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Common Household Remedies Request

I confess it: I hate flossing. And not only that, I hold to the bizarre and so clearly "just a rationalization" theory that my teeth are an ecology, and if I get them too clean, I could kill off beneficial bacteria and end up worse than before. (To be fair to myself, my theory was semi-borne out by my last trip to Thailand: Despite 7 (seven) years without dental care of any kind, I had only three cavities, and, except for the disintegrating molar caused by a poor filling from a corporate dental rental extraction machine, all were small.) That said:

I saw a Water Pik in the supermarket the other day, and I thought it might be worth it. The reason I don't floss, even though (caveats above) I "should," is that I literally hate, as in shudder, ick, Room 101-style hate, the act of flossing. Just something about manipulating the string into the gappy corners of my teeth. However, a Water Pik would make that problem go away, and might even do a better job than floss.

So, readers: Do any of you have experiences with a Water Pik, good or bad?

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...isn't very effective for tightly lodged food. Wooden tooth picks work pretty well, but, IMO & E floss is singularly the most effective.
The best dentist I've known told me if you have a choice between brushing and flossing; floss.

Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

Try these. They're like a really gentle toothpick. Stimulate the gum, clears out the gunk, even feels good. Not as thorough as floss since you can't get between the teeth at the tops, but better than nothing, and cheap to try.

My mother swears by some water pik-like flosser and sent me one. Haven't tried it yet.

Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

I've used a Water Pik for many years. They're more for removing stuff from the gums than the teeth. Floss can not be replaced by anything, IMO. The proper way to floss is directly down between the two teeth, and then up the side of the first tooth, then up the side of the second tooth X the number of spaces you have between teeth, and you do the back-most molars (or other tooth where there's no molar) up the side. Thus cleaning off the sides of the teeth. I'm all for good bacteria, but not on my teeth. I'd imagine that good bacteria on your teeth could get into your gums and become bad bacteria. There is a woven floss that's pretty good and gentle on the gums, from J and J. The Water Pik should be done along the gum line. Three cavities is a lot. Try and go for no more. There are other things you should be doing besides these two, like gum massaging and interdents. But you should work on getting yourself used to floss. It's absolutely necessary.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

As with exercise, anything is better than nothing. If you actually use a water-pik, and just can't bring yourself to floss, a water-pik would be a good thing. The little doohickeys Jay links to are great. Depending on whether you can get them between all your teeth, they can work almost as well as floss.

The bad news, confirmed by every dentist I've ever talked to, is that nothing replaces flossing. And, really, they're right. If you start doing it, and do it right (gently going up and alongside each tooth), you'll notice a difference in your gums within a couple of weeks. (The other big locus of bacteria is your tongue, so tongue-scrapers are actually a good thing too.)

The reason I'm so sure of that is because I, too, hated flossing and never did it. What changed it for me was a hygienist who gave me some "floss handles" made for kids. They have a sort of fork at each end with grooves for the thread, and two sort of buttons to wind the thread around tightly. Floss-eez was the brand.

They work great, cost about a dollar for a set of three, and when I went looking for them now of course they don't make them any more. Aargh. All I could find was the corporate dispose-after-one-use crap. Or it's a brand name used for a dog chew toy.

Honestly, they work so well I'd suggest carving or making your own. If you want, I can post a pic of it here. (Couldn't find any on the web.) Let me know, and I'll go do a portrait study of floss handles. :D

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Bit late, as usual, but here's a pic.

floss handle

If you made it out of wood, you could just wind the floss around the handle and make a nick in the wood to hold the end. (Like a thread spool.) And, of course, you wouldn't need the tiny size fork at the unused end if you're not making it for kids. The long handle is nice. You don't have to try to get your fingers in your mouth just to floss.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Flossing can be kind of gross, but a water pik is not terribly efficient at getting all of the plaque out from between the teeth, especially up at the gum line where it really matters. As a result, the plaque can calcify and then become virtually impossible to remove short of going to a dentist to have your teeth "scaled".

Some things are ickier than others. On the plus side, if you are interested in having archeologists know what you were eating......

Submitted by ohio on

Dude, floss while you're reading email at your computer. It will be awkward and weird, but you'll get the hang of it after a couple days. Pretty soon it'll be a compulsive thing you do because it makes your mouth feel better and cleaner, and you're not typing what you really think.

I keep a spool of floss and the plastic floss holder thingies by my computer monitor at my desk. When I'm reading (or pondering) or need to think about how to respond to some stupid email, I floss.

BTW, I get a lot of stupid email I have to respond to. You know that saying, "There are no stupid questions?"---bullshit, there are a lot of stupid questions. But I'm not allowed to respond with, "This is a stupid question and you are a stupid person." I have to be "nice," and "professional," and "not use swear words or call people names," no matter how stupid they are. So I use floss to literally clean my teeth and metaphorically to tie up a small bit of sanity. I reckon that's a win. And a victory, no matter how small, is still a victory.

Hope you and your teeth are doing well. I am planting an orchard (another place to put the frustration---right into the ground) and will perhaps write something up if I can find the time.

Submitted by lambert on

It's so good to hear from you. Listen, have you seen my keyboard? I mean, you can't have, but imagine this: My keyboard is covered with food particles already because I eat while working. I don't need to be adding an entirely new kind of food particle to the mix!

Submitted by hipparchia on


I had no idea that bacon-flavored dental floss was a thing until just now.

there are a gazillion different flavors, textures, shapes, and thicknesses of dental floss, try them all until you find one that doesn't hurt... and if your gums are sore, inflamed, or infected because you've been neglecting to floss for years, then pretty much all of the flosses will hurt at first. just pick the least ouchy kind and keep at it, your gums will thank you.

I tried a couple different versions of the water pik type devices and this is what I found... they take up space on your counter. they are dust-catchers that you have to clean the dust off of. you have to clean them inside too. the attachments jump off the counter top when you're not looking and land in the waste basket, or the toilet, or the cat's litter box. in my house, they become cat toys, the whole unit, not just the attchments. and they're just one more thing, y'know?

if you're a real gadget-head, and you really will use it every day, and you're never ever ever EVER going to use dental floss, it's better than nothing. otoh, if you're trying to simplify your life and you want to do right by your gums at the same time (because gum disease is a good way to lose all your teeth), then buy a few packs of different kinds of dental floss, keep the one you like best, and get rid of the others.