Water Flossers Compared: Cost, Effectiveness & More

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Can You Floss With Water?
  2. What Is a Water Flosser?
  3. Who Can Benefit?
  4. Types
  5. Cost
  6. References

Water flossers are effective tools, especially for people with gum sensitivity, excess bleeding, or some physical conditions like arthritis. They can enhance your oral cleaning regime, increasing the health of your teeth and gums.

They come in various types, and they range in cost from $50 to $300, on average.

Can You Floss With Water?

A good oral hygiene routine includes brushing your teeth at least twice per day and then “flossing,” typically with dental floss. Interdental cleaning is widely recognized as an important component to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and reducing bacteria. Floss helps to remove food and plaque from between your teeth, which your toothbrush cannot reach.

Dental floss has been around since a company called Codman & Shurtleft began mass producing it in 1882. Since the first widely produced dental floss hit the shelves, other approaches to cleaning between your teeth have been invented.

One of these newer approaches to cleaning the spaces between your teeth is the water flosser, a concept pioneered by WaterPik in 1962. More recently, water flossing has boomed in popularity. Although dental floss is considered the most effective approach, many people struggle with gingivitis or other gum disease that can make flossing with traditional dental floss painful or they may lack the dexterity needed to floss between all the teeth correctly.

Water flossers have some advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional flossing.

What Is a Water Flosser?

A water flosser is a device that sprays a thin jet of water into your mouth. When angled properly, this jet of water can remove particles of food from between your teeth.

The American Dental Association (ADA) keeps a list of water flossers that have been tested and proven safe, effective at removing plaque, and at least as beneficial as traditional dental floss.

If you have naturally sensitive gums, water flossing can help to ease discomfort and improve your overall oral hygiene.

Who Can Benefit from a Water Flosser?

Although water flossers are not always better than traditional dental floss or interdental brushes, they are a great option for people who have trouble with dental floss or brushes for any reason. For example, people with mobility issues may have a difficult time holding floss in the correct position or moving interdental brushes between their teeth. Water flossers are an excellent alternative, as they require less movement and dexterity to appropriately remove food particles.

This type of device is also a good choice for people who have traditional braces or permanent tooth bridges, which can be damaged or get in the way of dental floss. Water flossers are gentler, but they can also be positioned so they get into spaces that are harder to reach with entirely handheld oral cleaning devices.

Finally, water flossers are a good option for people who struggle with gum disease or sensitive gums. If you frequently experience bleeding from your gums after brushing and traditional flossing, you may have an underlying condition like gingivitis that needs treatment. As your dentist helps you address the issue, you can also use a water flosser to keep your teeth clean.

Water flossing should never be used as an alternative to regular brushing and flossing, but rather added to your daily routine.

Types of Water Flossers

There are four basic types of water flossers:

This type of water flosser sits on your countertop and uses a nearby electrical socket, much like a hair dryer or electric toothbrush does. This device has an irrigation tank that you have to refill and occasionally clean.

This type of water flosser is large and heavy, so it is not the best option for many people. However, it is an effective type of water flosser.

This is the most popular type of water flosser since it is thin, portable, and ideal for traveling. Cordless water flossers are not as powerful as countertop flossers, but they are a good option if you floss multiple times per day, need to save counter room, or travel often.

This device attaches to your showerhead so you can rinse between your teeth before or after you shower. Having this device in place can be a good reminder to take care of your oral hygiene.

There is no required electrical power, and you do not need to refill a tank, which makes it easier to use. However, it can be difficult to maneuver compared to other options.

This is the most common type of water flosser. It works similarly to the shower flosser, but it attaches to your bathroom sink instead.

Like the shower flosser, the main downside is that it is tough to move around. The primary upsides are that no electricity and tank refilling are required.

Each type of water flosser has a range of pressure settings, so you can go easy on your teeth and gums if you need to or go heavy to blast away stubborn, sticky food particles.

Published research from 2019 found that water flossers can actually reduce gum inflammation and bleeding, which can decrease the risk of infection since there are fewer cuts or scrapes in the mouth.

Water flossers might:

  • Reduce probing pocket depth.

  • Lessen bleeding in the mouth.

  • Reduce the chances of gingivitis.

  • Help inflammatory problems.

  • Reduce tartar or calculus.

Water Flossers Do Not Have to Be Expensive

Water flossers are more expensive than interdental brushes or dental floss, but they typically last longer than either of these interdental cleaning options.

The ADA recommends the following water flossers:

The prices of water flossers can range anywhere from about $50 to about $300, but price does not inherently equate with excellence. Ask your dentist for help finding a good water flosser that works for your dental needs.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.