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Medically Reviewed
Published: 26 May 2024

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024

Author: Jon Love (4 Comments)
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS
4 different Oral-B brush heads

Non-iO models

Best all-round: CrossAction / Amazon / ~$28

Best for a gentler clean: Sensi UltraThin / Amazon / ~$25.95

iO models

Best all-round: iO Ultimate Clean / Amazon, Shaver Shop / ~$59

Best for a gentler clean: iO Gentle Clean / Amazon, Shaver Shop / ~$59.96

Why we picked them

Our team have been using Oral-B brushes for years and regularly repeat tests as we review new Oral-B toothbrushes.

Having tried all of the Oral-B brush heads we have found that the angled and medium firmness bristles of the CrossAction head provide the most invigorating, deep clean of the teeth and gums.

In our testing and daily use we have seen and felt that this head cleans more effectively than other brush heads on offer.

That being said, we've found there isn't that much difference between the various heads. The most important thing is to make sure you are using the correct brushing technique.

Oral-B CrossAction Brush Heads – 4pk – White
Oral-B CrossAction Brush Heads – 4pk – White
Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 1
We've found that the CrossAction head (pictured) provides a slightly more invigorating clean than other brush heads

The Sensit UltraThin (also known as the Sensitive Clean) is our other top recommendation. Although we haven't quite achieved the same deep clean feeling as with the CrossAction head, we've found that the Sensitive Clean still does a good job of removing plaque. The soft, ultrafine bristles are more gentle on the teeth. It feels less aggressive and is more enjoyable to use on tender, inflamed and bleeding gums. It is a must-pick for those with gum recession and tooth sensitivity.

These heads are compatible with Oral-B's Vitality, Pro, Smart and Genius brush handles, but not the iO range.

Oral-B Sensitive Brush Heads – 5pk – White
Oral-B Sensitive Brush Heads – 5pk – White

iO handles have their own range of brush heads that fit and work with iO handles only.

The Ultimate Clean and Gentle Care brush heads are the iO specific equivalents.

They look a little different, but there are many similarities, like angled bristles on the Ultimate Clean, as per the CrossAction head.

Oral-B iO Ultimate Clean Brush Heads – 4pk – White
Oral-B iO Ultimate Clean Brush Heads – 4pk – White
Oral-B iO Gentle Care Brush Heads – 4pk – White
Oral-B iO Gentle Care Brush Heads – 4pk – White

Key things to know

Your brushing time and technique are more important than the brush head you choose
It's not worth agonising over which brush head to use - pick one and begin brushing
No one brush head is going to provide signficantly better results
They are safe to use on crowns, veneers, bridges and implants
Buying larger pack sizes will typically save you money
All heads are available with a white plastic body, but only select heads are available in black
The coloured ring or symbol (iO heads) helps you to identify whose brush head is whose
Each head is designed to last for 3 months on average
Most heads have colour changing bristles to act as a reminder to change the head
iO handles remind you to change the head via a light on the handle or a message on the screen

Video explanation

In this video we explain what each brush head does and why we picked our top recommendations.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 2

FlossAction vs CrossAction vs Precision Clean

Assuming you're shopping for a non-iO brush, and unless you’re looking at one of Oral-B's specialised heads, these are likely the three brush heads you’re choosing between. 

Technically speaking, there is very little difference between them. They achieve the same thing: good plaque removal. The FlossAction head is more oval than the rounded CrossAction and Precision Clean. 

In our testing, we’ve noticed very little difference. This means the decision comes down to personal preference of how the head feels when you use it. Again, for us, that is CrossAction, but it may be different for you. 

To narrow the choice, we would say choose between CrossAction and Precision Clean to begin with. Depending on which one came with your brush, you could try the other to see if you prefer it. 

Oral-B's FlossAction, CrossAction and Precision Clean brush head size by side
Note the very different bristle configuration each head has. The overall head size is pretty much identical between the CrossAction and Precision Clean, although the FlossAction has a slightly more oval design

FlossAction is designed to help remove debris from between your teeth and gums. The 4 larger paddle like bristles are supposed to be the key to its effectiveness. When we tested it, we can’t say we noticed this happening any more than it did with CrossAction and Precision Clean. The way they move makes the brushing sensation feel quite different. Even though it's designed to clean better, the FlossAction head can't replace flossing. Irrespective of the head you use, you still need to clean between the teeth with interdental tools.

The shape and angles of the bristles of the Precision Clean gives the feeling that the head cups the tooth more than the CrossAction or FlossAction.

Whether you opt for the Precision Clean or FlossAction, plaque removal is still going to be extremely good, provided you are brushing for the right time and with the correct technique.

Do the specialised heads work?

Yes, Oral-B's specialised heads can be useful for some people. In the sections below we've said a bit about our experience with two of the most popular ones – sensitive and whitening.

Sensitive heads

We have found that the sensitive heads are worth using at times when our gums have been a bit more tender.

The ultra soft bristles move over the teeth and gum surfaces with a motion that feels less abrasive than some other brush heads, reducing the sensitivity on the teeth.

Round in shape like other Oral-B heads, the bristles are arranged in thinner clusters and are reminiscent of petals of a flower. There is a slight sweeping curve to the shape of these clusters impacting for the better the overall brushing sensation and cleaning results.

Our team have found that with regular use this head helps reduce gum bleeding and inflammation of the gum tissue, restoring red and puffy gums to a healthy light pink colour.

Oral-B advises using its sensitive heads with a sensitive cleaning mode, but we've found it's not critical. Yes, it helps, but if you don't have a brush with sensitive cleaning mode, you'll still find there's a noticeable difference just from using a soft head.

Similarly, we've found that using a non-soft head with a sensitive cleaning mode can also make a big difference if our gums or teeth are feeling sensitive.

These are the soft / sensitive heads for non-iO brushes:

Oral-B Sensitive Brush Heads – 5pk – White
Oral-B Sensitive Brush Heads – 5pk – White
Oral-B Pro GumCare next to Gentle Care head
We've found that the softer bristles on Oral-B's sensitive heads do feel gentler and tender teeth and gums. The bristle configuration is different on the iO and non-io head

There is an equivalent head for the iO brush handles. Known as Gentle Care, it is similar to the Sensi UltraThin head, but the 4000 individual bristle filaments that make up the head are organized slightly differently. The bristle clusters are thicker with less curvature to the profile.

These are the soft / sensitive heads for iO brushes:

Oral-B iO Gentle Care Brush Heads – 2pk – White
Oral-B iO Gentle Care Brush Heads – 2pk – White

Whitening heads

We've found that Oral-B's whitening heads can remove some very light staining, but don't expect miracles. If your teeth have been yellow or stained for some time, don't expect this brush head to return them to a much whiter shade.

A professional cleaning or whitening service is needed to remove heavy staining. But, these heads are worth trying if you have some light staining. If you are a heavy smoker, red wine, tea or coffee drinker, using a whitening head can help to prevent stains from building up.

To enhance the effect of the whitening head it is best, although not essential, to use it with an Oral-B brush that has a whitening mode.  It can also be beneficial to use a whitening toothpaste with it too. Such pastes are usually more abrasive, helping lift the stains more quickly. But, we don't advise long term use of such as it can result in more wear of the tooth surface.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 3
The different heads for iO and non-iO handles look similar, but there are differences, most notably, the polishing cup of the 3D White head is replaced with 5 polishing petals on the Radiant White

The 3D White head, suitable for non-iO brushes has an oval-like shape to the head, rather than a perfect circle.

Oral-B 3D White Brush Heads – 2pk – White
Oral-B 3D White Brush Heads – 2pk – White

For iO brushes, Radiant White is the name of the whitening brush head.

The design differs slightly from the 3D White head, but there are notable similarities, with 5 'polishing' petals that buff the tooth surface to dislodge the microscopic particles that stain the teeth.

Oral-B iO Radiant White Brush Heads – 2pk – White
Oral-B iO Radiant White Brush Heads – 2pk – White

Other specialised brush heads

Oral-B's other specialized heads are worth considering if you have particular needs. We've included photos below so you can see what they look like in real life. For more explanation of what to use them for, see our video above.

Genuine vs generic

Manufacturer original brush heads, often known as genuine heads are, in our opinion the best, and will always be our recommendation.

However, there are a large number of generic or aftermarket options. These heads often look very similar to and perform comparably to the originals. The big advantage of these is that they are considerably cheaper.

A no-name brush head can cost as little as $2 compared to the $7 or more for a manufacturer original. Over 3 years that is a saving of $60!

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 4
Aftermarket brush head (left) next to Oral-B original (right)

Unfortunately, not all are created equal and you can end up getting what you pay for.

The cheapest Oral-B compatible heads will not have rounded tips to the bristles. We've found that this results in a sharper and harsher feeling on the teeth and gums. It can make for an unpleasant brushing experience, particularly if you have sensitive gums.

We've also found that the plastics they are made from look and feel cheap and the bristles are often stiff. We have experienced them breaking, bristles falling out and most importantly, not cleaning the teeth as well.

Paying a little more, around $3 per head has, in our testing, resulted in a better experience. In fact, many of these heads are very good and in a blindfolded test, it has proven hard to tell the difference to the manufacturer's.

iO vs non-iO brush heads

Oral-B has become well known for its small round brush heads. It's what differentiates them from the other sonic brushes.

Yet, despite the newer iO models still having round brush heads, they are a little different to the heads for non-iO models. If you have spent years using the normal round heads, the iO heads feel different in the mouth.

We've found that the size is the most notable difference. Those with small or cramped mouths will notice this most. The size difference is related to the height or depth of the head. Generally, they are about 10-15% bigger.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 5
The iO compatible Ultimate Clean head (bottom) is marginally deeper and feels larger in the mouth vs the slimmer CrossAction head (top) suitable for Vitality, Pro, Smart and Genius handles

The back of the brush head is shaped differently too, there's a larger plastic area at the back. It's smooth on the cheeks but makes the iO heads feel larger in the mouth and slightly more tricky to move about.

The brushing sensation on the teeth and gums is more gentle, irrespective of the head used. This is mainly down to the brush motor in the iO Series handles. We have noticed a less harsh or aggressive sensation when brushing. We have still gotten an invigorating deep clean feeling though.

Whilst both heads push on and pull off the attachment is different, hence iO heads are not compatible with non-iO handles.

Perhaps the biggest negative is the cost. As a general rule, iO heads cost 2x that of those replacement heads for the Vitality, Pro, Smart and Genius models.

iO heads are also harder to keep clean. See below.

Watch out for mould and grime

It's vitally important to remove the brush head after use and give it a thorough rinse to remove residual toothpaste and debris.

Leaving it exposed to airflow so the bristles can dry is extremely helpful too.

Unless you are travelling, avoid as best as possible covering the bristles as this limits their ability to dry and can encourage bacterial growth, particularly in warm environments.

It's possible for mould to form in any of the Oral-B heads, but we have found that the iO heads are particularly susceptible.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 6

Compatibility: which heads fit and work with my brush handle?

The following table shows which brush heads fit and are compatible with which brush handles.

Bursh Head StyleBrush Head ImageHandle Compatibility
CrossActionBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 7Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
FlossActionBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 8Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
Sensi UltraThin/Pro GumCareBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 9Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
3D WhiteBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 10Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
Precision CleanBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 11Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
Deep Sweep/TriZoneBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 12Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
Ortho CareBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 13Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
Interspace/Power TipBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 14Vitality, Pro, Smart & Genius
Ultimate CleanBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 15iO Series (iO3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10)
Gentle CareBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 16iO Series (iO3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10)
Radiant WhiteBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 17iO Series (iO3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10)
Targeted Clean/Specialised CleanBest Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 18iO Series (iO3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10)

How do I know when it's time to replace a head?

The general consensus amongst the dental profession is to replace a brush head every 3 months on average. Sooner, if it shows obvious signs of wear.

Using a brush head for longer can actually cause harm to the teeth because bristles can become damaged and less effective at how they sweep across the tooth surfaces, in between teeth and along the gum line.

Most Oral-B heads have fading or colour changing bristles that alert you when it is time to replace the head. You will notice the colour change over a period of 3 months, typically.

iO handles will alert you when a head replacement is due via the handle itself. There is either a yellow light on the handle or a message on the screen, subject to model.

Bluetooth enabled brushes offer the option of being reminded to replace the head via the Oral-B smartphone app.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 19

How to fit Oral-B brush heads

To replace a brush head, you pull off the existing brush head and push on the replacement. The heads will require a small amount of force to push on and pull off, they are designed to be a snug fit. We demonstrate the method in the video below.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 20

Are Oral-B brush heads interchangeable? 

Yes, Oral-B brush heads are fully interchangeable.

So whether your brush came with a CrossAction or Sensitive brush head you can easily clip on a FlossAction or 3D White head if that is your preference.

The only catch is that non-iO heads for the Vitality, Pro, Smart and Genius ranges are not compatible with iO brush heads, and vice versa.

For example, the Oral-B Pro 1000 brush handle can't make use of the iO Ultimate Clean brush head as it is not designed for a Pro Series handle. Just like the CrossAction head is not designed for the iO Series handles.

The interchangeable nature of the brush heads are explained in the following video:

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 21

Icons or coloured rings to identify whose head is whose

The brush heads compatible with the Vitality, Pro, Smart and Genius models come provided with a detachable coloured ring that fits to the base of the brush head, whereas the iO brush heads have different symbols printed onto the front of the brush head shaft.

Best Oral-B toothbrush heads 2024 22

These rings or symbols are included to help you to identify whose brush head is whose in a shared bathroom.

For example, if a couple shared a brush handle and used the same style of head, they would know whose head is whose because of the coloured ring or icon.

Author: Jon Love
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS

Leave a comment

J
Jennifer
January 8, 2023

If cross action removes 100% more plaque than a manual toothbrush wouldn't the precision head be the best choice given it removes 5x (500%) more?

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
January 9, 2023

Yes. But, these claims are generally based on different studies and don't necessarily tell us the whole picture.
I am not aware of a study that compared the Precision Clean with the CrossAction head and a manual brush to give us a deeper understanding of how they differ.
There is a reason (not sure what exactly) why the CrossAction is the default head Oral-B supplied with most brushes, compared tot eh Precision Clean.

SS
Susan Senft
June 18, 2022

How do you change an Oral B brush head, model iO.

JL
Jon Love - Chief tester
June 20, 2022

Hi Susan. You should be able to just pull it off and push a new one on. No need to twist etc.

Jon brushing large dental model of mouth
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