Introduction The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of the insertion depth of an ultrasonically oscillating file on the ability to remove dentin debris from simulated canal irregularities in an extracted tooth model of a straight root canal and its influence on the flow of irrigant in both straight and curved canals. Methods A tooth model with artificial depressions in 1 canal wall at 0.5, 2, 4, and 6 mm from the working length was used. Ultrasonic-activated irrigation was performed with the file inserted 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 mm short of the working length. Dye penetration and high-speed recordings of the flow in straight and curved canals showed the static and dynamic behavior of the flow during ultrasonic activation. Results The overall cleaning efficacy decreased with increasing distance between the file and the apex, with the depressions next to the file and within 3 mm in front of the file being the cleanest. The flow observed from the visualization experiments matched this distance, suggesting a direct relation between flow and cleaning. The observed flow depth increased with increasing power setting; the curvature of the root canal had no influence on the flow depth. High-speed imaging showed a start-up phase with deeper fluid activation than in the steady phase afterward. Conclusions The ultrasonically oscillating file could remove dentin debris up to 3 mm in front of the file tip, coinciding with the extent of the observed flow. The root canal curvature had no influence on the irrigant flow.