Water flossers are an alternative to string floss
Instead of relying on traditional string floss, water flossers can be a viable substitute. Research indicates that incorporating a water flosser in conjunction with regular tooth brushing can decrease bleeding gums by 37%, a recommendation also supported by the European Federation of Periodontology.
Our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler notes that interdental brushes are the most effective method of cleaning, but she does recommend water flossers for some people:
“A water flosser doesn’t replace interdental brushes, which are the most effective interdental cleaning method. My recommendation to patients is to find a cleaning method that works for them, and there is certainly a place for water flossers. The most effective type of interdental cleaning is the one that you will actually do.”
In this post we recommend some reliable water flossers based on vigorous hands-on testing and advice from Dr. Wheeler.
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 which are necessary. From our hands-on testing, the most essential features of a water flosser are:
- 45 seconds or more flossing time: enough time to get a thorough clean without having to refill
- 2 or more pressure modes: important if you have any sensitivity
- Rotating nozzle (or handle if it’s a countertop flosser): to help you reach all parts of the mouth
- Comfortable grip (for a cordless): 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
- Water control button on the handle (countertop): this makes it easy to stop, start and pause the jet of water
- Hose storage (countertop): this helps to keep the bathroom tidy
Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why it’s the best countertop flosser:
The Ultra Professional WP-660 has all of the essential features we look for in a water flosser. It is a suitable option whether you are taking proactive steps to clean interdentally, have periodontal disease or if you’re recovering from oral surgery.
It is not portable like our best cordless choice below, the WP-560, but the slim handle is easy to hold and move around the mouth. The WP-560 is great, but, the smaller handle on the Ultra Professional gives the feeling of greater control. In-hand comfort is really quite important. 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.
The WP-660 is fairly compact with hose storage to keep things neat, although there is no place to store any excess power cable. It actually has a smaller profile than you might imagine and although it’s bulky, it doesn’t feel as dominant on a countertop as you might expect
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 Ultra Professional. This is more than you need, but it does give a very finite level of control, which we like. Each setting varies by 10PSI.
Read our Waterpik Ultra Professional Review.
What we like
- 80+ second flossing time
- Easy to rotate the nozzle
- 10 pressure settings
- Water control button on handle
- Hose storage
What we dislike
- No place to stow excess power cable
- It’s a more expensive option
Waterpik Cordless Advanced WP-560
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why it’s the best cordless water flosser:
The Cordless Advanced is one of the most comfortable cordless flossers we have used. Because of its portability, it’s also better suited to those who travel. 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.
The nozzle is easy to rotate so you can reach all the teeth and clean the entire mouth. In fact, rotating the nozzle on the Advanced is possibly easier than on the Ultra Professional. 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 Ultra Professional. You don’t have to rush with either, but a compromise for a more portable option is the smaller tank.
Read our Waterpik WP-560 Review.
What we like
- 45+ second flossing time
- Easy to rotate the nozzle
- Grippy handle
- 3 pressure settings
- Easy to attach magnetic charger
- Travel pouch included in the box
What we dislike
- Price – it is expensive
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
There aren’t very many good options if you want a reliable ‘budget’ water flosser. On Amazon you will find several products under £30, but do be aware that the product may fail a lot sooner than a product from a well-known brand such as Sonicare or Waterpik. One such example is Fairywill, which is arguably the best-known ‘cheap’ brand that makes these kinds of products.
Fairywill products are no longer available on Amazon. This is due to the way it has gone about gathering positive reviews for its products. As a result of this, and because of direct reports we have received about how frequently Fairywill products fail, we no longer recommend Fairywill as a budget alternative.
However, we are still including the Fairywill 5020E in this post because there are very few alternatives if you want a budget recommendation. If you can afford to, we strongly advise going for one of our other recommendations above. Failing that, you could consider the Panasonic EW-DJ10 (Amazon, Ebay), although it is more basic than the 5020E.
The EW-DJ10 does have the advantage that it folds up, so it is a good option if you travel about a lot and want to take it with you. The Fairywill 5020E has a few more features, but again, you may run into reliability issues. It lasts an impressive 90 seconds when using the most powerful of the 3 modes available.
In our testing, the cleaning performance was comparable to other water flossers. The mouth felt clean after each use. But, it is not supported by clinical evidence. The studies simply haven’t been completed. The nozzle can be rotated to help reach all areas of the mouth. But we found it much more difficult to rotate than the WP-560, particularly when in use.
What we like
- 90+ seconds flossing time
- 3 pressure settings
- Long battery life
- USB charging
What we dislike
- Reliability issues reported by users
- Difficult to rotate the nozzle
- Warranty is only 1 year
- Small port cover that is easy to lose
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.
The Waterpik WF-06 and WF-05 are 2 countertop models that have ‘whitening’ capabilities. The WF-05 Whitening Professional is the premium model.
Both allow 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 has done its 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.
Both the Aquacare 4 and the Aquacare 6 Pro-Expert have a 45 second flossing time. Both have at least 2 pressure settings, 2 weeks of battery life and a water resistant design.
Both have rotating nozzles, are comfortable to hold and come with a 2 year warranty.
But, neither feel the best quality. The retaining clip for the water tank on the Aquacare 4 broke off in our testing.
The nozzles do rotate, but not all that easily.
The different pressure settings and modes are made more complicated than they need to be.
Both come with bulky charging stands that are less than ideal for travel.
And both are more expensive than they should when accounting for these shortcomings.
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 is the Cordless 3000 Power Flosser from Philips.
It replaces the AirFloss that came before it. It wasn’t a true water flosser, offering bursts of air mixed with water. The Cordless 3000 is and it is a very good product.
It is arguably comparable to the Cordless Advanced, in fact you get longer usage times from it as the tank is bigger and the X shaped water jet allows for a larger area to be cleaned with each pass of the teeth and gums.
However, it isn’t perfect; the Waterpik’s nozzles rotate easier and replacement nozzles are more affordable.
Fairywill has built a reputation for offering cheap alternatives to the major brands.
However, reports have emerged about Fairywill products breaking sooner than they should, which is one of the risks of going for cheaper products from less well-known brands.
They also don’t come with the refinements of their more expensive counterparts.
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.
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.
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.
Our budget pick isn’t quite as comfortable to use, but it still has the features you need and it’s a good option if you don’t want to pay the price tag of the high end models.
Buyer’s guide: useful pre-purchase advice
Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)
With the help of our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler, we’ve added useful notes and tips from our research and testing. In the sections below, we include the most relevant and important information about shopping for a water flosser. If you’ve got any questions or would like further advice, please leave a comment below.
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:
- Those who have limited hand mobility and so struggle with interdental brushes.
- People with large gaps where a brush doesn’t fit but food gets trapped.
- Those who won’t use floss and brushes due to a gag reflex, negative experience, or who can’t get the technique right.
- 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 over a cordless water flosser. If it is cordless that you’re interested in, we make a few more suggestions in our best cordless water flosser post. 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.
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.
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.
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:
|Waterpik Ultra Professional/Aquarius Professional||4.70 inches (11.94 cm)||3.80 inches (9.65 cm)||10.35 inches (26.29 cm)|
|Waterpik Ultra Plus||5.60 inches (14.22 cm)||5.30 inches (13.46 cm)||9.90 inches (25.15 cm)|
|Waterpik Sidekick||5.70 inches (14.48 cm)||3.90 inches (9.91 cm)||4.84 inches (2.29 cm)|
|Waterpik Nano||5.40 inches (13.72 cm)||4.40 inches (11.18 cm)||6.80 inches (17.27 cm)|
|Hydro Floss||8.27 inches (21cm)||3.93 inches (10cm)||4.92 inches (12.5cm)|
A bit more on why having different pressure settings is 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 100 PSI, although some models reach as much as 160 PSI. Low pressure tends to be around 30-45 PSI and high 60-80 PSI, 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.
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. Going by the studies that have been completed, it seems that water flossers do not fully remove plaque. Despite this, they can still have a positive effect on the gums, as we explain below.
Waterpik publishes its own clinical research
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 their data. However, do consider that they are unlikely to promote data that doesn’t support their hypotheses (read: advertising claims). Many of the articles are not available in full online, only the Waterpik summary or the paper abstracts.
Highlights from their 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 their evidence based guidelines.
The benefits of water flossers
- Convenience: you 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. A long nozzle makes it easy to reach the back teeth.
- Less time-consuming: 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, bridges and crowns: 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.
- Nozzle variety: a variety of nozzles allows for a more personalised oral care routine. Individual circumstances, such as periodontal disease, can be more effectively treated at home.
And the drawbacks
- 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 cordless water flosser isn’t as travel friendly as a reel of traditional floss.
- Noise: a water flosser makes quite a bit of noise when in use.
- Price: a cordless 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 by a water flosser as it is with an interdental brush.
- 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 the different nozzles / tips work
d 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. Here’s a short explanation of what various tips can be used for:
- Orthodontic tip: this 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, DentJet only offers a jet tip only. Those with more personalised needs will not be best served by DentJet.
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. Some people will clean jet tips with distilled vinegar. This is to 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 £4-5 per tip, whereas a Fairywill option will cost around £2.50. Please note. Although nozzles are interchangeable, 1 brand might not be interchangeable with another. For example, Waterpik nozzles will not work with Sonicare.
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. See our list of dentist recommended toothpastes
- Brush for 2 minutes each time, using an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush
- Use the correct brushing technique
- Spit after brushing, don’t rinse with mouthwash or water
Water flosser reviews & help guides
Below is a list of the various water flosser reviews and comparisons we have completed, and other supporting help guides.
- Oral-B OxyJet Review
- Burst Water Flosser Review
- Waterpik Cordless Plus Review
- Philips Sonicare Cordless Power Flosser 3000 Review
- Panasonic EW1511 Review
- Waterpik Cordless Select Review
- Waterpik Ultra Plus Review
- Oral-B Aquacare 4 Water Flosser Review
- Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra Review
- Waterpik Cordless Advanced WP-560 Review
- Waterpik Professional Whitening Water Flosser Review
- Waterpik WP-660UK Ultra Professional Water Flosser Review
- Best cordless water flosser 2023
- Waterpik vs Airfloss: 2023 Comparison
- Waterpik Cordless Advanced vs Philips Sonicare Cordless Power Flosser 3000
- Oral-B Aquacare 4 vs 6 Pro-Expert
- Oral-B Aquacare 6 Pro-Expert Water Flosser Review
- How to clean a water flosser
55 thoughts on “Best water flosser 2023”
Waterpik cordless is really good, however the battery is just a hassle. I have to charge it constantly and it takes ages to fully charge the battery, so at the end of the day is not as cordless as it should be, unfortunately I’m returning my unit due to its poor battery. So I wouldn’t recommend this product at all just for that.
I was thinking to buy Panasonic EW1511 Rechargeable Dental Oral Irrigator with Ultrasonic Technology. It has lithium battery that charges in just 1 hour and is more durable and not a NiMH battery from the last decade like the Waterpik one.
Any advice regarding this!?
Hi Juan. Sorry to hear you are not satisfied with the Waterpik.
The Panasonic EW1511 is a good comparable alternative. We have reviewed it here on our US website. Sourcing nozzles is challenging though.
That’s great! I’m going to watch it right now!
The other option is the Phillips Sonicare 3000 HX3806/33
Which one is better Phillips or Panasonic ?
I have published a review on the Sonicare Cordless Power Flosser just a few days ago.
I can’t really say 1 is ‘better’ than the other. They are just a bit different. Sonicare probably takes the edge. Nozzles are easier to source & it has USB type-c charging.
I just purchased a waterpik cordless, I do not find the water as powerful as I expected after seeing videos on it. It doesn’t really clean the plaque off as much as I had expected. It is ok but not amazing. Does anyone know if there is one with more powerful jet of water, even if a different make or model. Also I am searching for a comparison with the watts or power but cannot find one
Hi Emma. Is it the cordless advanced that you purchased? There are a few different models with cordless in the name. Generally, the power they offer is very similar.
You don’t need a really powerful jet to remove plaque, harder and faster jets are not always better. Most water flossers water pressure is measured in PSI.
Most plaque you can’t actually see. It is a colourless sticky substance. Do you have hard lumpy spots on the teeth and along the gumline that you think should be removed with this? It could be you have tartar otherwise known as calculus which is hardened plaque. This cannot be removed at home with such tools, you will need to see a dentist/hygienist.
Hello Jon, Many thanks for your reply and advice it is much appreciated and has helped me with my purchase of the Waterpik Cordless Plus Water Flosser WP-450UK. I do not have hard lumpy spots on the teeth/ but I do on the gums which I see a hygienist to remove. My issues are possibly hormone changes, as I’m 53, my bone density has reduced significantly in last 2 years. So trying everything to save teeth. Allergic to chlorhexidine so using home mouth wash e.g aloe vera , salt water,
Thanks for the info, Emma. I would advise having a chat with your hygienist to get their input then based on your personal circumstances. They are better placed to advise.
Thank you very much Jon I will speak to my hygenist as advised
Thank you for a useful article. I have a question about replacing the jet tips: why is it needed every three months? I understand how toothbrush heads wear out, but (having never used water flosser) can’t see how plastic tube that carries water does too? I am reducing plastic in my life so switched to bamboo interdental brushes but still conscious that wire and bristles do not degrade. I am considering ordering a Waterpik, but can’t see anything online about recyclable jet tip replacements.
Olga. Thanks for your question it is a good one.
The advice does change from one manufacturer to another. The recommendations tend to vary from 3 to 6 months.
I do agree that the jet tip is not going to wear like the bristles of a brush head might. I believe there are 2 parts to the recommendation.
The first being hygiene. Even though it is water going through the nozzle over time bacteria etc can buildup within the nozzle.
The second part is the manufacturers make money from the nozzles, so it is in their interest to promote replacements.
I hear of many using their nozzles for much much longer.
I do personally believe, if cleaned regularly there is no reason the classic jet tip can’t last longer than advertised and in turn help reduce the plastic waste.
It would in time be great to see these made available for recycling too. All schemes I have seen have excluded these so far.
Thank you for your response, Jon. I am sure if sanitised property I can make the tip last for a long time.
Are the cordless advance and cordless plus build quality significantly better than cordless freedom? The replaceable battery of the freedom is a really useful feature, I wish the top 2 models have it
Hi Lan. Build quality is subjective, but yes I do believe the Waterpik Cordless Advance is better build quality than the WF-03 Freedom. The Cordless Plus is comparable to the Freedom.
If removable batteries are your preference, then go for one powered by these. Products like the Freedom are still good enough and do the job well. They just don’t always have that sense of durability or feel in hand you might hope for, in my opinion.
Do you guys recomend the waterpik classic WP-70?
This is not a model I have tested to be able to make comment on. As I understand it, it is an older model and although functional doesn’t have quite the same level of control over the pressure settings as newer models.
Is one of these of models particularly better for a 13-year old with braces?
Note: he has poor dexterity with his hands and is rather clumsy.
I can’t say 1 is significantly better. But the Waterpik WP-660 still stands out as being a ‘better’ option all round. The Sonicare Airfloss for example does not have a rotating nozzle and a smaller water tank, so this might not be quite as well suited to your daughter.
I talked to my dentist last night about these water flossers. An hygienist joined the discussion.
They only recommend the models that has both water and air because air is very efficient at killing bacteria, water is not, at all.
Also, water flosser are very poor at removing plaque. So, you still need to use interdental brushes. Too many people believe one replace the other.
I have 2 comments to your article:
I was upset to read this website writing “clinical studies show Waterpik models are better”
There is every reason to doubt that these are actual clinical studies let alone several of them. the vast majority of these studies are not run following a proper scientific protocol and are not peer reviewed. The author get paid and write what the company would like to read.
My dentists unequivocally confirm that these studies are biased at best and often fake and marketing driven.
The “studies” are run and paid by the company that sell the products.
You’re basically endorsing the study. Most people won’t see the trap.
At the very least you should write a very visible note that the study was paid by the company with all the caveats implied.
secondly, you wrote:
“If flossing or interdental brushes are not for you, there are alternatives! One such solution, backed by clinical evidence, is the use of an electric water flosser.”
“backed by clinical evidence”? I already see where this is going….
my dentists said without hesitation that water flossers are not capable of removing plaque and therefore can “NEVER” replace interdental brushes.
Thanks for the comment.
You make valid points, which are not lost on us.
The problem is, in many fields (not just dentistry) the studies are financed by companies, often looking to garner results for use in the marketing their products. This is because they have the money to fund them. There are not many independent organisations that can allocate the massive funds needed to run such trials.
Whilst it might be fair to say the results are interpreted or presented in a way that might be favourable, I think it is a little unfair to suggest they do not follow proper scientific protocol. From time to time there is truly independent research, that can be considered more trustworthy but sadly it is not as common as we would like to see. We would welcome more studies, particularly those that are not as favourable for Waterpik, but as it stands this is what data we have.
It is quite a bold statement for your dentist to ‘unequivocally’ confirm this unless they were privy to all stages of the trial. What evidence does your dentist have to say that water flossers cannot remove plaque?
We do recommend interdental brushes and string floss over water flossers, these remain the gold standard due to the physical contact that they have.
Your feedback does highlight some areas where there are perhaps small improvements that can be made to this article to make certain points clearer. I will look at ways of updating this page to reflect that.
> What evidence does your dentist have to say that water flossers cannot remove plaque?
They didn’t say. I’ll remember to ask them at my next appointment.
How do the Waterpik options compare to the Panasonic EW1511? Panasonic says they have an ‘ultrasound technology’ and it seems to be more pressure/pulse per minute. Thanks again!
Hi, I haven’t yet tested the Panasonic EW1511 to be able to comment. I think it is likely that the cleaning experience is going to be comparable, with little meaningful difference between them.
May be why your linked clinical study is favours Waterpik:
“Chhaju Ram Goyal, co-founder and researcher at All Sum Research Center (an independent research lab that tests oral health care products), and the man whose name is on much of the scientific research on water flossers (though problematically, that research was paid for and designed by none other than Waterpik).”
Yes indeed this was the case. It is the case with a large number of studies on oral care products unfortunately. We do consider this as part of our reseach.
I have used WaterPik for about 4 years now, based on recommendations from my dentist. My opinion is they are extremely poor quality.
I have had a cordless version. This was replaced under warranty and that again failed so I bought the updated model. That also gave up. The units would not charge.
I now have a corded version with a large reservoir. The button on the handle stuck, now the handle falls apart. The reservoir leaks.
WaterPik may have a clinically good result, but their design and manufacturing quality is very poor.
After 4 years of persistence I am very happy to abandon this brand.
Hi Mark. Thanks for sharing your feedback on these products.
It is a shame to read this. What have you switched to?
That’s a great and in depth article on water flossers over the internet thanks for sharing it. I wanted to ask a question in how many days i can see the results?
Results can be immediate, but within 2 weeks usually, the best results are achieved. For most this is the reduction or stopping of bleeding when flossing.
I had two Waterpik WP-660UK. It is very easy to use and having different power level makes it very versatile for the whole family. However, my first one died six months after my first use and the second one died after just three weeks. Inasmuch as I like this brand and model, I am now searching for something that will last for longer time. I have seen a review that reflects similar experience to mine.
Hello! Thanks for this very helpful article.
I used to have bad breath issues from time to time and i take antibiotics for that. So my GP recommended having an air floss for me as it will help in this in case any food is still stuck between my teeth.
I have a big bathroom but with no electric socket inside, yet i can use the extension cable from the near by socket in case you suggest using the counter one rather than portable.
PS. I live in Bahrain, if it might has anything to do with the recommendation.
Thanks for the comment.
Countertop units do offer a potentially better cleaning and tend to be more versatile with more control over things like the pressure.
However, it seems like the suggestion is the water flosser is just a nice addition to your routine to help remove debris and is not an essential part, therefore I would not be too concerned about going for a countertop unit.
The airfloss is a good option, especially if you do not have power in the bathroom. I would avoid running an extension cable as this poses risks.
Try some ground cloves for the bad breathe.. I don’t know what u call it Bahrain.. قرنقل مطحون أو مسمار مطحون
U just take very very little amount, and rinse then throw it away don’t swallow it.. u will say good bye to the bad breathe…👍🏼
Believe me .. try it .. nothing to lose.. cloves are good for both gum and teethe .. remember very little .. as a tip of a teaspoon..
Excellent article! Thank you.
Thank you for the reply and email :0)
Hello, I have a partially erupted wisdom tooth and currently suffering pericoronitis. I would like a water flosser to help keep the teeth clean rather than extract it. I am UK based with no pin in the bathroom. What’s the best option please? Thanks so much!
Mitch, you will want to go cordless, so the Waterpik WP-450 Cordless Water Flosser is a great option for you.
I am planning to buy a waterpik water flosser and would really appreciate assistance! Having used a countertop waterpik in the past and loving the results, I am planning on purchasing a waterpik water flosser. Unfortunately I can’t use a countertop because my previous waterpik broke because of the difference in voltage (I live in NZ) and therefore the warranty did not apply. Therefore I need a cordless version. Looking at reviews, it seems that the cordless waterpiks have very low pressure in comparison to the countertops. In your opinion, would the pressure of cordless waterpiks be around medium/medium-high pressure of the countertops? because the pressure is the most important factor for me. Also, at high power, would you say that the cordless freedom and cordless advanced are similar? I have an eye on the cordless advanced but comparing the features to more budget friendly versions, I just can’t justify the price difference. I really want this waterpik to last instead of breaking like my pervious one, so I am also concerned that the cordless freedom would stop working, especially looking at the reviews, although there did seem to be quite a few reviews on the cordless advanced where people have experienced issues with the batteries….I would appreciate any help to solve my indecisiveness 🙂
Thanks for the comment.
I am more than happy to help if I can.
Before getting into the details of my recommendations, I would like to understand what you are saying initially about the voltages and your previous countertop model breaking.
Had you purchased a 100-130v model and were using it with the 230/240 NZ power supply? I would like to know why the voltage posed an issue, because there are ways around this to ensure the model does not break as a result of the voltage (in my opinion).
Unless going for a removable battery powered cordless flosser, the majority of cordless options have built in rechargeable batteries that need recharging from the wall socket and may incur this voltage issue you speak about.
Are you actually travelling with the flosser at any point or is it being used mainly at home and a countertop would actually be preferred?
I had purchased a 100-130v model and had been using a voltage adaptor. I am not entirely sure if it was the voltage that was the problem, as I was using an adaptor, but seeing as the rest of the waterpik was extremely well cared for and still did not work with replacement parts, I ruled it down to an issue with the voltage.
I have looked into the waterpik cordless models and as they are designed to be travelled with, they have universal voltage and therefore even if I were to use it in NZ, it would be covered by the warranty.
I won’t be travelling with the flosser. While I would really want a corded waterpik, I also have an issue where there are no power plugs close to the bathroom. Therefore in order to use a corded waterpik, I would need to have extension cords running through my house.
So although I would love a countertop waterpik and would be willing to pay extra for waterpiks with global voltages, it seems overall that it would be a better decision to purchase a cordless one.
Thanks for the reply and additional information.
Whilst neither of us can probably be sure, it sounds quite plausible that the voltage that was the cause of your last unit failing. As I understand it the voltage is 230/240v in New Zealand, so using the 100-130v through a converter that may have failed all makes sense.
I understand all your other comments, so I hope the following is helpful.
Whilst the power of the cordless options are less than the countertop alternatives, it is not all about power.
It is my understanding that both the cordless freedom and cordless advance offer modes that are powered at 45 to 75 PSI ( 3.103 to 5.171 Bar ). Therefore both are as powerful as each other.
Any product can go wrong, and many complain more than they praise (as a general rule) so I wouldn’t be too worried, as you say you have the warranty.
So, I think the cordless freedom could be a good option for you.
I ended up buying the cordless freedom and am really loving it! Thanks for the help! 🙂
Thanks for letting me know. Glad you are happy with it.
Thanks for the article, it’s really useful. Might be worth mentioning that the clinical study that says Waterpik is better than airpick is funded by Waterpik, and not in a peer-reviewed journal.
Yes, this is something that has not escaped our attention. I do believe other brands are guilty of this too. 🤔
Hi.. Are there any newer compact/waterproof /travel size models that beat the Panasonic ewdj10 which you rated as best in 2017 or is it still best match to those requirement.. Thanks
In a word no. How waterproof and compact do you need/want it to be. I know this might sound a bit of a daft question, but if I can understand your needs a little more this may help me point you in the right direction of a better product if one exists.
Is this for with use within the UK?
Have you reviewed Mornwell water flosser D50 . I’m tempted to buy this due to much more affordable price and reading reviews on water pic and soni air flosser having issues with breaking down after a few months and difficulty with warranty. Does the Mornwell do a good job?
This is not a product we have reviewed as yet.
There are lots of lesser known brands like Mornwell that produce very good value options. This can be a positive and a negative, depending on your viewpoint.
I suspect the performance & build quality to be similar to the Broadcare model that we list at number 6.
Sorry I cannot be more helpful.
You say in your review that a hand-held flosser will last for one or two cleans. If you are going to do a proper clean, then you’ll need to re-fill the tanks on a portable flosser 2-4 times. Also, knowing that a flosser has x number of power settings means nothing unless you know the power range and the max power. A higher power jet will clean more. I’ve seen ranges advertised from 90-130 psi, but many models don’t state the power. It makes it very difficult to choose.
Some very valid and fair points made.
For a deep clean, it is indeed likely you need to refill the tank a couple of times, but it does depend on how often you use it and how thorough you are. I have certainly found I can do a quick/rapid floss with 1 tank if I am wanting to refresh my mouth and remove the worst of the plaque in interdental spaces.
I would generally suggest a countertop flosser is best for most people as there is less need to refill.
In regards to the power most models will provide a power range that is sufficient to provide adequate cleaning at the highest power along with typically a more gentle mode that are suitable for most. The PSI will certainly give an extra steer in the decision making process, but many are not familiar with how powerful 130 PSI is on the gums compared to 90 PSI for example, so it is often not until you really use it do you fully understand the power.
Thanks for this site and all inforation Jon. Still dithering over which to buy frkm an older lady, husband, no mortgage, two young adult offspring and a life of experience which complucates making informed decisions.
I suggest our number 1 recommendation, the Waterpik WP-660UK! 👍
Battery on rechargeable waterpik not very good and guarantee only applies to first bought, not replaced. Ie, warranty is for two years from time of buying first model. My unit was replaced after about 18 months leaving only 6 months warranty for the replacement. Of course, the battery has failed within two years but not covered by warranty. So my choice is to buy a new one or change manufacturer. I’ve tried Philips but not the same cleanliness.
Thanks for the comments.
The warranty conditions you speak of are standard across many product categories, not just water flossers, but I do hear the frustration.
Interesting you should feel that the Wateprik is the better product for cleanliness results.