8 Best Water Flossers to Clean Your Teeth and Gums – If string floss grosses you out or you find that your teeth don’t feel clean enough after using it, might we suggest using a water flosser? Perhaps your dentist has mentioned a water flosser to you or you’ve been served an ad for one while shopping for an electric toothbrush and want to learn more. What exactly is a water flosser and how is it different from regular floss? We spoke with oral health experts to break down these dental devices, who they’re best for, and how to shop for the best water flosser.
What is a water flosser?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a water flosser is a handheld dental device that sprays a constant, pulsating stream of water at the teeth to clean between them and around the gums. The flosser usually has a separate reservoir that stores the water and is attached to a tip that shoots out the water.
With traditional floss, you’re able to scrape debris from in between your teeth, Julie Cho, DMD, a practicing dentist in New York City and a member of the ADA, tells SELF. “With a water flosser, it’s the water pressure of the jet that removes food build-up, plaque, and bacteria.”
What are the benefits of using a water flosser?
Water flossers are “particularly effective to clean areas that are otherwise difficult or impossible to access with [string] floss. For example, underneath [dental] bridges and around braces,” says Dr. Cho. In addition to those who have complex dental work, water flossers can be a useful alternative to string flossing for elderly people (and their caregivers), people with certain dexterity issues—say, those who have arthritis pain or spasticity in their hands—and anyone who isn’t diligent about string flossing, Vera Tang, DDS, a clinical assistant professor of periodontology and implant dentistry at the NYU College of Dentistry, said.
“Most of my patients are in my chair because they have difficulty flossing and keeping plaque off their teeth, which eventually causes bone loss,” Dr. Tang says. That’s why water flossers can be a great option for people who don’t floss well or just don’t have the time to commit to a thorough string-flossing routine, she adds.
How often should you floss your teeth?
“In an ideal world, you’d floss every time you brush your teeth, which would be at least twice a day—morning and night—and maybe a third if you brush after lunch too,” Lindsey Marshall, DMD, a dentist in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, previously told SELF. This helps to prevent food and bacteria from accumulating between your teeth. Of course, flossing this often is not realistic for everyone. At a minimum, you should floss once per day, according to the ADA and the American Academy of Periodontology—and it should definitely be done in the evening, Dr. Tang advises: “You’re eating all day long, and the food is accumulating along your gum line. You don’t want that to sit overnight as you sleep.”
Can you replace string flossing with water flossing?
Flossing your teeth is a bit like cleaning your deck, Dr. Tang says. Water flossing washes away superficial debris like dirt, but for a truly deep clean that gets into the nooks and crannies of your deck (er, teeth and gums), you’ll want to manually floss, if you’re able to. Still, it’s far better to water floss than to skip flossing altogether—especially if you have dental work, dexterity issues, or just detest string. “Which is better? Whichever one you are more likely to use every day,” Edmond R. Hewlett, DDS, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry previously told expert.
What should you look for in a water flosser?
Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best water flosser for you:
- Space: Some flossers have large water tanks, which may not be ideal if you have a cramped bathroom. Additionally, the larger the water reservoir, “the more diligent you’ll need to be about cleaning everything so parts don’t mold,” Dr. Cho says.
- Corded versus cordless: “A cordless flosser is a great option because you can take it in the shower with you, and it’s less messy,” Dr. Tang says. That said, the water capacity is more limited with a cordless flosser (and they’re often clunkier to grip as their tank lives in their base, Dr. Cho adds).
- Pressure settings and variety of tips: If you have sensitive teeth and gums, consider a water flosser with multiple pressure settings so that you can start the water flow on a gentler pressure. “For people with sensitivity, the higher pressure can put you through the ceiling,” Dr. Tang says.
- ADA Seal of Acceptance: Water flossers that have earned this seal have been vetted by the ADA to be effective at removing plaque (which puts you at higher risk for gum disease and cavities) and reducing gingivitis (early gum disease) throughout your mouth and teeth.
What are the best water flossers?
Waterpik has the market cornered on ADA-accepted flossers, but you’ll find best-selling (and SELF Healthy Beauty Award–winning) models from Burst, Quip, Phillips, and Oral-B as well. Here are the best water flossers to shop for now.
Award-Winning Water Flosser: Waterpik Ion
We awarded the Waterpik Ion a 2021 Healthy Beauty Award for its 10 different pressure settings (a plus for anyone with sensitive teeth and gums), long-lasting charge (up to a month via USB), a one-minute timer with 30-second pacer pauses, and six different flossing picks that target hard-to-reach areas. According to one of our judges, the ADA-approved flosser is compact, has a cordless rechargeable reservoir for less clutter, and is easy to use. “Once I cleaned all my teeth and turned the machine off, I realized how amazing my gums and teeth felt,” they said. “This cute, tiny water flosser has made me an everyday flosser—my dentist would be proud.”
Waterpik Sonic-Fusion Electric Toothbrush and Water Flosser
Here’s a two-in-one ADA-accepted Waterpik that combines a rechargeable electric toothbrush with a water flosser—allowing you to brush, floss, or do both at the same time. The flosser has 10 pressure settings with a timer, while the toothbrush includes a two-minute brushing timer and 30-second pacer as well as two speeds.
Waterpik Cordless Advanced
Our SELF commerce editor Malia Griggs was gifted this ADA-approved Waterpik Cordless Advanced water flosser to test and was pleasantly surprised: “Because I have a tiny bathroom, I can’t even fit hand soap on my sink edge. Thus, saving space was a top priority when considering a water flosser. This slim flosser is totally cordless, with a seven-ounce reservoir built into its base. It has three pressure settings, which I leave on the lowest for my sensitive teeth. I really love that it doesn’t have a cord, that it tucks neatly onto the shelf in my shower, and that I only need to recharge it once per week. I still traditionally floss, but, man, it is satisfying to watch my water flosser rinse out the gunk that manually flossing pulls to the surface.” For a cheaper alternative that has two pressure settings, four water flossing tips, and a seven-ounce reservoir in its base, consider the Waterpik Cordless Plus.
SELF Award-Winning Water Flosser: Burst
Winner of a 2022 Healthy Beauty Award, the Burst is a stylish cordless model that’s totally waterproof for use in the shower, has three cleaning modes (a pulsing massage, standard gentle, and turbo), and can last up to 80 days on a single overnight charge. Plus it comes with a shiny, silver travel bag. “My first time water flossing—game changer!! This product was user-friendly, good-looking, and effective for a first-timer,” one of our testers wrote.
Philips Sonicare Power Flosser 3000
Meet the one ADA-accepted water flosser not made by Waterpik. The Philips Sonicare Power Flosser has a uniquely wide tip that gently pulses four small streams of water at once (instead of one intense stream). It has 10 water pressures, two flossing modes, and a reservoir that holds 18.6 ounces of water. Amazon shoppers especially like how quiet this flosser is: “I went with the Philips Sonicare Power Flosser 3000 and I could not be happier.”
Oral-B Water Flosser Advanced
In addition to three water intensities, this Oral-B water flosser has three types of flossing stream modes (focused for precise cleaning, rotational for gum massage, and a standard multi-jet). The cordless reservoir holds four ounces of water, making it the lightest on our list (and the lightest to stick in your toiletry bag).
Quip Rechargeable Cordless Water Flosser
For easier access to tough-to-reach crevices, the Quip cordless water flosser’s tip rotates 360 degrees to help you achieve the right angle. Its tip snaps in magnetically, as does its USB charger, and its wide lid makes refilling the reservoir simple (plus it dries more quickly than reservoirs with small, circular openings). The flosser’s battery lasts up to eight weeks of daily use on a single charge, and it allows you 60 seconds worth of flossing before you need to fill it again.
Waterpik Small Water Flosser for Kids
Water flossers are great options for children who need to clean around braces, Dr. Tang says, and this one is designed just for kids aged six and up, with switches and dials that are smaller-size for their hands. It has three gentle water pressures and its 15-ounce reservoir inverts to cover the flosser and controls (a hygienic plus). Notably, many Amazon shoppers wrote that they use this kids’ flosser for themselves: “It’s the perfect water flosser for everyone. Small for traveling, strong enough for getting in and flushing between teeth, and it holds enough water for a full cleaning. And you can’t beat the price.”