The Fairywill Water Flosser (or ‘oral irrigator’ as they’re sometimes called) is a great addition to any oral health routine. The idea is simple. It shoots a water jet that pulses 1700 times a minute to dislodge plaque and food matter, but how does it compare to regular flossing?
Flossing has been around for a long time, and with good reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your oral health besides brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. The reason for the popularity of flossing is that brushing teeth only goes so far, because it’s very difficult when you’re brushing to ensure that the bristles get between them. It’s down in the nooks and crannies between teeth that food debris can escape from the attentions of the brush and start to do damage to them by rotting. That’s not only bad for your oral health, it’s also bad for your general health, because the mouth is the gateway to the body, and it’s been suggested that periodontitis is one of the factors that can contribute to heart disease.
Although the medical benefits of flossing have actually been called into question, there’s no sign of dentists letting up on advising their patients to do it. It’s a standard piece of advice that seems like common sense, and it’s probably just waiting for science to catch up with it. It seems obvious that if you can get more decaying food matter out of your mouth, then it won’t sit there producing bacteria. But, even for those who understand the benefits, the act of flossing can be a bit off-putting. You’re putting a piece of waxy string in your mouth and pulling it back and forth like a bandsaw, so if you have crowded teeth this can be particularly unpleasant, because the string can get stuck, and even if it doesn’t it can still hurt your gums.
Enter the water flosser! Thank goodness that somebody came up with the bright idea of using a high-pressure jet of water to clean the muck out from between teeth instead of string. Perhaps they were power-washing their car one day and got a sudden flash of inspiration?
Is water flossing any more effective than using string? It depends who you ask. A 2013 study claimed that it was 29% better at removing plaque, but as I said, your dentist will probably still suggest that you use string to floss. Another study concluded that water flossing reduced bleeding by 93% and was up to 52% better at combating gingivitis (inflamed gums) than string floss, so science seems to be right about this one. Consider also that if something works, then people tend to vote for it with their wallets, and if the steady rise in sales of water flossers is anything to go by, they do work.
The market is dominated by Waterpik – so dominant that in the same way that people will call every vacuum cleaner a Hoover, they will say Waterpik when talking about water flossers. Big names in toothbrush technology like Philips (Sonicare), and Oral-B also offer products, but they have a smaller presence. Many of the products on the market tend to be priced at around 50-100 Dollars
In short, if you want the most thorough supplemental oral hygiene care possible, you are going to get it here.
Appearance and Designing
There are other companies trying to establish themselves in this sector, and Fairywill is one of them. This is the first time that I’ve used one of these devices, and their Electric Water Flosser looked to me like a small food mixer when I first unboxed it. It’s got a black plastic base with a transparent 600ml reservoir on top. The pressure wand sits on the side of the machine, clipping into place on a plastic mount that secures it firmly. It’s fed through a white coil that stretches about 50cms. There’s a dial on the front that you twist to select one of 10 speed settings.
All in all, I think it looks attractive, and it doesn’t take up too much counter space as it sits there on its suction cups. You’ll need a socket nearby to plug it into, and I imagine that if you’re like me with no outlet in the bathroom, you’ll use it in the kitchen by the sink.
Key features & Technologies
The black plastic lid comes off completely so that you can fill it with water, and it also hinges so that you can snap out one of the selection of jet tips which are stored there. I confess to not reading the instructions and just clicking the first one I picked up into the head of the wand. The fact that it clicked into place securely despite my lack of care seems like a good sign. I like things that work easily for clumsy idiots like me!
With no experience of using a flosser I bent over the kitchen sink, put the jet in my mouth and switched on. The device makes a noise but it’s not like when you switch a food mixer on. Those things screech at you. This is far subtler, like the pump of a fish tank but louder.
The motor provides the pressure, but you need to press a button on the wand to activate the stream. With the dial turned all the way anti-clockwise, you’re on the lowest setting, but it still might feel a bit surprising to first-timers, as it did to me.
A quickly pulsing thin jet of water hits your mouth and it’s best to make sure that it isn’t pointing down your throat when that happens. It feels like you could use it to cut through wood, so point it along the gum-line of a molar. I worked on a few teeth and soon found that my mouth was full of water. I’d instinctively closed my lips around the jet and now had ballooning cheeks. The thing to do is turn off the jet with the button on the wand when your mouth is filling up, then spit it out. Then turn it back on and continue. It does seem a little odd to start with, but once you’ve worked out the best way to work with it for you, it’s quite enjoyable. I found myself coming back to it after every meal or snack because it feels effective and doesn’t make your mouth all minty every time like brushing does.
Pros and Cons.
I’ve been trying to think of pros and cons for this machine and while there are plenty of good things to say I’m struggling to think of any downside.
It does a great job of getting rid of food debris and leaves your teeth feeling clean, but if I did want to find something negative to say about it that would only be that it obviously takes up some space and needs plugging in, so in a small bathroom you might struggle to find room for it. Then, if you did have to use it in the kitchen you’d be losing out on the convenience of getting your teeth clean in one place, because you’d start in the bathroom then finish there. In a family situation that could quickly turn into a logistical nightmare.
Still, that’s not really a criticism of the design itself. It’s more about the places where people live, but perhaps a portable unit with a rechargeable battery would be a good idea?
You do have to make sure to clean the reservoir after each session by running water through it after you’re done, and you should also clean the water jets too to avoid bacteria making a home there. This is necessary but a bit of an inconvenience.
The 600ml reservoir is enough for a couple of minutes’ steady blasting before it needs refilling, which is fine because I found that was enough time to get around all of my teeth.
I don’t have many gadgets in my life but this is one that has quickly become something that I’ve grown used to and wouldn’t want to do without now.
It’s a bit like an electric toothbrush in that sense. Something that you didn’t know you needed until you got it. As someone who knows he should floss every day and hates it, this is the perfect solution to that problem.
Better yet, it’s cheaper than a Waterpik while doing the same job. My recommendation? Get one!