There is no denying that the Airfloss from Sonicare is an expensive alternative to regular floss, but the convenience and speed it can allow you to achieve an interdental clean is amazing.
If flossing really is your enemy, then you can now fight back with ease, I like this a lot.
- Battery life
- Automatic power off
- Reservoir size
|Sonicare Airfloss Ultra||197 Reviews||CDN$ 79.95||View on Amazon|
The 3 BIG questions about the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra
If you are short of time, the answers to the following 3 questions should let you know all you need to about the Sonicare flosser. If I have missed something, let me know in the comments.
If you want more detail, you can read the full Airfloss review further down the page.
1. Is there anything drastically wrong with this water flosser?
No. It performs well.
Depending on your current interdental cleaning habits, will influence your opinion slightly on this. Existing water flosser users may be put off by the small water tank. However, it is a different style of product and really geared to those who are not flossing properly, or at all.
2. Which other water flossers should I consider?
There are many different water flossers you could consider. But, one of the main appeals of the Airfloss is the portable nature and the convenience it gives to the process of interdental cleaning.
Therefore the Waterpik WP-560 and WF-03 are 2 logical alternative products to consider. Both have larger reservoirs and are more traditional water flossers, than the air infused Sonicare.
For a more detailed comparison of buying options, see our article on the best cordless water flossers.
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We are not sponsored by big brands or healthcare companies. Our site is funded by affiliate revenue and ads, but we only recommend products that we have tested and truly believe to be worth your money.
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And now for a bit more detail….
If you are anything like me, the thought of flossing is one that just makes you sigh.
It is one of those jobs you know has to be done when cleaning your teeth, but we would all rather do without it.
It takes time, can be fiddly and hurt. It is one of those necessary evils in life, or so it seems.
For a long time, I, probably like you, had been using string or tape floss.
About a year ago though I discovered the wonder of the Listerine ultraclean access flosser, which I absolutely love and is my go to flossing solution.
But, when time is short and I feel like I need to floss, there is an alternative product I use, it is called the Philips Sonicare AirFloss.
I was sold on the idea after just a few days of use, it is not perfect, but if you really struggle to motivate yourself to floss, if this does not change your attitude, then I am not sure what will.
What is the Philips Sonicare AirFloss?
A handheld device that contains a reservoir of water or mouthwash. When activated the AirFloss fires a small burst of air mixed with the water or mouthwash into the user’s mouth in between the teeth.
It is a bit like a water flosser, but it does not provide the more constant stream and volume of water that they do.
How does the Sonicare Airfloss work?
The mix of air and liquid fired in between teeth and along the gumline loosens and dislodges plaque, bacteria and residual food particles that normal brush cleaning might not manage to reach.
Where normal flossing relies on the floss to touch, grab and wipe away such, the AirFloss relies on the liquid and air combination to do this via the pressure at which it passes by and touches the teeth and gums.
Philips suggests that using this can remove up to 5 times more plaque than a manual brush and can improve gum health in just 2 weeks.
How to use the Philips Sonicare AirFloss
It is very easy to use, there are just 3 simple steps.
Step 1: Fill
Use with water or a mouthwash like Philips Sonicare BreathRx.
Step 2: Point
Hold down for continuous automatic bursts, or press and release for manual burst mode.
Step 3: Clean
Micro-droplets of air and liquid remove plaque between the interdental areas.
Philips Sonicare AirFloss v AirFloss Ultra/Pro – What are the differences?
Globally there are 2 versions of the Philips Sonicare AirFloss. There is the standard version and a newer ‘Ultra’ version.
The ‘Ultra’ is also known as the ‘Pro’.
In many countries, both versions are sold, but in Canda, it is only the Pro/Ultra that is sold.
If you were to be shown an image of the two they do look similar, with the exception of the nozzle color.
Whilst the differences, particularly box contents can vary from 1 country to another, the key differences are:
- The Ultra offers different burst modes, automatic, manual, single, double or triple, compared to manual or automatic of the standard AirFloss.
- The Ultra has a larger reservoir for water or mouthwash.
- The Ultra has a different nozzle attachment (the nozzles are not interchangeable between the two models).
- The Airfloss Ultra is available in white in with grey accents, white with pink accents and black with grey accents, whilst the Airfloss is white with green accents. (Color options vary by region)
- The Ultra model is more expensive (correct at time of writing).
It is the white with grey accesnts AirFloss Pro, model numberHX8331/01 that is available in Canada and that I speak about in this review.
What’s in the box?
- Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro/Ultra
- Charging station
- 1 x AirFloss nozzle
- Removes up to 5 times more plaque than a manual toothbrush
- Can improve gum health in just 2 weeks
- Long battery life
- Automatic power off
- Multiple modes
- Angled nozzle
Pros & Cons
Here are a list of the pro’s and cons having used this for over 6 weeks.
- Effectiveness – I am referring here to how effective it is at getting me to clean interdentally. It is simple and effortless in my opinion.
- Battery life – Lasts up to 33 days.
- Automatic power off – Whilst you have to power it on, the AirFloss will automatically power off after 4 minutes, which saves you having to turn it off and is more than enough time to do what you need to.
- Size – You get used to the size of the unit, but it is bigger than you expect.
- Reservoir size – In my opinion, it could be bigger. You can complete 2 full flossing sessions before it needs filling.
Design, usability, clean & general use
I am not lying when I say I have been really impressed by this product and I really do floss every day with it.
Initial impressions when taking this out of the box are that it is bigger than you think.
Although you know it has to store water, the overall size is quite a bit bigger (mainly in the depth) than an electric toothbrush, but you do soon get used to it.
What you can always be assured of when buying a Philips product is quality.
From every angle, it looks and feels well constructed and helps you justify the price.
It is perhaps a more unusual item to have to store in your bathroom, but it is not unsightly and could potentially share a charging stand with your electric toothbrush.
The main body of the flosser contains the battery and the mechanics that allow the flosser to do what it does along with the reservoir for the water or mouthwash.
On the body is a smoked/grey plastic door to the reservoir where you fill it up and right towards the bottom is a white colored power button.
Within the button itself are 3 LED’s that are lit when specific modes are selected and when the unit is on charge.
To the left, right and above the button are several grey dots, these denote the different cleaning modes on the Airfloss Pro. More on these shortly.
On the bottom of the unit is a recess into which the prong of the provided charging station sits.
At the top of the flosser is where the action happens if you like.
A semi-transparent grey plastic forms a top to the flosser and this is the trigger to activate the bursts that clean the teeth.
It is here also that the nozzle is attached/detached. It is simply a case of pulling the nozzle out and pushing it back in when replacing.
Just below the trigger, on the main body of the Airfloss are a series of raised dots. These help the hand and fingers grip onto the unit when in use. These dots stretch around the upper front, left and right side. The remainder of the body is a smooth touch white plastic.
So, how to use it and what it is actually like to use.
You first need to power the unit on, using the power button.
Press the button once for the single burst mode, twice for the double burst mode and 3 times for the triple burst mode.
These 3 modes give a different cleaning experience, as the names imply by delivering a different number of water bursts.
It will be personal preference as to which you prefer. The more bursts, the slightly longer it takes to clean the interdental spaces, but with more bursts, often the cleaner your teeth and gums feel.
You can continue to press the power button to cycle through the modes.
As each mode is selected an LED on the button will light up.
- 1 LED lit means the single burst mode is selected
- 2 LEDs lit means the double burst mode is selected
- 3 LEDs lit means the triple burst mode is selected
These LEDs align with the grey dots that surround the power button too, acting as another indicator as to which mode is selected.
The button is firm enough that you get good feedback when pressed, but not too soft that it could easily be activated by mistake.
The reservoir/tank on the unit must be filled with water or mouthwash, it is your choice. Water is the cheaper option, but mouthwash can deliver extra freshness.
Once filled and the unit powered on, you can begin cleaning the interdental spaces.
To begin flossing, you place the tip of the AirFloss unit in between your teeth, approximately 5 or 6mm away from the surface and press the grey button on the top to release the high pressure mixture.
You then repeat this around the mouth.
You can press and hold the trigger to activate the auto-burst function that continuously delivers bursts at a rate of about 1 per second.
You get just the right amount of time to move between teeth and position it before the jet arrives. To stop, simply release your hold on the button.
Once familiar with the process, you can floss in about 30 seconds, if you take advantage of the automatic function.
Double or triple burst modes will take slightly longer.
Generally speaking, I found I needed only 1 burst per tooth gap, but on occasions, I had another go or indeed changed the mode to give a double or triple burst.
Once complete, you can press and hold the power button for 1 second or alternatively leave it and the flosser will automatically power off after 4 minutes to conserve battery power.
The nozzle of the AirFloss tip is angled to allow you to hold the unit and have it reach into your mouth. One of the benefits is you are not all fingers and thumbs like you might be with string floss.
The angle and length of the nozzle seems to be just about right, I could not find any real issue with it. Accessing the front or rear teeth is effortless.
In hand, due to its size, you do not get the same comfortable and secure grip as you might with a toothbrush, but this is not difficult to hold nor is it heavy.
You can easily find a position that is natural for you to grip and activate the flosser.
If you are not used to water flossers or have not used an Airfloss before it can take a bit of getting used to. I mean a day or two, not weeks. It can strike quite powerful, but you get used to it and appreciate how clean your teeth feel.
On my first few attempts, I managed to spray the mirror I was stood in front of with the spray that bounced back off my teeth, but you quickly get the hang of it, wrapping your lips in such a way to create a bit of a seal/denfence to any spray.
It is quite interesting to see other people’s reactions for the first time when using it. Maybe show friends and family if you get one, just for a little laugh. It’s an odd sensation initially.
After the flossing, you are left with a small amount of liquid in your mouth that you can just spit out.
It is quite a small reservoir and I found the maximum you will get out of this is 2 flossing sessions before it needs topping up.
This plastic door was very tight and formed a good seal on the unit I was using but I can see this potentially being a weak point. Either the seal will fail or the hinge break.
I do not quite agree with Philips statements about the simplicity of filling this up.
By no means is it difficult, but you have to be a bit careful from the tap or mouthwash bottle so as not to overfill and end up with a soaked hand and flosser.
I think this is my biggest gripe really. A larger tank would be nice, so you can use more often without having to think about filling it up.
The Airfloss uses a lot less liquid than a regular water flosser, so you would not want a too large a tank, but maybe large enough that you get 4 days from it or thereabouts.
You should get about 6 months from each nozzle, you do not need to replace it every 3 months as you do with a normal electric toothbrush head.
The nozzle doesn’t really get dirty as such like a brush head might, but I think it is more hygiene related that it needs replacing as bacteria can still build-up on and within the nozzle.
I would suggest you may want to have your own nozzle if you are sharing the main flossing unit with a family member. They are simple enough to replace, just pull off, and push back on.
Suitable for almost any age, the size and the way this needs to be controlled is generally going to be used by adults, but I would suspect any child from about 8 years old would be perfectly fine with it. It is from around 8 years old that children need to begin flossing as their permanent teeth will be coming through and need to be looked after.
As I flossed regularly prior to using this, I noticed no sensitivity, bleeding or other side effects.
For you, the experience could be different.
Sensitivity and a bit of bleeding is normal if you have some signs of gum disease and start to clean between your teeth. If however, these issues last for more than a week or so of daily use, stop using the water flosser and consult your dentist.
The Airfloss if great, I really like it. It makes what can be quite a boring and tricky task much easier.
I am convinced those who are strict, ‘I can’t be bothered to floss’ will find they can and will want to with this.
Easy and convenient it is, the smaller bursts and shorter overall flossing time might not be for everyone. Some may prefer the longer flossing time and water flow rate offered by water flosser.
Sonicare does not make what many would consider traditional water flossers.
It is Waterpik who are the leaders within this sector.
Their range of water flossers which are generally designed to be much more of a permanent fixture in the bathroom. They are larger and generally needs to be plugged in.
The larger water tanks these offer and some more versatility with the nozzles available, not to mention a more finite control on the pressure settings (usually 10 options), could be a more compelling solution for some.
Why not check out our article that details the best Waterpiks and other water flossers.
The Airfloss does not come cheap and this could be argued to be a bit of an over the top solution to flossing. But if you are more than likely to floss more regularly, then it is arguably worth it.
I thought I had found a good solution in the Listerine ultraclean access flosser, but this makes things easier and more convenient, to the point I firmly believe the stats Philips put out that 89% said it was easier than string floss.
Probably a psychological effect more than anything is my teeth feel cleaner after the Airfloss compared to normal flossing, but that could have been the ‘power’ of the jet making me think this.
Another big draw here is that this device is portable, unlike many of Waterpik’s water flossing solutions, although cordless water flossers do exist.
As portable as it is, it is much larger than string floss and does not come with any form of travel case like an electric toothbrush might.
As much as I like this product, if I was traveling, this would stand a very high likelihood of not making it into the bag.
It is probably worth noting that the flosser is water resistant and is protected from splashes, but don’t go immersing it and keep the charging stand well away from water.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Slightly larger than you expect, but comfortable to hold in hand
- Well constructed
- Different burst modes
- Very easy to use
- Automatic power off after 4 minutes
When you first use an AirFloss you need to charge it for 24 hours.
It comes provided with its own charging stand. It is the same as that provided with a Sonicare Electric toothbrush. Therefore if you already have a Sonicare brush you can share 1 charging station for 2 devices.
The charging stand itself is white in color, has a single prong which the flosser sits on and conducts the charge through.
When on the stand, it is fairly secure.
The charger supports 100-240v and connects to a power outlet in your bathroom.
The 3 LEDs on the power button that light up for the modes double up as LEDs to show the battery status.
- 1 green LED – 33% charged
- 2 green LEDs – 66% charged
- 3 green LEDs – 100% charged
Fully charged, the flosser lasts up to 33 days when it is used in single burst mode.
This reduces to 11 days if the triple burst mode is used.
This usage timer/battery life is based on the Airfloss being used once a day.
When the battery is low, the LED will flash yellow and it means you have 3 or fewer uses of the Airfloss left.
If the Airfloss is powered on and then not turned off via the power button, after 4 minutes of no use, it will turn itself off automatically.
Similar to Sonicare brushes, this uses a Lithium-Ion battery.
Summary of battery life
- 24 hours to be fully charged
- Lithium-Ion battery lasts up to 33 days
- Automatic power off after 4 minutes
- 100-240v charging stand supplied
- Flashing yellow LED symbolizes low charge
Price & where to buy
I have included links to buying options here at the start of the review.
In the section below, I discuss the price more generally and in relation to similar products.
At the time of writing the AirFloss Pro has a suggested retail price of around $99 Canadian.
Prices tend to remain fairly close to this retail price, with the average selling price being just $10 less at $89 from most sellers.
I was able to find it for $79 which is obviously a nice extra saving, but don’t go expecting discounts this great all the time.
Replacement nozzles average about $15 each and require replacement every 6 months. They are not cheap, at a little under twice the price of a regular toothbrush head. Then again they require replacement less frequently!
Whilst the unit comes with a 2 year warranty, I will use the same calculation that I would with an electric toothbrush and assume the usable life is 3 years.
The AirFloss Ultra including the cost of replacement nozzles over a 3 year period works out at $165 or $0.15 per day.
That does not take into account the cost of mouthwash, if you choose to use this.
Compare that to string floss at just a few cents a day its a minimum of 4 times more expensive.
It is, without doubt, a luxury and by no means essential, but the time saved, the simplicity and potential health benefits for many make this a worthwhile investment.
Please note that all prices quoted are approximates and will vary based on location, supplier and time of purchase. These figures were correct at the time of writing and should not be relied upon as hard fact, but used as a guide during your decision process.
Summary of price & where to buy
- A suggested retail price of $90
- Typically available for $80
- Replacement nozzles about $15 each
- Daily cost around $0.15 over 3 years
- Expensive, but worth it for the benefits brought
Reliability & long term use
The nature of a well used product is that at times they will go wrong, and whilst we hope they won’t but nobody can give these guarantees.
We have tested the AirFloss as best as we can and see a few weaknesses, the biggest being the reservoir door failing to keep the seal or breaking off.
Other reports have suggested the water pump failing and the unit no longer powering on.
The good news is Philips does offer a 2 year guarantee on this product, so should it go wrong within that time it will likely be covered under warranty.
As best as possible we continue to use all products we test and report back over time if our opinion on each has changed.
I like this a lot.
I had thought this would work out more expensive than the Wisdom Flosser that I like so much, but it is about the same price and possibly more convenient.
It is expensive compared to normal floss and the real difference between the two in terms of actual cleaning capability; well it’s virtually impossible to tell.
That said, I had a dentist checkup during my testing period with the AirFloss and no complaints from the professional’s point of view.
A possible frivolous purchase, but if you do not like interdental cleaning, if this does not convert you I am not sure what will; the whole process is effortless.
This is then backed up by a good battery life.
The conscious may still like you use a bit of string floss too for peace of mind and maybe when traveling.
I think you get the point, I like this, a lot.
- Height (without nozzle) – 17cm
- Height (with nozzle) – 24cm
- Width – 3cm
- Thickness – 4cm
- Weight (without nozzle) – 161g
- Weight (with nozzle) – 163g
All are approximates
- How long does the battery last?
- The battery lasts up to 33 days.
- Does it come with a charger?
- Yes, a charging station is included with the AirFloss.
- How long does it take to charge?
- Up to 24 hours.
- What does the yellow flashing light mean?
- The battery is low and requires charging.
- How often do the nozzles need replacing?
- Nozzles should be replaced every 6 months.
- Can I use mouthwash in the AirFloss?
- Using AirFloss with mouthwash will enhance your oral health results and leave you with an even fresher feeling mouth. Most mouthwashes can be used in the AirFloss. However, mouthwashes containing Isopropyl Myristate should not be used in the AirFloss as this can harm the plastics in the device and possibly even cause loss of function.
- Can this be fixed to a wall?
- The charging station has not been designed to be fixed to a wall and should sit on a flat surface.
- Can I use the AirFloss in the shower?
- Yes, but be aware that whilst the AirFloss is water resistant it is not designed to be immersed in water if it can be helped.
- Does it come with a travel case?
- My gums bleed when I use AirFloss. Is that normal?
- Bleeding gums may be a sign of infection and a little bleeding can be normal when starting a new oral care routine, as you may be cleaning in areas not previously reached. However, if bleeding is excessive or does not stop within a few days of regular use of AirFloss, consult a dental professional.
- How often should I floss?
- Once a day is advised.
Do you own or have you used the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra?
Are there certain features that you really like or dislike?
Let us know what you think about it, and let others who may well be considering purchasing one know your opinions before they do.