Waterpik vs Sonicare Toothbrush: How Do They Compare?

Waterpik vs Sonicare - Header Image

You don’t need me to tell you the importance of taking care of your oral health, you get that from the dentist each time you visit.

Seeing as you have arrived at this article, you must have some interest in understanding whether well known healthcare brand Sonicare or Waterpik is right for you.

This is a common query and ultimately you are probably looking for a clear answer to the question of which is best?

Sadly, there isn’t a entirely simple answer.

If I had to make a decision, in most instances I would suggest you buy a Sonicare electric toothbrush and a Waterpik water flosser. The two we recommend the most are the Sonicare EasyClean and the Waterpik WP-660UK:

Preview Product Rating Price
Philips Sonicare EasyClean Electric Toothbrush with Pro-Results Brush Head - HX6511/50 (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) Philips Sonicare EasyClean Electric Toothbrush with Pro-Results Brush Head - HX6511/50 (UK 2-Pin... 2,554 Reviews £34.59 £33.49
Waterpik WP-660UK Ultra Professional Water Flosser, White Edition (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) Waterpik WP-660UK Ultra Professional Water Flosser, White Edition (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) 599 Reviews £79.99 £73.02

But, there is a bit more to it than this.  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?

These 2 healthcare companies might be well known, but in some respects by their own doing they are best known for particular types of products.

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

Should you not be familiar with the term water flosser, it is a name of a type of product that is often used interchangeably with the brand name Waterpik, that is how synonymous the company is with such products.

This hygiene product pushes water (or mouthwash) into the mouth at pressure through a nozzle.

When aimed at the teeth and interdental spaces, the pressure of the water dislodges and washes away plaque, bacteria and food debris.  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 to.

However, as the products have advanced and the public as a whole continue to fail at achieving regular flossing routines, water flossers have become a modern convenience that encourages those who would otherwise avoid the task to do so.

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.

When considering which is better, it is then about understanding what it is you actually need or want first.  Are you looking to clean the tooth surfaces or get those gaps in between. Or do you have a desire to achieve both?

Perhaps you need both

Ask your dentist for advice on looking after your teeth and the first suggestion will likely be, brush twice a day for 2 minutes and floss at least once.

Such a routine requires tools for both.

A manual toothbrush and string floss certainly do the job, but the electrically powered toothbrush and water flossers could be great additions to that routine.

There are many pros (listed shortly) as well as clinical evidence to support how effective they are.  Those who know they have a poor oral health care routine already, with irregular cleaning patterns will most certainly benefit most from adopting both.

However, to make things slightly more complicated, Waterpik do make electric toothbrushes and Sonicare also produce a product called the Airfloss that aims to achieve similar results to a water flosser.

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

Water flossers have toothbrush attachments

Few things are simple in life, and the decision between a water flosser and electric toothbrush is complicated further when you learn that one of the interchangeable tips available on a water flosser is a toothbrush!

Yes, I know what you are thinking.

Water flosser brands, including Waterpik produce a number of differently styled tips that aid different users, to achieve the best results based on their dental health requirements.

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.

The toothbrush tip is not the most common inclusion and one of the least used, or so it would seem.  But, this typically round headed attachment has a large number of bristles that can sweep over the teeth and gums to dislodge and lift the more stubborn plaque and food debris.

Unlike an electric toothbrush, the bristles are not powered by a motor and rely upon the manual approach to brushing.

The reservoir capacities on water flossers do not typically allow for the traditional 2 minute brushing, complete with water jet, the water is depleted in 60-90 seconds on average.

Therefore, although the toothbrush tip exists, the way it works means it is unfair to compare or judge it in the same way you would an electric brush.

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.

The technique used with a water flosser, even with a toothbrush tip attachment is different to a regular electric toothbrush technique.  Technically there is nothing stopping you from doing just this, but it really goes against the advice that dental professionals would offer and your oral health would likely suffer as a result.

Brushing and flossing are considered 2 separate, but necessary acts and not something that can all that easily be combined or replaced by just using 1 of these 2 tools.

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.
  • Relatively low lifetime cost

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

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.

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.

I need a water flosser – Waterpik vs Sonicare

Should you have decided based on the information above and your prior knowledge that a water flosser is for you, then both these 2 brands have something on offer.

You could do a lot worse than reading our comprehensive article, Waterpik vs Airfloss, that compares, complete with clinical data the difference between the 2.

Waterpik is ultimately the best option, the clinical evidence favours their approach, but day to day convenience of the Sonicare approach is hard to beat.

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.

A good choice for a Sonicare brush is the EasyClean HX6511/50.  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.

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.

Despite some studies having been conducted, more are needed to suggest whether 1 brand is ultimate better than another.  Given that most studies look in detail at 1 specific aspect of tooth cleaning, or 1 specific brush model, it is unlikely to ever come about.

Both do offer benefits over manual brushing.

Personally, I believe that Sonicare’s focus on electric toothbrushes gives them an advantage in the brushing department equivalent to that of what Waterpik have in the water flosser market.

Sonicare bring small touches and enhancements to their models that add to the overall user experience that Waterpik have chosen not to challenge at this time.

I need both

If you need or want both an electric toothbrush and a water flosser, then you have a great deal of choice.

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 list of best electric toothbrushes and best water flossers will surely be of interest to you.

The Sonicare EasyClean HX6511/50 electric toothbrush and the Waterpik Ultra Professional water flosser would be 2 fantastic choices.

Preview Product Rating Price
Philips Sonicare EasyClean Electric Toothbrush with Pro-Results Brush Head - HX6511/50 (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) Philips Sonicare EasyClean Electric Toothbrush with Pro-Results Brush Head - HX6511/50 (UK 2-Pin... 2,554 Reviews £34.59 £33.49
Waterpik WP-660UK Ultra Professional Water Flosser, White Edition (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) Waterpik WP-660UK Ultra Professional Water Flosser, White Edition (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) 599 Reviews £79.99 £73.02

You could opt to go for the same brand, and perhaps take advantage of the Waterpik’s ‘Complete Care’ range of products that offer an electric toothbrush and water flosser in a more cost effective package, the WP-9.5 is one such option.

Yet to be made available in the UK, but likely to arrive soon, is Waterpiks newest innovation that really does look to combine the 2 types of products into 1.

The new Sonic-Fusion flossing toothbrush from Waterpik, innovatively combines both into just 1 product. Sadly, the concept is better than the execution.

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.

Jon Love

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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