By Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH
“Flossgate” happened in 2016. For those of you who may have forgotten, under the Freedom of Information Act, the Associated Press asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture for evidence to support the use and effectiveness of dental floss. When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines, the flossing recommendation had been removed without notice. The AP received a letter from the government acknowledging that the effectiveness of floss had never been researched, as required. Thus, the AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade that focused on 25 studies that compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of a toothbrush and floss. The results? Evidence for flossing was deemed “weak, very unreliable, or of very low quality and carries a moderate to large potential for bias.”1
As dental professionals, we constantly battle with patients over the “f” word—patients don’t do it or lie to us that they do use it, or they use floss haphazardly. When flossgate broke, patients, family, and the media asked dental professionals what to do—floss or not? However, many of those asking did not know that there is an effective alternative to string flossing – flossing with water! A water flosser, specifically the Waterpik Water Flosser, has been researched and shown to be effective in removing biofilm and debris interproximally. It’s better than traditional string floss and safe for use in the natural dentition and with orthodontic, implant, and periodontal patients.
Originally known as the producer of oral irrigators, in 1962 Water Pik Inc. was founded as AquaTec Corporation of Fort Collins, Colorado, by hydraulic engineer John Mattingly and dentist Gerald Moyer. They wanted to create an oral irrigator for use in dentistry. The oral irrigator received its first patent in 1967. One of the first studies was published in 1969 showing plaque and calculus reductions by those who used the oral irrigator. The 50th clinical study proving the efficacy of the oral irrigator was presented in 2005. The oral irrigator officially became known as the Waterpik Water Flosser in 2009, and this year Waterpik Water Flosser celebrates the original oral irrigator’s 55th anniversary.2