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5 Best Water Flossers of 2021, According to Dentists

Shop these top-rated Waterpiks and other wet flossers for a perfect smile.

GHI: best water flossers
courtesy of brands

We updated this guide in November 2021 to ensure all products tested and vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab, were in stock and available. We also checked that all product details and prices are up-to-date. Our new picks include the latest version of the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion Flossing Toothbrush 2.0 Professional Flossing Toothbrush as recommended by Lab director Birnur Aral.


There's nothing like that just-left-the-dentist feeling after you get your teeth cleaned — and with a good water flosser, you can feel like that every day. While water flossers are often recommended for people with braces, it turns out that anyone can use (and potentially benefit from) one. So how exactly do water flossers work? "Water flossers use a pressurized stream of water, in many cases a pulsating stream, to remove food particles and plaque stuck between teeth and along the gum line," says Adam S. Harwood, DMD, a New York City-based endodontist.

Is water flossing as effective as regular flossing?

Not quite, and that's because the two methods work differently. Water flossing covers more surface area, while regular flossing is best for getting into the spaces between your teeth and below the gum line to prevent tartar buildup and cavities between teeth. String floss is also able to wrap all the way around the teeth, something water flossers can't accomplish. And, of course, water flossers are much pricier than standard string floss.

"Both [water flossing and flossing] have their own specific areas of effectiveness, so the ideal dental hygiene program takes advantage of both methods," says Dr. Harwood. Here's a good rule of thumb to follow, according to the dentists we spoke with: Brush your teeth first, then use traditional string floss to loosen anything stuck between your teeth and to keep gums healthy, then finish off with a water flosser to flush it all out.

Do dentists approve of water flossers?

The dentists we spoke with agreed that people with braces will definitely benefit from a water flosser because the wires make it hard to use traditional floss. Sally Cram, DDS, a practicing periodontist in Washington, D.C., says that water flossers "are very good at flushing out food and debris that gets caught in and around the brackets." Water flossers are also a great option for elderly people or anyone with manual dexterity problems. "[For these people], wrapping floss around their fingers can be discomforting, especially if they suffer from arthritis," adds Dr. Harwood. Beyond these examples, however, dentists don't recommend giving up on regular flossing in favor of using a wet flosser.

The bottom line: For most people, water flossing should be done in addition to (not instead of) regular flossing. But if you know that there's no chance you'll actually use regular floss, using a water flosser is better than nothing.

How we pick the best water flossers

When shopping for water flossers, there are a lot of things to consider that are a matter of preference. If you're looking for portability, opt for a cordless water flosser so you don't need to bring a bulky charging base on vacation with you. Planning on sharing with the whole family? Opt for one with multiple tips included so that everyone can have their own. You'll also see that some water flossers only have a couple of pressure settings, while others have way more options.

We made sure that our list includes options for all types of preferences, but we also searched for ones that met certain criteria. Since the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute haven't yet had a chance to do a full category-wide test on water flossers, we spoke to dentists and scoured reviews on the internet to find the best water flossers on the market. When compiling our list, we first kept the American Dental Association Seal in mind. Products approved by the ADA meet certain criteria that prove they are safe and effective. (But it's important to note that only two water flosser brands carry the ADA seal: Waterpik and Philips.) We also looked for water flossers that had enough water capacity to clean your mouth in one fill.

These are the best water flossers to buy in 2021:

Looking for more ways to up your dental care game? Check out our roundups of the best electric toothbrushes and the best natural toothpastes, as well as the best at-home teeth whiteners and teeth-whitening kits.

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1
Best Overall Water Flosser
Aquarius Water Flosser
Waterpik
Waterpik amazon.com
$76.45
$44.49 (42% off)

With an average 4.7-star rating across nearly 22,000 (!) reviews, Waterpik's Aquarius has earned its spot as the #1 best-selling water flosser on Amazon. "After every use, my mouth feels like it was cleaned by a dental hygienist," raves one reviewer. Its large reservoir holds up to 22 ounces of water (or mouthwash), which should equate to about 90 seconds of flossing time — about three times more than most wet flossers. There's even a separate mode that pulses water to massage your gums. 

It comes with seven tips that serve different purposes: three classic, one for plaque, one for braces, one for periodontal pockets and one with a toothbrush head. Bonus: It's available in a bunch of fun colors, like deep purple and navy blue — since it's going to stay on your countertop, the more color options, the better, we say.

Pressure settings: 10
Tips included: 7

  • Includes multiple brush heads
  • Holds large amounts of water
2
Best Value Water Flosser
Cordless Water Flosser
Waterpik
Waterpik amazon.com
$39.99
$35.97 (10% off)

At just $35, Waterpik's cordless model is significantly cheaper than many other water flossers. For that reason, it's an affordable option for anyone who is hesitant about trying an oral irrigator. 

Even though it only has two settings, the switch makes it easy to change the water pressure. It uses three AA batteries, so you don't have to worry about misplacing a charger. The reservoir holds five ounces of water (equivalent to 30 seconds of use), and it has a removable tank too, so it's super easy to clean – just throw it in the dishwasher on the top rack!

Pressure settings: 2
Tips included:
 2 

  • Compact
  • Dishwasher-safe tank

  • Only has two pressure settings
3
Best Cordless Water Flosser
Cordless Water Flosser
Panasonic
Panasonic amazon.com
$81.97

This one isn't approved by the ADA, but if that's not a dealbreaker for you then definitely consider Panasonic's water flosser. The battery-operated model (it uses AA batteries) is ideal for travel thanks to its cordless and collapsible design.

Reviewers say that even though it's super portable and great for a gym bag or the office, you might prefer a water flosser with more pressure settings for regular use at home. Its 5.5-ounce water tank can run for about 40 seconds. 

Pressure settings: 2
Tips included:
 1

  • Travel-friendly design
  • Easy-fill water tank

  • Limited pressure settings
4
Best Compact Water Flosser
Sonicare Airfloss Ultra
Philips amazon.com
$129.99

Instead of releasing a constant stream, this water flosser delivers a series of short bursts. Dr. Harwood says he likes this one because of its unique technology that combines air and water to clean between teeth. You can choose between one, two or three bursts of water at a time, which makes the process of water flossing much less messy.

The Airfloss Ultra is a cordless and rechargeable water flosser with a slim, easy-to-hold handle. Depending on the setting you use, the battery can last anywhere from one to three weeks on a single charge. Even its charging base is compact, so it won't take up too much counter space. Plus, it comes with a free sample of BreathRx, a mouth rinse from Philips Sonicare that can be used in the water flosser. 

Pressure settings: 3
Tips included: 2 

  • Burst delivery means tidier flossing
  • Ergonomic brush handle
  • Takes up minimal counter space

  • Pricey
5
Best Electric Toothbrush and Water Flosser Combo
Sonic-Fusion 2.0 Professional Flossing Toothbrush
Waterpik
Waterpik amazon.com
$199.99
$170.46 (15% off)

The Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0 combines teeth brushing and water flossing all in one. It can switch between three different modes (brush, floss and brush/floss), so it's easy to remember to floss every time you brush your teeth. The 16-ounce water (or mouthwash) reservoir is equivalent to about 60 seconds of flossing time. It also comes with a convenient travel case that makes it easy to bring on the go.

In a mini consumer study conducted by the Good Housekeeping Institute, testers said the Sonic-Fusion helped them remove food from hard-to-reach places. "This iteration is the smallest and smartest electric toothbrush water-flosser combo I've tried," one tester noted. "It's a great idea to merge the two devices and the pressure dial is simple to use."

Pressure settings: 10
Tips included:
2  

  • Various brushing modes
  • Compact design
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