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.
- Different modes
- Battery life
- Automatic power off
- Reservoir size
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 Ultra is the portable nature and the convenience it gives to the process of interdental cleaning.
The availability of popular branded water flossers in New Zealand is limited. Therefore you are restricted to the Waterpik Cordless Select, if you want to go cordless.
For a more detailed comparison of buying options, including countertop water flossers, see our article on the best water flossers.
3. Where is the best place to buy the Sonicare AirFloss Ultra?
The Airfloss is only sold at Farmers at the time of review.
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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 Wisdom 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 Ultra?
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.
Variants of this water flosser
The first thing I want to make you aware of is that in Australia, it is the Sonicare AirFloss Ultra model that is sold.
However, around the world, there is also a standard ‘AirFloss’ model in addition to the Ultra.
The Ultra is the technically better product and the one that I am reviewing here.
Pro might also be used instead of Ultra, they are the same thing.
There are 3 variants of the Ultra, the difference being the colour of the nozzles/handle and charging stand supplied only.
- AirFloss Ultra – Grey – HX8331/01
- White handle/body
- Grey nozzle/trigger button
- White charging stand
- AirFloss Ultra – Pink – HX8331/02
- White handle/bofy
- Pink nozzle/trigger button
- White charging stand
- AirFloss Ultra – Black – HX8431/03
- Black handle/body
- Grey nozzle/trigger button
- Blackcharging stand
In addition to these variants listed, often bundles are sold that include the AirFloss and an electric toothbrush.
What’s in the box?
- 1 x Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra
- 1 x AirFloss nozzle
- 1 x Charging station
- 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
- Different modes
- Automatic mode
- Angled nozzle
Pros & Cons
Here are a list of the pro’s and cons having used the AirFloss Ultra for over 6 weeks.
- Different modes – Different settings for different cleaning effects. Single, double or triple burst modes.
- Effectiveness – I am referring here to how effective it is at getting me to clean interdentally. It is simple and effortless in my opinion, and you actually want to clean when using this. I can’t say clinically how effective it is at removing floss, Philips would suggest very.
- Battery life – Lasts up to 2 weeks, which is similar, if not a fraction less than most Philips Sonicare electric toothbrushes.
- 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.
- Reservoir size – In my opinion, it could be bigger. You can complete a couple of sessions before it needs filling.
- Expensive – It is not a cheap tool to have. More expensive than regular floss but more convenient for many.
Design, usability, clean & general use
If the marketing and what I have said above is to be believed, then this product is really good and you will not wish to consider anything else.
I am not lying when I say I have been really impressed by this product and I really do floss every day with it, but it is not perfect.
It might sound odd but my initial impressions were it is both bigger yet smaller than I expected.
It feels big considering the very small reservoir in the handle, yet it does have to actually pump and push the water or mouthwash out through the nozzle to your mouth and the components have to be a certain size for this.
In addition you want to be able to comfortably and practically hold and use it.
It is smaller than most conventional cordless water flossers.
It is about 1.5-2 times the depth of a regular toothbrush and a fraction wider.
What you can always be assured with 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 rechargeable battery and the mechanics that allow the flosser to do what it does along with the reservoir for the water or mouthwash.
I am calling the front of the unit, the past of the AirFloss that sits directly under the nozzle.
This is free of any ports or controls, just the Sonicare logo in the upper half of the body.
Primarily smooth to the touch, the plastic unit does have a series of raised dots on the left and right side, to assist with grip.
This textured surface is mainly in the upper third of the handle, with the lower third being all smooth with no additional gripping points.
The whole body of the AirFloss has a sweeping curve design to it and your hands are led to the back of the unit where you interact most with it.
At the very top is the trigger/function button to actually have the water be shot out of the nozzle. More on this shortly, but it is grey or pink in colour subject to the variant.
Below this is a clear plastic door to the reservoir. This is hinged from the bottom and you can fill this up with water, mouthwash or a combination of both if you like.
It is quite a small storage compartment and I found generally you will get a couple of uses from the unit.
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.
Towards the bottom of the AirFloss is the power come mode button.
The button has a nice tactile feel and will not be activated very easily.
A single press will turn the unit on, whilst additional presses will allow you to choose between the 3 different burst modes on here.
Surrounding the button are icons and LEDs which illuminate based on the mode selected.
- Single burst: 1 LED
- Double burst: 2 LEDs
- Triple burst: 3 LEDs
On the bottom of the unit is a recess into which the prong of the provided charging station fits.
Back to the top of the unit, where the activation/trigger button is, where you attach the replaceable nozzle.
There is only 1 style of nozzle and each is designed to be used for up to 6 months.
They simply push into and pull out of place.
When fitted, the nozzle stretches up and out from the AirFloss unit itself. This puts the nozzle in the ideal position to complete the interdental clean.
Unlike Waterpik water flossers where the nozzles can be rotated, they cannot on the airfloss, it is fixed into place.
I can see the pros and cons, but in truth I haven’t felt that I have missed out by not being able to rotate it.
All in all I have found the orientation and use of the AirFloss to be straight forward.
As the cleaning mode//burst modes imply you get a single, double or triple burst upon use.
There are manual or automatic modes when using the AirFloss.
With manual mode, you align the nozzle to the space, press the trigger button once and the mix of air and water is fired out.
You then move the nozzle and repeat.
With the automatic mode, you keep your finger on the trigger button and the flosser continues to keep sending out bursts, with a 1 second gap between them. This gives you enough time to move from 1 tooth to another.
You may start with the manual process, but switching to automatic is quicker and you soon find your rhythm.
With auto mode you can complete a cleanin in around 30 seconds.
It will take a few days to get used to using the AirFlosser. Firstly some may find it a little powerful and secondly getting the positioning right.
On my first few attempts, I managed to spray the mirror I was standing in front of with the spray that bounced back off my teeth, but you quickly get the hang of it.
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.
As you use it, waste water is naturally collected in the mouth, just spit this out at the end. One of the benefits of AirFloss in comparison to the water flosser is the smaller volume of water, you don’t have to be constantly dribbling out into a sink.
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.
You 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, you get twice the lifetime from 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.
Sadly there is no storage option for additional nozzles.
It does not come cheap and this could be argued to be a bit of an over the top solution to flossing, but you are more than likely to floss more regularly with this.
I thought I had found a good solution in the Wisdom 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 a 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.
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 of daily use stop using the water flosser and consult your dentist.
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.
All things considered I love this product.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Grips on unit for a secure hold
- Flip down reservoir lid
- Different colour options available
- Replaceable nozzle
- Automatic and manual mode
- 3 different burst configurations
- LED’s to show which mode selected
- Can use mouthwash, water or combination
- Can floss all teeth in as little as 30 seconds
- Simple to use
When you first use an AirFloss Ultra 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 or black in colour depending on which variant you chose. It 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 the 2 pin power cable is hardwired into the stand.
The LEDs around the power button indicate the remaining power in the battery.
- 1 green LED -33% charged
- 2 green LEDs – 66% charged
- 3 green LEDs – 100% charged
When it is fully charged, AirFloss Ultra has an operating time of up to 11 days when it is used in triple burst mode, and up to 33 days when it is used in single burst mode.
Therefore the exact usage time will depend on the modes you use.
If the AirFloss Ultra is turned on, but not used, the automatic power off feature will kick in to conserve power, turning it off after 1 minute of inactivity.
When depleted or needing a charge (less than 3 uses left), the LED flashes yellow.
Similar to Sonicare brushes, this uses a Lithium-Ion battery.
Summary of battery life
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery built-in
- Anything from 11 to 33 days of use subject to mode used
- Takes up to 24 hours to fully charge
- Charging stand included in the box
- 1 green LED -33% charged
- 2 green LEDs – 66% charged
- 3 green LEDs – 100% charged
- Automatic power turns off after 1 minute of inactivity
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.
The recommended retail price is NZ$230.
Make no mistakes about it, this is not cheap.
Regular string floss is considerably cheaper, but it is far less convenient.
It is safe to say that the AIrFloss Ultra is a luxury product.
Whilst it is not cheap, it is priced fairly similarly to other equivalent products from the likes of Waterpik and Panasonic. Good, because you know it is comparable, bad, because it is still not the best value dental care product.
The AirFloss Ultra is not widely stocked in New Zealand. You can purchase from Farmers. This means it is not that easy to get hold of and the price tends to remain near or at retail.
If you are prepared to import from Australia, you might be able to get some better prices.
The price at the time of writing is the full NZ$230.
What you do need to consider is the ongoing cost.
It is recommended that you replace the nozzles every 6 months.
A pack of 2 replacement nozzles comes in on average at NZ$35, so $17.50 each.
The part codes are as follows:
- HX8032/05 for the Grey
- HX8032/35 for the Pink
To give some form of benchmark on price to compare to similar products, I like to price them over a 3 year period.
Taking the retail price of NZ$230 plus, plus a further 5 nozzles at $17.50 each, the total cost is NZ$317.50 or $0.30 per day.
The most similar product is Waterpik’s Cordless Select water flosser that comes in at $0.18 per day. The AirFloss Ultra is more expensive, but potentially more convenient.
But, we can’t hide from the fact that there are lesser known brands selling cordless water flosser products for around NZ$50-100. At a third of the purchase price, it can be quite difficult to justify the additional premium that the Airfloss commands.
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
- Recommended retail price of NZ$230
- Replacement nozzles retail for NZ$35 for a pack of 2
- Daily cost around $0.30 per day over 3 years
- Expensive in comparison to alternatives
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 do 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 really do like this product and I can tell you it has certainly won a space in my bathroom.
Yes, it is more expensive than regular floss, but it is so much more convenient.
I like the choice of modes and the automatic setting makes interdental cleaning super quick.
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.
- 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.