In 2013 Philips released the worlds first electric interdental flosser powered by air to much hype. While the heads were on the large and the water reservoir was tricky to fill, it did what it claimed.
Then in 2015 Philips Sonicare released a newer model called the Airfloss Pro. The AirFloss Pro aimed to not only fix the problems the original model had but added extra features as well.
Unfortunately, the AirFloss Pro is a steaming pile of poop. Yes, the original flaws have been fixed and the new pressure mode is pretty cool but the update with it brought a new problem. And this is quality.
During the course of our testing through regular use we had to replace our AirFloss Pro a total of four times. Four times the AirFloss Pro Failed on us. We absolutely cannot recommend this model.
Note: Philips seems to be fully aware of just how terrible the AirFloss Pro is and has recently pulled the product from Amazon and other larger retailers and released a new (yet identical in features) model called the AirFloss Ultra. It turns out it is the same faulty product with a new name. Read our Airfloss Ultra Review for more details.
Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro
Unboxing the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro
If you tear open the packaging on your brand new AirFloss Pro, this is what you will find inside:
Let’s break it down:
- AirFloss Pro Handle
- AirFloss Pro Nozzle
- Charger Base
- BreathRx mouthwash (trial size)
- Instruction manual
You will also find a product registration card prompting you to register your AirFloss Pro online. In doing so you will be rewarded with an additional 6 months of warranty, extending the period of cover to two and a half years.
Examining the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro Handle
Decked out in white plastic, when it comes to looks, the handle of the AirFloss pro is a little on the plain side. Below you can see the front, side and rear of the handle:
The front is so plain that the only notable feature the Philips Sonicare branding found a third of the way down:
Located on either side of the handle is a section of raised plastic bumps:
These bumps are designed to prevent the handle from slipping through your fingers during use.
In practice the grip is fairly ineffective. The bumps are too small and spread too far apart to make a noticeable difference when holding the AirFloss Pro Handle.
Moving around to the rear of the handle is where things start to get interesting:
At the top of the handle is the water reservoir. This is where you place your water or mouthwash. While Philips Sonicare calls this device the AirFloss, it also shoots microdroplets of whatever you put in the reservoir.
The reservoir of the Original AirFloss was quite difficult to fill. This was largely due to the incredibly small opening. More often than not you would wear more of the water than would go into the reservoir itself.
Fortunately, Philips has gone out of their way to fix the problem.
The Reservoir opening on the AirFloss Pro is twice the size of the original. Much easier to fill.
To access the reservoir you simply pull the hinged cover down with your thumb. Once the reservoir is full you click it back into place.
We noticed a strong plastic odor coming from inside the reservoir on our brand new AirFloss. We were able to successfully remove the smell by washing with a vinegar and water mixture and leaving it to air overnight.
At the base of the rear you will see a gray colored rubber button:
This button performs two different functions:
1. On/Off Press the button once to turn the AirFloss Pro on. Hold the button down for two seconds to turn it off.
2. Burst mode selector With the power turned on press the button to cycle between one, two or three bursts every time the activation button is pressed.
We will cover the burst modes in more detail further down the review.
If we’re to look on the underside of the handle, this is what you would see:
The socket in the center helps keep the AirFloss Pro on the charging base. Printed around the socket are some basic facts about the model including the battery (Lithium-ion), model number and country of manufacture (Mexico).
While the box states “Made in Mexico” the underside of the handle says that it was “Assembled in Mexico”. In reality, these parts could be made anywhere in the world, most likely China where Sonicare also manufacturers their electric toothbrushes.
At the very top of the AirFloss Pro you will find the activation button. Pressing this button will allow air and water to flow out the nozzle.
The button itself does not have a much give and the gloss surface is surprisingly slippery. We found that our thumb had a tendency to slide off when we rested it here.
Further up from the button you will see a small hexagonal hole boarded by a silver ring. This is the part of the AirFloss Pro that the nozzles lock into
The Sonicare AirFloss Pro Nozzle
The AirFloss Pro handle was not the only thing to get a redesign. The nozzle also got a makeover:
Not only is the nozzle hole larger but a rubber hood now covers it, making it more difficult to jam the hard plastic into your gum line.
Philips recommend you replace your AirFloss Nozzle once every 6 months. Not only will this keep your AirFloss Pro operating at it’s maximum potential but will help keep the nozzle hygienic.
Because the AirFloss Pro nozzle can be removed, you can share the handle with multiple members of your family. Just be mindful that you will have to figure out a way to identify them as all replacement nozzles look the same. We suggest using a waterproof marker.
To install the nozzle onto the handle of the AirFloss pro you simply line the base of the nozzle up with the holder on the handle and click it in:
We noticed that quite a lot of pressure was required the first few times we installed the nozzle. Philips mastered easy installation with their range of Sonicare replacement toothbrush heads . We were disappointed to see that the AirFloss nozzles were quite difficult to install by comparison.
Note: The original AirFloss nozzles cannot be used with the AirFloss Pro due to having a different shaped connector.
Charging the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro
The AirFloss Pro is powered by a lithium battery. We were impressed with the battery life and were able to consistently get 30 days of use on the single burst flossing mode.
Swapping over to triple burst mode saw the usage time drop down to 10 days. About on par with most electric toothbrushes.
The charging base is identical to that found on the majority of Philips Sonicare electric toothbrushes:
This is good news for those of you who already have a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. You won’t have to set up yet another charging stand on your bathroom counter.
Flip the charger over and you will see three small rubber feet:
The rubber feet are designed to prevent the charging base from slipping and sliding all over your wet bathroom countertop.
Printed in the middle are the words:
This is where the Sonicare really beats out the Waterpik Cordless Plus and other portable water flossers – The fact that the charger is multi-voltage.
This means that you can charge your Sonicare Airfloss anywhere in the world. From America to Australia and everywhere in between. If you travel often frequently for work or just want a portable flosser that you can use on vacation then the AirFloss Pro really is the best choice.
The AirFloss Pro uses induction charging (wireless) and will begin to charge the moment you place it down on the charging base.
As the battery fills up each of the indicator lights on the power button will light up. Each indicator light represents approximately a third of battery charge.
The indicators only represent battery charge when the AirFloss Pro handle is sitting on the charging base. Once off the charger, the only way you will know the remaining battery is if the indicator lights flash yellow to warn you that the battery is about to die.
Fully charging a drained battery takes roughly 24 hours.
Testing the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro
With the battery fully charged it’s time to take the Philips Sonicare AirFloss Pro for a test drive.
The first thing you are going to want to do is to load the reservoir with either water or mouthwash.
Philips has included a sample sized bottle of their BreathRx in the box of the AirFloss Plus and supposedly helps neutralize bad breath. Just be mindful that the mouthwash does contain xylitol which can be severely poisonous to dogs even in small amounts.
So I loaded up the reservoir with mouthwash and closed the color. Next we press, d the power button. But first we had to choose our burst mode.
A burst is a single spray. You can decide how many bursts you want each time you press the activation button. Either a single burst or multiple consecutive bursts.
You will be able to identify which burst mode you have selected by glancing at the indicator lights on the handle:
One light for a single burst, two light for a double and three lights for a triple burst.
Unless you completely drain the battery, the AirFloss Pro will remember the burst mode you chose even if you turn the power off.
When you first press the activation button at the very top of the AirFloss Pro, only air will come out. You will need to keep your finger held on the button until the device draws water through and out the nozzle.
Now all that’s left is place the AirFloss Pro in our mouth and let loose.
The technique is fairly simple, aim the tip the nozzle between two teeth just above your gum line. Close your lips over the nozzle and press the button.
The AirFloss Pro will deliver a pressurized mixture of air and mouthwash (or water) through your teeth, helping to dislodge any plaque that hides between.
If you want to activate the auto-fire mode simply hold the button down. The AirFloss Pro will not stop spraying until you remove your finger from the button.
At first it can be a little tricky with the water bouncing back off your teeth and out your mouth. We gave our mirror and countertop a good coating of mouthwash while we were getting the hang of it.
But before long you will learn how to close your lips so that the spray does not go everywhere.
With your first blast out of the way you can move onto the next gap between your teeth and so on until you have air flossed your entire mouth.
We were able to clean our entire mouth without needing to refill the reservoir. A huge improvement on the original AirFloss model.
While Philips Sonicare calls this the “AirFloss” the mixture that comes out the end of the nozzle is mostly mouthwash.
During testing we experimented with both mouthwash and water. Testers unanimously agreed that mouthwash was the way to go, since it also freshened your breath.
After you have finished you will need to rinse your AirFloss Pro to keep it clean and hygienic. Unlike an electric toothbrush, the AirFlosser can’t be submerged under water which does make the whole cleaning process more fiddly than it needs to be.
You will have open the reservoir and carefully rinse it under a faucet then rinse the nozzle. You will then have to wipe down any mouthwash spray from the handle using a damp cloth.
So can the AirFloss Pro replace string floss?
The answer is a simple.
No, it cannot.
The Sonicare AirFloss was never designed to replace traditional string floss. Philips Sonicare has even written the following on the box of the Airfloss Pro:
Designed for inconsistent flossers
The AirFloss Pro was designed for people who do not floss. Period.
In our testing we found that traditional string floss removed much more plaque than the AirFloss Pro. In fact the AirFloss couldn’t even compete with a basic water flosser.
But one thing the AirFloss has going for it is it’s simplicity. You press a button and are rewarded with a blast of air and water (or mouthwash). No poking between the teeth with string floss, no spitting out a constant stream of water form a water flosser. You press a button and that is pretty much it.
And it is this simplicity that will appeal to those of you who never floss. The AirFloss Pro can remove some plaque, but just don’t be tricked into thinking it is a replacement for standard flossing.
We really wanted to like the AirFloss Pro. It really is simple to use, much easier than a water flosser or string floss. And if you have an aversion to flossing then using the AirFloss Pro will sure beat out ignoring the problem and letting plaque build up.
It’s just that the quality of the AirFloss Pro is appalling. It just stops working for no apparent reason. And it’s not just us, this is a commonly expressed problem by end users.
Fortuantely Phillips Sonicare offer a 90 day return period where you can return the AirFloss Pro if you are not satisfied with the product. This is in addition to the two year standard warranty period.
We made the most of this return period and going through 4 different Sonicare AirFloss Pros, we were able to trial it long enough to form a concrete verdict for our review.
Consult your dentist to determine whether or not the AirFloss Pro is right for you.