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Best water flosser: Give floss the heave-ho and get healthier teeth and gums with the top water flossers for Black Friday

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Tired of using floss and dental tape? There’s another way to clean between your teeth and around the gum line

Flossing should be part of everyone’s dental routine, but many of us forget it or even actively avoid it. Some don’t like the sensation of floss or dental tape between the teeth, or crowding makes the whole process awkward. Getting into the tight spaces or to the back molars can be an effort if you haven’t got a good routine. Water flossers offer an end to all that frustration – and often in a fraction of the time it takes to floss.

How do they work? In most cases, they fire a stream of water under pressure around the gum line and into the gaps between your teeth. This removes any food particles left behind after brushing and chips away at any plaque. They’re particularly good in areas of the mouth where you might struggle to floss, and can also help clean around bridges, braces and false crowns.

There’s a level of controversy over whether using a water flosser is an effective replacement for regular flossing or not. Manufacturers such as Waterpik will tell you that clinical studies have shown that water flossing can be equally effective when cleaning between your teeth, and even more effective at tackling gingivitis (the most common form of gum disease) and plaque.

However, some dentists believe that standard flossing does a better job of cleaning between your teeth and preventing the build-up of tartar, so you might not want to drop it altogether.

READ NEXT: The best electric toothbrush

Save over 5% on the Panasonic EW1411 Rechargable Dental Oral Irrigator this Black Friday

For Black Friday, the Panasonic EW1411 Oral Irrigator is reduced by £3. With three modes - Regular, Air In, and Soft Air In - you can vary your cleaning habits to get rid of all the plaque and food residue in your mouth. Tend to all your flossing needs with this budget-friendly irrigator today.
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How to choose the best water flosser for you

All water flossers are trying to do much the same job, so your choice really comes down to how much you want to spend and whether any extra features are worth paying extra for. Things to look out for include intensity settings, pulsating jet modes and whether any additional tips are provided beyond the basic squirting nozzle. These might help you get between crowded teeth or clean around a brace or bridge.

You should also look at the capacity of the water tank, which defines how long you can floss without a refill, and how it’s powered. Most flossers are now cordless and have a built-in lithium-ion battery, but they'll need to be plugged in or placed on a charging cradle periodically to keep them going. This means that a battery charge indicator is another real plus.

Finally, the controls are really important. Using a water flosser can be a messy business, particularly if you’ve never used one before. Having easy-to-find and intuitive controls can help you avoid a nasty squirt in the face or across the bathroom mirror.

Using a water flosser

Using a water flosser isn’t as straightforward as using an electric toothbrush and it can take a little getting used to. You start by filling the reservoir, before putting the tip of the flosser in your mouth with the nozzle pointing at your gum line. Only at this point should you switch it on and select the mode you want to use.

Once it’s on, you need to run the nozzle slowly across the gum line, making sure you get between the teeth, starting with the lower teeth then moving to the upper teeth. Keep your mouth closed as much as possible, but let the excess water run out of your mouth into the sink, as the jet won’t do anything in a mouth full of water.

The sensation will be odd at first and might even be a bit uncomfortable. If you have problems with gum disease, you’re likely to see some blood for the first few uses. Stick to the weaker intensities or modes to begin with, but persevere. Your teeth and gums will thank you for it later!

READ NEXT: The best electric toothbrush deals

The best water flossers you can buy

1. Fairywill Oral Irrigator 5020A: The best budget water flosser

Price: £33 | Buy now from Amazon

One of several water flossers from budget dental brand Fairywill, the Oral Irrigator 5020A looks and feels like a low-cost option but performs just as well as some much more expensive models. The glossy plastics feel thin, the cover of the charging socket is clunky and the absence of a charger doesn’t inspire much confidence.

However, the lithium-ion battery charges from any USB adapter using the supplied cable and will last you for up to three weeks of flossing. Meanwhile, the massive tank will hold 300ml of water giving you, in our tests, a solid 75 seconds of flossing at the highest intensity before it needs a refill.

As for the cleaning, you might want to keep it at its Soft or Pulse settings to start with because the Normal setting is uncomfortably fierce. It’s also easy to confuse the two buttons when the flosser’s up and running, meaning you end up switching modes when you mean to turn it off. Nonetheless, it does a great job of clearing away any interdental debris, so why grumble? It’s a perfectly good flosser at a low price.

Key specs – Pressure: 30-110psi; Tank capacity: 300ml; Modes: 3; Tips provided: 8; Battery: Li-ion; Battery life: 21 days; Charger: USB (adapter not supplied); Dimensions: 62 x 90 x 310mm

2. Waterpik Cordless Plus: The best water flosser for sensitive gums

Price: £46 | Buy now from Waterpik

The Cordless Plus is the entry-level rechargeable model in Waterpik’s Cordless range, with only the battery-powered Cordless Freedom below it. Features are basic, with a choice of just two intensities and a switch that turns it on and off, and it charges through an adapter with a plug-in cable rather than any fancy wireless charging cradle. We’d also be happier if Waterpik replaced the NiMH battery with a newer lithium-ion cell that needed charging less than once a week and didn’t take a good 18 hours to charge.

Yet the important thing is that the Cordless Plus still delivers an excellent clean. The lower intensity isn’t too weedy, making it ideal for starters or users with sensitive teeth, while the higher intensity does a great job of cleaning around the gum line and between your teeth without going overboard and making things uncomfortable.

It also scores extra points for bundling four tips, with the standard and orthodontic tips joined by a plaque-seeking tip for cleaning around crowns and implants, plus a tongue-cleaning tip for scraping the tongue and battling stinky breath. There’s room for improvement, but this is still a great water flosser for anyone who wants to give one a try.

Key specs – Pressure: 45-75psi; Tank capacity: 210ml; Modes: 2; Tips provided: 4; Battery: NiMH; Battery life: 7 days; Charger: 12V shaver adapter; Dimensions: 69 x 96 x 295mm

3. Panasonic EW1411 Rechargable Dental Oral Irrigator: The best water flosser under £60

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

Panasonic was one of the first big brands to hit the water flosser market, and the EW1411 shows that it knows what it’s doing. You get a choice of three modes, including a regular jet that gets rid of plaque and food residue, an “Air in” mode that mixes air with water for a more gentle rinse and a “Soft air in” mode that massages your gums. The nozzle rotates to cover the different areas of your mouth and, while the design is big and bulky, it’s still very easy to use.

The 130ml tank isn’t as massive as you might expect, so you’re limited to around 30 to 35 seconds of use, but the lithium-ion battery lasts longer than the stated 15 minutes, meaning you’re easily covered for two weeks of use without a recharge. Not that recharging is a bother anyway, as the flosser just sits on the chunky charging stand provided. So what if there are no extra tips or gimmicks? The Panasonic has all the flossing features you need without breaking the bank.

Key specs – Pressure: 30-85psi; Tank capacity: 130ml; Modes: 4; Tips provided: 1; Battery: Li-ion; Battery life: 15 mins; Charger: Wireless charging cradle; Dimensions: 59 x 75 x 197mm

4. Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra: The best flosser for an in-between clean

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

Philips Sonicare Airfloss flossers don’t work in the same way as your average water flosser. Instead of a continuous stream of water squirted out under high pressure, it dishes out a fast, high-pressure blast of air and water every time you squeeze the button on the top. Point it between two teeth and any food/plaque gets blasted through to the other side.

To be honest, this can be a shock at first and those with sensitive gums might want something a little easier to work around their gum line. Yet there’s no denying that the Airfloss Ultra provides a fantastic clean, leaving barely anything between the teeth for old-fashioned floss to pick up.

And, as there’s no need for such a big water reservoir, the unit itself is tiny, while the lithium-ion battery will charge from the same charging cradle used by Philips Sonicare brushes (although a specific cradle is provided) and lasts for up to 14 days of blasting. Looking for a deep clean between your teeth? The Airfloss is the way to go.

Key specs – Pressure: Not specified; Tank capacity: Not specified; Modes: 3; Tips provided: 2; Battery: Li-ion; Battery life: 14 days; Charger: Wireless charging cradle; Dimensions: 43 x 56 x 244mm

5. Waterpik Cordless Advanced: The best all-round water flosser

Price: £85 | Buy now from Amazon

The Cordless Advanced is Waterpik’s high-end cordless flosser, and while it shares some of the same weaknesses as the Cordless Plus, it also has a few advantages. It’s a shame it still packs the same NiMH battery, which Waterpik advises charging once per week if you floss once a day, but at least this model comes with a swanky magnetic charger that clips on to the front of the device and will charge from any USB socket in just four hours.

It also has a battery indicator, which the Cordless Plus, like many cheaper models, lacks. Meanwhile, the 207ml tank will hold enough water to run for approximately 35 seconds in the highest intensity mode – not quite Fairywill levels, but not bad.

The key thing here, as with the cheaper model, is that the Cordless Advanced does a brilliant job of cleaning. At its lowest intensity setting, you get a gentle clean that’s good for new users or more sensitive gums, while there’s enough welly at the top setting to clean deep between your teeth and all around the gum line. What’s more, you get two classic flosser tips, an orthodontic tip and one plaque seeker tip for handling crowns and implants. It’s still not perfect, but this is the best all-round flosser on test.

Key specs – Pressure: 45-75psi; Tank capacity: 207ml; Modes: 3; Tips provided: 4; Battery: NiMH; Battery life: 7 days; Charger: USB magnetic charging cable (12V adapter provided); Dimensions: 71 x 102 x 294mm

6. Waterpik WF-05 Whitening Professional Water Flosser: The best water flosser for whiter teeth

Price: £100 | Buy now from Waterpik

The WF-05 has two obvious downsides: it’s a big unit that needs to be out permanently, so you’ll need a good-sized bathroom with countertop space, and it also needs to be mains-powered from a 12V shaver socket. However, all of the above plays into its upsides. It doesn’t need charging, you won’t run out of water mid-floss and, instead of wielding a chunky handheld flosser, you’re using a smaller wand and nozzle attached by a flexible plastic pipe. This makes it much easier to hold and get to those difficult back teeth.

The other advantage is control. You get a choice of floss and gentler massage modes with ten different intensities, so whether you have sensitive gums or want a really powerful jet, you can find something that’s exactly right for you. What’s more, this model supports whitening tablets that slot inside the head and are designed to counter any stubborn stains around the gum line or in the gaps between your teeth. It’s a big, expensive unit, but its drawbacks are worth putting up with if you want professional results.

Key specs – Pressure: 10-100psi; Tank capacity: 651ml; Modes: 2 modes, 10 intensities; Tips provided: 4; Battery: Mains powered; Battery life: N/A; Charger: 12V power adapter; Dimensions: 119 x 965 x 292mm