Everyone knows that flossing is essential for good oral health, but most of us don’t do it as often as we should. According to a survey published by Delta Dental, only four in 10 Americans floss at least once a day, and 20 percent never floss.
Some people may find flossing too difficult, due to dexterity issues, teeth that are too close together or braces. Others find flossing painful and avoid it to keep their gums from bleeding.
One alternative to flossing is oral irrigators, which work by using a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and below the gum line.
Modern water flossers feature up to 10 pressure settings. If you travel frequently, a portable model with a cordless, collapsible design that makes it easy to fit into luggage may be best for you. Some are battery-operated, while others are countertop models that must be plugged into an outlet.
Though it can be overwhelming at first, I tested several of the best oral irrigators on the market and these are the ones that came out on top.
The Best Overall
Why We Like It: This model came out on top because it left my mouth feeling totally clean and refreshed. It’s also the first in its category to receive the ADA Seal of Approval, and it comes packed with useful extras, like LED indicators, a hydro-pulse massage mode, seven tips and 10 water pressure settings. I especially loved the timer, so I knew I was flossing each part of my mouth for the right amount of time.
The Best Value
Why We Like It: As someone with a short supply of counter space in my bathroom, this small model works best for me. Despite its compact and portable size, I did not notice any decrease in quality compared to the larger countertop models. It’s simple and gets the job done, without breaking the bank.
Why We Like It: In my testing, I found that I liked the ability to control the water pressure, and the fact that it comes with six color-coded tips make it easy for multiple family members to share. Since you can choose from 10 pressure settings between 10 and 90 PSI, you can really customize your flossing, depending on which part of your mouth you’re cleaning. This model was quiet and easy to use.
Tips & Advice
- Make sure to lean over the sink when using your oral irrigator so you don’t splash water everywhere.
- Use lukewarm water instead of cold in your oral irrigator, especially if you have sensitive teeth.
- Start off with the lowest pressure setting. If you have sensitive gums and are not accustomed to flossing or using an oral irrigator regularly, it will take some time until you can build up to higher pressure settings.
- Oral irrigators can be particularly useful for those with braces.
- They’re also a good option for those with implants, crowns or any other dental work that may impede string flossing.
- Oral irrigators are also helpful for people with dexterity issues that may have trouble manipulating traditional floss.
- You should use your oral irrigator, or floss, at least once a day. Some people floss before they brush while some opt to floss first. The important thing is that you do it, not necessarily when you do it.
- Make sure to clean both sides of your teeth.
- Make sure you use your irrigator for the right length of time. Some models have a timer to help you clean each section of your mouth for the appropriate amount of time.
- Direct the tip of the water flosser down toward the gums, and use a scalloped motion to go along the gum line of each tooth. Do this on both the inside and outside of the tooth.
- You can clean the outside of your flosser with a cloth and a non-abrasive cleaner.
- Reservoirs can be hand-washed with warm, soapy water. They can also be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- You can clean internal parts in a solution of vinegar and water.
- The handle can also be cleaned with a vinegar-and-water solution.
- Tips should also be cleaned in white vinegar or a water-and-hydrogen peroxide solution. They should be replaced every three to six months.
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