The $89 Teeth-Cleaning Tool You Can’t Live Without

Rachel Krause


As an adult human and functioning member of society, my mouth-maintenance habits are, while not titillating, performed as necessary. Which is to say that I don’t get excited about dental hygiene, but then again, what kind of sick person does?

It’s hard to address these kinds of things without coming across in writing as someone who does not properly care for their fundamental cleanliness and well-being. This is not true! I do care. I brush my teeth first thing in the morning and before I go to bed at night. I use mouthwash each time, too. But … then there’s that other thing. It’s the thing that every dentist says is real important—like, so important that it helps prevent certain inflammatory diseases, and “research” even suggests that it can add six years to your life expectancy, according to this Fox News article from five years ago.

MORE: The Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Teeth

All those benefits, and all you have to do is floss. Seems simple enough, but as with so many seemingly straightforward variables in this life, easier said than done. Flossing is the worst. It’s uncomfortable, and sometimes if you do a bad job of it, you can draw blood and literally add insult to injury. (I did once read that for some people the gums are an erogenous zone, but that’s something I want nothing to do with.) The only way to avoid this is by not flossing in the first place, which is fine if you feel indifferent about living for six additional years.

Or you, like me, can invest in the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra ($89.95). As a longtime connoisseur of unnecessary yet desirable goods, I have no problem coming to terms with the fact that the reason I need a nearly $100 “unique interdental cleaner” is because I want one, or alternatively, because I don’t want to floss. The marketing approach isn’t shy about it, either: “Sticking to a consistent flossing routine can be a struggle,” the Philips website reads, hilariously. A struggle.

philips sonicare airfloss ultra The $89 Teeth Cleaning Tool You Cant Live Without

It’s not like I’ve never flossed before—far from it. It’s something I’ve done many times over, albeit inconsistently. With that said, the AirFloss Ultra gets my teeth cleaner than any manual flossing/brushing/mouthwashing regimen ever could.

Fill it up with water, hold down the button (you can set it to spray once at your leisure, or three times rapid-fire each time you press down), and the pressurized combo of air and liquid will shoot between your teeth to loosen and wash away whatever’s in there; fill it up with antibacterial mouthwash and it’s the same deal, just mintier. It’s very good for getting hard-to-reach areas in the back of your mouth (the areas that floss can’t reach, so don’t even try), and I’ve found it particularly instrumental for targeting the time-delayed wisdom tooth that’s been growing askew in the upper right corner of my gums for what seems like five years now.

MORE: We Tried Out 3 Teeth Whitening Systems at Very Different Price Points

Silly as it may seem—almost satirical in its clear demographic of very, very lazy people who can’t be bothered to floss their own damn teeth—the AirFloss Ultra isn’t all impractical. Sometimes you really do need something that can get to weird uncharted territory, and I imagine it could be good for people who have arthritis, which I live in fear of developing before my time. But I find comfort in knowing that, just in case I do start experiencing joint pain and swelling just like in the Celebrex commercials, I’ll still be able to get my teeth good and clean. You can never be too prepared.