The Woes of a Dental Hygienist -and my thoughts on Waterpik

December 21, 2011

Being a Dental Hygienist, I am well aware of most of the dental products available.  I usually CRINGE when I’m in the dental care aisle and see people looking at some of the stuff that I’m not exactly fond of… like Plax brand mouthwash. Seriously guys. Clinically Proven to be as effective as water.  Awesome! *sarcasm* I always battle back and forth with the thoughts of approaching them and giving them a personal consultation…. But I don’t.  Usually…

The other day, I saw a guy in the store comparing an off-brand water flosser that was $40 on sale, and a $60 Waterpik.  I could tell that he was really trying to figure out why there was such a difference in price.

I couldn’t help myself. I *had* to say something.  I mean.. Sure, the cheap water flosser might feel like it’s working – but has it been through series of clinical studies to prove it’s effectiveness?  Probably not.

Waterpik Water Flossers are the only brand clinically proven to be an effective alternative to traditional floss for removing plaque biofilm and reducing gum bleeding and inflammation.

I told him that he should probably stick with the real deal, even given the price difference.  I also mentioned that I have that same Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser at home and love it – but not to be too grossed out with the stuff he sees falling out of his mouth into the sink.  I also mentioned that the Waterpik will most likely make his hygienist much happier than the sale priced off-brand – and very quickly and quietly told him that I was a dental hygienist.

My Recurring Nightmare

So… I usually have a hard time walking those isles because I really have a hard time keeping my mouth shut.  And I have this recurring nightmare about approaching people..

I’m terrified that if I speak up, I’ll be stuck in the dental care isle all day long answering questions… I envision the groups swarming me muttering to each other that there’s a LIVE dental hygienist in the store and she’s answering questions, for free!

Back to the Waterpik

Really guys- you can’t get much better than a Waterpik. I mean. *SOME* people have the physical capabilities and the persistence with floss to actually remove most of the debris from the pockets in their gums (without destroying them)… but most people just go in – and out.

With a Waterpik, you *know* that you’re getting the best results – because you can see the crap coming out of your teeth!  I’ve even done this after brushing and flossing, and still see stuff falling into the sink. It’s gross – but cool, too.

My personal thoughts as a dental hygienist
        Regular floss is capable of going approximately 3 millimeters (mm) deep into your gums.  That’s great if every single one of your pockets is 3mm or less.  But.  Most healthy adult’s pockets range from 2-5mm (and up!).  The Waterpik Water Flosser has been proven to get as much as 6mm deep below the gums.


Can’t get much better than that!  I recommend the Waterpik to most all of my patients as well! Open-mouthed smile

***NOTE*** Updated 12/2015 

I still VERY highly recommend this Waterpik to all of my patients, friends, and family. I always talk to my patients about the countertop waterpik vs. the cordless waterpik. The Cordless is great, and it works – but it’s best if it’s just for you to focus on a few areas. Ultimately to do your whole mouth you’ll have to stop and refill the cordless one several times before you’re complete. That’s just a pain for most people.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 9.11.22 AM

If you DO choose to go with a Cordless Waterpik, please choose one that has adjustable controls vs. the cheaper option that has a single setting. 

Cordless Waterpik 

If you don’t have counter space or you have a hard time with the water mess – I recommend the Waterpik Showerpik that attaches to your shower head! It’s a great solution, especially if you love long showers. You get to relax in the shower and take care of your teeth without making a giant mess all over the counter. This is available at and 

Waterpik Showerpik

I also recommend this Waterpik Shower Head to anyone and everyone who’s looking for a new shower head – *and* to all breastfeeding moms with sore chests!


*Thanks for clicking on the links above to purchase your waterpik! I appreciate the support you’re showing with the information you’re getting! -Amy

Simple ingredients in a whole natural form & lunchbox friendly! Don’t believe me?>>>Check it out for yourself <<<


  1. The flosser looks great- but that showerhead is calling my name. We have needed a new one for forever, I had no idea (till now) they made showerheads!

  2. All I can think about now is stuff falling out of my mouth. LOL I’m gonna have to get one of these. Thanks for the information.

  3. Well, you sold me! 🙂 I’ve always wanted a Waterpik myself. And I LOVE Waterpik Shower Heads.. I’ve always bought those!

  4. I really need one!

  5. I have the Waterpik, too, and love it! I always feel super clean when I’m done with it! 🙂

  6. Ok I’m sold… I need it! and I’m already grossed just thinking of the ickies falling off my mouth… Oh God!

  7. I wish I had known you years ago. I’m beyond needing this but I sure could have then, I was so terrible about flossing.

    • Most are super terrible about flossing – Even the regular flossers are not as good as they might think they are… Because even the regular floss is only going to go SO far under the gums.
      Sorry about your dental woes 🙁 Glad you’re working towards it now though! Feel free to ask me any questions! I don’t mind!

  8. Waterpik Fan says:

    I struggled with flossing my whole life until I got a Waterpik Flosser, and now I floss every day with pride.

  9. Rick Winquest says:

    I’ve been using a waterpik for just over a month and will never go back to flossing due to how great my mouth feels over flossing.

  10. Marielaina Perrone DDS says:

    Waterpik is a tremendous tool for patients at home care especially for those with limited dexterity. I would also add looking into Periogen. It is a tartar dissolving oral rinse to use between professional cleanings.

    Marielaina Perrone DDS

  11. After a Waterpic flosser is several years old, is there ever a problem with mold collecting in the tubing?

    • I think there are several recommendations out there about cleaning out or replacing the tubing. I would highly recommend looking into that! 😀

  12. I have been using my Sonicare for years now and I just love it. Also, I have been flossing to have most of the tart removed and I noticed the Waterpik flosser at the store which I was unaware of and bought one. Does anyone knows if athe cordless water flosser from Waterpik is effective as the non cordless? Help!

    • I am guessing that it is as effective. The only thing is that you’ll have to stop and re-fill it a few times – but you don’t have to deal with cords 🙂

  13. I love my waterpik!!!! I have recommended it to my patients as well and they have grown to love it too. It definitely beats flossing with regular floss.

  14. Robin Wilson says:

    I know this is an older post, but wanted to read it because I am concerned about my 23 year old son! He used to have such great oral hygiene routine. But he has slacked off so much that it is making me crazy! I don’t know why, perhaps he is going through a “lazy” phase. But maybe this Waterpik would be something he would use. It would surely help some! Thanks for such an in-depth review!

  15. Sherri Lewis says:

    Maybe I should look into this…. because I am probably the world’s worst about flossing. Now…. you should do a post on manual versus electric toothbrushes 🙂

  16. Carole Ingram says:

    Thank you for this post, it’s got load of good information! We always get cavities because of our poor flossing habits, this might be a life saver for us. I’m going to investigate further….

  17. I have used a WaterPik for years but have struggled with mold. I thought I was cleaning it but today took the handle apart. It was incrusted with black mold. It will have to be trashed because I shall not go back to that health hazard. Please advise. Lynn

  18. I used a Waterpik as a kid in the 70’s, when I wore braces. I didn’t know they still made them until my 13 y.o. daughters hygienist mentioned it on her last visit. Thanks for great review. I will be getting one! Kids flossing…yeah right! I wish someone would have mentioned it to us earlier at the dentist’s office.

  19. A Waterpik Convert says:

    I used to floss and use a Sonicare regularly, and I still got lousy checkups. My hygienist would say, “You know, you really should floss!” I’d scream, “BUT I DO!!!” It drove me crazy. It wasn’t until I added a Waterpik to the mix that I finally started to show improvement. It really does get out a lot of the food particles that both flossing and a Sonicare will miss. It’s amazing to brush and floss thoroughly and think you are clean, then fire up the Waterpik and really see how much junk was still hiding in there.

    If only I started my Waterpik routine when I was younger. My family had one but we mostly thought of it as a novelty. Like many adults, I have deep pockets in my gums and have to try extra hard to not let things get any worse. My routine at night is now:

    1. Waterpik
    2. Floss
    3. Waterpik again
    4. Sonicare
    5. Waterpik again (usually with some Listerine thrown into the tank)

    My wife thinks I’m nuts but I was getting desperate. Hopefully I’m not overdoing things. I try not to rip up my gums.

    I’ve shared my story with several dentists and hygienists, telling them that I never started getting good checkups at dentist until I started using a Waterpik. I’ve been surprised how many have poo poo’d the Waterpik. One told me, “That’s just an irrigator.”

    Whatever. I believe that all one needs to be a convert is to see all of the junk that comes out of your mouth. If it takes “just an irrigator” to do that, then I guess I need an irrigator.

    My only negative issue with Waterpiks is the mold. That stuff builds up in all of the nooks and crannies in the appliance. I wish the handle and other parts could be more easily taken apart so that I could thoroughly clean it.

    • Ha! Just an Irrigator! It is just an irrigator, that helps irrigate the crap out of your teeth! I’m glad that you have this routine and I’m SURE it is helping your oral and systemic health. Good for you! 😀

      I still have to write a post about mold, huh… Someday…

      • i’m still debating on the waterpik. Almost sold, it’s just the price holding ,e back as I am a student.

        In regards to all the mold questions, would it be possible to run a vinegar/water or hydrogen peroxide mixture through to clean it?

    • I think you may be blasting away the fluoride from your toothpaste when you waterpik after brushing. The first two irrigations should be more than enough. I’d add a rinse containing fluoride to the end of your routine.

  20. This morning as I was using my water pik to clean my teeth, I realized that I have had and used this appliance for 37 years.
    my parents bought it for me when I was 11 and had braces put on my teeth. I have thought of replacing it, but it is still going strong.
    I wonder if the newer ones are as well made. I would never go with a cheaper model because I doubt it would be as reliable. It still
    Takes any gunk out of my teeth. I notice it runs a little slow once in awhile now and takes a minute to pull itself together. I might
    actually be wearing poor old pik out. I clean it occasionally with bleach and haven’t had a big problem with mold.

    • Wow! That’s a LONG time for one appliance. That’s impressive! It may be time for another one soon – you won’t regret it though 😀

  21. Thanks to this article, I just bought a Waterpik. I even used the link here to hopefully get you a little change in your pocket. If that link doesn’t do that you should update to one that does cuz it’s free for everyone involved.

  22. Love the waterpik! Hate the mold!! It’s persistent and gross enough that I may be back to regular flossing. If there’s mold in places I can see, I’m scared to know what’s in the places I CAN’T see!

  23. Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening.

    I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this content
    together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot
    of time both reading and posting comments. But so
    what, it was still worth it!

  24. Love the water blast and have been using Waterpik brand products for over a quarter century. I like the battery powered unit for travel as well as the countertop units when home.

    What I hate is the nasty mold!!! My travel unit doesn’t see enough use to have developed the problem but every counter top unit I have ever owned no matter which model it was got the funk.

    I don’t care how many preventative measures one performs or how often, it simply WILL NOT MATTER!!! You can run Vinegar, Efferdent, Listerine or Kerosene over and through the darn things!

    You can try rubbing it out, you can try scrubbing it out, you can try blasting it out, you can try taking it completely apart after each use and you will still end up with . . . mold around the collar or some darn where!!!

    If I could find a different water blasting product that had the high pressure capability I value and didn’t develop mold I’d dump this brand in a heartbeat but I’m not going to route the hose and wand from my gasoline engine powered pressure washer into the bathroom.

    If they just made the product so it could be easily disassembled and tossed in the dish washer on a bi-weekly basis they’d have a winner but why when they can sell me a new one every year.

    That’s right; I keep ‘em a year and toss ‘em. I use it twice a day every day for 365 days toss it and go dump another $60 bucks on a new one. Do the math, that’s $.08 per use . . . well worth it but still.

    Really Waterpik? You folks can’t design a better mold free product after all the profit you’ve made off of me?? Seriously, come awn???

    • Where do you see mold with it? I haven’t seen any on mine; it a few years old. After I am finished with it, I allow the cord to hang down into my bathtub, hoping that all the water gets drained out. I don’t know what other preventative measure to take.

  25. what model do you recommend?

  26. I’m a novice to Waterpik, but the complaints about mold are concerning. The one thing I know of that sterilizes without leaving behind a chemical residue (ok, ionizing radiation as well, but the plastic won’t handle too much UV) is hydrogen peroxide. My plan is to periodically run H2O2 through the tank, line, and tip, then leave the unit out in the light. That will decompose the peroxide to oxygen and water over the next 24 hours, and a quick flush before I use it next time will ensure I don’t ingest any of it.

    The mold and bacteria won’t know what hit them.

  27. Joe W. Ivan says:

    Thanks for the info…
    I found it very useful and led me to some instructional videos on YOUTUBE.

    The one i have included has to do with maintenance of the Waterpik. I’m not sure if running the unit dry for long is a good idea, but I tried it and it seems to be OK…

  28. Thanks for this. I’m looking into getting one. I’ve just got some fixed braces and my teeth don’t look as clean as I’d like (but I do feel like a teenager again!). I think I’ll get a cordless one as we don’t have a power socket in the bathroom.

    • Good thought! Just remember with a cordless one, you’ll have to fill it multiple times!

      Waterpik DOES have a pick that attaches to the shower head, so it gives you the opportunity to hang out in the shower caring for your teeth 😉
      That’d be my next best suggestion before the cordless. But if you’re OK filling it several times, then the cordless is the way to go!
      Good luck with braces!! I had them twice… bleh.

  29. Hi! I was wondering if I possibly used the waterpik to roughly. I have the cordless and it has two settings, I kept it on high going around my bridge and crowns and now those areas have increased from 3s to 4s. Is it possible to do damage with the waterpik?

    Thank you for your advice!

    • Sorry for the delay. I am guessing that you wouldn’t do any damage with the waterpik, and would more-likely relate it to tartar buildup, age, stress, medications etc…
      But definitely continue to brush/floss/rinse and use the waterpik around those bridges and crowns.
      Did you have the same hygienist as the time before? It could be the difference in hygienists as well, we always say there’s a variance of 1mm either direction between hygienists.
      *ultimately: I consider 4’s to be fairly ‘normal’ around crowns and bridges because the gums cannot attach to the metal or porcelain sub-structure. 🙂 Ask if there was more bleeding or plaque there? If it’s bleeding a lot, maybe angle the water deeper into the gums vs. through the space in the bridge.

  30. Make that *too* roughly.

  31. Dominick Wall says:

    I bought my first Waterpik from Costco several years ago, was very happy with it, recently the hose broke. I bought a new one at Target, was very disappointed, it was much lighter, made a lot more noise and lot less pressure. Just seems to be a lot cheaper in its construction.

    • ..Story of our lives, right???

      Be sure to keep a copy of your receipt – I think Waterpik has a warranty, and I hear *great* customer service!

  32. My daughter is 3.5 years old, she has gingivitis, is this very common? I started helping her to floss everyday, is her teeth going to return back to normal and healthy later after we take good care of it? Since the back molars are not yet closed and there’s a gap between the two molars, food always stuck in there, even floss can’t get rid of the partical. So I bought her a Watepik floss, but I am very afraid is it too young for a 3.5 years old to use Watepik????? Since there’s some water pressure while using Watepik, is that going to hurt her gum????

    • My 5yo has gingivitis almost constantly. His teeth are crowded and his gums are always puffy and bleedy, even when we floss regularly. I think just keep doing your best brushing her teeth two times per day, using the smallest toothbrush head you can find, being sure to use a small circular motion halfway on her tooth and halfway on her gums (to massage the gums as you’re brushing her teeth).
      I often put my boys’ heads in my lap while I sit cross legged – and I use my finger to pull their cheek open to get to the molar areas.
      In the spaces, floss should be able to get the stuff out – but if not, try the waterpik at a lower pressure. Don’t angle the water directly down into the root area, but rather to flush between the teeth.

      Hope that helps!!

  33. question: In a nursing home,94 years old. How easy or difficult would a waterpik be for a nursing assistant to use on his teeth? Needs to clean thoroughly between his teeth-no dentures- and brush gums very well.
    Which pik should be used? The cnassistant needs something, easy because they have several patients to get ready for bed. I doubt if the resident receives more than one brushing and flossing daily.
    Thank you very much

    • I think it would be a little challenging. I’d go with a Sonicare toothbrush for them to help brush, and ask the cna if they’d be comfortable using the waterpick – even a few times a week would be helpful with that. But the sonciare daily!

      It’s been my experience that the nurses say they are ‘willing’ to do the work, but they rarely do. I see many patients from nursing homes and they have the worst hygiene. The patients often times say that they brushed, and the nurses don’t really feel like digging in mouths, so they just take their word for it.. I’d ask the one specifically responsible for him and be sure that she/he understands that it’s their responsibility to brush his teeth.

      Hope that helps!!

  34. How many times a day should you use the Waterpik? I am new to it and love it so far. Some days I have used it am and pm, but recently went to just pm, since nothing would really get in them during the night-lol! It comes with a tooth brush head, I’m concerned it will not work as well as my manual head, since the directions say not to apply pressure like a manual head. I guess the water is doing the brushing??? Just trying to figure out the best procedure that is correct. Thank you, Lisa

    • Sorry for the delayed response: I think 1 time per day is great, twice is even better but can get more time consuming… I haven’t seen much with the toothbrush head, I guess I’m not up-to-date with their current model that has that option. I’d give it a try, if it doesn’t feel like it’s doing as much, I’d go back to your regular brush – Be sure to brush half on your gums and half on your teeth in small circular motions (no scrubbing!) 😀

  35. How difficult is it to clean behind teeth with the tool? Is there a u-shaped pik?

  36. Does the cordless water pik have tubing that could have mold growing in it? I’m trying to decide which one to buy based on least likely to grow mold.

Speak Your Mind