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Published: February 10, 2024

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare?

Author: Jon Love (24 Comments)
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 1

Waterpik and Sonicare are reputable brand names when it comes to dental hygiene products.

A question that I am often asked is, which is better?

This is not the simplest question to answer, as will become apparent in this article.

Whilst individual circumstances and needs can affect the answer, for most people, I would suggest you buy a Sonicare electric toothbrush AND a Waterpik water flosser.

The two I recommend the most are, for a toothbrush:

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2

For a water flosser:

For those who want to understand the complications and know why I have come to the conclusions I have, please read on.

What is it you want - water flosser or electric toothbrush?

When considering which is better, it is about understanding what it is you actually need or want.

Waterpik are best known for their range of water flossers, whilst Sonicare are best known for their electric toothbrushes.

To reiterate, whilst there are exceptions to the rule (as I will explain shortly), Sonicare makes toothbrushes, whilst Waterpik manufacture water flossers.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 12

If you are not familiar with a water flosser, they are a type of oral hygiene product that pushes water (or mouthwash) into the mouth at pressure through a nozzle.

The intention is that the pressure of the water dislodges and washes away plaque, bacteria and food debris that might reside on the teeth and along the gumline.  They are designed primarily to assist with interdental cleaning, the gaps in between your teeth, where regular toothbrushes don’t reach or clean as well

Dental professionals will generally advise that they are used in addition to string floss or interdental brushes.  Where mobility is an issue, they can be used as an alternative.

However, as the products have advanced and citizens, on the whole, continue to irregularly or ineffectively floss, water flossers have become a modern convenience that encourages more regular flossing and a better than nothing approach in the eye of dental professionals.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 13

An electric toothbrush, on the other hand, is an electrically powered toothbrush that makes rapid, automated movements of bristles and primarily relies on physical contact between the bristles and the teeth to clean them.  It is an alternative to the manual toothbrush.

With this in mind is it a toothbrush or water flosser that you need, or is it both?

Perhaps you need both

As part of your daily oral health routine, you should be brushing twice a day for 2 minutes and flossing at least once a day so both companies have something that can help you.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 14

Water flossers and electric toothbrushes have their pros and cons. Neither are 'essential' a manual toothbrush and floss is fine. But, for those who know they have a poor oral health care routine with irregular cleaning patterns, both will most certainly bring benefits.

This might then mean you want or need both.

However, to make things slightly more complicated, Waterpik does make electric toothbrushes and Sonicare also produces water flossers.

Waterpik even make products that contain a water flosser and electric toothbrush in one device.  They are a combination of both products. They refer to these as ‘Complete Care’.

Therefore ultimately, you could opt for a flosser or electric toothbrush from either company.

What about a 'Waterpik toothbrush'?

A ‘Complete Care’ unit is the name given to a type of product that Waterpik sells. These include both an electric toothbrush and a water flosser built into the same unit.

This means that you have just 1 unit sat on your countertop and connecting to a power supply.  This is instead of 2 individual units taking up more space on the countertop and connecting to 2 plugs on the wall.

At the time of writing, Waterpik offers 4 Complete Care units, the Complete Care 9.0 and 9.5 being the latest models.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 15
A Waterpik Complete Care Unit

It should be noted that Waterpik also manufactures the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion which literally does combine toothbrush and water flosser into one hybrid product.  I will cover this in more detail later in this article, but unfortunately, this combination of water flosser and toothbrush does not perform as well as it should. 

Water flossers have toothbrush attachments

Just when you thought it could not get any more complicated, it does.

You see, water flossers normally have nozzles or tips, that fit to a handle that you use to control the water jet that does the cleaning.

Those tips come in a number of different styles to aid those with different needs.

Whilst the Classic Jet Tip is suitable for most, the orthodontic tip is better suited to those with braces and the Pik Pocket Tip for those with periodontal pockets.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 16

But Waterpik and other brands of water flosser manufacturers do offer a toothbrush tip.

The typically round brush head has a high density of bristles but allows the water to continue to be pushed out as you move the brush head over and around the teeth.

In most instances, the bristles rely on you to move the head repeatedly, they do not move automatically, like a traditional electric toothbrush might, so although the toothbrush tip exists it does not work in quite the same way as an electric toothbrush and therefore is fair to compare side by side.

The inclusion of the toothbrush tip ultimately allows for you and me to offer up additional aggravation or scrubbing power to the teeth and gums to dislodge and lift plaque, bacteria and food particles.

Waterpik vs electric toothbrush

Clinical research clearly shows how both an electric toothbrush and a water flosser can remove plaque, the primary reason we clean our teeth.

Although some water flossers may have toothbrush attachments, you might be wondering whether you could use a water flosser instead of an electric toothbrush.

Technically there is nothing stopping you from doing just this, but it really goes against the advice that dental professionals would offer.

In what is almost unanimous agreement across the world, brushing and flossing are considered 2 separate, but necessary acts.

The electric toothbrush is one of the best ways to clean the teeth, whilst water flossers are a proven effective way to clean the interdental spaces that toothbrushing simply does not reach.

Pressure control dial on Waterpik Aquarius

Electric toothbrush pros and cons

Here is a quick summary of what I consider to be the positives and negatives of an electric toothbrush.


  • Consistent power
    • It does the hard work so you don't have to
  • Greater plaque removal
    • Cleans with more efficiency due to consistent power and motion
  • Reduces tooth decay and improves gum health
    • The improved cleaning ability has a knock-on effect to encourage better health in the mouth.
  • Timers and pacers to encourage a 2 minute clean
    • Additional technology allows for extra features that encourage better oral health.
  • Various cleaning modes
    • Achieve specific goals and meet your needs with different modes.
  • Different brush heads
    • Differing styles to achieve different results
  • Value added features
    • Travel cases, pressure sensors, apps and smart features for a more enjoyable user experience.
  • The relatively low lifetime cost
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 17


  • Initial cost
    • More expensive than a manual brush
  • Battery life
    • Require recharging fairly frequently
  • Cost of replacement heads
    • Required every 3 months, 1 head is equivalent to the cost of a manual brush
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 18

Water flosser pros and cons

Here is a quick summary of what I consider to be the positives and negatives of a water flosser.


  • Ease of use
    • Easier to use than string floss, particularly for those with limited dexterity.
  • Comfort
    • Softer, less aggressive and harsh on the gums.
  • Speed
    • Once perfected in the technique it is often quicker than regular flossing.
  • Effectiveness
    • The water gets into the smallest of gaps and under the gum where floss can’t.  Also great for braces.
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 19


  • Cost
    • Much more expensive to buy than string floss.
  • Size/Portability
    • Even the cordless options are bulky and don’t fit in a pocket.
  • Power
    • Require mains power or batteries to function.
  • Technique
    • Take some getting used to.
  • Effectiveness
    • Can’t scrape the plaque away like floss and interdental brushes do.
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 20

Waterpik toothbrush pros and cons

Here is a quick summary of what I consider to be the positives and negatives of the combining of water flossers and toothbrushes.


  • Space saving
    • Normally takes up less space on the countertop as there is 1 combined charing stand rather than 2.
  • Convenience
    • Buy 1 product that has the 2 items you need, less hassle shopping around, etc.
  • Price
    • A potential to be a bit more cost effective than buying 2 separate items.


  • Choice
    • Limited options.
  • Quality/performance
  • Reliability
    • Should 1 of the 2 parts fail, it could have a knock-on effect on the other.
  • Price
    • Not actually always cheaper than buying 2 separate items.

I need a water flosser - Waterpik vs Sonicare

If it is a water flosser that you want, you can ultimately choose between either brand, but I suggest opting for a Waterpik flosser.

Philips have their range of power flossers, which includes 4 countertop and 1 cordless unit.

It is the countertop power flosser 3000 that is my top choice within the Sonicare range and the Aquarius within the Waterpik lineup.

Having tested both, I have compared the power flosser 3000 to the Aquarius, and all things considered, the Waterpik is the model to opt for.

That said, there isn't a significant difference between them and both are very good with clinical evidence backing each as well as the American Dental Associations Seal of Acceptance.

It is more important to just pick one and use it than worry too much about which one is the absolute best.

I need an electric toothbrush - Waterpik vs Sonicare

Whilst Sonicare is actually better known for their electric toothbrushes, with a much more comprehensive range, Waterpik are not as behind as one might imagine.

Waterpik sonic toothbrushes exist, in fact, they are often sold as a package containing an electric toothbrush and water flosser.  You will find them labeled as Waterpik Complete Care units.

Of all the features we have seen and experienced on electric toothbrushes, we rank them into high, medium and low priority.

Despite not being best known for toothbrushes, the Waterpik sonic toothbrushes have those high priority features built-in.

When comparing a Waterpik sonic toothbrush vs Sonicare, Sonicare still ultimately wins.

I do believe overall Sonicare brushes are better from a design, clean, innovation and general experience point of view.  They include more of the features users desire of a product, but the Waterpik electric toothbrushes are still very good.

4100 Series in hand

My primary choice for a Sonicare brush is the 4100 Series.  It is a fantastic example of what is available today, without the need to spend all that much money.

Both brands offer built-in timers and pacers that encourage a 2 minute clean, as well as doing a good job of cleaning the teeth and gumline.

In each case, they rely on the physical contact of the bristles to clean the teeth and gums as well as a non-contact approach that uses the sonic technology to disrupt plaque beyond the tips of the bristles.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 21

Both firms have undertaken extensive research to show how effective their products are.

Waterpik, in particular, have been shown in one study to remove 80% of biofilm without the use of physical contact, compared to the 62% of Sonicare.  Another study suggested a 52% improvement in plaque removal over Sonicare FlexCare brushes.

However, there is little evidence that conclusively shows 1 brand should be used over another.  More could be done, as the studies often look at specifics that cannot necessarily be applied to all brush models with their range.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 22

Despite evidence in favor of Waterpik, I do believe ultimately that Sonicare’s focus on electric toothbrushes gives them an advantage in the brushing department that Waterpik have in the water flosser market.

Sonicare bring small touches and enhancements to their models that add to the overall user experience that a Waterpik sonic toothbrush cannot match to the same degree at this time.

I need both

If you need or want both an electric toothbrush and a water flosser, then you could buy the previously mentioned Complete Care unit from Waterpik, as this solution pretty much combines water flosser and toothbrush.

However, if you are happy to buy and own 2 completely separate items you have the best choices and options available to you.

You can purchase each as separate items, from either brand.

By buying separates, you have the advantage of getting the best from each product category.

Our electric toothbrush buyer's guide and water flosser buyer's guide will surely be of interest to you.

Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 23

The Sonicare 4100 Series electric toothbrush and the Waterpik Aquarius water flosser would be 2 fantastic choices.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Philips Sonicare 4100 Series
Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2 Waterpik vs Sonicare toothbrush: how do they compare? 2

Waterpik Sonic-Fusion - a toothbrush & waterpik in one device

For those that wish to be on the cutting edge of innovation, the new Sonic-Fusion flossing toothbrush from Waterpik combines both into just 1 product.

Unlike the Complete Care units, the Sonic-Fusion is the actual combination of water flosser and electric toothbrush.

Rather than 2 separate handles, the water is fed into and up the brush handle of the Sonic-Fusion, before being pumped out of a small nozzle situated amongst bristles of what otherwise looks like a conventional toothbrush head.

Innovative it is, I have to award Waterpik points for trying something new.  However, what sounds like a great idea, in reality, isn’t. The daily use and performance is inferior to the use of 2 separate items.

If you really do want one of these, the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion is the best one you can buy, but as per the advice throughout this article, I would recommending getting two separate products.

Waterpik Sonic-Fusion on table
We found the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0 to be disappointing during our testing.

Waterpik Sonic-Fusion vs Sonicare

A number of site visitors have asked what is the Sonic-Fusion like in comparison to the Sonicare range of electric toothbrushes.

The way in which the brush head moves is the biggest similarity between these products.  It uses the same cleaning technique, which isn’t all that bad, but this is where the similarity ends.

My hands-on review of the Sonic-Fusion 2.0 goes into more detail, but in reality, there is no competition.

I actually conclude, that rather than buying the Sonic-Fusion, you are better off purchasing a Sonicare 4100 Series electric toothbrush, alongside a Waterpik water flosser, as together these are a cheaper and better combination for your dental health than the Sonic-Fusion.

Whilst the Sonic-Fusion works as a toothbrush and works as a water flosser, it falls short of the alternative choices, hence my feeling towards this product.

Author: Jon Love

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Leave a comment

Vida Gaigalas
March 31, 2023

I've used the Phillips Sonicare cordless water flosser but find the battery dies after about 18 months of daily use. It works well until one day you try to charge it up and all the lights flash continuously with no power for flossing after a lengthy time on the charger. The battery unit is dead kaput gone smacked out. I have had an exchange for a replacement at my local retailer where I purchased the flosser and over similar period of time the replacement has ended with the same fate. Will I replace it with another one or will I try another brand?

Jon Love - Chief tester
March 31, 2023

Thanks for sharing your experience, this sounds rather unfortunate to have 2 fail the same way in a similar time period. I think the product you had/were using is the Sonicare AirFloss which is now replaced with a different product (Power Flosser 3000), so I don't think you will be able to buy that again.

March 31, 2023

Hi Jon ..the product I was referring to was a water flosser not an air flosser

Jon Love - Chief tester
March 31, 2023

What's the model of water flosser you have been using from Philips please? I wasn't aware they made such until their Power Flosser range of devices that launched last year.

Eddie Walker
December 11, 2022

My waterpick sonic toothbrush has worn out, and have been looking at buying a sonicare toothbrush as a replacement. I always assumed that the waterpick sonic toothbrushes were simply rebranded sonicare toothbrushes, since the brush heads are exactly the same as far as interchangeability, and also because they function exactly the same, with the 2 speeds, and the exact same timing duration, and the exact same method, of timing with a slight pause to indicate time to move to the next zone while brushing. I mean if you are going to have a separate factory manufacturing sonic toothbrushes, why would you not have your own proprietary brush head design....etc, to differentiate your product from your biggest competitor. Of course it only makes sense for waterpick to not publicize it, but I do think that waterpick sonic toothbrushes are in fact sonicare toothbrushes, just with slightly different cases, buttons, colors...

James Sinnott
August 20, 2022

I have both the Philips Sonicare toothbrush and the Aquarius waterpik. Recently got the Waterpik toothbrush combo. I find the water pick just as good as the stand-alone water pick but not a big fan of the toothbrush. Doesn't seam to be as effective and and the buttons are not well positioned as I'm always turning it off or changing the settings while using.

Ed Miller
May 10, 2022

Thanks Jon for the detailed and well-worded advice on electric toothbrushes and water flossers. Its good that people have the benefit of someone who spends a lot of time on the issue of clean teeth and gums, and shares their experience and advice!

December 9, 2021

Hi Jon, Thanks for the info on the sonic fusion, I'm no longer tempted! I've got a really old Sonicare and have used the Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser for years. Q1- I just replaced my old Waterpik cordless and my wife's, both of them seem to have a much less powerful water jet then the old units. I'm worried about my teeth with the two new units. Are there better flosser units? Q2 - I've got a really old Sonicare, are any of the newer ones better than the older units. Q-3 - I noticed you liked the Sonicare 4100 but now there is a 7700 claiming 10X more plaque removal vs. 7X for the 4100. Your thoughts?

January 13, 2022

Hi Jon! thanks for the replies. for question 1: yes, I replaced cordless advanced for cordless advanced. Hence my puzzlement at not having similar power. Perhaps the power is similar but there is poor quality control on the diameter of the spray head... A bigger diameter would also result in lower pressure. Something changed, guess I'll get used to it. :-) Your replies to Q2 and Q3 make perfect sense. Thanks for saving me from replacing prematurely!

Jon Love - Chief tester
December 10, 2021

Hi Steve. Q1 - Clarify for me please. You have replaced the Waterpik Cordless Advanced with 2 new Cordless Advanced models? Power isn't everything when it comes to the cleaning. But if you have replaced like for like the power should be similar. Q2 - Define better?! Most expect newer models to clean better. Potentially the newer models are 'better' but more than likely the motor power is the same and in reality, if your old brush is working, stick with it. Proving a newer model is beneficial is quite difficult. You will be still benefiting from the sonic cleaning action on the older model. Your brushing time, frequency (2 times a day) and the brushing technique will play a more important role. Q3 - If I may be so to the point as to say the 7x vs 10x are all marketing claims and sound impressive to sell the products. They are based on fact. But different claims can be made based on studies with different brush heads used in those studies normally. These studies compare the Sonicare brushes to a manual brush normally, hence the impressive results. Compare 4100 to 7700 and it would likely be a different story. Fundamentally they use the same brush motor so they are essentially identical. Using different brush heads can have a bearing but we are talking about very small differences in the scheme of things. Again, brushing technique and brushing time play a bigger role. I hope that helps.

December 9, 2021

A little late to the part but I support your assessment of the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion wholeheartedly. I had a sonicare toothbrush and waterpik flosser separately. The Sonic-Fusion went on sale so I bought it thinking it would be a nice combo. But the clean achieved from the Sonic-Fusion is noticeably worse from the sonicare brush on its own. I cant speak for other Waterpik toothbrushes but the combo just seems to miss the mark for some reason.

Jon Love - Chief tester
December 10, 2021

Never too late to share your experience Corey. Thanks for doing this. I have just reviewed the newer Sonic-Fusion, the 2.0. I actually find the brushing experience/clean to be quite good. The problem I have is with the water flossing element. Still a good concept but it just doesn't work well as a combo in my opinion.

November 11, 2020

I bought a Waterpik complete care. When the toothbrush battery needs replacement it is a nightmare. The batteries need to soldered in and the metal used does not accept any solder that I have. It sat for months then got thrown out. Why make such a product? The sprayer is also a POS requiring repair too often, but I keep it running.

August 17, 2020

can i use a sonicare rechargeable in my waterpik complete care system? will the waterpik recharging base also fit sonicare?

Jon Love - Chief tester
August 18, 2020

Good question. Honestly, I have not actually tested this. There is a high possibility it might subject to which Sonicare toothbrush you have and which waterpik complete care system you have. The brushes all charge wirelessly, but the fit of the handle onto the base is going to be the issue. I could not give any guarantee.

Ardi Lyn
July 20, 2020

I recently received the Fusion as a gift. I've been wanting for a long time but the price was prohibitive. I totally agree with this article and wish I'd read it prior. The main issue as I see it, is pressure. I've used both Water Pick and Sonic Care before and the Fusion lacks in pressure on both sides. I still need flossing and use my old Sonic Care once a day. I truly wish I could exchange for the Complete Care but that is no longer a possibility.

paul woodward
February 25, 2020

Machell Gustafson left the 2018 comment about WaterPik Sonic toothbrush. Or was it the Oscillating version?

Jon Love - Chief tester
February 26, 2020

I believe it was a Sonic toothbrush Paul.

paul woodward
February 25, 2020

Jon, Your analysis of WaterPik vs Sonicate was extraordinarily helpful and so very well written! I agree with Michael Gufstaton's 2018 comment that the WaterPik Sonic toothbrush does make teeth feel cleaner than Sonicate when analysisng with tongue touch. As you said they are both better than a manual toothbrush. How about your thoughts on the Complete care WaterPik 9.5 which is a oscillating head;. not Sonic? Paul in Napa

Jon Love - Chief tester
February 26, 2020

Thanks for the kind words Paul. The Complete Care 9.5 from Waterpik with the oscillating head is a good product, a lot to like about it. Whether you prefer sonic or oscillating really then ends up coming down to personal preference.

Barbara Luria
March 6, 2019

Is it best to use water flosser (irrigator) with a brush on the head or just use it without the brush?

Jon Love - Chief tester
March 7, 2019

Hi Barbra, In most instances, people will use it with the classic jet tip, rather than the toothbrush head. However, personal needs and desires do come into play.

Machell Gustafson
July 7, 2018

Hey Jon—happy weekend! I’ve been using a Waterpik combination of flosser and sonic toothbrush for probably three years now. I decided to buy this unit because I went to my dentist for a regular cleaning and checkup, and the hygienist told me she needed to do a deep periodontal cleaning, which would take three or four sessions, and most of which my dental insurance wouldn’t cover. So I went home and began researching this whole Periodontal thing. Although I was in my mid 50s then, I hadn’t had an actual cavity since third grade. I read accounts from others who had been told this, and that even their small children had been told that they needed this periodontal cleaning. I also read that dental hygienists get paid extra for up-selling this particular procedure. I have no way of knowing if there’s any truth to this. But I did acknowledge that I was not then a regular flosser, and even though I brush my teeth religiously twice each day, the lack of regular flossing was obviously not enough. So I bought my Waterpik combo, which consisted of a water flosser and a sonic toothbrush. I used both religiously for three months, then made an appointment with another dentist for my checkup and cleaning. One of the first things the dental hygienist said after looking at my teeth: “I wish everybody I see took as great of care of their teeth as you do.” And of course there were no cavities, etc. So as the years have gone by, while I have never stopped using the Waterpik flosser, I have bought individual Philips Sonicare brushes. My opinion is that they are okay, but I never felt they got my teeth as clean (as I rub my tongue over the top and inside my teeth) as my Waterpik sonic toothbrush. Thanks for listening and reading. I hope that simeone out there finds this helpful.@

Jon Love - Chief tester
July 7, 2018

Hi Machell, Thanks for such a helpful comment. High five from me on getting the clean bill of health on your teeth and gums for the last 3 years. It shows it is worth doing! It is great to hear you opinions. Everyone has different views on what cleans better or not and their experience and your comments will be of assistance to other readers I am sure.

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