Regular toothbrushes have a problem: they can’t fit between the gaps between your teeth. Unfortunately, bacteria can, meaning that most people usually wind up with a thick layer of tartar and plaque between each tooth - not good. 

Lots of plaque sitting between your teeth unmolested for years on end is a recipe for disaster. The plaque-producing bacteria slowly break down the outer layer of your teeth, leading to infections. They can burrow into the gum, putting you at risk of further tooth decay and periodontal disease. 

If you wanted to clean these areas of the mouth in the past, you’d have to go to the dentist. They’d use a series of devices that blast high-pressure cleaning fluid into the gaps between your teeth, removing the plaque. Sometimes, they go as far as using metal bladed floss strips if the buildup is nasty, manually scraping out the gunk between your teeth. 

Fortunately, a couple of manufacturers - Philips and Waterpik - now make a couple of non-invasive devices designed to remove interdental plaque that you can use at home. Typically, these devices have a pick-like head and either shoot out water or air mixed with mouthwash at the gaps between your teeth. The high-pressure liquid scoops out the plaque, leading to a much better clean than you could achieve with regular brushing alone. Furthermore, the brands behind these products claim that using their devices is more effective than daily flossing - the most common technique people use to get at those hard-to-reach areas between their teeth. 

In this review, we’re going to take a look at the similarities and differences between the Philips Sonicare AirFloss and the Waterpik Cordless Water Flosser. By the end of it, you should have a pretty good idea of the features you need and, therefore, which product you should choose. 

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What features do the Airfloss and Waterpik have? 

Both the AirFloss by Philips and the Cordless Water Flosser by Waterpik come with a range of features. 

The Philips Sonicare AirFloss offers the following:

  • 30-second clean. Philips claims that its product takes just 30 seconds to clean your entire mouth. All you need to do is press the button for a bust of cleaning action, and it’ll shoot out the air-liquid mix, removing plaque from between your teeth. 
  • Auto-burst. You can also set the device to “auto-burst” where it’ll shoot every second. 
  • Quick fill. Filling the device with water or mouthwash takes just ten seconds. 
  • Microdroplet technology. The AirFloss combines liquid with high-pressure air for the most effective cleaning action. 

The Waterpik offers a range of features too:

  • 360-degree tip rotation. This feature makes it much easier to reach the gaps between teeth at the back of the mouth. 
  • Safe on dental implants and orthodontics. You can use Waterpik with any dental prosthetics you might have, such as implants, crowns, and veneers. 
  • Waterproof. You can use the Waterpik in the shower. 
  • Quiet design. The Waterpik Flosser offers near-silent operation
  • A range of intensity options. Users can choose between high, medium, and low settings, depending on their preferences. 

Airfloss or Waterpik?

Let’s take an in-depth look at both the Philips Sonicare AirFloss and Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser in more detail.

Philips Sonicare AirFloss

When Philips was designing the Sonicare AirFloss, it is clear that they had one thing in mind: to make a flossing product that was more convenient than regular floss. And to a certain extent, the company has achieved its goals. It is much easier to press a button and shoot high-pressure fluid from a nozzle between your teeth than it is to floss manually, that’s for sure. 

But the Sonicare AirFloss offers a heck of a lot more than just flossing. Regular flossing with string is remarkably ineffective at removing plaque, despite protestations by many oral hygiene professionals to the contrary. This new system, however, does a much better job, actually forcing plaque off the surface of the teeth, just as a dentist would using professional equipment. 

Philips knows that one of the reasons people don’t floss more often is because it is a hassle. You first have to open the floss container, unwind a bit of string, cut it to the right length, and then drag it between the gaps in your teeth. The Sonicare AirFloss, but contrast, just requires you to press a button and job done. You can usually blast all the gaps between your teeth in around thirty seconds to a minute if you go about it efficiently. 

The only downside is that you’ll occasionally need to refill the reservoir, but whether you decide to use water or mouthwash, this is easy. Overall, therefore, Philips has reached its goal to make flossing more convenient. 

Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser

The Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser uses a slightly different strategy than Philips. Instead of blasting your teeth with a jet of air interspersed with droplets of liquid, it uses a more conventional, 100 percent water approach - much like a dentist. The water shoots out at high pressure into the gaps between the teeth, removing plaque and superficial stains. 

The Waterpik is an impressive product in many ways, not least the list of approvals that it has from industry-recognized bodies. For instance, it is the first product in its class to be accepted by the American Dental Association - something which is bound to provide most buyers with confidence and peace of mind. 

As far as convenience goes, the Waterpik is not quite on the level of the Sonicare AirFloss because it doesn’t have an automatic timer. But other than that, it offers a vast number of features that regular users will find helpful. One of the most important is the 360-degree tip rotation that provides the water jets with easy access to all parts of your mouth. The tool is also safe for use with braces and gives wearers the ability to scoop out plaque and food particles that tend to get stuck around the wires and posts.

The final thing to love about this product is the fact that it is waterproof - something we will discuss in more detail below. You can take it in the shower and upgrade the convenience of your morning routine, making this a compelling product overall.

Airfloss & Waterpik Comparison

Which battery lasts longer: Airfloss vs. Waterpik?

When choosing any flossing device, battery life is an important consideration. Fortunately, it is not as much of an issue as it used to be since both the AirFloss and Waterpik come with charging stands. 

As you might expect, Philips chose to opt for a lithium-ion battery for its flossing device, just as it does for its other handheld electronic products. For those of you who don’t know, lithium-ion batteries offer the highest energy density of any battery technology currently widely commercially available. It means that manufacturers, like Philips, can reduce the bulk of their products while offering a decent battery life. Lithium-ion provides the best combination of longevity, durability, energy density, and rechargeability of any technology currently on the market, making it extremely compelling. 

Waterpik decided to go with another battery technology for their device: nickel-metal hydride. Interestingly, nickel-metal hydride batteries have around the same capacity to store energy as lithium-ion per unit density. Still, they can’t discharge as rapidly, meaning that they must provide their power more slowly. 

In many ways, therefore, this works in the Waterpik’s favor. The device provides high-power cleaning action between 45 and 75 PSI but doesn’t necessarily drain the battery.

In general, therefore, the batteries of these two devices last about the same length of time - around 30 minutes of continual use. In practice, however, you’re not going to notice because you will charge your flosser at the end of each session (unless you’re away from the mains). The Waterpik, however, offers additional battery-related features, such as a short 4-hour charge, and an LED battery indicator which tells you when the cell is running low on energy. 

Which one is more durable: Airfloss vs. Waterpik?

As a rule of thumb, flossers tend to be highly durable devices, since they never rub against your teeth. You just place the nozzle in the gap and spray. 

With that said, there are differences in how long you can expect the AirFloss and Waterpik to last. 

Let’s deal with the battery issue first. Lithium-ion batteries tend to survive more cycles than their nickel-metal hydride companions, meaning that the Philips has the edge here. You’ll be able to recharge this many more times than the Waterpik overall. 

With that said, the Waterpik may not need to be recharged as often, so in practice, this might not affect the overall longevity of the device. 

There’s no doubt that the build quality of the Waterpik is more robust than the Philips. The waterproof casing will prevent any water damage to the sensitive internals of the unit, ensuring that it continues to perform for many years to come. It’s also trusted by the ADA and has their seal of approval, partly thanks to the quality of construction. It is more akin to the type of device that you’d find in a professional dental clinic than something built for consumers for occasional home use. 

Both devices come with travel cases. Waterpik supplies one as standard, while Philips asks you to buy it separately. Both are also quite bulky, meaning that you’ll need to grasp them firmly to use them. 

As for the heads, all of these are interchangeable. Waterpik offers a range of replaceable heads with different nozzle shapes depending on the size of the gaps between your teeth. 

Which one is better for braces?

People who wear braces are at a much higher risk of plaque buildup and decay than those who don’t. The reason for this has to do with all the tiny crevices that braces create. Food particles can become trapped around the wires and posts, giving bacteria a chance to build up and start causing tooth decay. Dentists, therefore, often advise people who have braces to brush thoroughly, floss, and have more regular checkups than usual. 

For those with braces, devices such as the Sonicare AirFloss and the Waterpik Cordless Water Flosser are a godsend. They allow brace wearers to quickly remove gunk trapped in their braces before it has a chance to cause oral health problems. 

The two devices reviewed here, however, differ remarkably in their effectiveness. The Waterpik uses a water stream that jets out at between 45 and 75 PSI - enough to dislodge even the stickiest of foods from braces. By contrast, the AirFloss uses air mixed with a little fluid and doesn’t quite pack the same punch. 

In our view, the Waterpik is the better product for braces. The weight of the water as it shoots out of the Waterpik’s nozzle forces food debris away from the brace in a way that the Philips cannot. 

That’s not to say that the Philips is a bad product - it’s just not designed for this purpose. Its role is to get rid of plaque between the teeth and maintain good oral hygiene, not help people with orthodontic devices keep them clean. 

Besides power, the second advantage of the Waterpik is the 360-degree rotatable nozzle. This feature makes cleaning braces far more manageable than with flossers than don’t offer flexible heads. 


So what’s the verdict? Which is the better device? 

While Philips offers convenience with its auto-burst technology, the Waterpik is arguably the higher-quality device, and better for the majority of people. The extremely high-pressure water jets mean that it offers superior cleaning action, both between teeth and under braces. Furthermore, it provides a range of settings that allow you to adjust the power. Add to that the fact that the ADA approves it, and you have a very compelling product on your hands. 

The Sonicare AirFloss, however, doesn’t fall completely flat. If you choose it, you’ll like its simplicity and the fact that you don’t have to refill the reservoir very often. You’ll also benefit from quality customer support of a well-known major global brand.