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Which oral irrigator is best?

The dentist tells you to floss, but it’s difficult, time consuming and messy, so you don’t do it as often as you should. The solution is to ditch the floss and get an oral irrigator. Also called water flossers, oral irrigators come in many versions with different levels of capacity, pressure and pulsing speed.

If you’re looking for an oral irrigator with a professional-level design, try the Waterpik WP-662 Professional Water Flosser. Its advanced pressure control system has 10 settings and a 22-ounce reservoir that delivers more than 90 seconds of irrigation.

What to know before you buy an oral irrigator

An oral irrigator is an electronic device that directs small jets of water into your mouth through a specialized tip. The water sits in a small reservoir and the electric motor pumps it out. The force of the water washes away food, plaque and bacteria in those hard-to-reach areas between your teeth and gums.

Types of oral irrigators

Countertop water flossers: These are oral irrigators with power cords that plug into one of your bathroom’s electric outlets. They have reservoir tanks that hold enough water for 60 seconds or more of flossing time. 

Countertop flossers have several ways to adjust the pressure and control the flow to tailor the experience to suit you. These are a good choice for families because each gets their own interchangeable tip.

Portable water flossers: Also called travel flossers, portable units are cordless and powered by batteries that may be rechargeable or replaceable. Because they’re driven by batteries, portable water flossers can’t deliver the pressure and pulsing levels of corded countertop irrigators. 

Another factor to consider is that the water tank of a portable water flosser is built into the unit itself. This means the hand-held unit is much larger than a countertop water flosser — about as big as a large flashlight. Hand-held flossers have lower water capacities, less pressure and shorter run times before you need to refill them.

What to look for in a quality oral irrigator

Reservoir capacity 

All oral irrigators use tanks to hold the water used to clean between the teeth and gums. The larger the water reservoir, the longer the time you have to clean your teeth before the water supply runs out and you have to stop and refill it again. Dentists recommend you floss for at least one minute a day.


The tips of most oral irrigators are interchangeable. This allows different family members to each have their own tip to use with the same base unit. There are also many types of tips designed to perform particular functions.

  • Classic jet tips are for everyday use.
  • Orthodontic tips are for use with braces and other orthodontics.
  • Implant denture tips are for fixed bridges and dentures.
  • Plaque seeker tips are for use in any areas where you have had dental work.
  • Pik Pocket tips are for use with periodontal pockets.
  • Toothbrush tips are for general use.
  • Tongue cleaner tips are for fresher breath.

How much you can expect to spend on an oral irrigator

There are many water flossers available for between $25 and $50, but none of them are brand names recommended by the American Dental Association. Most brand-name irrigators cost between $50 and $100.

Oral irrigator FAQ

How do I clean my oral irrigator tips?

A. After removing the tip, soak it in white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the tip thoroughly under warm running water and reinstall it.

Do I need to replace my water flosser tips?

A. Tap water in your home contains mineral deposits that build up over time. These deposits can clog your jets and reduce their ability to deliver the amount of water you need to your teeth and gums. It’s a good idea to replace your tips every 6 to 12 months.

What are the best oral irrigators to buy?

Top oral irrigator 

Waterpik WP-662 Professional Water Flosser

Waterpik WP-662 Professional Water Flosser

What you need to know: The advanced design of this oral irrigator makes it a professional-level product.

What you’ll love: The pressure control system has 10 settings and a 22-ounce reservoir that delivers more than 90 seconds of irrigation. Choose from floss mode and hydro pulse massage mode. Its built-in timer and pacer pause briefly at 30 seconds and 60 seconds to help track flossing time. This model includes an orthodontic, implant, periodontal and toothbrush tip along with three classic tips. 

What you should consider: Some people say this is a noisy product.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top oral irrigator for the money

Waterpik Nano Plus Water Flosser WP-320 

Waterpik Nano Plus Water Flosser WP-320 

What you need to know: This compact water flosser delivers full-size performance in a condensed design that’s ideal for home or travel.

What you’ll love: This model’s five pressure control settings range from 10 to 80 psi. The tank holds 15 ounces of water and delivers 60 seconds of irrigation at 1,400 pulses per minute. This unit includes four tips for use by different family members.

What you should consider: This water flosser doesn’t come with a travel case, making it less travel-friendly than you would expect.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Panasonic Cordless Water Flosser EW2A

Panasonic Cordless Water Flosser EW2A

What you need to know: This compact cordless water flosser charges in its own docking stand.

What you’ll love: This travel-friendly product has three pressure settings for everyday cleaning, deep targeted cleaning and low-speed pulsing for people with sensitive gums. At the max setting, it pulses up to 1,500 times per minute. This irrigator is 100% waterproof and the water tank is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

What you should consider: Some Panasonic loyalists said this product didn’t live up to their expectations for performance and durability.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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