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Best Water Flosser 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Waterpik WP660 Ultra Professional

Our pick for the best overall water flosser is the Waterpik Ultra Professional.

In the sections below we explain how we came to this decision and offer some alternative choices for specific situations.

Our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler explains the evidence for using an electric flosser, and our buyer’s guide includes further advice to help you decide.

It’s worth noting there are various other ways to refer to a water flosser, but they are one and the same: electric flosser, oral irrigator, water toothpick and water jet flosser are other common terms. Often they are referred to as a ‘Waterpik’ as this is the best-known brand in the market.

Our recommendations at a glance

Best countertop: Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660 (Amazon AU)

Best cordless: Waterpik WP-560 Cordless Advanced (Amazon AU)

In this post

Evidence

Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)

Best Cordless Water Flosser Rework V2 2

Can a water flosser improve your oral health? 

Yes.

When used in addition to toothbrushing, a water flosser can reduce bleeding gums by 37% (research by Lyle).  

They are recommended by the European Federation of Periodontology.

Can a water flosser replace traditional floss? 

Yes.

The limited evidence available does say water flossers are more effective than flossing.

A water flosser doesn’t replace interdental brushes, which are the most effective interdental cleaning method.

Water flossers and interdental brushes have been proven to reduce signs of gum disease, such as bleeding and swelling.

Do dentists recommend water flossers?

I do advise water flossers for some people. They do have some positive effects on gum health, as proven in independent research

But, interdental brushes are my preferred recommendation for interdental cleaning (because the overwhelming evidence shows that interdental brushes are the most effective method for cleaning interdentally). 

Even with the evidence available, I know that the most effective type of interdental cleaning is the one that you will actually do. I want to support people to make a habit.

In my experience, the people who buy water flossers will commit to actually using them. More so than with floss! I’m not sure what all the reasons are behind this.

My recommendation to patients is to find a cleaning method that works for them, and there is certainly a place for water flossers.

Can I use a water flosser with braces, crowns, veneers, bridges or implants?

Yes.

It is safe to use a water flosser with these types of dental appliances and restorations.

Jump to evidence section >>

Buying Advice

What to look for in a water flosser

In this post we offer recommendations for both corded (countertop) and cordless water flossers.

If you have space (approx 6 x 6 inches) for one in your bathroom, we recommend going for countertop over cordless — we explain this in more detail in this section.

Both types of flosser come with similar features. Not all of them are necessary.

From our testing, the most essential features of a water flosser are:

45 seconds or more flossing time

Flossers with a water tank of around 200ml will achieve this. 45 seconds is enough time to get a thorough clean without having to refill. It can make the flosser slightly heavier but it is a worthwhile trade off.

2 or more pressure modes

If you have sensitive gums it is useful to be able to adjust the pressure.

Rotating nozzle (or handle if it’s a countertop flosser)

Having a 360 degree rotating nozzle makes it easier to reach all parts of the mouth.

Comfortable grip (cordless)

From our testing, a large area for the palm and fingers to grip onto is better than a slim handle. It’s also helpful if the grip is made from materials that prevent slippage, particularly when wet.

Water control button on the handle (countertop)

A button or switch on the flosser handle allows for much greater control of the water flow. This makes it easy to stop, start and pause the jet of water. No need to use the on/off switch on the countertop unit itself.

Hose storage (countertop)

Having a convenient place to tuck away the hose when not in use avoids trailing cables around the bathroom.

Jump to buyer’s guide section >>

How we chose

Our selection process

Our team is made up of dental professionals and experienced product testers.  We specialise in oral health and abide by a strong code of ethics

We buy and test every product we recommend.  In most instances, we have detailed written and video reviews for each product.

We consult the clinical evidence, the feedback from consumers and industry leaders.

Together, we ensure our recommendations include only the very best choices.

We regularly review our recommendations based on newly released products and clinical evidence.

More on how we test products >>

Best water flosser 2021 — our recommendations

In the sections below we go into detail about the products we have tested and explain our recommendations.

Dr. Gemma Wheeler answers common pre-purchase questions and explains why she recommends water flossers.

Best Countertop

Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660

*Prices correct at time of writing

Why we chose it: 

The Ultra Professional has all of the essential features we look for in a water flosser.

It is fairly compact with hose storage to keep things neat, although there is no place to store any excess power cable.

In our testing, we found it easy to control the water flow from the handle, and the water pressure was easy to adjust with the rotating dial.

Twisting the top of the handle moves the nozzle and helps reach all areas of the mouth. A very thorough clean is achieved each time.

80 seconds is the minimum cleaning time available, even when set to the highest of the 10 pressure settings.

What we like

  • 80+ second flossing time
  • Easy to rotate the nozzle
  • 10 pressure settings
  • Available in different colour options
  • Hose storage

What we dislike

  • No power cable storage
  • Price – it is expensive
Waterpik WP660 Water Flosser

Best Cordless

Waterpik Cordless Advanced WP-560

*Prices correct at time of writing

Why we chose it: 

The Cordless Advanced is one of the most comfortable cordless flossers we have used.

The nozzle is easy to rotate so you can reach all the teeth and clean the entire mouth. You get 45 seconds of cleaning time from the most powerful of the 3 modes.

It has all the features we recommend and has been approved by the Oral Health Foundation and American Dental Association. This means that the flosser has been assessed by an independent panel of experts, and that it is safe and that it has the benefits it says it does.

What we like

  • 45+ second flossing time
  • Easy to rotate the nozzle
  • Grippy handle
  • 3 pressure settings
  • Easy to attach magnetic charger
  • Different colour options available
  • Travel pouch included in the box

What we dislike

  • Price – it is expensive
Cordless Advanced Water Flosser From Waterpik

Our choices explained

Regular toothbrushing leaves 40% of the tooth surface untouched.

Interdental cleaning (commonly referred to as flossing) might not be something we want to do. But it is something we should be doing.

Our in-house dentist Dr Wheeler has analysed the clinical data on which interdental cleaning methods are the most effective. 

Evidence shows that interdental brushes are the most effective method for cleaning interdentally. Dental floss is the least effective.

But when choosing a tool for flossing it’s important that you pick something that you will use regularly. 

Water flossers are one such option.  The limited evidence available shows that they are more effective than string flossing. They are recommended by the European Federation of Periodontology.

We have tested many options, but only the best become our recommended products. We explain our choices below. 

Our recommendation for the best countertop water flosser, the Waterpik WP-660, serves the vast majority of users best.  It is a suitable option whether you have periodontal disease or you’re recovering from oral surgery.

It is not portable like the Cordless Advanced WP-560, but the slim handle is easy to hold and move around the mouth.

The Cordless Advanced is great.  But, the smaller handle on the WP-660 gives the feeling of greater control. In-hand comfort is really quite important.  The more comfortable a product is to use, the more likely you will use it. 

From the handle of the WP-660, you can rotate the nozzle and control the flow of water. 

Waterpik WP660 Ultra Professional
The small handle of the Waterpik Ultra Professional provides great control

An inherent benefit of a countertop option is that it has a larger water tank.  The 600ml capacity means that you can floss for longer or get multiple flossing sessions from one single fill.

There are 10 different pressure settings on the countertop unit. This is more than you need, but it does give a very finite level of control, which we like.  Each setting varies by 10PSI. 

It actually has a smaller profile than you might imagine.  So although bulky, it doesn’t feel as dominant on a countertop as you might expect

If space is at a real premium in your bathroom, then the Cordless Advanced is likely a better pick.

The rechargeable batteries inside also mean it is better suited to those who travel.

We mentioned comfort and the Cordless Advanced really excels here for a wire free unit. The shape and the large area of raised dots on the back make it lovely to hold.  You feel in control, even when you want to rotate the nozzle.

In fact, rotating the nozzle on the Advanced is possibly easier than the WP-660.  The large wheel used for rotating the nozzle feels natural to use with good feedback. Being able to rotate the nozzle makes it easier to reach all parts of the mouth. 

The 207ml tank does offer 45 seconds of use on the most powerful of the 3 pressure modes. This is about half the time of the Waterpik WP-660.  You don’t have to rush with either.  But a compromise for a more portable option is the smaller tank.

Waterpik Cordless Water Flosser
The WP-560 has the most comfortable grip of the cordless water flossers we’ve tested

Other flossers we have tested

Only a select few of the water flossers we test actually make it into this best list.

And yet, we can’t say that any of the water flossers we have tested are really bad.

We have been most disappointed by the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion.  Admittedly this is a hybrid product, rather than a standalone water flosser.  It combines an electric toothbrush and water flosser to create a flossing toothbrush.

Unfortunately, the Fusion isn’t great at either job.  It is noisy and cumbersome to use.  You don’t get to enjoy all the benefits of an electric toothbrush and water flosser. You are better off sticking with separate items. A regular electric toothbrush and one of Waterpik’s other countertop water flossers.

Waterpik Sonic Fusion Professional Flosser
We found the Waterpik Sonic Fusion to be disappointing in our testing

The Waterpik WF-06 is a countertop model that has ‘whitening’ capabilities. 

It allows you to add whitening tablets into the handle of the flosser.  As the water passes through, it dissolves the tablet. It results in a mildly abrasive solution being pushed against the tooth surface. The idea is that it will remove light surface stains from your teeth.

The tablets contain glycerine which helps to lift the stains off the tooth surface. Silica, also contained in the tablets, is an abrasive ingredient which also helps remove stains. Both are effective stain removers and are commonly found in professional polishing pastes and in powder form for air polishing.

In theory, it works. Waterpik have done their own research and found it to be effective at removing stains.

In practice, people are often disappointed. It is an expensive solution that doesn’t deliver the tooth whitening results most would expect from Waterpik calling it a “whitening” water flosser.  It is only ever going to remove extrinsic staining. It won’t change the natural colour of the teeth like professional bleaching.

Oral-B is a major player in the oral care space.  It has produced water flossers in the past, the Oxyjet being the most well-known.

But it has been quite some time since it has competed properly within this space.  Recently it has attempted to change this with its new Aquacare range.

Given its experience and might within the industry we expected better.

The Aquacare 4 has a 45 second flossing time.  It have 2 pressure settings, 2 weeks of battery life and a water resistant design.

It has a rotating nozzle, comfortable to hold and comes with a 2 year warranty.

But, it does not feel the best quality. The retaining clip for the water tank on the Aquacare 4 broke off in our testing.

The nozzle does rotate, but not all that easily. 

The different pressure settings and modes are made more complicated than they need to be.

It comes with a bulky charging stand that is less than ideal for travel.

Aquacare 4 from Oral-B front view at angle
The Aquacare 4 doesn’t feel the best quality

As you will have seen from our top choices, Waterpik does make some excellent products.

The Waterpik Cordless Advanced takes the top spot for best cordless water flosser. A good alternative to this is the AirFloss from Sonicare.

The AirFloss is a bit easier to use and uses much less water.  Introducing air into the mix results in a quicker and less messy user experience.  You don’t have to lean over a sink the whole time.  

However, it does target between the teeth only. You don’t get quite the same invigoration of the gum tissue. Nor do you get quite the same clean along the gumline.  

Like the Waterpik models, the AirFloss does command a higher price.  And this is where lesser known brands play their hand.

Fairywill has built a strong reputation on offering value for money.

Its products are not perfect in every regard, but we have found them to be more than satisfactory.  Particularly when, most of the time, the retail price is 50% less than the market leaders.  It is safe to say features and performance are not half that of their premium rivals.

You don’t get the refinements though.

For example, with the Fairywill 5020A and 5020E you have to connect a power cable into the flossers.  The Cordless Advanced and Cordless Select WF-10 have magnetic chargers.

In fact, the Cordless Select has a magnetic USB charging cable. This is super convenient and great for travellers.

Yet, despite this benefit, it loses favour because of the cramped grip.  You don’t get the same in hand comfort as the vast majority of other models. We found it one of the most awkward models to use.

Best Water Flosser 2021 1
Waterpik WF-10 Cordless Select has a nice charger but a cramped grip.

You don’t have to worry quite so much about in hand comfort with the likes of the Waterpik Nano, Ultra or Ultra Plus.  These are countertop units. They have slim handles, which the fingers and thumbs easily hold onto.

The Nano, Ultra and Ultra Plus are all good options. But, there is little to differentiate between them. When you consider their features and price, our preference is the Ultra Professional.

None of the Waterpik units will ever be as cheap as the east Asian brands — Truewell, Hangsun, Atmoko and Nicwell to name a few —  nor will you get as many accessories in the box.

But if you do want a cheaper option from Waterpik, the WF-03 Cordless Freedom is a good option.

Waterpik Cordless Freedom Water Flosser Review 11
The WF-03 Cordless Freedom is a cheap option from Waterpik

The compromise here is the small water tank. It is just 150ml. This means less flossing time per fill of the tank. It also has removable AA batteries rather than a built-in rechargeable one. But, in its favour, you do have the option of the different types of interchangeable nozzles. You don’t with most other cheap models.  

All flossers, irrespective of brand, have their pros and cons. For our main recommendations, we have chosen products that are comfortable to use and come with the features that we regard as essential. Comfort is important when it comes to interdental cleaning — the more comfortable a product is, the more likely you are to build a good flossing habit.

Buyer’s Guide

Useful pre-purchase advice

In the sections below we’ve added useful notes and tips from our research and testing.

No doubt you’ll have one or two particular questions before buying, as did we.

Browse the sections below, and if you can’t find the information you need, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page and we’ll get back to you.

What is a water flosser?

A water flosser is a specially designed tool. It helps clean between the teeth and along the gumline.  

It is advertised as an alternative product to dental floss and interdental brushes.

A water tank and pump are built into the unit.

The water is then pushed out at pressure via a nozzle on the flosser.

The aim of the jet of water is to break up the plaque layer (which contains bacteria), and dislodge food particles in the mouth. It has some effect massaging the gums.

With cordless flossers, there is usually a built-in rechargeable battery, or in some instances removable batteries, to power the device.

Countertop units on the other hand need to be connected to a power outlet to function.

The cordless design is more convenient for many.  It is a more travel friendly option too.

Waterpik Ultra Plus with box
A countertop water flosser

What is the evidence for and against water flossers?

Water flossers are one of the less common forms of interdental cleaning.

They are safe, with little ability to cause damage to the gums.

It seems that water flossers do not fully remove plaque. Despite this, they can still have a positive effect on the gums.

Waterpik has listed a large amount of clinical research on its website. Some people could perceive this as biased. But it is worth noting that it is independently scrutinised to be published in peer-reviewed journals. This means that you can discount any obvious problems with its data. However, do consider that they are unlikely to promote data that doesn’t support its hypotheses (read: advertising claims). Many of the articles are not available in full online, only the Waterpik summary or the paper abstracts.

Highlights from its research are (the link will lead you to the journal article, not the Waterpik page):

  • Using a water flosser in addition to toothbrushing reduces bleeding gums and plaque levels. Lyle et al. compared bleeding scores and plaque levels in two groups: those using only an electric toothbrush; those using an electric toothbrush + water flosser. They found that the group who used the water flosser had decreased levels of bleeding gums. The plaque levels were also lower in those using the water flossers. Although these results were of less statistical significance.
  • Waterpiks reduce gingival inflammation more than flossing does. Barnes et al. 2005 study found a Waterpik to be more effective than string floss in reducing gingival bleeding. This study compared manual toothbrush + floss to manual toothbrush + water flosser and sonic toothbrush + water flosser. They miss out a key comparison group: sonic toothbrush + flossing. This makes the evidence somewhat skewed in favour of the water flosser. Much of the benefit of switching to a powered brush is presented as being the water flosser, but there is no way to compare.
  • Water flossers are effective and safe for implants. Kotsakis et al. showed that water flossers are as effective as interdental brushes and more effective than chlorhexidine mouthwash. They reduce the amount of bacteria on implants, without damaging the implant surface. 

Independent reviews and papers support most of these claims. 

Independent reviews by Ng and Lim as well as Worthington et al showed that water flossers do not reduce plaque levels. This is also shown in Waterpik’s own study in 2011

Despite ineffective plaque removal, water flossers do reduce inflammation of the gums. They reduce bleeding from the gums, an indicator for active gum disease.

Water flossers might not reduce levels of plaque, but it is thought they do disrupt forming plaque from above and below the gum level. The theory is that this changes the structure of the plaque layer. If the plaque structure is altered, it may cause less inflammation in the gums. But at present, this is only a theory.

The water flossers also flush out food debris. This 2015 review by Sälzer et al also supports water flossers for improving gingival health versus no interdental cleaning aid. The European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) also recommends water flossers for interdental cleaning in its evidence based guidelines.

Best Water Flosser 2021 2

Can a water flosser replace traditional flossing?

Yes.

The reviews already mentioned do show support for water flossers. Floss is also ineffective in most cases.

The limited evidence available does say water flossers are more effective than flossing.

But interdental brushes are more effective at cleaning than water flossers.

Who should use a water flosser?

Overall, water flossers are not the most effective method for plaque removal. But they still show benefits for gum health.

They are a good option for someone who has tried and failed to use interdental brushes.

Our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler says:

“I would recommend a water flosser to certain people:

  1. Those who have limited hand mobility and so struggle with interdental brushes. 
  2. People with large gaps where a brush doesn’t fit but food gets trapped.
  3. Those who won’t use floss and brushes due to a gag reflex, negative experience, or who can’t get the technique right.
  4. Someone with braces, to help clean around the brackets.

I also say anyone who wants to try them can add them to an existing routine e.g. interdental brushes. 

Even with the evidence available, I know that the most effective type of interdental cleaning is the one that you will actually do. I want to support people to make flossing a habit.”

Cordless vs corded (countertop) water flossers

If you have space (approx 6 x 6 inches) for one in your bathroom, we recommend going for a countertop water flosser over a cordless water flosser. 

We’ve found countertop models slightly more comfortable to use. They also have larger water reservoirs, meaning they have longer cleaning times and need to be refilled less often. They often come with extra features, such as extra pressure settings or a built-in timer.

There is no evidence to suggest one is better than the other. There are scientific studies that confirm the effectiveness of both. In our own hands-on testing, we have found them to be as effective as each other.

That being said, a cordless water flosser is still a perfectly good option if you don’t have space for a countertop model, or if you travel a lot.

Countertop units need a power outlet.  They need to be plugged in for them to work. You are therefore more restricted on where you place them.  

Cordless units are wire-free. This makes them more portable and convenient, particularly if you don’t have a socket in your bathroom.

Some cordless options are waterproof too, meaning you can use them in the shower, reducing the mess you make in and around the sink.

Examples of how much space countertop flossers take up

One of the drawbacks to countertop water flossers is that they are larger.

Each model is different, but you generally need an area 6 x 6 inches or 15 x 15cm on your countertop to accommodate the footprint of the water flosser.

You then want to have about 10-12 inches (25-30cm) space above this free for the unit to stand upright.

Each corded unit has a power cable that is around 3-4ft (90-120cm) in length.  The hose from the handle tends to be of a similar length too.

A maximum distance from the power socket and the sink is approximately 2 meters. Any more than this and you will likely struggle.

If you are short of countertop space, one option is to store the flosser elsewhere and get it out as and when you need it.  Many people place it in a bathroom cabinet.  This overcomes the space issue, but regular use can become more challenging as it takes more effort and time to get it setup, and there isn’t the visual reminder from it sitting in plain sight.

Here is a table comparing the sizes of some of the most popular water flossers.

ModelWidthDepthHeight
Waterpik Ultra Professional/Aquarius Professional4.70 inches (11.94 cm)3.80 inches (9.65 cm)10.35 inches (26.29 cm)
Waterpik Ultra Plus5.60 inches (14.22 cm)5.30 inches (13.46 cm)9.90 inches (25.15 cm)
Waterpik Sidekick5.70 inches (14.48 cm)3.90 inches (9.91 cm)4.84 inches (2.29 cm)
Waterpik Nano5.40 inches (13.72 cm)4.40 inches (11.18 cm)6.80 inches (17.27 cm)
Hydro Floss8.27 inches (21cm)3.93 inches (10cm)4.92 inches (12.5cm)

How important are pressure settings?

Having different pressure settings is very useful.

You might not need to switch between them all the time, but having the choice is valuable.

Whilst countertop water flossers can have as many as 10 settings, 2 or 3 is common for cordless models.

You want at least a low and a high setting. As the names imply, the pressure varies between these.  Low is more gentle and high more intense.

Pressure is measured in Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) or Bar. Typically the pressure ranges from 10 to 100PSI, although some models reach as much as 160PSI. 

Low pressure tends to be around 30-45PSI and high 60-80PSI, subject to model. 

The extra power can blast away more debris. But, sheer force is not essential and may feel uncomfortable to some people.  Lower pressure with the correct technique is equally as effective. 

There is no evidence to support using higher power over a lower power.

A low setting is ideal for inflamed, sensitive and bleeding gums. 

If you have healthy teeth and gums, the higher setting can be used.

Best Water Flosser 2021 3

Key tips for water flosser use

Create a regular habit. Doing so will have the biggest impact, over and above the water flosser you choose.

  • Clean between the teeth with the water flosser at least once a day
  • Use the correct flossing technique

Ensure that alongside flossing you:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Brush for 2 minutes each time
  • Use the correct brushing technique
  • Spit after brushing, don’t rinse with mouthwash or water

The water flosser features we regard as essential

From handling and testing lots of water flossers, we’ve come to regard some features as essential, and others as nice to have but not a dealbreaker if they are missing.

We deem the essential features of a good portable flosser to be:

45 seconds or more flossing time

Flossers with a water tank of around 200ml will achieve this. 45 seconds is enough time to get a thorough clean without having to refill. It can make the flosser slightly heavier but it is a worthwhile trade off.

2 or more pressure modes

If you have sensitive gums it is useful to be able to adjust the pressure.

Water control button on the handle (countertop)

A button or switch on the flosser handle allows for much greater control of the water flow. This makes it easy to stop, start and pause the jet of water. No need to use the on/off switch on the countertop unit itself.

Rotating nozzle (or handle for countertop)

Having a 360 degree rotating nozzle makes it easier to reach all parts of the mouth.

Comfortable grip (cordless)

From our testing, a large area for the palm and fingers to grip onto is better than a slim handle. It’s also helpful if the grip is made from materials that prevent slippage, particularly when wet.

Hose storage (countertop)

Having a convenient place to tuck away the hose when not in use avoids trailing cables around the bathroom.

Features that are nice to have, but not critical

There are lots of extra features that can be built into a flosser.  These are in our opinion not essential. They are nice to have if they are included:

600ml+ water tank (countertop)

Having a large tank allows for multiple uses from a single fill, or extended flossing times for those who need more time when cleaning.

2+ week battery life (cordless)

A battery life stated as being at least 2 weeks allows for a good amount of use between charges.

Battery status/charge light (cordless)

A battery status or charge light gives you a clear indication of how much power actually remains. You know when it will need recharging and there is less chance the flosser will cut out on you mid session.

Backed by clinical evidence

Scientific studies that have tested the product and confirm what it can achieve.

Approved by dental bodies and organisations

Independent assessment of the product and any clinical data that exists. Examples include the Oral Health Foundations “Approved” status and the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Compact footprint

A compact footprint reduces the amount of space the water flosser takes up in your bathroom.

Power cable storage (countertop)

If the flosser comes with a mechanism for keeping excess cables tidy it is a bonus. It helps to keep the bathroom tidy and makes it easier to stow the flosser away if necessary.

Mode/pressure setting notification lights (cordless)

Visible indicators to show the selected mode.

Variety of flossing tips

Interchangeable tips make the water flosser more adaptable to different use case scenarios. For example, some tips are designed to safely reach into periodontal pockets. These allow for deeper cleaning beneath the gum-line.

Nozzle storage 

Some flossers come with a place to stow any additional/replacement nozzles, which helps to keep the bathroom tidy. A removable lid cum storage compartment also works well.

Travel pouch/case (cordless)

It’s a bonus if the flosser comes with a protective cover to prevent damage, leaks or accidental activation when in transit, but it’s not a deal-breaker if it isn’t included.

USB charging (cordless)

USB charging offers a more convenient option as the cable tends to be smaller with no bulky power brick. It’s particularly useful for regular travellers.

2 Year warranty

Ideally the flosser will come with a warranty of 2 or more years so that you have the peace of mind that should the product fail it will be repaired or replaced. Typically products do come with a 2 year warranty, but there are some that only come with 1 year.

Pros & cons of water flossers

Pros

  • Convenience
    • Fill the tank and switch it on. 
    • It is less hassle than pulling out a length of floss and wrapping it around the fingers. Not to mention then feeding it between the teeth.
    • Rotating nozzles make it easy to reach awkward spots in the mouth.
    • The long nozzle makes it easy to reach the back teeth.
  • Takes less time 
    • You can complete a thorough floss of the teeth with a water flosser quicker than you can with string floss.
  • Reduce inflammation and bleeding of the gums
    • The water reaches spaces that a toothbrush or traditional floss can’t. Notably, under the gumline. This means bacteria and debris that cause inflammation and bleeding are removed.
  • They disrupt more plaque
    • Traditional string floss requires a very specific technique to be effective.
    • Water flossers are easier to use to disrupt the plaque layer.
  • They are more gentle on the gums
    • Incorrect flossing technique can be painful or damaging to the gums.  
    • The pressurised water feels softer and gentle on the gums. It will stimulate blood flow.
    • Variable pressure settings allow you to find the right pressure for you.
  • Suitable for braces, implants and bridges
    • The water flow allows for a quick and effective clean around dental appliances.
  • They are easier for people with limited mobility (dexterity)
    • The nozzles allow for much easier positioning and reach into the mouth.
    • There are fewer fingers and thumbs and awkward movements.
  • Different nozzles
    • A variety of nozzles allow for a more personalised oral care routine.
    • Individual circumstances, such as periodontal disease can be more effectively treated at home.

Cons

  • Environmental impact
    • No studies into the environmental impact of water flossers exist yet. 
    • In 2020 a study compared electric toothbrushes to manual alternatives. Electric brushes came out worse in many areas.
    • The weight and electrical components likely make water flossers less environmentally-friendly. This is in comparison to other flossing options.
    • The heavy use of water also has a large impact on the environment. 
  • Size
    • Even the most compact water flosser isn’t as travel friendly as a reel of traditional floss.
  • Noise
    • The water flosser makes quite a bit of noise when in use.
  • Price
    • A water flosser is more expensive than string floss or floss sticks.
  • Interdental brushes are more effective
    • Despite the ease of use, interdental brushes produce better results.
    • Plaque isn’t removed as effectively.
  • Water tank size/pressure settings
    • Each flossing session is limited to the size of the water tank and the pressure setting selected. You may have to refill the tank multiple times to complete the clean.
  • Sink access
    • You need to be lent over a sink, even with a cordless, due to the amount of water that needs to be expelled during use.
  • Batteries/power
    • Water flossers will require recharging or replacement batteries.

How do the different nozzles / tips work?

The type of nozzles or jet tips that fit a water flosser are interchangeable.

This means they can be changed as and when you like.

The most common nozzle is the ‘jet tip’.  This is suitable for the vast majority of users.

It is designed for everyday use, offering a deep clean between teeth and along the gumline.

Most water flossers come with this type of tip included and available as a spare/replacement.

Some brands, notably Waterpik, offer a wider variety of nozzles.

The additional nozzles are specifically designed to offer benefits to particular users.

Examples include:

  • Orthodontic tip
    • The tip has a tapered brush on the end to help remove plaque from braces and orthodontics.  It also helps flush out bacteria and food debris from around teeth and under the gums.
  • Plaque Seeker tip
    • Designed to clean in and around harder to reach areas.  Most notably dental restorations. 3 thin bristle tufts gently access stubborn plaque around dental implants, crowns, bridges and veneers.
  • Pik Pocket tip
    • Designed to deliver water deep into periodontal pockets.  Ideal for those diagnosed with more advanced gum disease.
  • Tongue cleaner
    • The nozzle has a spoon-like shape. This traps and removes plaque from the tongue, in an effort to prevent bad breath.
  • Toothbrush tip
    • You can brush your teeth as you floss.
    • It acts like a manual toothbrush (the bristles do not move like an electric toothbrush).
  • Implant denture tip
    • Designed to reach hard to access areas. Ideal to clean around dental appliances such as fixed implant bridges and dentures.

The names and features of the tips can vary from one brand to another.

The range of nozzles and the availability tends to be best with larger brands.

For example, Fairywill only offers a jet tip only.  Those with more personalised needs will not be best served by Fairywill.

Our research suggests Waterpik offers the best range.

In fact, out of the box, Waterpik models often come with some of these different tip types.

Your dental professional can recommend specific tips if they are suitable for you.

Manufacturer guidelines suggest a nozzle such as a jet tip should be replaced every 6 months.  More specialist tips such as a plaque seeker or orthodontic tip should be renewed every 3 months.

It is possible to clean jet tips with distilled vinegar. This can extend the usable life from them and reduce the need to replace them.

The type of nozzle and its availability can affect the cost.

A jet tip from Waterpik will likely cost in the region of $12 per tip, whereas a Fairywill option will cost around $8.

Please note. Although nozzles are interchangeable, one brand might not be interchangeable with another. For example, Waterpik nozzles will not work with Sonicare.

Things to know about travelling with a water flosser

It is quite rare to travel with a countertop water flosser. 

If you travel and want to take your water flosser with you, you will want to opt for a cordless water flosser. These are specifically designed to be more portable.

Different water flossers come with different power supplies.

Many will come with a power cable suitable for the 3 pin outlet in your bathroom.

Few come with replaceable batteries.  But those that do can be a real winner for some. If you do need a water flosser with replaceable batteries, we recommend the Waterpik WF-03 Freedom.

More products now come with USB cables. These are more convenient, offering more flexibility when recharging.

If you intend to travel internationally, be aware of the different power requirements.  As a quick reference guide:

  • Printed on base/plug – 100-240V
    • Where can it be used? Globally
    • Do I need a voltage convertor? No
    • Do I need a plug adapter? Subject to country
  • Printed on base/plug – 220-240V
    • Where can it be used? In countries with 200-240V (e.g. most European countries, NOT US/Canada)
    • Do I need a voltage convertor? Yes if the voltage of the country you are travelling to is less than 220V
    • Do I need a plug adapter? Subject to country
  • Printed on base/plug– 110 Volts 60 Cycles
    • Where can it be used? In countries with 110 volts (e.g. US/Canada)
    • Do I need a voltage convertor? Yes if the voltage of the country you are travelling to is higher than 110V
    • Do I need a plug adapter? Subject to country

It is worth considering protection for your water flosser when travelling.  Some, but not all, come with cases included. It is rare for a countertop unit to have a case available.  

More often than not, the cases provided are basic cloth pouch cases.  They offer limited protection.  What they do allow is for the flosser and all the accessories to be kept neatly together. They can help stop any excess water leaking out into a bag.

Some will also come with a separate case for the nozzles.

Do bear in mind no cordless water flosser we have tested comes with any way to deactivate the buttons. It is possible that, in a cloth case, a button might be accidentally pressed and the device activated.

How does the warranty work?

This can vary from one manufacturer to another and from one country to another.

Most water flossers come with a 2 year (24 month) warranty as standard.

This will cover any faults that are not a result of user damage.

An example might be the pump failing to push water through.

If the product fails, you will need to contact the customer service department.

Many companies will require that it be returned for repair. This is usually within the country in which it was purchased.

How does dental association approval work?

Around the globe, there are many dental bodies and organisations

In fact, each country will usually have a leading panel of experts. They usually guide oral health within that country. 

These organisations are similarly aligned in their goals and approaches.

The public in particular look to them for advice on what products they should and should not be using.

The American Dental Association (USA) and the Oral Health Foundation (UK) are 2 examples.

Each has programmes that verify the safety and effectiveness of consumer products.

Consumer oral health care products are independently evaluated. This is to ensure they are safe and that the claims made are proven and not exaggerated.  Reliable scientific evidence is usually required. 

The programmes are designed to give consumers peace of mind and reassurance.

Each programme is run independently.  A manufacturer must apply and submit the relevant data to each organisation. Only once this process has been completed will a product be awarded the ‘approved’ status of the relevant body.

The ADA issues a ‘Seal of Acceptance’. The Oral Health Foundation labels products as ‘Approved’.

Although they are separate programmes, most operate by similar policies.  A product awarded the ADA seal would likely be approved by the Oral Health Foundation. 

Watch

Video explainer

In the video below our chief product tester Jon Love explains the advice from our buyer’s guide and runs through our choices for the best water flosser.

Best Water Flosser 2021

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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