What is a Water Flosser?
A water flosser — also called an “oral irrigator” — is a device that offers a more technologically advanced way to floss. Unlike the traditional string flosses that use threads, water flossers make use of a high-pressure jet of water to clean in between your teeth.
Water flossers address the many limitations of the string floss.
They dig deep into your periodontal pockets (even deeper into what manual flossing can’t go) to take out food debris and other particles. They also have a massaging action, which promotes healthier, stronger, and more pinkish gums.
When you floss with a string floss, you can sometimes have difficulty flossing the back of your teeth and those that are located far away from the opening of the mouth. Water flossers have slanted tips that can get inside these hard-to-reach areas so you can achieve 100% cleaning.
In addition, the stream of water jetted from the flosser is powerful enough to strip dental plaque. That said, water flossers are an inexpensive, yet effective way to achieve whiter teeth.
Last, water flossers are the perfect dental device for people with braces.
VIDEO: See a Water Flosser in Action
This video is a promotional video of Waterpik, a popular brand of water flossers. See one product in action.
Water Flossers vs Electric Toothbrushes
Compared to electronic toothbrushes, water flossers yield better results.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, the researchers compared two products – the Waterpik Complete Care (a water flosser) and the Sonicare FlexCare (a sonic toothbrush). It was found that the Complete Care is “significantly more effective” than the toothbrush.
So to conclude from the above paragraphs, the benefits of oral irrigators include:
- healthier, stronger, and more pinkish gums,
- easy cleaning of hard-to-reach areas,
- ideal for people with braces,
- whiter teeth,
- more effective than flossing alone, and
- more effective than sonic toothbrushes.
Parts of a Water Flosser
The image of the Waterpik Ultra on the right details the parts of a countertop water flosser. Click the image for a bigger view.
Note that these parts and features may or may not be present in other brands, but the basic parts include the following.
1. Water reservoir or water tank
This holds the water in place. Some users put in diluted mouthwash or lukewarm water in lieu of cold water. This tank can have a 30-oz capacity or less. It is usually transparent, with blue as the most common color.
2. Water tips
Water tips are a slanted pipe-like parts that have a small diameter. This is where a high-pressure stream of water comes out. To make sure that multiple people can use one water flosser, manufacturers provide color-coded tips. Also, these tips come in several other types such as an orthodontic tip and a toothbrush tip.
3. Pressure control
To better manage the water’s pressure, oral irrigators are complete with a pressure knob. The exception, though, is in the case of shower and faucet flossers especially those manufactured by Oral Breeze. These flossers are directly connected to the water source, and the pressure is controlled through the faucet or shower control.
Again, with the exception of Oral Breeze products, water flossers come with a handle. This handle has an on-off switch and a pause button to have better control of your flossing process.
Types of Water Flossers
There are four general types of water flossers. These vary in design, size of water tanks, features, and price.
Countertops are the bulkiest and heaviest of oral irrigators. Just as what their name implies, these sit on your countertop near a socket while you floss. They are powered by electricity, so they come with a cord.
2. Cordless or Battery-Operated
Cordless flossers are battery-operated (either “AA” or rechargeable batteries) oral irrigators that are slim, small, and portable. These are ideal for travelers especially those going abroad where voltage and storage are an issue.
The obvious advantage of these flossers is that they are rid of cords, so you don’t have to worry about finding the nearest socket or tripping on wires. However, they may not be as powerful as countertops.
3. Shower Flosser
Shower flossers are attached to your shower system so you can floss inside the bathroom. An advantage of these oral irrigators is that they are not powered either by batteries or electricity. Another is that they eliminate the need for refills.
4. Faucet Flosser
Similarly, faucet flossers are attached to your faucet to work. Refills are not necessary, but with some brands, there is no automatic-shift from floss to faucet. Therefore, you have to manually take out the flosser from the faucet if you want to use only your tap.
Below is a gallery of the different types of water flossers for your reference.
Tips and Notes for First Time Users
While water flossers are an inexpensive way to maintain good oral health, you should keep the following in mind for a more effective usage.
- There is a learning curve. Many users complain of getting wet when they first start using their oral irrigator. Water flossing may look simple in video, but there is a learning curve. Before you turn on the device, make sure that the knob is adjusted to the lowest setting and that the water pik is already inside your mouth. Also, bend over slightly so the water drips directly towards your sink.
- Position the water tip at a 90-degree angle relative to the gumline and teeth. For thorough cleaning, shoot the jet of water goes through the pockets, the gumline, and in between the teeth.
- For sensitive teeth, use lukewarm water.
- For a cleaner and fresher breath, add drops of mouthwash into the reservoir.
Here’s a video demonstrating the proper use of a countertop water flosser.
Water Flosser: A Buying Guide
Here’s what to consider when buying a water flosser.
1. Your needs
You’ve seen the four types of water flossers. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. But it all boils down to your needs.
If you are constantly traveling especially abroad, get a cordless. If you’re looking for one that the whole family can use, get a countertop.
If you’re the type of person who takes his oral cleaning in the shower, then get a shower flosser. If you hate refilling water tanks, get a faucet water flosser.
You may find that countertops can be noisy, even though manufacturers promise that they’re much quieter than their previous models. If you don’t like noisy appliances, get either a shower or faucet flosser. They are not run by a motor, so the only noise you can hear from them is the stream of water coming out of the tip.
If you want a flosser that can be used by the whole family, get one with the most tips. Get color-coded ones for proper identification. On the other hand, you might also want to consider a water flosser with not-so-many tips. Unless you really need all those tips, they’ll end up unused.
Get a compact water flosser to address space issues. Get one with a removable water tank to address storage issues. If you still think these flossers are bulky, get either the shower or faucet flosser.
Useful Links and Resources
– Comparison Charts
Use our comparison charts to easily compare and contrast all brands of water flosser available for purchase online. Comparison criteria include average consumer rating, and features such as number of tips and pressure settings.
– Top Consumer Picks for Best Water Flossers
Consumers have spoken. Not all water flossers are created equal. Use our list of the top-rated water flossers. Save yourself from doing the research yourself. This list features water flossers that consumers have consistently given high ratings and positive feedback to.
– Water Flosser Reviews
We are committed to helping you find the right product for you. We have gathered and summarized consumer feedback, ratings, and comments so you can easily find the best flosser that suits your needs. There’s no need to do the research yourself as everything is provided in our comprehensive reviews.