Traditional flossing is hard, tedious, it hurts, and less than a quarter of American adults floss as regularly as they should. If this is something you struggle with, have you tried an electric water flosser? A good water flosser will help you keep your mouth healthy, clean and pain-free, just like regular floss, but without so much hassle. Want to know which is the best water flosser for you? You’re in the right place.
Many people are put off by using conventional string dental floss for a variety of reasons:
- It hurts their gums
- It gets stuck in their teeth
- They find it too difficult to use
- It takes too long
- They don’t know how to floss properly
Fortunately, water jet flossers (also known as oral irrigators) address all of these issues by making the process quicker, easier, and gentler on teeth. In this article, you’ll discover how these devices work and the different features they come with. We also have some information on the water flosser vs string floss debate so you can decide which is the best buy for you.
We compare features and reviews of some of the water flossers that are the best to buy in the US for 2019, so you can decide which water flosser is best for you.
Table of contents
- 1 What is a water flosser?
- 2 Can an oral irrigator replace regular floss?
- 3 Features to consider
- 4 Electric water flosser reviews
- 4.1 Countertop water flosser review
- 4.2 Best rechargeable water flosser/cordless water flosser review
- 4.3 Oral irrigator honorable mentions
- 4.4 Summary of US countertop and portable water flosser reviews
What is a water flosser?
A water flosser is a handheld device that sprays small streams of water in steady pulses. Just like traditional floss, a water flosser provides a way to clean between and around your teeth. Water flossers have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for being a safe and efficient way to remove plaque.
Can an oral irrigator replace regular floss?
Before we look at the different products available, there is one important question to answer: Is water flossing as good as traditional flossing? Can you use an electric flosser as a substitute for dental floss?
Many dentists recommend using a water flosser in addition to traditional floss, because dental floss actually scrapes plaque off teeth while a water flosser simply rinses.
Not what you wanted to hear?
Well, a dental water flosser vs floss may still be more effective for people who:
- Have dexterity problems which make it difficult to use normal floss
- Have very sensitive gums and find traditional dental floss painful to use
- Are wearing braces
- Have dental bridges, crowns or implants
- Just really dislike string floss and are never going to use it!
The video below shows water flosser reviews by a dentist, and gives his view on a water flosser vs. string floss:
If you’re serious about good oral hygiene, you could use string floss to loosen any food particles and then rinse your teeth with an electric flosser. But if you can’t use string floss for whatever reason (or just don’t want to), a water flosser is definitely better than not flossing at all!
|Traditional string floss||Electric flosser|
|Pros||Cheap; scrapes plaque off teeth||Quick and easy to use; gentle on gums|
|Cons||Fiddly and time-consuming; may damage sensitive gums||Expensive; uses electricity; may not be as effective|
Features to consider
Once you decide to purchase a water jet flosser, you still have to work out which brand and model will suit you best. This choice can be quite overwhelming, particularly if it is your first time purchasing one. Here are some of the main things you should consider:
- Mains operated or rechargeable: You may be used to having a cordless electric toothbrush, but some flossers are connected to a base that holds the water reservoir. This unit is quite large, so it doesn’t make for the best travel water flosser. On the plus side, the larger reservoir means less frequent re-filling, while the flosser itself tends to be more powerful than a cordless water flosser.
- Budget: You can spend up to $100 on a top-of-the-range flosser, but some lesser-known brands have basic models for around $30.
- Settings: Some flossers have just one or two power settings while others have up to 10. Few people will make use of all 10, but it’s good to have options – especially if more than one person in your household will be using the device.
- Tips: As well as the standard water jet tips, some models come with special tips for different purposes. These include tips for cleaning teeth implants and cleaning your tongue. Additionally, the best water flosser for braces will come with a special orthodontic tip.
- Best electric toothbrush and water flosser combo compatibility: If you’re short on bathroom shelf space or plug sockets, there are a couple of options. Firstly, you could buy a cordless water flosser that is compatible with the charging base you already have for your electric toothbrush. Secondly, you could purchase an all-in-one unit which incorporates both a toothbrush and flosser.
- Water flosser reviews: It may seem obvious, but the consumer is, after all, the person with real, first-hand experience.
Below we will go into a more detailed review of the best oral irrigator on the market, but if you are short on time check out the following table for quick reference:
Electric water flosser reviews
Countertop water flosser review
We’ll begin by comparing countertop models, i.e. those that need to be plugged in to operate. In the table below you can view a summary of the products we have selected as the best oral irrigators on the market in this category. Following this, you’ll find more detailed descriptions and useful information gathered from real reviews of these water flossers.
|Model||Waterpik WP-660 Aquarius Water Flosser||h2ofloss HF-9 Whisper||THZY||THZY|
|Number of tips||3 standard + 4 specialist||4 standard + 8 specialist||3 standard + 4 specialist||3 standard + 4 specialist|
|Cost of standard replacement tip||$4.50 each||$4.90 (for 2)||$6.99 (for 2)||$8.99 (for 2)|
|Number of settings||10 power settings||6 pressure settings||10 pressure settings||10 pressure settings|
|Reservoir capacity||90+ seconds||150+ seconds||90+ seconds||90+ seconds|
|Other features||Tip storage in unit, pause button on handle||Waterproof, water pressure control on handle||UV sterilizer, on/off control on handle, waterproof||Tip storage unit, anti-leak design|
|Warranty||3 years||2 years||1 year||1 year|
Waterpik WP-660 Aquarius
The Waterpik WP-660 Aquarius Water Flosser is the newest of the many Waterpik models to hit the market. It has a new compact and contemporary design. It is easy to use with a water on/off switch on the handle, and finger-tip pressure control. This flosser has 10 different water pressure settings, the highest offering 1,400 pulses per minute. Having this many options can be useful if several people with different needs and preferences are using the same device. The reservoir holds enough water for 90+ seconds of use, depending on the setting you use.
It’s well-equipped with seven different tips. You get three classic jet tips as well as a toothbrush tip, a Plaque Seeker tip, and a tip for periodontal pockets. It is also a good water flosser for braces, as it has a special braces tip.
One reviewer comments on how they used to avoid flossing until they started using the Waterpik:
“I literally hated flossing and would find myself avoiding to floss even though I needed it very much. My gums were red, swollen, and inflamed because I was in the early stages of periodontal disease. I started using the Waterpik flosser, and instantly like this way of flossing much better!”
It’s one of the more expensive flossers of this type, but it’s also well-equipped and it comes from a trusted name with a generous 3-year warranty.
As mentioned above, this Waterpik model incorporates an electric toothbrush as well as a flosser. If you have limited space or don’t want the hassle of charging two separate devices, this could be a good choice for you.
H2ofloss HF-9 Whisper
A product that many reviewers recommend as an alternative to the Waterpik is the h2ofloss HF-9 Whisper. At around half the price, it presents great value for money while still providing an effective cleaning experience. Not only is the unit price very competitive, but replacement tips also cost around half the price of most other brands — so you’ll be saving money in the long run too.
Its 1,200 pulses per minute is lower than some other models, but many reviewers say they never needed to use it on the highest of the six pressure settings anyways.
The flosser is waterproof with a quieter motor than most brands and the reservoir holds enough water for 150+ seconds of use, which should be more than enough for one person to floss without needing to refill it.
You get 12 tips included with your purchase, including four color-coded standard tips and additional ones for cleaning your tongue, periodontal pockets, and braces. There are even two types of nasal tips!
A handful of negative reviews mention problems with leaking, but any issues like this are covered by the 2-year guarantee. Overall, people rate it as a good product for a good price with one customer saying:
“The variety of tips is a big plus, particularly the periodontal tip, which allows me to flush out the deeper pockets in my gums. This flosser is not just a good deal for the price, it’s an excellent device!”
The THZY Oral Irrigator emits water at 1,250 – 1,700 pulses per minute with ten different speed settings. It comes well-equipped with three standard tips as well as four others including a tongue cleaner and ones for use with braces, implants, bridges, and crowns. You can buy a full set of seven replacement tips but not, it seems, just individual types. This is fine if you use them all equally but could turn out to be expensive in the long run if you need to replace one tip sooner than others.
The feature that makes this flosser different is its built-in UV sterilizer. After flossing, you place the tips in the holder at the side and the sterilizer runs for a set time to help keep the nozzles clean.
Reviewers comment on its convenient design, including suction cups to stop the unit from slipping during use. It seems many people choose this flosser over the Waterpik because of its comparative value for money and the fact that it is still well-equipped with different tips.
One user says:
“Wow, this water flosser does an awesome job! I have a permanent brace on the back of my bottom teeth and this cleans it extremely well. I also love the UV sterilizer, which is why I chose this over the comparable WaterPik model”
QQCute Dental Flosser
The QQCute Dental Water Flosser features a 600 mL reservoir and comes with seven flosser tips and a leak-free design. Its tips include three classic jet tips for general use, each with a different color ring for easy identification. The specialized tips include a tongue cleaner tip for fresh breath, a periodontal tip for periodontal pockets, an orthodontic tip for braces and built-in returns, and a dental plaque tip.
The feature that most sets this flosser apart from the others is its anti-leak design built into the reservoir. There is a small cap located between the reservoir and the base that ensures that water only flows into the handle when it is properly secured.
This is also one of the more affordable models, making it ideal for those looking for a water flosser on a budget.
One very satisfied reviewer says:
I have been using this daily now and I love it. Other units like this are more expensive but this works very well. I was spending a lot of money on dental floss but this works better. I haven’t had any toothaches, bleeding gums or other mouth issues since using this.”
Best rechargeable water flosser/cordless water flosser review
Now let’s take a look at the best cordless water flossers available. Below this summary table of cordless water flosser reviews, you’ll find more information and product reviews of each one, so you can choose the best portable water flosser for you.
|Model||Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser||Zerhunt Professional Water Flosser||Panasonic EW1211A Cordless||Vava Cordless Water Dental Flosser|
|Number of tips||2 standard + 1 implants + 1 orthodontic||3 standard||2 standard||3 standard|
|Cost of standard replacement tip||$4.50||$5.00||$5.00||Contact manufacturer|
|Number of settings||3 power settings||3 modes||3 modes||3 modes|
|Reservoir capacity||45 seconds||50 seconds||35 seconds||30 seconds|
|Other features||Waterproof, ADA accepted, fast charging||Waterproof, universal voltage||Waterproof, washable, neat storage||Waterproof, long battery life|
|Warranty||2 years||1 year||2 years||1.5 years|
Waterpik WP-560 Cordless Advanced Water Flosser
There are a number of cordless Waterpik flossers available, including one which uses AA batteries—handy if you’re traveling and don’t want the hassle of carrying a charger and finding a plug socket.
However, the Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser seems to have the most features and the greatest ease of use. It is also the best-rated water flosser overall. It has a number of features which make it stand out from other cordless models, including:
- Waterproof design
- 2 classic and two specialized tips for plaque and orthodontics
- Rapid 4-hour charge
- 3 pressure settings
- Travel water flosser bag
- ADA Seal of Acceptance
- 45-second reservoir capacity
At almost double the price of the other cordless models we mention here, though, you’ll need to decide whether these features are worth the extra money. The fact that it’s waterproof is certainly handy if you find flossing over the sink too messy and want to use it in the shower. Cheaper models also don’t have the special tips for use with braces and implants.
With a sentiment echoed among many users that declare this as the best water flosser that is cordless, one reviewer says:
“Great for travel. Not as powerful as a home unit but gets the job done on a long trip”
The power isn’t the same as the corded version, but if you want a cordless model this does the job and has some of the best features.
You can read more about this and other Waterpik models in our full guide with the best Waterpik reviews.
Zerhunt Professional Water Flosser
The Zerhunt Professional Water Flosser is about half the price of the Waterpik model, but is a favorite among Amazon customers. This model is lightweight and portable. It weighs less than a pound and takes up only 2.5 inches of precious counter space. It comes with six color-coded tips, making it ideal for a large family.
It features a powerful water jet stream with 30-100 psi and 1,800 pulses per minute. Three flossing modes—normal, soft and pulse meet a variety of dental care needs. It has a water reservoir that holds 300 ml for 50 seconds of non-stop flossing.
Another nice thing about this flosser is that it is easy to clean which a detachable water tank and it has a lithium-ion battery pack that can run up to two weeks with just a four-hour charge. It is also waterproof, so you can take it into the shower with you to maximize your time in the morning.
One reviewer sums up the pros by saying :
“It is well-built, small, easy to use and I anticipate it will last a long time”.
One downside that several users mention is that it is a bit awkward to hold and the on/off switch could be better located, as it sometimes gets in the way.
The Panasonic oral irrigator’s water jet delivers 1,500 pulses per minute to dislodge food debris from teeth and gum pockets. There are two speed settings for the pulse mode, as well as a stronger continuous jet mode. The soft mode is suitable for children and people with sensitive gums.
You get two tips included with the Panasonic oral irrigator, and these have colored bands so you can easily tell them apart. Its waterproof design means it’s easy to clean and you can use it in the shower.
This flosser comes with a charging stand, which makes the footprint larger than some others but also allows for tidy storage of the unit and one spare tip.
The main downsides of this flosser are the capacity and charging time. It only holds enough water for 35 seconds of use and takes 15 hours to charge. Both of these factors make it less user-friendly than the other brands we have included. One reviewer says he has to refill it five times each use, which is quite inconvenient.
People seem generally happy with the performance of the Panasonic water flosser, though, with one reviewer commenting on its time-saving efficiency:
“The best thing about using an oral irrigator, perhaps, is that it takes very little additional time out of your day – 30 seconds per session is sufficient in my experience.”
If you can put up with the small reservoir, it’s an affordable choice from a well-known brand name.
Vava Dental Water Flosser
The Vava Dental Water Flosser features a waterproof design so that it can be used in the tub or shower, and three preset speed modes: normal, pulse and a soft massage mode for those with sensitive gums. It is arguably the best cordless water flosser for those looking for a long battery life.
The unit comes with three jet tips and both a USB and wall charger for versatile charging. What really sets this flosser apart is its extremely long battery life; it can last for 20 consecutive days on just a single charge.
It does have a small reservoir, only 200 ml for 30 seconds of water, but happy reviewers don’t seem too bothered by this, summing up their experience by saying:
This dental flosser has impressed me in the following ways: it has 3 different power settings that should meet your needs, especially if you need a powerful one; it’s well constructed, doesn’t leak and is easy to hold and operate; it’s charged battery outlasts my previous one by several days.”
Oral irrigator honorable mentions
Philips water flosser
The Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra is a lightweight water flosser with a reservoir that holds enough for two 30-second cleanings. This Sonicare water flosser is made for infrequent flossers and said to be quite gentle on gums.
Oral B water flosser
The Braun Oral-B- ED17-4 Oxyjet is not advertised specifically as a water flosser, but as a portable oral irrigator with micro-bubble technology.
Hydro Floss oral irrigator
The Hydro Floss Oral Irrigator features a gentle, pulsating flow that is recommended especially for those with crowns, bridges and orthondontics.
Toilettree oral irrigator
The ToiletTree Oral Irrigator is made for use at home and on the go and effectively removes food particles from between teeth.
Summary of US countertop and portable water flosser reviews
Despite Waterpik being the name that dominates the market, there are plenty of other lesser-known brands offering efficient and affordable products, and consumer reports for the best dental water flosser are all over the board. In choosing the best water jet flosser for you, you’ll need to decide which features you’re willing to pay more for and which are not necessary. Also think about the amount of space you have available in your bathroom, as some take up a lot more space than others.
Ok, but what’s the best one?
When it comes to cordless flossers, the Waterpik Cordless Advanced offers the best features if you’re willing to pay a bit extra. In the countertop flosser market, however, there are several other brands offering similar (or better) features for a lower price. In this case, it could be worth giving a lesser-known brand a try, especially because many have great oral irrigator reviews.
We recommend you speak to your dentist if you’re unsure whether an electric flosser is right for you. Water flosser reviews by dentists are a sure way to get a professional opinion. Ask yours for their opinions on oral irrigators, and they may also be able to recommend the best water flosser for your teeth.
ADA.org: New survey highlights ‘unusual’ flossing habits. Consulted 15 July, 2019.
NCBI: Evaluation of the plaque removal efficacy of a water flosser compared to string floss in adults after a single use. Consulted 15 July, 2019.
Mayoclinic.org: Is it more effective to floss teeth with a water pick or standard dental floss? Consulted 15 July, 2019.
ADA.org: Waterpik water flosser first in its class to earn ADA seal. Consulted 15 July, 2019.