Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare?

Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare?

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:

Preview Product Rating Price
Philips Sonicare HX6810/50 ProtectiveClean 4100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Black Philips Sonicare HX6810/50 ProtectiveClean 4100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Black 10,950 Reviews $39.94 $36.75
Waterpik Water Flosser Electric Dental Countertop Professional Oral Irrigator For Teeth, Aquarius, WP-660 White Waterpik Water Flosser Electric Dental Countertop Professional Oral Irrigator For Teeth, Aquarius,... 28,315 Reviews $69.99 $66.49

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? 1

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.

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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? 3

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 produce a product called the Airfloss that aims to achieve similar results to a water flosser.

Waterpik even make products that contain a water flosser and electric toothbrush.  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.

Complete Care units – a toothbrush & water flosser combo

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

Although they essentially act independently (you use one at a time), the toothbrush tends to dock and charge on the base of the water flosser.

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 (view on Amazon).

Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare? 4

If I had to pick one as the best electric toothbrush and water flosser combo, it would be the Complete Care 9.5 (view on Amazon).  It has a smart design, with 10 pressure settings, a decent water tank size and you have a small round brush head on the toothbrush.

It should be noted that Waterpik also manufactures the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion which literally does combine toothbrush and water flosser into 1 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? 5

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.

Water flosser 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.

Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare? 6

Electric toothbrush pros and cons

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

Pros

  • 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? 7

Cons

  • 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? 8

Water flosser pros and cons

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

Pros

  • 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? 9

Cons

  • 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? 10

Water flosser and electric toothbrush combo 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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • Choice
    • Limited options.
  • Quality/performance
    • The combo offering doesn’t necessarily offer you the best toothbrush or the best water flosser.
  • 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, you are likely going to want to pick Waterpik.

A true Sonicare water flosser does not exist, but the Sonicare Airfloss does, this is similar, yet different to a traditional water flosser.

It is best to read our article Waterpik vs Airfloss.  It goes into great detail and compares the options and features you have available and which is better suited to you. You will find in the article, plenty of clinical data in that article too.

Ultimately, the evidence stacks up in favor of Waterpik from a clinical clean and efficiency point of view.  However, the Sonicare Airfloss is a much more convenient everyday tool to use.

Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare? 11

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.

Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare? 12

My primary choice for a Sonicare brush is the ProtectiveClean 4100.  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? 13

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 69% of Sonicare.  Another study suggested a 29% 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? 14

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? 15

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

Preview Product Rating Price
Philips Sonicare HX6810/50 ProtectiveClean 4100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Black Philips Sonicare HX6810/50 ProtectiveClean 4100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Black 10,950 Reviews $39.94 $36.75
Waterpik Water Flosser Electric Dental Countertop Professional Oral Irrigator For Teeth, Aquarius, WP-660 White Waterpik Water Flosser Electric Dental Countertop Professional Oral Irrigator For Teeth, Aquarius,... 28,315 Reviews $69.99 $66.49

Waterpik Sonic-Fusion – A toothbrush & water flosser combined

For those that wish to be on the cutting edge of innovation, the new Sonic-Fusion flossing toothbrush from Waterpik innovatively 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.

Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare? 16

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 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 ProtectiveClean 4100 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.

Your comments

Have you or do you use either of these brands?

If you have something you want to add to the discussion that can help others, or maybe you have a question I have not answered, please comment below.

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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9 thoughts on “Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare?”

  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. 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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  3. 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 [email protected]

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
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