Water flossers, also known as electric flossers are becoming a popular alternative to other methods of flossing. They work by propelling a high-powered stream of water in between teeth to remove the dental plaque caught up in the gaps of teeth.
Only 21% of the UK population floss regularly and sadly studies claim that only 5% of those who do so are flossing effectively.
Manual flossing involves holding about 18 inches of floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers while you slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth. You need to curve the floss in a C shape around as much of the tooth as you can to get good results.
It’s easy to see why flossing this way is not popular and has a low uptake; it’s such a painstaking thing to have to do.
Can technology provide a better solution and rescue us from fiddling around with what amounts to no more than a bit of string?
Water flosser components
The most common parts of a water flosser are as follows:
- water reservoir or tank
- water tips; these are the small diameter slanted pipes where the jets of water come out
- pressure control management system that’s incorporated into the base unit or the handle
- a handle that generally incorporates an on-off switch, a pause button and a pressure control button
Types of Water Flosser
There are numerous types of electric flossers and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are relatively cheap while the top of the range models start to become a little expensive. Let’s take a look at what the options are and the pro’s and con’s of each type.
Countertop water flosser
Countertops are largest and heaviest type of water flosser and are powered by mains electricity. As the name implies, countertop flossers require a substantial amount of space with a nearby socket. Many bathrooms do not have the required combination of adequate space with nearby mains sockets so countertops will not suit everyone’s needs.
They have large water reservoirs that are generally located on the top of the base unit. The tank should be filled with enough water for a day’s use. It’s a good idea to empty the tank and clean it thoroughly every day to avoid bacterial growth.
The tank usually connects to the handle by some form of flexible tube and can be filled with cold water although warm water would be a better option if for those with sensitive teeth. Diluted mouthwash is also another alternative if you feel the need.
Shower flossers are attached to your shower system so you can floss inside while you are taking a shower. An advantage of these oral irrigators is that they are not powered either by batteries or electricity. Another is that they eliminate the need for refills.
Installing a shower flosser requires you to insert a diverter valve between the two connectors that make up a shower spout. All shower spouts have two sections, just unscrew the bottom section from the top section and fit the diverter value between the two sections by just screwing everything back together. The 2-way diverter allows for shower only or shower plus water flosser use.
It’s actually easy to install the flosser than to explain how to do it; but does anyone really want to be getting their toolkit out to fit one of these contraptions?
Another annoyance is having the hose dangling down in your shower. It can make the whole bathroom looked cluttered and untidy. All in all I really not a fan of flossing while I take a shower and I can image lots of people don’t like the thought actually fitting this type of flosser.
Tap flossers work in very much the same way as shower flossers but they are much easier to set up. The diverter just fits onto a tap rather than the shower head.
Below are the typical contents of what you get with a tap flosser. It’s pretty obvious how it all fits together and is a viable option for those either constrained by space or no available electrical socket.
Cordless Water Flosser
Cordless flossers are battery-operated (either “AA” or rechargeable batteries) oral irrigators that are slim, small, and portable. These are ideal for travellers; especially those going abroad where electrical sockets can be an issue.
Being cordless the obvious advantage of these flossers is that you don’t have to worry about having a convenient electrical socket nearby. This added convenience does have the drawback that battery powered flossers may not be as powerful as countertop electrical flossers.
I’m categorising the AirFloss as a water flosser but it works very differently to most water flossers. Its cleaning action uses Philips’ Microburst technology that applies a quick burst of pressurised air and micro-water droplets to clean between the teeth.
Find out more about the Sonicare AirFloss.
That about wraps this guide up for now as I need to do some follow up research on how well water flossers perform in the real world rather than what the marketing folks tell us.
For the time being; its more important to get yourself the best electric toothbrush you can afford, if you don’t already use one. They really can make a difference.