An Oral Irrigator is a device that delivers a pulsating stream of water to the teeth and gums. It is designed to help remove food particles, bacterial plaque, and other debris that can cause bad breath and tooth decay. The force of the water stream flushes away bacteria, providing an effective yet gentle way to clean your mouth without damaging delicate tissues.
Oral irrigators are easy-to-use, portable devices that can be used at home or on the go for an added level of convenience when brushing your teeth isn’t possible. With regular use, they help reduce plaque buildup and improve gum health. They can also reach areas in the mouth that toothbrushes cannot always access, such as hard-to-reach areas between teeth and under the gum line.
Dental floss is usually the go-to product for most people to clean between their teeth.
However, many studies have proven that flossing your teeth doesn’t do as much good as you’d think it would.
According to the latest research, dental irrigation may be a more effective option than using string floss to clean between your pearly whites. Compared to string floss, these tools are very easy and convenient to use.
The best oral irrigators from Oral-B, Waterpik, Panasonic, Philips Sonicare & other manufacturers in the test.
Flossing is a chore and is usually so time-consuming that many of us prefer to do without it.
This is exactly where oral irrigators come into play, promising quick & easy cleaning by means of a water jet.
I myself have been a convinced user of these convenient devices for years – and have put more than 140 hours of work into extensive research, reviews and this manufacturer-independent buying guide
- Strong cleaning performance
- High-quality workmanship
- extensive accessories
The different oral irrigator variants differ quite strongly from each other:
In the practical test, the devices from Waterpik convinced me the most among the classic oral irrigators. Not only the workmanship but also the cleaning performance stand out here clearly from the competition.
With the mobile oral irrigators, I liked the concept of the Airfloss models from Philips best. Instead of a jet of water, these teeth cleaners work with bursts of spray, which makes for a sleek & lightweight design.
These types of oral irrigators are available
You can roughly divide oral irrigators into 2 categories:
- Stationary oral irrigators are coupled to a pump station by means of a hose. Here they get the full power & do not have to worry about water capacity.
- portable oral showers have the water tank built into the handle. The annoying hose is eliminated, but for this the water supply and the battery (and thus the pumping power) are limited.
The choice between the two types represents the first important decision before buying.
The advantages of oral irrigators with hose
Dental centers with a hose have a large tank, which is why you rarely need to refill it
- A power cable also always provides enough power – annoying charging of batteries is eliminated here.
- And most importantly, because of these two points, the stationary top models offer the best cleaning performance.
Portable devices can not compete here, because they have significantly less space available.
The advantages of mobile oral irrigators
Without the hassle of a hose, you’re not tied to the sink – making it much more convenient to use.
- In addition, you can clean your teeth outside the bathroom – which makes the oral irrigator more common in my experience.
- (Some acquaintances keep their device ready, for example, next to the sink to quickly clean the teeth after a meal).
So each of the two types has its respective advantages and disadvantages.
Which oral irrigator is the best?
It’s best to think about where and how you want to use your oral irrigator.
Are you a frequent traveler but still don’t want to miss out on sparkling teeth? Or is the most thorough cleaning possible important to you?
Note:If you are undecided, I advise you to choose a stationary model for your first purchase.
They have more power, are more sturdily built & for most of us, the hose is a nuisance, but not a knockout criterion.
Comparing the different manufacturers
For stationary oral irrigators, Waterpik and Braun (Oral-B) lead.
Mobile oral irrigators are available in Germany mainly from Philips & Panasonic. These two manufacturers offer the most selection of portable devices.
In the following sections, I present all current models of the manufacturers. I’ll start with Waterpik, who currently make the best oral irrigators with a hose:
Oral Irrigators from Waterpik
In the US, Waterpik oral irrigators are extremely popular because they clean very thoroughly. Fortunately, for some time they have also been offered on the German network.
Compared to the competition from Braun, these devices position themselves primarily in the upper class and are definitely worth the money charged. Real weaknesses there are namely not.
In my experience, you can not do much wrong with a current oral irrigator from Waterpik. The water pressure turns out higher than the competition & the build quality is consistently high.
The current top model is also my test winner for stationary oral irrigators:
Waterpik WP660 Ultra Professional Review
This device does everything just a little bit better than the competition
When cleaning, you can choose between 2 different modes:
- Massage – this setting is suitable for irritated gums. A pulsating water jet gently massages inflamed areas, promoting blood circulation.
- Flosser – If you need a little more power to remove food debris from the gaps between your teeth, it is best to reach for this setting.
In everyday life, the massage is usually enough for me – you can also adjust the powerful pressure in 10 levels.
The best interdental cleaning on the market
Most of the time, I prefer an intensity between 6-8. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that in case of emergency, there are still some power reserves for stubborn food residues.
In terms of tooth cleaning, the Waterpik WP660 therefore outperforms most other devices.
This good impression is complemented by the included accessories. A whole 7 different attachments ensure that the oral irrigator is up to any requirement.
Whether wide or narrow gaps between teeth, crowns or veneers – the cleaning succeeds without any problems.
The WP660 is easy to clean
The rest of the design is well thought out: the Waterpik’s sturdy plastic water tank can be removed and easily cleaned
This keeps it hygienic even when used regularly.
I also liked the rotatable spray head, with which you can reach all places in the mouth specifically. Even with braces, the cleaning is easy by hand.
Real weaknesses have not struck me in the test. The only thing I missed was a wall mount, which is included with the competition from Oral-B. Who wants to attach the Waterpik in this way, so you have to make your own bracket.
- The volume I feel especially compared to the competition as okay – the WP660 Ultra works slightly quieter than the devices from Oral-B.
- Of course, the pump is still audible, but I don’t find it really annoying during daily use.
To make a long story short: The best oral irrigator in the test field offers excellent tooth cleaning. The powerful water jet removes even stubborn food residues & provides a clean feeling in the mouth.
Waterpik Mouthwash Ultra Professional WP 100E4
The predecessor WP-100E offers a comparable overall package of convenience & thoroughness.
However, the oral irrigator differs in workmanship – its successor convinces me a bit more in this area.
For example, I find the plastic lid to be more wobbly & less sturdy than the WP660 from above.
Apart from that, however, the two oral irrigators differ only in details:
Overall, the newer version of the oral irrigator from above is a bit more well thought out. However, that doesn’t mean that the Waterpik WP-100E is a bad device.
If you can find the WP100E4 at a reasonable price, you’ll be almost as happy with it as you were with the test winner.
Oral-B Oral Showers
Waterpik’s biggest competitor at dental centers is called Braun Oral-B.
The manufacturer’s devices are usually available at a slightly lower price (around 50€).
- So compared to the Waterpik oral irrigators, the Oral-B models are a real bargain. However, you should be prepared for one thing:
- The low price is of course noticeable – the workmanship is less high-quality & the water pressure turns out somewhat weaker.
However, this does not have to be a disadvantage:
If you do not necessarily need the strongest water jet (from experience, many prefer a gentle application) – or especially want to massage their own gums by water jet – you will still be happy with the Oral-B oral irrigators.
The only thing that remains is to choose the right model. In the following section, I briefly introduce all current oral irrigators:
Oral-B oral irrigator OxyJet in test
The special feature of this oral irrigator is the water jet, which has air bubbles added to it.
- According to marketing, this is supposed to provide better cleaning than with conventional devices. In the test, I noticed no great differences in tooth cleaning.
- However, I have to say that the OxyJet feels much gentler than most other dental centers. For people with sensitive teeth, this could well be an advantage.
If desired, a 2nd mode with a precise water jet can also be set. This is super suitable to remove stubborn food residues.
You can also set the spray power in 5 strengths – since the OxyJet is quite gentle, I usually use the highest levels in everyday life.
This is what you should definitely know before buying
Really high-quality looks the oral irrigator not & the rickety lid looks cheap.
In direct comparison, I clearly like the look & build quality of the more expensive Waterpik models better.
But the plastic is sturdy, waterproof & can be cleaned easily.
I don’t want to sound too negative, because when it comes to cleaning teeth themselves, the oral irrigator does very solidly and offers a convincing performance for little money.
The Oxyjet is certainly not perfect, but still a solid oral irrigator at a fair price – in the most important discipline (the cleaning of teeth) it offers a convincing result.
If you can invest a little more money, however, get with the devices of Waterpik slightly better tooth cleaners with a stronger water jet.
Oral-B oral irrigator WaterJet Review
The sister model has to do without air bubbles in the water jet, but offers a slightly lower entry-level price & equally convincing performance.
Overall, the differences are very limited. Personally, I like the stronger jet of the WaterJet a little better, but that is a matter of taste. I would choose the one oral irrigator from Braun, which is just cheaper to have.
The Waterjet is also a solid oral irrigator. Compared to the Oxyjet, I like the stronger jet better.
Brown oral irrigator + electric toothbrushes
Then there is one more special feature with the Oral-B devices:
Unlike Waterpik, Braun delivers true dental centers that not only have an oral irrigator, but also an electric toothbrush.
In most cases, this is not only cheaper than buying both devices separately, but you also save space in the process: after all, the electric toothbrush can be recharged directly at the pump station.
A combination oral irrigator & toothbrush offers everything you need for all-around healthy teeth.
These variants are available
All dental centers feature either an Oral-B Oxyjet or a Waterjet.
So the biggest difference is the toothbrush that comes with it.
However, there’s also a catch: unfortunately, Oral-B almost never offers the top-of-the-line models – most of the time, they give you the sets with solid entry-level devices like
- Oral-B oral care center for beginners with the Oral-B Pro 700
- Oral-B Oral Care Center 2000 with the old version of the Oral-B Pro 2000 with the Oral-B Pro 3000 with the Oral-B Smart 5000
Unfortunately, most of these toothbrushes are quite old – only the Oral-B Smart 5000 is part of the current line-up & has improvements like a modern battery.
Top models with the best cleaning – such as the Oral-B Genius 10000 – are only available for individual purchase.
I would therefore recommend that you go for the last set – or buy the oral irrigator & a current toothbrush separately right away.
Info: Here you can find the different toothbrushes from Oral-B in comparison
Oral Irrigators from Philips Sonicare
Unlike the devices above, Philips oral irrigators are portable models.
Clean teeth without a cumbersome hose: the biggest advantage of mobile oral irrigators.
The annoying hose of dental centers is eliminated and you can move freely while cleaning your teeth.
- These devices can also be placed in the kitchen or living room, which means you always have an oral irrigator at hand after eating.
- Also, when traveling, you will also find it difficult to take a stationary oral irrigator with you. Also for this reason, I prefer cordless oral irrigators.
But of course, a few compromises are necessary – even with my test winner in mobile oral irrigators:
Philips Sonicare Airfloss
Philips’ devices don’t use a traditional water jet, but a mixture of air blast and liquid.
So you place the spray head between your teeth beforehand and then trigger the shock.
This can be compared to a kind of gentle air gun that cleans the dentures interdentally.
The advantages are obvious: this mode of action means you need much less water – which is why the tank, and therefore the entire oral irrigator, is smaller.
This is what you should know before buying
A disadvantage may be the application itself. Not everyone likes the sensation of the sudden blast of air (many users prefer a completely normal water jet).
- Also a gum massage is not possible with such models, in this area, normal oral showers have the advantage.
- The mobile, water-saving design is also bought with a loud operating noise.
The air blast is clearly audible – mobile oral showers with water jet such as the Panasonic devices below operate more quietly.
This is what the Airfloss sounds like:
I got used to it after some time, but the noise is not really pleasant. Fortunately, the oral irrigator remains silent most of the time and only hums during the very short air bursts.
The test winner in mobile oral irrigators
Nonetheless, the concept of the Sonicare AirFloss works: the oral irrigator feels much lighter than other portable devices and doesn’t struggle with small tanks.
And most importantly: the air blasts clean the teeth very thoroughly. I am always amazed at what a difference using the oral irrigator makes – even after brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush.
The annoying hose of dental centers is eliminated and I can move freely while cleaning my teeth. If you’re looking for a portable oral irrigator, the Airfloss should definitely be on your short list:
Philips Sonicare Ultra
In my opinion, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the more expensive Ultra variant.
The regular version already cleans teeth more than thoroughly, and in return has to sacrifice only a few small convenience features.
- So there are no automatic sprays, but you have to press the button yourself every time.
- Price-performance-technically, the normal Airfloss is clearly ahead & therefore offers the better overall package for me
For more information, please read the full reviews or the customer reviews on Amazon:
Oral Irrigators from Panasonic
A recommendable alternative to the AirFloss models are the mobile oral irrigators from Panasonic.
Here too, there is no need for a hose and you can move freely while cleaning the interdental spaces.
The Panasonic EW1211W is the most popular oral irrigator in this category:
The Panasonic EW1211W oral irrigator in test
Instead of sprays, a normal water jet is used here. Due to the tank required, the scope turns out to be significantly larger than the devices from Philips.
With a full tank, the Panasonic oral irrigator is then also significantly heavier in the hand than the competition. The tank also only lasts for a single use – after which you have to refill it again.
Clean teeth with water-air jet
But in return, the oral irrigator offers great cleaning: food debris is reliably removed thanks to the adjustable spray strength, and teeth feel smooth & clean within a short time.
The EW1211W is a great alternative to conventional dental floss here.
For this reason, the Panasonic oral irrigator convinced me in the practical test. For those who can’t do anything with the sprays of the AirFloss, the EW1211W is an all-around great portable oral irrigator.
Panasonic EW-DJ40 in test
At first glance, the sister model offers a great innovation: an extendable tank provides significantly more water supply for cleaning teeth.
- For storage, you can easily fold the EW-DJ40 and store it to save space.
- Due to the higher water capacity, the oral irrigator also has a slightly stronger water jet.
The cleaning result is therefore even more thorough at the strongest level & removes even stubborn impurities.
The large tank turns out bulky, making the chunky device hard to hold. But I found the spray head, which turns too easily, to be even more annoying.
- This makes it difficult to target interdental spaces, because it changes position independently.
- For this reason, I clearly prefer the EW1211 from above, because it is free from such weaknesses.
While the EW-DJ40 isn’t a bad unit on its own, you can clearly get better alternatives for the same price.
For even more models from the manufacturer, I refer you to this article, where you’ll find a full review:
Do oral irrigators clean better than dental floss?
Brushing your teeth represents the most important means of preventing dental problems, but some places you can’t reach with a brush.
Specially in the spaces between the teeth, bacteria can accumulate, which then leads to unpleasant consequences such as bad breath or gingivitis.
Cleaning the spaces between the teeth therefore has numerous advantages, regardless of the way in which it is carried out:
The benefits of cleaned interdental spaces
- Harmful bacteria are removed, reducing caries- and odor-causing discomfort (halitosis). The general dental health thus improves noticeably. are reduced, which also effectively combats associated sequelae such as periodontal disease or other inflammation of the periodontium.
- Healthy teeth provide an all-round good feeling in everyday life. You no longer have to worry about being negatively noticed by other people through bad breath.
That is why it is advisable to clean the teeth also interdental. Most dentists recommend for this purpose normal dental floss, which is used to remove food debris from the gaps between the teeth.
For many people, however, this takes far too long, which is why it’s not surprising that Germans as a whole are considered flossing muffle.
Reading tip:This is how sonic toothbrushes perform in a comparative test.
Mouthwashes are a convenient alternative to floss
For this reason, some manufacturers offer devices that facilitate interdental cleaning. Oral irrigators offer significantly more comfort in a direct comparison.
For several years, I already rely on these devices as a supplement to daily tooth brushing. Cleaning with an oral irrigator is significantly faster than using normal dental flossIn practice, this provides many advantages:
For example, I also reach for the oral irrigator more often after a meal to clean my teeth for half a minute.
Stationary oral irrigators such as the devices from Waterpik offer the best cleaning performance. However, flossing is still rarely necessary.
Are oral irrigators at an advantage?
One thing first: Most of these devices can clean the interdental spaces within a very short time, but they are not a complete replacement for dental floss. Rarely, it may be necessary to remove stubborn food debris „by hand“
This occurs about 1x a week & therefore does not really bother.
Most of the time, in fact, oral irrigators are a full-fledged substitute and quickly & thoroughly rid teeth of plaque buildup.
- In scientific studies, such oral irrigators have been shown to be an effective means of reducing gingivitis 1 .
- In addition, in practice, as I said, they have another crucial advantage: thanks to the ease of use, I clean my interdental spaces very much more often (for example, shortly after lunch).
For this reason, oral irrigators are for me personally a highly recommended alternative.
If you neglect regular cleaning of the interdental spaces or are annoyed by flossing, you should consider purchasing an oral irrigator
Tooth floss vs oral irrigator
However, such a device is not absolutely necessary. At least, if you regularly reach for the dental floss. According to science, both variants have an equally positive effect on dental health 2 .
Most important is that you clean your interdental spaces regularly How this is done exactly, on the other hand, is not so crucial. Here, in my experience, personal preferences play a major role.
If you already floss conscientiously, then an oral irrigator is not necessarily necessary or better. In any case, however, you can acquire such a device as a convenient addition if you want to clean your teeth faster than with classic dental floss.
Oral Irrigators: What Stiftung Warentest says.
Stiftung Warentest also warns against seeing these devices as a panacea – they are merely a supplement.
Tooth brushing still represents the most important measure against plaque. As an additional support, however, an oral irrigator can be useful, because (quote Stiftung Warentest): „However, it also reaches hard-to-reach places that even the best toothbrush can not reach “.
Summarized: For whom are oral irrigators particularly useful?
- For all who neglect a regular dental care because of stress. With the new models, it really takes no more than a few moments. Dental floss, on the other hand, I used only in the evening, because I usually do not find time for it during a stressful day.
- Also for owners of braces, flossing can often be very annoying. Obstacles in the mouth rub the threads, so if the floss tears, another type of interdental cleaning could be useful.
- Furthermore, oral irrigators clean far more comfortably than conventional dental floss in the case of wide tooth spacing as well as temporaries, implants or fillings. Especially the distances under dental crowns or dentures are often difficult to reach. So here devices with water jet bring real advantages.
- With a tendency to inflammation, periodontitis, tooth cavities, exposed necks of teeth, tongue plaque, tartar or general dental problems.
Info: Mouthwashes offer the best dental care along with the right electric toothbrush.
Follow-up costs, care & durability
In this chapter, I would like to describe my everyday experience – to help you choose a suitable oral irrigator.
The follow-up costs
All oral irrigators have replaceable spray heads as a common feature. This not only ensures better hygiene, but also regular additional costs.
You should replace the replacement nozzles every 3-6 months.
Price-wise, Philips & Waterpik are the most expensive here, Braun and Panasonic usually charge less for a spray head. These costs incurred should be included in your purchase decision.
Supplementary products from China recommended?
For some models, there are also cheaper replacement heads from the Far East. Personally, I have not had good experiences with these (just like with Oral-B attachment brushes or Sonicare replacement toothbrush heads)
The originals are just a bit more expensive, but they don’t break as quickly. Calculated on the year, the savings of a few € is not worth the whole hassle in my opinion.
The biggest weak point in stationary devices: the hose
The hose is a common weak point of oral irrigators.
Some users on Amazon repeatedly complain about broken hoses. In my experience, this can happen with all oral irrigators (even the more expensive ones)
- The moisture inside the hose makes it become brittle over time.
- It also gets pulled apart regularly, which accelerates wear
That’s why any hose can break after a few years. For all models of Braun & Waterpik mentioned here, there are replacement hoses on the Internet – and they can be installed quite easily without a professional.
This is annoying, but in practice I can’t think of a way to keep the hose completely dry inside. So far, I’ve always been lucky with my oral irrigators, but of course, with wear parts like this, there’s always the possibility of a defect.
Tip: It is recommended to decalcify the oral irrigator regularly. For this purpose, there are even special cleaners* extra for tooth cleaners.
Summary of the tested oral irrigators
The available selection of interdental cleaners is by no means small. Before buying, it therefore makes sense to think about the exact purpose of use in order to find the right model
Each of us has very personal needs here – which is why there is no such thing as the best oral irrigator.
Before buying, it is best to go through the following list and think about which of the mentioned requirements you have for an oral irrigator:
Checklist for oral irrigator purchase decision
- When and where do I use the oral irrigator? Do I want to use it only in the bathroom or also once at the sink after eating? How often am I traveling?
- How big should the oral irrigator be? Heavy and bulky handpieces are not pleasant for everyone – here stationary dental centers are at an advantage.
- Does a hose bother me or are limited batteries and water tanks an obstacle? At the latest here should then be clear whether you are looking for portable or stationary models.
- Do I prefer a water jet or are air jets also okay? Of course, you can also consider a necessary gum massage with this question.
- How much do I want to invest? Here it is best to consider not only the initial price but also the follow-up costs due to replacement spray heads.
If you are clear about the above points, then the choice of the right model is significantly easier. An additional orientation for beginners offers the table from the beginning: there you will find the best stationary & mobile oral showers clearly arranged.
Select from the recommendations best the type, which fits best to you. You may also want to discover the right mouthwash right away.
I hope to have made your decision a little easier with this comprehensive overview. If the article has helped you, then please recommend in.
More reading tips for healthy teeth:
- J Georgeahn CA. The dental water jet: a historical review of the literature (2010). J Dent Hyg. 2010 Summer;84(3):114-20. 2010 Jul 5.
- Barnes CM, Russel CM, Reinhardt RA, Payne JB, Lyle DM. Comparison of irrigation to floss as an adjunct to tooth brushing: effect on bleeding, gingivitis and supragingival plaque. J Clin Dent 2005;16:71-7.