TikTok's water flossers trend, according to experts

Flossing breaks down the bacteria colonies from teeth and gums, water flossers simply rinse these areas, says expert. Picture: Towfiqu Barbhuiya /Unsplash

Flossing breaks down the bacteria colonies from teeth and gums, water flossers simply rinse these areas, says expert. Picture: Towfiqu Barbhuiya /Unsplash

Published Mar 12, 2024


In a world where personal hygiene can be as unique as the individual, a fresh TikTok trend has sparked a conversation about the best way to keep your pearly whites, well, pearly.

As we all know, a good scrub and a splash of water are the cornerstones of cleanliness, but when it comes to dental health, the debate between traditional string flossing and the high-tech water flosser is bubbling up.

For those who haven't been following the latest in oral hygiene, water flossers are the new gadget on the block. They're designed to blast away food bits and bacteria from those tricky nooks and crannies in our mouths.

But TikTokers aren't just filling these devices with water; they're getting creative and using mouthwash or even hydrogen peroxide, raising eyebrows about safety and effectiveness.

@kimberlycherrell This is by far the BEST way to use mouth wash 😉 #mouthwash #waterpik #oralhygiene ♬ original sound - Kimberly Cherrell

To get to the root of the matter, Yahoo Life reached out to Dr Fatima Khan, a Houston-based dentist who's been watching this trend with interest.

She shared that while water flossers are "great at reducing gum inflammation and decreasing bleeding“, they might not be the be-all and end-all of oral hygiene.

"They do not remove plaque as successfully as traditional floss and should be used in conjunction with floss," Dr Khan explained.

She emphasised that while water flossers can rinse, traditional flossing is what actually breaks down the bacterial colonies on our teeth and gums.

However, Dr Khan also pointed out that while TikTok might have you thinking water flossers are the new dental superheroes, they haven't quite earned their cape yet.

Research hasn't crowned them as superior to good ol' string flossing. In fact, she advises that they should be teaming up with traditional floss, not replacing it.

"Flossing breaks down the bacteria colonies from teeth and gums. The Waterpik, or water flossers, simply rinses these areas," she explained.

Dr Venus Patti from Limelight Dental in Ontario, Canada, suggests that the fun factor of water flossers shouldn't be underestimated.

"If people enjoy using a water flosser more than string floss, they may be more likely to use it regularly, which can lead to better results," Dr Patti told Yahoo.

Who should use a water flosser?

"Water flossers are a great addition to anyone's dental routine," said Dr Khan, especially for those with braces, gum disease, or dental work like crowns and implants. "They can reach spots that regular floss can't," she added.

Adding mouthwash to your water flosser can be beneficial in certain cases, according to Matthew Messina, DDS, from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. "Mouthwash with antibacterial properties can help with cavities and gum disease," he explained.

Dr Patti also recommends water flossers for older individuals who struggle with traditional flossing or find it a hassle.

Should water flossers be used with mouthwash or to remove tonsil stones?

If you're a TikTok user, you might have seen videos suggesting using mouthwash in your water flosser or using it to remove tonsil stones. However, experts warn against some of these ideas.

@skjameson Replying to @junewilliams15 cleaning them all out at once instead of picking them out one by one #tonsilstonesremoval #tonsilstones #teethtok #waterflosser #tonsiltok ♬ LITTLE MO' BETTA - David Davis

Dr Patti said it's okay to use mouthwash in a water flosser, but it's important to dilute it with water.

"The ratio should be 1:1 of water to mouthwash," she advises. Using too much mouthwash could harm the device.

Dr Chris Kim of Livewell Dental in Virginia agrees, saying that using mouthwash instead of water may affect how well the water flosser works.

Dr Khan also points out that most studies on water flossers are done with water alone, so there may not be any added benefits to using mouthwash.

As for removing tonsil stones, Dr Kim says it's generally safe but recommends using caution and following the manufacturer's instructions. "It's best to use a low-pressure setting to avoid discomfort," he advised.

If you don't have a water flosser, gently using a cotton swab can also help. And of course, good oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing can help prevent tonsil stones from forming.

All the experts agree that it's important to be cautious when trying out health tips from social media. Always check the source and consult your own doctor or dentist to find out what's best for you.