If you want to keep your mouth as healthy as possible, you should be flossing every day. Statistics show, however, that only a quarter of American adults floss regularly. If this is something you struggle with, have you tried an electric water flosser?
Many people are put off using conventional string dental floss for a variety of reasons:
- It hurts their gums
- It gets stuck in their teeth
- They find it too fiddly
- 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 compare features and reviews of some of the best water flossers available in the US for 2018 so you can decide which one is right for you.
Table of contents
- 1 Can an oral irrigator replace regular floss?
- 2 Features to consider
- 3 Comparison of electric flossers in the US
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?
The answer depends on who you ask. One 2013 study showed that water flossing removed 29% more plaque than string floss, while other research has shown a greater reduction in gingivitis (gum disease) from using a water jet flosser.
In addition, oral care manufacturers usually conduct their own tests to show their product is the most effective at X, Y, and Z.
Despite this, most dental professionals still advise patients to use string floss – as well as an oral irrigator if they wish. The reason for this is that dental floss physically scrapes plaque off the surface of the tooth, whereas a water jet just rinses it.
Not what you wanted to hear?
Well, a dental water flosser 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!
In the video below a dentist reviews a water flosser and gives his view on string floss vs. electronic flossing:
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 not ideal for travelling. On the plus side, the larger reservoir means less frequent re-filling, while the flossers themselves tend to be more powerful than cordless versions.
- 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, flossing around braces, and cleaning your tongue.
- Electric toothbrush 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.
Comparison of electric flossers in the US
Countertop flosser models
We’ll begin by comparing corded 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 products on the market. Following this, you’ll find more detailed descriptions and useful information gathered from real reviews of these water flossers.
|Model||Waterpik Cordless Advanced||h2ofloss hf-8 Premium||THZY|
|Number of tips||2 standard + 4 specialist||4 standard + 8 specialist||3 standard + 4 specialist|
|Cost of standard replacement tip||$4.50||$2.50||$3.50 each (in a pack of 7)|
|Number of settings||10 power settings||5 pressure settings||5 pressure settings|
|Reservoir capacity||90+ seconds||150+ seconds||90+ seconds|
|Other features||Tip storage in lid, pause button on handle||Waterproof, water pressure control on handle||UV sterilizer, on/off control on handle, waterproof|
|Warranty||3 years||2 years||1 year|
Waterpik Ultra (WP-100)
The Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser is the newest of the many Waterpik models to hit the market. It has a relatively compact design and a low-noise motor (although some users question whether it’s really that quiet). There is also a convenient pause button right on the handle.
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 five different tips. You get two standard tips as well as ones suitable for implants and crowns, braces, and periodontal issues.
One reviewer comments on how much easier and more pleasant it is to use than string floss: “I used to dread flossing, but I actually ENJOY using my Waterpik.”
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.
Waterpik also has a unit which 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-8 Premium
A product that many reviewers recommend as an alternative to the Waterpik is the h2ofloss hf-8 Premium. At around half the price, it presents great value for money while still providing an effective clean. 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 five pressure settings anyway.
The flosser is waterproof with a quiet motor 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 4 color-coded standard tips and additional ones for cleaning the tongue, periodontal pockets, and braces. There are even two types of nasal spray!
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.
The THZY oral irrigator emits water at 1,250 – 1,700 pulses per minute with five 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 expensive in the long run if you need to replace one 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 good 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 it is still well-equipped with different tips.
“Wow, this water floss or 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.” is the comment from one user.
Cordless flosser models
Now let’s take a look at the best cordless water flossers available. Below this summary table you’ll find more information and product reviews of each flosser.
|Model||Waterpik Cordless Advanced||Poseidon Oral Irrigator||Panasonic EW1211A Cordless|
|Number of tips||2 standard + 1 implants + 1 orthodontic||2 standard||2 standard|
|Cost of standard replacement tip||$4.50||$5.00||$5.00|
|Number of settings||3 power settings||3 modes||3 modes|
|Reservoir capacity||45 seconds||60-80 seconds||35 seconds|
|Other features||Waterproof, ADA accepted, fast charging||Water-resistant, auto shut-off||Waterproof|
|Warranty||2 years||1 year||2 years|
Waterpik Cordless Advanced (WP-563)
There are a number of cordless Waterpik flossers available, including one which uses AA batteries – handy if you’re travelling and don’t want the hassle of carrying a charger and finding a plug socket.
However, the Waterpik Cordless Advanced is by far the best cordless flosser in terms of features and ease of use. It has a number of features which make it stand out from other cordless models, including:
- Waterproof design
- 3 types of tip for standard use, implants, and braces
- Rapid 4-hour charge
- 3 pressure settings
- Travel 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.
“Great for travel. Not as powerful as a home unit but gets the job done on a long trip.” says one reviewer, and this sentiment is echoed among many users. 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.
The Poseidon Oral Irrigator is another feature-packed flosser with three spray modes, a quiet motor, and a two-minute automatic shutoff. It comes with two standard tips which are color-coded so you can easily see whose is whose. Replacement tips are available directly from the manufacturer.
It sprays an ultra-fine 0.6mm water jet, and you can choose between normal and soft continuous modes or a pulse mode. The water reservoir lasts between 60 and 80 seconds, depending on the mode. It takes around 8 hours to charge but this charge should last 1-2 weeks.
If you have limited shelf space in your bathroom, this flosser could be a good choice as its base is smaller than some other cordless ones. It’s also water-resistant so can be used in the shower.
The only downside seems to be some reviewers complaining about the unit breaking after just a few months. However, others say it has lasted them two years or more. The manufacturer offers a 1-year guarantee so this should offer some peace of mind.
The Panasonic EW1211A’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 unit, 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 product, though. If you can put up with the small reservoir, it’s an affordable choice from a well-known brand name.
Summary of US water flossers
Despite Waterpik being the name that dominates the market, there are plenty of other lesser-known brands offering efficient and affordable products. In choosing the best water 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.
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.
We recommend you speak to your dentist if you’re unsure whether an electric flosser is right for you. They may also be able to recommend a model that’s suitable for your personal needs.