Best Oral Irrigators

Updated April 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

72 Models Considered
33 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
182 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best oral irrigators

Last Updated April 2019

To clean areas a toothbrush misses or can't reach, you need an oral irrigator. Also known as a "water flosser," an oral irrigator can reach in between teeth. Unlike regular floss, irrigators come in a few different types and sizes, meaning you have some options to consider when searching for the best one.

The most important decision is the choice between portable irrigators that are handy for travel/space and countertop irrigators that offer more water and pressure control. In addition to the types, we'll cover some important features and differences like the ideal reservoir size, adjustable pressure and flow controls, and different types of tips and nozzles you can use.

To help you find the best oral irrigator for your teeth, we have a few recommendations for you to check out. Read on to learn all about the different models, features, and considerations you need to know to find an irrigator that will help keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Water flossing has been shown to be highly effective at reducing gingivitis, gum bleeding, and gum irritation.

What is an oral irrigator?

An oral irrigator, or water flosser, is a device that directs a forceful stream of water through a specialized tip and into the mouth.

The force of the water dislodges and washes away plaque, bits of food, and bacteria from the gums and teeth.

All water flossers have a reservoir to hold the water, and an electric motor to power the pump.

Technology

The Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser provides an impressive assortment of functions to help owners attain the "perfect clean." A rotating knob with ten increments regulates water pressure. Users enjoy two-step "pulse modulation" technology; one step is for flossing, and the other is for gum massage to improve circulation. There's an on/off button for water flow on the hand unit, and a master on/off button for the pump on the base of the device. The one-minute timer and thirty-second pacing function help ensure a thorough cleaning job.

EXPERT TIP

Water flossing with lukewarm water is a much more pleasant experience than with cold water, so remember to fill the tank accordingly.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Hold your water flosser’s tip at a 90 degree angle to your teeth as you clean. Pause for a couple of seconds between teeth. This allows the jet of water to really work in between the teeth and below the gum line.


Staff  | BestReviews

Different types of oral irrigators

There are two basic types of water flosser: countertop and portable.

Countertop oral irrigators

As the name suggests, these sit on your bathroom counter and plug into an electrical outlet. They have a fairly large reservoir, typically holding enough water for 60 seconds of use or more. Most countertop units have a range of pressure settings, and some have flow control for the stream of water. Countertop models are the best choice if two or more people will be using the flosser.

Portable water flossers

These are powered by batteries. Some have rechargeable batteries and come with a small base for recharging between cleaning sessions, while others operate with disposable batteries and are entirely self-contained. These devices are handy for travel, or in a very small bathroom, but don’t have as much power – or as many pressure settings – as countertop models. Their reservoir is much smaller, generally holding enough water for 30 to 45 seconds of use. Although you can switch tips to share a portable water flosser with other family members, these are generally best for just one or two people.

Portable flossers can be found for as little as $15, ranging up to $40 for those with more features and higher water capacity. Countertop irrigators tend to cost $35 to $40.

DID YOU KNOW?

Water flossing requires less hand strength and manual dexterity than string flossing, so it’s a good choice for anyone with arthritis, reduced strength, loss of hand coordination, or similar conditions.

What features should you look for?

For the most part, an oral irrigator is a simple device, but there are a few features that add extra value.

  • Reservoir Size

The larger the reservoir, the longer the cleaning time before running out of water. For a thorough job, you generally need at least 45 seconds of waterpower, although one minute is the recommended flossing time and should be your daily goal.

  • Adjustable Pressure

While portable water flossers tend to have only two or three pressure settings, some countertop models offer up to ten.

  • Flow Control

This allows you to slow or stop the flow of water while adjusting the oral irrigator’s tip in your mouth.

  • Color-Coded Tips

If you share your water flosser with family members, each person needs his or her own tip. Color-coding makes it easy to tell which tip belongs to which user.

  • Rotating Tip

This feature allows you to rotate the tip as you work, making it much easier to reach the back of your mouth or the backs of your teeth.

  • Water Pulse/Gum Massage

This mode pulses the water flow, which stimulates gum tissue and promotes gum health.

  • Timer

A sound, pause, or vibration prompts you to move to the next section of your mouth, and signals when the recommended one minute of flossing time is up.

  • Tip Variety

Many oral irrigators come with a few different types of tips.

  • Waterproof

These water flossers are portable devices made for use in the shower.

  • Sound Level

Most countertop water flossers are rather noisy, but some units claim to be quieter than others.

Oral irrigator tips should be replaced every three to six months, or sooner if the tip is bent, bitten, or cracked.

Testing Results
Waterpik Testing
  • FEATURES
    Waterpik has an appearance and size that would fit well in your clean and bright bathroom. Its removable reservoir holds enough water for one minute on the highest mode - enough for a thorough oral cleaning session. In all, it has has nine modes for all sorts of flossing needs.
  • EASE OF USE
    Changing the tip is easy on the Waterpik: just press the tip eject button on the handle and see it pop up. However, the button is sensitive and we accidentally pressed on it when using the machine and ejected the tip.
  • NOTE
    We don’t suggest to completely replace flossing with an oral irrigator, as it’s hard to get the water, however strong it is, to penetrate deep between the teeth where the decay starts.

Types of tips

All water flossers come with a standard tip, and some include a few specialized tips as well. While you can swap out your device’s tips with others from the same brand, you generally cannot fit a tip from a different brand onto a water flosser.

There are quite a few different types of water flosser tips, each suited for a slightly different purpose. Some of the most common are:

  • Standard

The basic tip that comes with just about every water flosser.

  • Orthodontic

Designed to clean around braces and other orthodontic work. Typically, there is a very small brush at the end of the tip to help dislodge food and other particles.

  • Plaque Tip

A small brush on the end of the tip reaches into otherwise hard-to-reach areas to remove plaque and food particles.

  • Deep Pocket

These tips have a slightly pointed end, and are used to flush out gum pockets to help relieve periodontal disease.

  • Toothbrush Tip

Lets you brush and water floss at the same time.

  • Tongue Cleaner

Buildup of bacteria on the tongue is a common cause of bad breath. A tongue cleaner tip helps remove that buildup for fresher breath.

Braces and other orthodontic appliances tend to harbor food particles, plaque, and bacteria. Daily use of a water flosser blasts these decay-causing substances from under and behind wires and orthodontic bands and posts.

Tips for using a water flosser

While using your oral irrigator isn’t difficult, it does have a bit of a learning curve and can be somewhat messy in the beginning.

  1. Fill the reservoir with lukewarm water. If you’d like, you can add a small amount of mouthwash as well, but don’t go beyond a 1:1 mixture.

  2. Don’t turn on your water flosser until the tip is inside your mouth.

  3. Start with the pressure on the lowest setting. You can slowly increase the pressure, but test carefully to ensure you don’t irritate your gums.

  4. If using your oral irrigator over the sink, lean forward slightly, so water from your mouth hits the drain, not your pants.

  5. Close your lips around the flosser’s tip, leaving them just parted enough for the water to drain out of your mouth. This will prevent water from spraying onto your bathroom counters or mirror. You might need to practice a bit to get the hang of it, but this is key to not making a mess while you floss.

  6. Start with your back teeth and work your way forward, doing first the bottom and then the upper teeth.

  7. Aim the water flow between your teeth, focusing on the gum line.

  8. Total flossing time should be one minute: half spent on the bottom teeth, and half on top.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jeff
    Jeff
    Editor
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Michelle
    Michelle
    Writer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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