A water flosser is an effective alternative to string floss. It gets deeper into the pockets between teeth and is gentler on gums than a toothbrush. Besides dislodging plaque and food debris, a water flosser also helps to prevent periodontal infection and inflammation by flushing away bacteria responsible for gingivitis and other oral infections.
As an oral irrigator, a flosser can clean orthodontic appliances, implants and crowns without wearing them down. Water jet flossers are ideal for diabetics, as they reduce gum bleeding and combat gingivitis more effectively than other flossing solutions. Some examples of water flossers are the Waterpik Ultra, Panasonic Oral Irrigator and OraTec ViaJet Pro.
Water Flossers: What to Look For
The best water flosser to choose depends on how much you want to spend and how you plan to use it. For example, you can't take a countertop oral irrigator with you on a trip, and a flosser attached to a faucet may not be ideal for a small bathroom. Water flossers come in different sizes and with varying feature sets, but the key features to look for when comparing them are explained below.
The tip or nozzle of a water jet flosser squirts out water bursts with the force required to remove plaque and leftover food particles. All flossers come with at least one standard tip. In addition to a standard floss tip, you can also find tips specially designed for cleaning the spaces around braces, crowns and implants. Besides the tips themselves, having a flosser with a swiveling head helps direct tips to hard-to-reach places and adapt to different types of dentition.
There are three main oral irrigator designs: cordless, corded with basin and corded with faucet attachment. A cordless water flosser runs on batteries and comes as a self-contained unit that you can take on a trip. Although convenient, cordless flossers are not as powerful as corded ones and they don't hold as much water. A corded flosser with its own basin contains more water but isn't portable. A corded flosser with a faucet attachment can either be a shower water flosser or connect to a sink faucet. Such flossers need no electric power and are typically quieter than the other two types. On the other hand, they cannot generate more flossing pressure than the pressure of water flowing through faucets.
Water flossers clean out food debris and gingivitis by blasting the spaces between teeth and gums with a jet of pressurized water. Ideally, the higher the pressure, the better the cleaning action. However, a high water pressure may damage orthodontic appliances and implants and cause gums to bleed. Therefore, being able to control a flosser's water pressure is an important feature. While some oral irrigators only have one pressure setting, some have multiple settings, and a few have a dial that allows you to finely adjust the pressure of the water coming out of their tips.
The water coming out of the tip of an oral irrigator comes from a reservoir. While cordless flossers have built-in water reservoirs, these are usually small and barely hold enough water for a minute-long flossing session. Corded flossers with basins are connected to bigger reservoirs. However, corded flossers attached to faucets usually have no water reservoirs since they directly draw their water supply from taps.
Compared to string flossers, water flossers are simpler to use, faster, less abrasive and more effective. They can significantly improve your oral hygiene when combined with a regular brushing regimen.
Interplak SWJ1 All-in-One Sonic Water Jet
The Interplak SWJ1 All-in-One Sonic Water Jet is a countertop water flosser from Conair Corporation. In addition to serving as a flosser, the SWJ1 also doubles as a sonic toothbrush.
The SWJ1 has a large 26-ounce water reservoir. However, the tank and flosser itself are made of plastic. The reservoir has a hinged cover and is removable from the base station. Although it is transparent, the tank has a blue color that hides chemical stains but shows water level. The base has two controls: a power button and a pressure dial. It also has a stand to hold the flosser when not in use.
The flossing stick itself is round and rather stubby. There are two prominent blue buttons on it. The first one is the Pause button while the lower one is the Sonic Power button. While the power button on the base station turns on the oral irrigator, the pause button on the flosser's handle can temporarily block the water jet from coming out of the flossing tip. The Sonic Power button, on the other hand, only works when you attach a sonic toothbrush head to the flosser.
Six tips are included with the Interplak SWJ1. They consist of two full-size vibrating toothbrush tips, a soft gum massager, a tongue cleaner, a water jet tip and a subgingival tip. Therefore, this water jet flosser uses sonic technology to enhance flossing, gum massaging and brushing. The combination of sonic vibration and water pulsation make the SWJ1 an all-in-one oral hygiene product. To use the sonic vibration feature of the flosser, you need to insert an AAA battery into the handle. Conair includes this battery in the package.
During a cleaning session, the flosser delivers up to 12,000 sonic vibrations and 4,500 water pulsations. This combination can turn your brushing and flossing sessions messy. Fortunately, the pressure control on the reservoir provides seven water pressure settings. However, while you can regulate the water pressure, there is no way to vary the sonic movement of the flosser. Overall, it may take a while to learn how to use the SWJ1 effectively.
Besides the use of soft plastic in its water reservoir, this oral irrigator has a few more faults. While it has six tips, only a couple of the tips actually squirt out water for flossing as the brush heads do not strictly count as flossing tips.
Conair's Interplak SWJ1 All-in-One Sonic Water Jet has enough tips to replace your toothbrush and floss and also massage your gums. It may be messy to use at first and not made of durable plastic, but the combination of sonic brushing and high-pressure flossing makes it a full-featured water flosser.
Oral Breeze RediBreeze Oral Irrigator
The RediBreeze Oral Irrigator is a faucet-driven oral irrigator manufactured by OralBreeze. It was formerly known as RediPik, and it connects to a sink faucet.
The RediBreeze does not look like a regular water flosser or even most faucet-powered flossers. For one, it has no handle but is rather made of an adaptor, a hose, a connector and a handheld nozzle with a tip. Just like other water flossers connected to faucets, the RediBreeze uses no electricity, has no motors and includes no water reservoir. These missing parts significantly reduce its bulk and save space in the bathroom. However, the RediBreeze is also not portable. In fact, you have to permanently install it in place.
This flosser connects to a bathroom sink's faucet via a chrome-plated brass valve that comes with an adaptor. This adaptor replaces the aerator in the sink's faucet. However, it is a 15/16 adaptor and does not fit non-standard faucets. You may, however, find the right adaptor at your local plumbing store. Even when you find an adaptor that fits, if it's even a tad loose, the connector will spring a leak and reduce the pressure of the water flowing out of the flosser's tip.
Between the brass valve and the hose connecting it to the flossing tip is a selection switch. Since you have to permanently install the RediBreeze, the selector switches water supply between the flosser's hose and the sink's faucet. This switch is small enough to not get in the way. Beyond the switch, the RediBreeze is made of plastic and a 24-inch transparent hose funnels water directly to the tip.
There are two color-coded tips included with this water jet flosser. They are standard flosser tips with angled nozzles that can reach hidden periodontal pockets. However, they are not specially made for flossing orthodontic appliances, implants and crowns even though they can. You should be careful not to floss such dental features at high pressure as the RediBreeze can deliver high-pressure water streams that progressively wear them down.
With no handle per se, there is also no way to regulate the water pressure of this oral irrigator besides turning the faucet's knob or level. This also means that the RediBreeze can only produce a steady stream of water and not water pulses. Furthermore, without a reservoir, you cannot use the RediBreeze to floss with mouthwashes. Also, the included hose is quite short and if you want to share the flosser with your family, you need more than the two tips included.
The RediBreeze Oral Irrigator is a simple, inexpensive water flosser that overcomes one of the major limitations of faucet-powered flossers with its waterway switch. It is quiet and lightweight and uses no electricity or batteries. However, it is not portable, has no water pressure selector and only fits standard American sink faucets.
The ViaJet Pro Irrigator is a countertop water flosser from OraTec Corp. The flosser is 7 inches long and weighs 2 pounds along with its reservoir.
Like most countertop oral irrigators, the ViaJet Pro Irrigator is made of plastic. ViaJet is quick to point out that the reservoir is tip-proof and nearly break-proof. With both the reservoir and flosser made from the same hard plastic, the irrigator is durable. However, the plastic reservoir is not indestructible and a hard fall can make it leaky.
Besides the water reservoir, the ViaJet's main unit also has a built-in stand for the flosser, as well as a rack to hold four tips. This unit mounts on the wall to save countertop space. The flosser has a rounded handle and while it looks comfortable to hold for the duration of a flossing session, its design is not ergonomic. It helps that the power switch is located in the upper section of the handle where your fingers can quickly reach it.
The ViaJet Pro Irrigator's water reservoir has a 500-milliliter capacity and comes with a flip-top refill lid. In addition, it also has graduated markings on its side that go from 100 to 500 milliliters. These guide you while measuring mouthwash into the reservoir. The water reservoir has a blue tint color that is transparent enough to show water level but just dark enough to hide chemical stains.
There are four tips included with this portable water flosser. These tips are color-coded so that the flosser can be shared among family members. However, the four tips are not the same. There are two standard tips and two sulcus tips. The sulcus tips provide more precise flossing than the standard tips. They have rubber points and are better suited for flossing orthodontic features.
This flosser does move a lot of water with enough force to clean the gaps between teeth and gums. However, if you want below-gum irrigation, you have to use the optional cannula adapter. This cannula adapter has a long, ultra-slim tip designed for cleaning deep periodontal pockets.
The ViaJet Pro Irrigator flosser has a maximum pulse rate of 1,200 pulses per minute. However, you can produce gentler sprays with it while flossing tender gums. The water reservoir produces variable water pressure. With the dial built into the reservoir, you have more options than a few preset pressure levels. The dial lets you finely adjust the pressure level of the water jet flosser to your liking.
The ViaJet Pro Irrigator is a good-quality water flosser with its infinitely adjustable water pressure dial. While it does come with four color-coded tips, they are actually two sets of tips. You should also know that the flosser's plastic reservoir can spring a leak after a hard fall.
The Panasonic Oral Irrigator EW-DJ10-A is a dual-speed, cordless model. It is 8.6 inches tall, 2 inches thick and weighs 7.4 ounces.
The EW-DJ10-A is lightweight, portable and comes in a collapsible design even though it has an integrated water reservoir. You can take it with you to your gym and also on a trip. It runs on a pair of AA batteries, which aren't included. Given how often you run an oral irrigator, you may want to get rechargeable batteries. Even though the flosser runs fine on rechargeable batteries, Panasonic advises against using them because of corrosion.
This Panasonic flosser is waterproof and made of durable plastic parts. The water reservoir is made of a translucent colored plastic and fits under the main unit. Even though the reservoir makes up a separate section of the device, it is not detachable. The reservoir section of the flosser has a hatch at the bottom that you use to fill it with water. However, even with a capacity of 5.5 ounces, the reservoir doesn't hold enough water to complete a typical flossing session.
The Panasonic EW-DJ10-A is rather bulky chiefly because it has a bigger water reservoir than most cordless units. It fills your palm while holding it and is, therefore, not the right size if you are shopping for a water flosser for a young child. Furthermore, the flosser comes with only one tip. While you only need one tip at a time, having multiple tips makes it possible to share the flosser with other family members. In addition, it lacks specialty tips for those who require them for their orthodontic appliances, crowns and implants.
With its dual-speed feature, you can regulate the water pressure delivered by the Panasonic EW-DJ10-A. The high speed delivers water at 1,600 pulses per minute and is meant for everyday use. The low speed shoots out water at a slower rate and is appropriate for people with sensitive gums. At both speeds, the water flosser dislodges plaque, bacteria and food particles from the spaces between teeth and gums.
The flosser's pulse rate is remarkable for a battery-operated oral irrigator but not as forceful as the water stream produced by countertop units. You may prefer or dislike this but even at high speed, this flosser is unlikely to damage orthodontic devices or cause bleeding gums.
The Panasonic EW-DJ10-A is a decent portable oral irrigator and a quick alternative to countertop flossers. However, it comes with only one tip and two-speed settings. While it has an integrated water reservoir that is bigger than most cordless units, it is still too small for one flossing session.
Philips Sonicare HX8211/02
The Philips Sonicare HX8211/02 is a portable water flosser with a built-in water reservoir. It weighs 4.8 ounces and is only 8.6 inches tall.
The HX8211/02 comes only in white with green accents. It has a slim design, complemented by a bulge in the handle. The bulge represents the reservoir and also doubles as an ergonomic grip for the flosser. Besides the handle, you there is a nozzle, multi-voltage charger and holder in the box. The slim nozzle snaps on the handle and leans forward into a position suitable for reaching into deep periodontal spaces. The whole device is made of hard plastic.
The oral irrigator has a very small reservoir with a snap-on cover. The reservoir's capacity is only 0.2 ounces, and it can hold water and mouthwash. Unlike countertop flossers, a flossing session with this Sonicare flosser only takes 30 seconds and uses less than a teaspoon of water. In addition, it flosses with a combination of water and air. Therefore, it needs a smaller amount of water than countertop units and a full reservoir is good for two flossing sessions. Even then, those who have previously used countertop flossers may find the reservoir too tiny, the flossing session too short and the flossing less effective.
The HX8211/02 has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts for 14 uses or two weeks on a full charge. There is a battery indicator light that blinks when the battery needs recharging. This light is found in the power button right on top of the handle and behind the stem of the nozzle. The power button is conveniently located where your fingers can reach. A single press lets out a single burst of water or mouthwash while holding down the button lets off an automatic burst every second as you move the Sonicare water flosser around the inside of your mouth.
While it takes 14 uses or seven minutes to run down the flosser's battery, it takes 24 hours to fully charge it. In addition, it is really an air flosser that also shoots bursts of microdroplets of water. Its one-button, one-speed and one-pressure operation is unlikely to be a match for the cleaning actions of regular countertop flossers.
The Philips Sonicare HX8211/02 is a cordless flosser with an elegant design and a unique combination of water and air flossing. However, it is most suited as a travel flosser. Its reservoir is small, it comes with only one tip and its battery-powered motor is unlikely to produce water bursts that are powerful enough to clean as well as countertop flossers.
Philips Sonicare HX8331/11
The Philips Sonicare HX8331/11 is a cordless water flosser with a rechargeable battery. It comes in white with grey accents.
The HX8331/11 has an elegant design, even though it's made of plastic. It's a portable water flosser you can take with you on a trip. The Sonicare flosser has a slim body with a bulgy handle, thanks to its integrated reservoir and lithium-ion battery. Besides the handle, you there is a nozzle, charger base and 2-ounce sample of BreathRx mouthwash. The antimicrobial mouthwash contains Zytex, Philips Sonicare's exclusive blend of zinc, thymol and the eucalyptus essential oil.
The power button is found at the neck of the unit, just behind the stem of the nozzle and on top of the handle. It is the only button on the flosser, but it also controls the three pressure settings available. The button is conveniently placed where your thumb can reach it. Below it, there is a 0.75-ounce reservoir with a flip cover.
This flosser is really an air flosser that also squirts out water. This combination uses smaller volumes of water than a regular countertop flosser. You can set the Sonicare flosser to release single, double and triple bursts of a mixture of air and water or mouthwash. Alternatively, you can press down the power button for continuous automatic bursts. A flossing session takes about 60 seconds with this device, and the flosser can hold enough water for a minute-long session because it delivers liquid in microdroplets.
On a full charge, the battery in this Sonicare water flosser lasts for two weeks or 14 uses. This translates to 14 minutes. However, it takes 24 hours to fully charge the battery. In addition, it only comes with one tip or nozzle. It also does not have any replacement nozzles or tips dedicated to flossing around orthodontic implants and crowns.
In addition, it is unlikely that the burst of air and water coming out of the flosser's nozzle can be as powerful as the flossing pressure achieved by countertop units. On one hand, that means flossing with it is unlikely to be messy. On the other hand, it may not clean deep periodontal pockets as thoroughly as plug-in flossers.
The Philips Sonicare HX8331/11 is a stylish cordless flosser with a novel flossing mechanism that combines pressurized air and liquid. However, its reservoir is rather small, the flosser comes with only one tip and people who have previously used plug-in flossers are likely to find it to be not as powerful.
The Profloss 4190 is a faucet-powered oral irrigator. It weighs 4.8 ounces and is 8 inches tall.
This is a no-frills water flosser with a simple design. It's made of plastic and comes in white with blue accents on the nozzle, stem of its tip and the pressure control button. The Profloss 4190 has a straight cylindrical body with no taper or angled tip. It doesn't have an ergonomic design or a soft grip handle. In addition, it's slim enough to use by kids and adults alike.
The flosser is slim and lightweight because it has no reservoir, battery or pressure-generating motor. You don't have to plug it into a wall outlet or set it on a countertop. With none of the parts that make electric flossers bulky, you can pack and use it during trips as a travel flosser. Besides the handle and tip, the Profloss 4190 comes with a coiled hose, a storage pouch, a zipper bag and an aerator that connects to a bathroom's faucet.
This aerator is a major part of the Profloss water flosser. It has internal and external threads and fits most faucets with standard male or female threads. You may have to remove the aerator on a bathroom's faucet to fit the one supplied with the flosser. However, this aerator adapter does not fit every bathroom faucet. This means that it may fit loosely and dislodge when the pressure of the water flowing through the bathroom faucet is high.
The simple dial on the handle of the Profloss 4190 lets you choose between four pressure settings. The maximum pressure is the pressure of the water coming from the faucet. Therefore, the pressure control dial really only lets you step down the faucet water pressure as delivered through the tip. While this flosser is primarily meant to connect to a bathroom sink faucet, you can also turn it into a shower water flosser with the right connector.
Without a water reservoir, there is no way to use this flosser with a mouthwash. In addition, it only comes with one tip. The tip also rises straight from the flosser's handle and is not angled in a way that could reach into the deep periodontal pockets or floss around orthodontic appliances and implants.
The Profloss 4190 is a simple and inexpensive portable water flosser. It has the essential features of electric flossers with none of the bulk, noise and electricity requirement. It is rather plain though, and its aerator does not fit nonstandard and non-American faucets.
The Professional Rechargeable Oral Irrigator is a cordless water flosser made by ToiletTree. It is available in black, grey and white with blue accents.
The 2015 version of the flosser is the second ToiletTree flosser to carry this name. Just like its name, the flosser looks generic. It's made of BPA-free plastic. Furthermore, it has the familiar humpback shape of cordless flossers. This means that both the flosser's batteries and water reservoir are built into the handle. Unlike other cordless units, it comes with two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. In addition, its reservoir is large for a cordless model. Even so, a 4.4-ounce reservoir is a lot smaller than what you get with a countertop flosser.
The Professional Rechargeable Oral Irrigator has a fat handle and a slim, tapered tip. It is not ergonomic to hold and use, and it is likely too bulky for kids to handle. There are four buttons on the flosser. These include two ejector buttons at the top and bottom, as well as two standard buttons in the middle of the handle. The top ejector button releases the tip when you need to change it. The standard buttons turn on the flosser and lets you select one of three flossing modes.
This oral irrigator has three operating modes: normal, pulse and soft. Each mode represents a different pressure setting. The water reservoir at the back of the handle also has a sizable opening through which you can pour in water or mouthwash. Although it is bigger than the reservoir in the earlier version, it can barely take you through one flossing session. However, you can avoid refilling the reservoir while flossing only if you use the flosser at its lowest pressure setting.
Besides the reservoir, this second generation ToiletTree improves on the earlier version by packing a quieter motor, a tip release button and lithium-ion batteries rather than Ni-MH batteries. It is lightweight enough to serve as a travel flosser. There are two color-coded tips included with the flosser. They are standard flosser tips, which are also fully rotatable. However, they are not specially designed for flossing orthodontic appliances and implants. Since the Professional Rechargeable Oral Irrigator runs on batteries, it is unlikely that it is as powerful as countertop water flossers.
ToiletTree's Professional Rechargeable Oral Irrigator is a decent cordless flosser with three pressure settings. It comes with two fully rotatable tips and has a larger reservoir than most cordless units.
Waterpik Aquarius WP-660
The Waterpik Aquarius WP-660 is a professional water flosser that can replace flossing. This countertop model comes in white, weighs 2.1 pounds and is 10.6 inches tall.
The Aquarius has an elegant design, a lightweight build and looks premium even though it is made of plastic. It comes with a 2.2-ounce water reservoir that has a lid. The base has a compact design and the transparent reservoir sits above it. In front of the base is a holder for the flosser itself. On the side, there is a pressure control dial, a power push-button, another button to select between flossing and gum massage modes, and an LED information panel.
The covered reservoir can hold enough water or mouthwash for a 90-second flossing session. It connects to the water flosser via a coiled hose with its own storage recess built into the base unit. The flosser's handle has an ergonomic shape with tapered ends. There is a power switch on the handle right in the middle where your fingers grip the flosser. You can also find a tip-release button on the side of the handle where you may accidentally push it.
The Waterpik Aquarius comes with seven tips, more than most portable flossers have. These include three Classic Jet tips, one Plaque Seeker tip, one Orthodontic tip, one Pik Pocket tip and one Toothbrush tip. The Classic Jet and Toothbrush tips are meant for regular flossing and brushing respectively. The Plaque Seeker tip flosses around implants, crowns and bridges, while the Orthodontic tip is for flossing braces. The Pik Pocket tips reaches deep into periodontal pockets.
Besides including specialty tips, each of the Aquarius' tips can also rotate 360 degrees to adapt to different dentitions. You can use this water jet flosser in Floss Mode or Hydro-Pulse Massage Mode. The latter stimulates and improves blood circulation in gums. You can also set the Waterpik WP-660 to floss for a minute and in bursts of 30 seconds.
In addition to varying flossing rhythm, you can also change the water pressure used to floss with this oral irrigator. The Waterpik Aquarius has 10 pressure settings and a dial to select them. However, the high-voltage DC motor in the unit can get quite noisy when flossing at a high pressure. In addition, although Waterpik includes seven tips with this flosser, the tip storage rack on the unit can only store two of them.
The Waterpik Aquarius WP-660 is a high-end countertop water flosser with more features and tips than most flossers. Its rich tip selection, combination of pressurized and pulsating water jets, and variable pressure settings make it a worthwhile flosser to consider. However, it is also a loud, expensive flosser.
The Waterpik Ultra WP-100 is a countertop water flosser with multiple pressure settings. Along with its reservoir, it weighs 3.3 pounds and comes in white and black.
This Waterpik unit is 8.5 inches tall is made of plastic. The flosser stores in a recessed holder in front of the water reservoir. The reservoir has a pressure setting dial, a lid and a transparent plastic upper section through which you can see the water level. It is connected to the flosser by a 54-inch cord. The flosser itself has a rounded body and an ergonomic handle. There is a pause button placed on the handle where you can quickly reach it while flossing.
The included water reservoir has a capacity of 22 ounces and can hold enough water or mouthwash for a 90-second flossing session. It has 10 pressure settings and you can set the water pressure between 10 and 90 pounds per square inch. At the highest pressure setting, the reservoir delivers a flow rate of 13.5 ounces per minute to the oral irrigator.
The flosser itself has a maximum speed of 1,400 pulses per minute. You can get this high speed at any of the pressure settings in order to clean between your teeth and below the gumline, as well as massage and stimulate the gums. However, more than speed and water pressure, the Waterpik Ultra is a good-quality water jet flosser because of its tips. There are six tips included with the WP-100. Just as importantly, each of the tips is capable of 360-degree rotation.
The six tips in the WP-100's package include two Classic Jet tips for general use, one Plaque Seeker tip for removing plaques in hard-to-reach places, one Orthodontic tip for removing plaque around braces, one Pik Pocket tip for rinsing below the gumline and delivering oral medications and one Toothbrush tip that combines brushing and flossing. This is not only a large selection but the ability to fully rotate each tip allows the Ultra to clean deeply in any mode.
The Waterpik Ultra's high pulse rate, flow rate and variable pressure selection make it more effective than string floss and the typical air flosser at reducing gingivitis and removing plaque. The WP-100 is an all-around flosser, but it does have its flaws. Its plastic body is flimsy and the water reservoir may not survive a hard fall. In addition, the cable connecting the reservoir to the flosser is tightly coiled and, therefore, not as long or extendable as its 54-inch length suggests.
With its multiple tips and pressure selection, the Waterpik Ultra is a worthwhile flosser to consider. However, its plastic body is not durable, and it is too big to use as a travel flosser.