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We all know flossing is important for dental hygiene, but it’s often challenging to commit to daily. As comedian Mitch Hedberg said, “People who smoke cigarettes say, ‘Man, you don’t know how hard it is to quit smoking.’ Yes, I do. It’s as hard as it is to start flossing.”
Water flossers, also called oral irrigators, can make flossing easier or more effective by removing the sticky film of plaque from teeth to prevent cavities. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), when used correctly, water flossing can reduce the risk of gingivitis, which is an early form of gum disease.
Ready to narrow down your search? Here are recommendations, tips on how to comfortably use these devices, and how we went about choosing.
- Effectiveness. The ADA gives its Seal of Acceptance to products proven to be safe and effective. We included products given the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
- Design and types. We included a range of water flossers, including portable, 2-in-1 flosser-toothbrushes, and those that attach to your shower head.
- Sizes. You’ll find options for flossers with small and large reservoirs, and handheld and countertop models.
- Pressure/adjustments. Each product has multiple water pressure settings so that you have options for the best fit for your teeth and gums.
- Price/affordability. Products are in a range of prices, including options for every budget.
- Reviews. Products in this list have a minimum rating of 4 out of 5. We also used the Fakespot Google Chrome Extension, which shows approved sellers and warns of fake or misleading reviews.
Water flossers are significantly more expensive than traditional dental floss, but they do last much longer. Check out the pricing guide below to see the general cost of each product.
Best 2-in-1 flosser & toothbrush
- Price: $$$
- Reservoir capacity: 22 ounces
- Number of pressure settings: 10
This Waterpik water flosser comes with all the bells and whistles, including an electric toothbrush. If you’re looking to replace your manual toothbrush and get into water flossing, this double-duty flosser may be the answer. Its large 22-ounce capacity reservoir makes this a great choice for large bathroom countertops and families with multiple users.
This is a pricier option than many other flossers, but keep in mind that it also includes an electric toothbrush. Waterpik claims that their electric toothbrush removes nine times as many stains as a manual toothbrush, and has three modes: clean, whiten, and massage.
The reservoir is top-rack dishwasher-safe, making cleaning it easy and convenient. The flosser and toothbrush are rechargeable by plugging the unit into the wall. With your purchase, you’ll also get five flosser tips, two toothbrush heads, a toothbrush travel case, and a 2-year warranty.
- Price: $
- Reservoir capacity: 300 milliliters (10.14 ounces)
- Number of pressure settings: 3
This cordless water flosser is attached to the reservoir, so it takes up less counter space. The flosser is powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable by USB. Each charge lasts up to 21 days.
The three pressure settings — normal, soft, and pulse — are designed to be low-noise, and can remove up to 99.9 percent of plaque, according to the brand. It comes with four flosser heads, so a family can use one model for a fraction of the price of other flossers.
The carrying bag, lightweight design, and long charge time may make the INSMART Cordless Water Flosser a good choice for traveling.
Highest professional recommendation
- Price: $$$
- Reservoir capacity: enough for 2 full flossings
- Number of pressure settings:3
The Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra has an ADA Seal of Acceptance and a 90-day satisfaction money-back guarantee. The 2-year limited warranty covers any defects that might appear. The battery is charged via an electrical outlet, and each charge lasts up to 2 weeks.
The AirFloss Ultra combines a stream of water with a burst of air, giving it extra power to remove food, stains, and plaque. The box includes a 2-ounce trial size of Philips mouthwash, which you can pour into the reservoir in place of water. Choose from a single, double, or triple burst of air, depending on your needs. The AirFloss Ultra is lightweight, which can be helpful for those with gripping issues or arthritis in their hands.
- Price: $$
- Reservoir capacity: 110 milliliters (3.71 ounces)
- Number of pressure settings:3
In addition to a sleek design, BURST Water Flosser has a 90-day money-back guarantee, USB charging port, easy method of refilling water, shower-safe materials, and 80 days of use from one charge.
BURST claims their flosser has one of the strongest engines on the market, allowing for extra-powerful flossing. Use the standard, turbo, or pulse pressure settings to blast away plaque and debris. Its ergonomic and compact design may be easier to use for folks with dexterity issues or hand pain.
Best shower flosser
- Reservoir capacity: N/A
- Number of pressure settings: “dimmer” switch
The Oral Breeze ShowerBreeze attaches to your existing showerhead, meaning you can only use it in the shower. Though this limits where you can use it, it also makes cleanup easier. The food particles, plaque, and water wash right down the shower drain, eliminating the need to clean your sink or mirror. Since it attaches to your showerhead, you never have to refill a reservoir tank.
The dimmer switch lets you adjust the pressure until you find your ideal setting.
The ShowerBreeze is made of chrome-plated brass. The company has installation instructions and videos online.
If you have trouble making time to floss, this could be a great option, since you can add a minute of water flossing to your regular shower routine.
Wondering what to look for in a water flosser? Here are some tips about features and other considerations.
- Pressure settings. Look for multiple pressure settings, especially if you have sensitive gums or teeth. If you’re new to water flossing, it might take some time to adjust to the force of the water, so you want multiple options to choose from.
- Cost. Keep your budget in mind when getting a water flosser. Don’t overspend on a product you might not end up using.
- Size. Do you travel a lot? If so, you’ll want a lightweight flosser that fits easily in your carry-on bag. If you’re a homebody with a large bathroom countertop, a standing model with a large reservoir might be better for you. If you have troubles with dexterity, gripping, or hand pain, choose a lightweight, ergonomic model.
- Warranty. Many flossers have a 90-day guarantee, meaning you can try it for up to 3 months and get your money back if it’s not for you. Look for a flosser with a warranty of at least 2 years and read the coverage details. Flossers aren’t cheap, and you want to make sure yours will last (or is easily replaceable if it breaks).
- Ask around. If you still don’t know which option to go with, ask your friends, family, or dentist which products they prefer.
How do water flossers work?
A small motor allows water to come out in a steady, powerful stream. This stream of pulsing, pressurized water has enough force to dislodge food particles stuck between teeth, and blast away plaque and stains. The water stream can get to hard-to-reach crevices that brushing alone cannot.
Are water flossers better than string floss?
This is a good question with an unclear answer. Water flossers with the ADA Seal of Acceptance are proven to remove plaque. They can also be easier for some people to use than dental floss. Water flossing may not be quite as effective as traditional flossing at removing plaque, but using both can be a good combo.
Can I use a water flosser instead of dental floss?
Water flossing is not considered an alternative to dental floss, but it can be an effective supplemental aid. Brushing your teeth, flossing with traditional floss, and flossing with water give you the most thorough at-home cleaning.
However, something is always better than nothing, so if you hate regular flossing but love water flossing, it’s better than not flossing at all. For a clearer answer for you, ask your dentist at your next cleaning.
- Always point your flosser at the sink to test the stream before putting it in your mouth.
- For an easy cleanup, use your water flosser in the shower (after making sure yours is shower-safe!).
- Put the flosser inside your mouth and aim the water along your gum line and between your teeth.
- To reduce water splashing, close your lips before turning it on and while using the flosser.
- After flossing, make sure to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash, and spit out any loosened food or plaque.
No matter how you choose to floss, it is imperative that you do floss. The ADA strongly recommends you find at least one way to floss, whether that’s with dental tape, dental floss, water flossers, or floss picks. If water flossing isn’t for you, check out some alternatives below.
- Waxed floss. Waxed floss is dental floss coated in wax, making it easier to glide between the teeth. It is also more likely to be flavored, which can make it feel more refreshing and pleasant.
- Dental tape. Also called ribbon tape, dental tape is similar to floss, but is broader and flatter. Some people find tape easier to use than floss, and like how it covers more tooth area than regular floss.
- Flosser picks. If you find dental floss unwieldy or unpleasant, try flosser picks, which are plastic picks that are prethreaded with floss. Simply grip the pick with your fingers and move it in between each of your teeth, scraping each tooth’s side as you pull it up.
Water flossers are a good alternative to traditional dental floss if you hate flossing, have orthodontic work, or are concerned about gum disease.
Ash Fisher is a writer and comedian living with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. When she’s not having a wobbly-baby-deer day, she’s hiking with her corgi, Vincent. Learn more about her on her website.