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Water flossers and sanitizers

Water flossers are a powerful alternative to hand flossing. These advanced at-home cleaning tools harness the power of water jets as a fitting accompaniment to electric toothbrushes. Anyone can use them, including those who prefer a manual toothbrush. Learn more about water flossers so you can decide whether this product is right for you and which model might be best for your needs. This section also includes toothbrush sanitizers, which are another important type of accessory that can take your dental-care routine to the next level at home.

Water flosser features to consider

Though all water flossers have the same basic functions regardless of brand and type, different features can make a big difference in how useful they are based on your individual needs. Consider each of these feature categories before you start shopping so you can browse this product category with a more informed and focused approach.

Cordless vs. corded: There are some fully cordless water flossers that have their water reservoirs built into the tools' handles. Those that don’t have a built-in reservoir attach to a countertop water container via a thin tube. This means that fully cordless water flossers are easier to travel with. Models that rely on cords to run water through the tool tend to be much bulkier, though they're still compact enough to fit on most bathroom sink counters. If you have very limited bathroom space due to a small countertop surface area or you live in a communal dorm situation, you might prefer the cordless option for daily use due to its convenient smaller size.

Battery life: Most water flossers are battery powered, with cradle-like bases that double as chargers. Battery life is a particular concern for the cordless varieties, especially while you're traveling. Because the corded models usually don’t travel too far from their bases, charging and battery life may not be a major concern to you.

Attachments and other accessories: Some of the more advanced water flosser models may come with multiple nozzle attachments, which vary the stream size of the water coming out of the tool. In some cases, these tips are designed to address specific oral healthcare issues such as the presence of periodontal pockets. If you have a spouse or share a water flosser with someone, you'll want to change out different nozzles from person to person to avoid cross-contamination. Color-coded tips may be available for this purpose and to avoid mix-ups. Some water flosser models also come with electric toothbrushes that charge on the same base so you can create an all-in-one oral hygiene station.

Water reservoir size: Reservoir size may be something to consider if you intend to do extended cleaning sessions or store your water flosser away from a sink. This makes reservoir size a particular concern if you want a portable model that you may use in locations where you don’t have access to water for a refill. The higher the water pressure level is that you use, the faster you’ll drain your reservoir, so this should factor into your decision.

Flow control: Very basic water flosser models may not offer too much control over the flow of the water out of the nozzle. Water-pressure adjustments can be an important way of helping you avoid damage to sensitive gum tissue while still giving you access to the higher pressure levels you need to blast tartar away from problem spots. Models without water pressure-adjustment capabilities can still work quite well, but you might prefer the versatility and control that comes from an adjustable model.

Target age: There are some water flosser models designed specifically for children. These flossers are smaller than those built for adults, making them more appropriate for children's mouths. Kids' water flossers often come in fun colors to make them more appealing and friendly. You should use a full-size flosser unless otherwise advised by your dentist.

Choosing a toothbrush sanitizer

Toothbrush sanitizers provide peace of mind when you're concerned about keeping your toothbrush clean. There are two primary design types in this category: countertop and clip-on. Countertop models often double as storage for your toothbrush, which may make it easier to use the sanitizer on a daily basis. These sterilizers generally require electricity, either from a rechargeable battery or a plug, because they rely on ultraviolet (UV) light to kill bacteria, viruses and other harmful germs on the toothbrush. Clip-on models fit over your toothbrush head and generally work using essential oils and other naturally occurring chemicals. This imparts a gentle antimicrobial effect that may not be as effective as the UV light from countertop models. Though perhaps not ideal for daily use, these clip-on sanitizers are a great idea when you're traveling or if you prefer homeopathic or alternative remedies.