Our main recommendation
Our overall recommendation for the best Sonicare electric toothbrush is the ProtectiveClean 4300.
It has the essential features recommended by our in-house dentists — a pacer, a timer and a pressure sensor.
If you’re on a tight budget our recommendation is the 2100 Series.
It lacks a pressure sensor and has a shorter battery life than the 4300. But, the benefit is the much lower purchase price.
The very best Sonicare toothbrush you can buy in terms of technology is the 9900 Prestige. It is a smart (Bluetooth-enabled) sonic toothbrush.
Typically we don’t recommend smart toothbrushes because they include more features than the average person needs, which drives up the price.
We explain the Philips Sonicare range in greater detail throughout the rest of this post.
Comparison of our 3 recommendations
The table below compares the features and cost of our 3 recommendations.
We have a more detailed comparison of the full range of Oral-B brushes in our Sonicare Comparison Chart.
Dentist advice on buying an electric toothbrush
This short video featuring our in-house dentist Dr. Chhaya Chauhan runs through the key things you need to know when buying an electric toothbrush
In our best electric toothbrush post, we go into more detail about choosing a toothbrush.
That post covers the entire spectrum of electric toothbrushes, whereas this post discusses Sonicare brushes only.
In this post
Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)
Can an electric toothbrush replace a manual toothbrush?
Yes an electric can replace a manual toothbrush.
Numerous studies and reviews of the evidence base (1,2,3,4) show that electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque than a manual. They are less technique sensitive, making it easier for most people to completely remove bacteria-containing plaque, which causes both dental decay and gum disease.
That being said, a manual toothbrush is adequate if used correctly. It is just that it is very difficult to achieve this technique with a manual brush.
Can an electric toothbrush improve your oral health?
Yes, it can.
An 11 year study found that electric toothbrush usage has a long-term protective effect on oral health.
Electric toothbrushes improve gum disease and reduce the progression to more severe gum disease (periodontitis).
Overall, people who use electric toothbrushes keep more teeth in the long term.
Do dentists recommend electric toothbrushes?
Whilst not everyone needs an electric toothbrush, many will benefit from using one.
Electric toothbrushes make good plaque removal easier for you to achieve at home. They improve your technique.
I have also found that patients are more likely to clean their teeth for longer because the timers built into the brushes encourage this.
And because they are proven to remove more plaque they help keep the gums and teeth healthy.
It would seem I am not alone, with 27% of people switching to electric, based on advice from their dentist.
Is Sonicare better than Oral-B?
No, but it might not matter in the real world.
Whilst the science says the Oral-B is only slightly better than Sonicare, whether this will make much difference in the mouth is unclear. There are other factors at play in the real world, such as comfort during use, noise levels and personal preference, which all influence how well a person brushes with a certain type of brush.
Because of this, you might not want to discount Sonicare and should look into these brushes if you do not like using electric toothbrushes that use oscillating-rotating technology, like Oral-B.
In reality, more research is needed. Our Sonicare vs Oral-B article explores this in more detail.
Useful things to know before buying
Below are the three main bits of advice we would give to someone considering a new electric toothbrush.
1. You don’t need to buy an expensive toothbrush
Spending more on a toothbrush doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting a better product. Often you are paying for extra features and functions you will not use. An expensive toothbrush does not clean the teeth better. Many of the best electric toothbrushes come in at under $90.
2. Smart toothbrushes are generally not worth it
They can help to encourage better technique and habit formation, but they are not more effective at cleaning your teeth.
3. Routine and technique are important
Your toothbrushing technique and routine have more impact on your oral health than the toothbrush itself. It’s no use having the best electric toothbrush if you don’t use it properly.
What to look for in an electric toothbrush
Toothbrushes can come with all manner of features at different prices.
From our testing, the most essential features to look for in an electric toothbrush are:
2 minute timer
A timer helps to ensure that you brush your teeth for 2 minutes each time, which is recommended by dentist and governing bodies around the world.
A pacer helps you to spread your brushing time evenly across all parts of the mouth.
Frequently brushing too hard will severely damage your teeth. A pressure sensor alerts you when you are brushing too hard so you can adjust your technique.
How we chose
Our selection process
Our team is made up of dental professionals and experienced product testers. We specialise in oral health and abide by a strong code of ethics.
We buy and test every product we recommend. In most instances, we have detailed written and video reviews for each product.
We consult the clinical evidence, the feedback from consumers and industry leaders.
Together, we ensure our recommendations include only the very best choices.
We regularly review our recommendations based on newly released products and clinical evidence.
Best Sonicare toothbrush 2023 — our recommendations
In the sections below we go into detail about the brushes we have tested and explain our recommendations.
Dr. Gemma Wheeler answers common pre-purchase questions and explains the evidence for electric toothbrushes.
If none of the brushes below fit your needs, or if you’re looking to compare specific brushes, you can find more advice in our Sonicare Toothbrush Comparison.
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 / Plaque Defence
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
The 4300 from Sonicare is an all round excellent electric toothbrush. It is also referred to as the Plaque Defence, but they are the same brush.
It has the 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer (or SmarTimer as Philips call it). It also has a pressure sensor.
These are features our in-house dentists like to see included in an electric toothbrush. With the 4300 the pressure sensor isn’t visible, but it does instead generate an unmissable vibration pattern through the handle to alert you.
The sonic cleaning action provided by the 4300 is clinically proven. You get 62,000 bristle movements per minute for a deep and thorough clean of the teeth.
Just 1 cleaning mode is available on the 4300, but that is all that most users need. It means that the brush is simple to use.
The timer and pacer function during the cleaning cycle and it will automatically power off after 2 minutes of use.
Although advertised with a 2 week battery life, our own hands on testing achieved around 5 weeks of use on a single charge.
The ProtectiveClean 4300 is available in a number of different colour options and has a premium look to the handle.
It doesn’t have many raised gripping points like some other brushes, but the matt finish is more secure in the hand than you might expect. The design also makes the brush easy to keep clean.
For those who forget to replace their brush head as regularly as they should, the 4300 has BrushSync technology. Using an RFID chip built into the brush head, the handle tracks its usage. When the appropriate replacement time arrives, an LED is lit on the handle to alert you.
What we like
- Simple to use — 1 cleaning mode
- Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
- Pressure sensor — alerts you when brushing too hard
- BrushSync technology – reminder when brush heads need replacing
- Long battery life between charges
What we dislike
- BrushSync technology is clever but not essential, and the heads are more polluting because they contain microchips
Best top of the range
Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
Toothbrushes don’t come much more capable than the 9900 Prestige.
It offers far more than anyone needs to be able to brush their teeth, but it is without doubt the best smart toothbrush on the market today.
It includes a visible pressure sensor, which alerts you if you brush too hard. The timer and pacer help you to brush your teeth evenly, and for the correct amount of time.
There is even an optional scrubbing sensor to warn you if you are moving the brush head too much.
The Prestige is a smart toothbrush that tracks your brushing and relays the data back to a smartphone app. From here you can gain insights into your habits and make improvements.
If you open the app as you brush you can make real-time adjustments to achieve the best coverage and results. It is full of helpful information to make you a better brusher.
Like the 4300 ProtectiveClean, this has BrushSync technology and comes supplied with the most premium A3 brush head. It is an all-in-one head designed to clean plaque away, stimulate gum health and whiten the teeth.
The brush is every bit as premium as the name implies and even the travel case has been really well thought out. It is very slim and allows you to charge the brush whilst inside it, using a USB type-c cable.
There are 5 different brushing modes as well as 3 different intensity levels.
One downside is that the new seamless button design requires a firmer push than other brushes and you don’t get the same reassuring feedback.
What we like
- Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
- Visible pressure sensor alerts you when brushing too hard
- 4 weeks use on a single charge
- Premium charging travel case included
- Premium materials & design
- Reminds you when to replace the brush head
- Tracks & monitors your brushing
What we dislike
- No place to store the detachable USB cable
- Bluetooth isn’t essential
Philips Sonicare 2100
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
The 2100 from Philips Sonicare packs a real punch for the price and truthfully there is little in the way of compromise despite being an entry-level model.
It includes a 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer.
It does lack a pressure sensor, which is a shame. This means that there are no alerts when you brush too hard. Just remember to let the bristles skim the teeth and gum line — there is no need to scrub.
The handle is very slim and comfortable to use. Despite the lack of rubber grips and textured surfaces it doesn’t feel slippy in hand. The benefit here is that it is easy to keep clean.
The motor in the brush handle does only offer 31,000 brush strokes per minute compared to the 62,000 movements of the most powerful Sonicare brushes. But, used correctly the brush still provides a more than satisfactory clean. You just don’t get quite the same intensity with each brushing session.
The 2100 doesn’t offer BrushSync technology, which means it doesn’t track how long you have been using your brush head. For those who don’t need a reminder, you can save money as you don’t need to buy the premium brush heads. The standard heads have fading indicator bristles, so there is still a visual reminder, if you know what to look for.
A full charge provides 2 weeks of use and you get a warning when the battery is getting low. The USB charging stand is a convenient option for charging, but it’s a shame that no 2/3 pin power adapter is provided.
This is a really good option for those looking for their first electric toothbrush.
What we like
- Easy to use – 1 cleaning mode
- Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
- Slim handle design – stylish & easy to keep clean
- USB charging stand makes it more convenient for some
- Good value – get what you need at an affordable price
What we dislike
- No pressure sensor to alert you when brushing too hard
- Cleaning action not as good as premium models – brush motor configured differently
- USB charger makes it less convenient for some
Our choices explained
Like a lot of things in life, you ultimately need to pick the right toothbrush for you, your needs and your budget.
Unfortunately manufacturers like Sonicare make it more challenging than it needs to be, because of the incredible number of options they offer.
Choice is good, but there are really too many options, with too few differences between them.
Myself or any other members of the Electric Teeth team will be the first to tell you that a $1 manual toothbrush is perfectly adequate if you use it correctly. But there are, without doubt, benefits to going electric.
Years of testing toothbrushes and speaking to people has confirmed that the vast majority of users are looking for a toothbrush that cleans your teeth well, has a reasonable battery life and is good value for money.
If this is what you are looking for, then the Sonicare 4300 ProtectiveClean is the best choice.
It offers the core features you need and not lots of unnecessary extras, all at a justifiable price.
You are typically going to pay around $90-100 for the 4300.
Our budget recommendation, the 2100 Series, is half this price at $55-60. Yet, you still get many of the benefits of an electric toothbrush.
It does lack the pressure sensor, but as long as you know not to brush with too much force, then you are not really missing out.
If you have regular dental check ups, you can ask your dentist to check whether you are brushing too hard.
The brush motor of the 2100 is configured differently from that of the 4300, but it doesn’t result in significantly less effective cleaning results. It is more than good enough.
At the other end of the scale we have the 9900 Prestige.
Make no mistake, this is a very expensive toothbrush at $500. That is a staggering 9x more expensive than the 2100 series. And I can tell you it certainly doesn’t clean the teeth 9x better.
Nobody needs such a premium toothbrush.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some amazing technology included with it.
If you commit to using the brush and the smartphone app, you can make improvements in your brushing routine and technique.
The handle looks and feels more premium than other brushes and the travel case is the best I have ever used.
But, this extra tech potentially does come at an environmental cost too. It is a bit of a waste if you use the smart features for just a week or 2 and never again.
I review these products and I can honestly say I don’t go into the app every week. I have also had many others tell me they have invested in the premium models, only to rarely use the extra features they desired when they bought the brush.
In the video below I run through our choices and provide some additional information to help you make the right decision.
Useful pre-purchase advice
In the sections below we’ve shared additional advice and insights based on our hands-on testing of many Sonicare products and sonic toothbrushes from other brands.
In our more generalised best electric toothbrush post, we include more evidence-based advice on choosing an electric toothbrush, from our in-house dentists Dr. Gemma Wheeler and Dr. Chhaya Chauhan.
Pros and cons of Sonicare electric toothbrushes
Having tested many different brushes over the years, these are what I consider to be the main pros and cons of Sonicare brushes.
- Clinically proven cleaning results
- Quieter than oscillating-rotating brushes
- Some people prefer “less instense” sensations compared to other types of electric brush
- Reputable brand
- Battery life is better than most competing brands
- Charging stands typically support international voltages
- Less plastic packaging than other maintsream brands
- Handles and brush heads tend to be more expensive than competing brands
- Minimalist design can result in less grippy handles
- There are so many products in the range it can be confusing to choose the right one
- Research supports oscillating-rotating technology over sonic technology
- Environmental concerns for all electric toothbrushes
Sonicare cleaning action explained
The sonic technology seen on Sonicare brushes uses two methods to clean the teeth.
The first is a mechanical cleaning. The toothbrush head vibrates. This causes the bristles to move side-to-side and remove plaque by scrubbing the surfaces. This is similar to a manual brush except the motor moves the head, not you.
To be called a sonic toothbrush this vibration must be at a speed that causes an audible hum. This is up to about 20,000 Hz (or vibrations per second). Vibrations faster than this are “ultrasonic” and can not be heard by the human ear.
The second method is a non-contact approach. The vibrations or sound waves themselves disrupt plaque beyond the tips of the bristles without the bristles actually touching that area.
The exact way that this happens is not fully understood, but it is thought that very high frequencies cause liquids to move and create “hydrodynamic forces” which damage the plaque layer in hard to reach areas (1). This intense vibration agitates fluids that surround the teeth and can loosen and remove dental plaque in locations that are beyond the physical touch of the toothbrush. To have this effect the waves actually need to be working at a much higher speed, in the ultrasonic range, greater than 20,000 Hz.
The ultrasonic (non-contact) method of cleaning is good, but not effective enough by itself. This is why Sonicare (and similar toothbrushes) work at a range of vibrations that also includes speed which physically remove debris. Because you can hear the vibrations, these brushes are called sonic brushes. Purely ultrasonic brushes should not be used on a day to day basis because they do not remove all the plaque.
Many brushes in the Sonicare range offer up to 31,000 brush strokes/62,000 movements per minute. The exact number of movements depends on the cleaning mode and intensity selected. Not all brushes have different cleaning modes or intensity choices.
The brush head on a sonic brush is a lot like a manual toothbrush in its size and shape. They cover 1-2 teeth at a time compared to the 1 tooth only of small round brush heads.
There is plenty of clinical evidence that supports the sonic cleaning action over manual toothbrushes.
Clinical reviews that assess all the studies have concluded that Oral-B’s cleaning action does remove more plaque. However whether this has any real life obvious benefit is not actually known. More research is required.
The vast majority of Sonicare brushes offer 62,000 movements per minute, which is equivalent to 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
But some newer brushes, such as the 1100, 2100, 3100 and 4100 Series, have only 31,000. They don’t achieve the 62,000 movements because the motors are configured differently.
The number of movements may also be influenced by the cleaning mode chosen. From our own hands-on testing, it is clear that the ‘power’ of the brush differs, depending on what mode is selected.
For example the sensitive cleaning mode, is more gentle than the clean mode. Philips however doesn’t disclose exactly how these differ, but they have explained about the amplitude and frequency of the brushing, details of which can be found in our Sonicare cleaning modes article.
It is assumed that more movements get better cleaning results, but this is not necessarily true. In reality, there is little data to confirm this.
The biggest difference in how well an electric toothbrush works comes from your brushing time, technique and frequency, rather than the specific brush you are using.
Does Sonicare make the best sonic toothbrushes?
Yes, it is probably fair to say that Sonicare makes the best sonic toothbrushes.
They are definitely the market leader and pioneer when it comes to sonic brushes. For a long time, they were the only choice.
This is because it was Philips who popularised sonic toothbrushes after they bought the company that designed the original Sonicare toothbrush.
But, just to be clear here, we are referring specifically to sonic toothbrush technology. This is the way the motor and bristles of the toothbrush work to clean the teeth.
The other type of technology commonly used in electric toothbrushes is oscillation-rotation, sometimes referred to as ‘spinning’. This technology has been championed by Oral-B.
A more simplistic way to look at it is that sonic brushes vibrate and sweep, whereas oscillation-rotation brushes spin.
Sometimes the label ‘sonic toothbrush’ is used to refer generally to all electric toothbrushes. But this can be confusing because a sonic toothbrush is actually just one type of electric toothbrush.
Not many companies other than Oral-B make oscillation-rotation brushes. Conversely, many of the new challenger brushes that have emerged in recent years use sonic technology.
Philips Sonicare sonic toothbrushes are generally the best because there is a long history of research, development and incremental improvement that finds its way into the latest brushes.
When buying a Philips Sonicare toothbrush, you are essentially investing in a product from the company that developed the sonic toothbrush.
Philips offer a wide range of sonic brushes with differing features at different price points. They have something to serve almost every user’s needs. They are well designed and reliable, backed by global warranties and support. We go into more detail about this in the next section.
But many of the challenger brushes are worthy competitors, and can offer something different depending on what you are looking for.
Some of them don’t have great availability in Australia yet, but one that we have reviewed and been impressed with is the Oclean X Pro Elite.
If you’re not shopping specifically for toothbrush with sonic technology, you may want to check out the recommendations in our best electric toothbrush article — it includes both sonic and oscillating-rotating brushes.
Sonicare brushes tend to have more features built-in by default
It can vary from one model to another, but as a general rule, even the most basic or cheapest Sonicare toothbrush comes with some technology and well thought out implementation that you don’t get on brushes from other brands.
Some might sound a bit simple or gimmicky, but it isn’t until you use a brush regularly do you realise that these are actually very useful modifications that make daily interactions with the brush more enjoyable.
Automatic power off
All Sonicare toothbrushes (that I can think of) automatically power off after their set brushing cycle.
It is a simple, but very effective alert that you have completed your brushing session.
It saves you a button press. If you have to turn the brush off yourself, you know you haven’t brushed for long enough.
It might be an annoyance for those who do want to brush for longer, but you can turn the brush right back on again by pressing the button.
Defaults to the last used mode
The brush will default to the last used mode and intensity automatically.
There is no need to change or set the mode each time you turn the brush on, unless you specifically want to make alterations.
The better value Oral-B models don’t do this.
This is a feature whereby the brush gradually increases the power of the brush motor available over the first 14 brushing sessions.
It is designed for new electric toothbrush users. It limits the shock of the increased brushing power and intensity of an electric brush over a manual.
It allows you to slowly be eased in and become accustomed to how it works.
Often turned on by default, it can be turned on or off if required.
Beeps/vibrations for low battery
When the rechargeable battery is low on power and in need of a recharge, the handle beeps and vibrates at the end of the brushing session.
The number of beeps/vibrates depict how much power remains.
If the brush has an LED battery indicator this will be lit too. But, even those brushes without LED indicators often vibrate.
3 beeps usually means the battery is low and needs to be recharged soon.
2 sets of 5 beeps, means the battery is empty and requires recharging to be functional again.
Beeps/vibrations when placed on the charging stand
When placing a toothbrush on a charging stand, you often want confirmation that the brush has actually begun charging.
Sonicare brushes offer this in a number of ways.
Those with LEDs for the battery will usually flash as they begin charging.
But, Sonicare brushes, including those without a battery status LED, are normally enabled to emit 2 beeps and vibrations when the toothbrush is placed on a working charging stand.
These act as additional confirmation that your toothbrush is now being recharged.
Turn features on and off
Don’t want the Easy Start feature?
Would you rather not get a reminder when you need to replace your brush head?
Don’t want notifications when brushing too hard?
Whilst it is certainly subject to model, Sonicare often offers the ability to enable and disable features that particular brushes offer.
International voltage support
In most instances, the charging stand supplied with a Sonicare toothbrush will support international voltages, 100-240v.
So if you are in Australia, your charger will have a 2 pin UK power adapter, but with support for 100-240v, if you travel to Europe, all you need is a plug adapter and not a voltage adapter.
It makes travelling with a Sonicare toothbrush easier and more convenient.
What features do you get if you go higher in the range than the ProtectiveClean 4300?
The 4300 is our main recommendation because it has the essential features our dentists recommend without costing a fortune.
Once you start to spend more than the price of the ProtectiveClean 4300, brushes come with more features. They tend to be more expensive too.
These features tend to bring with them diminishing returns.
Fundamentally the cleaning experience and results are comparable between models.
I have described a bit more about each of these in case you think any of them would be useful to you.
As you go up through the range extra cleaning/brushing modes are offered.
Sonicare brushes offer up to 5 different modes in total.
You only really need 1, or possibly 2 cleaning modes.
The standard ‘clean’ is generally enough.
Although a second slower mode such as ‘sensitive’ can be appealing for a more gentle clean.
Find out more in our article on Sonicare Cleaning Modes.
Premium models tend to offer up to 3 different brushing intensities.
Low, medium and high.
Some lower end models offer 2.
Low or high.
In many respects an intensity is like another cleaning mode.
It gives another element of control to your brushing experience.
Intenties are often controlled with dedicated buttons and have LEDs on the handle to show what intensity has been set.
A simple addition of a button dedicated to changing the cleaning mode, rather than having to use the power button only to cycle through the options.
The mid range models will have cleaning mode name labels on the handle that get lit to show which mode is selected.
Get reminded when to replace a brush head.
An RFID chip in the head is tracked by the handle to alert you at the most appropriate time.
Have the brush automatically change the cleaning mode.
Based on the head attached the brush will automatically select the most appropriate cleaning mode.
Find out more in our article on How BrushSync Technology Works.
The ability to connect your toothbrush to a smartphone, via the Sonicare application.
The facilities available via Bluetooth vary by model.
At the most basic level you get a timer that is in sync with the handle and logs when you brushed and how long for.
The most capable allow the handle to be configured and log extra data such as pressure and the coverage achieved.
The ability to see and record what areas of the mouth you have and have not brushed.
Offers the ability to take corrective action immediately.
Encourages better brushing habits.
Ideally requires you to use your smartphone at the same time you brush for best results.
The power and intensity of the brush motor is adapted based on your brushing habits.
Find out more in our article on How Sonicare SenseIQ Works.
As you go up through the range extra brush heads of differing styles are offered.
Alternatively, multiples of the same styles.
Some heads pair better with particular cleaning modes.
More than 11+ styles of heads to choose from.
C2 Optimal Plaque Defence or G2 Optimal Gum Care are the best options.
Find out more in our article on the Best Sonicare Brush Heads.
A protective case is included to offer a place to stow the handle and up to 2 heads when travelling.
Most cases hold the handle and the heads only, but some allow the toothbrush to be charged inside the case.
There are a few different versions of the powered travel cases, but all use USB connections rather than a proprietary power adapter. The vast majority are microUSB with the Prestige 9900’s case using USB type c.
The USB cable must be connected to power for the brush to charge. There is no battery in the case itself.
Brush head storage – Stands or storage compartments are offered to make the box contents more comprehensive.
These can be useful for families where the handle is being shared or if you make use of multiple brush head styles.
Premium charging stands – A different configuration, no charging pin on the top of the stand, so the toothbrush has a flat base with no recess for the pin.
What about mid-range brushes? Does it make sense to pay more?
Mid range brushes are perfectly good at cleaning the teeth. But they tend to be ‘lost’ between the good value models, lower in the range, and the feature rich options, higher in the range, which are often promoted by Philips.
These mid-range models don’t necessarily stand out amongst all the other choices. They either offer only a little bit more than the entry-level models or just a bit less than the top of the line options.
These extras can sound more appealing and useful than they really are. Few really get the benefit of them long term.
And to complicate matters further there tends to be just a few dollars price difference between them all.
The ExpertClean is a great example.
It is far more capable, technically, than the ProtectiveClean 4300.
It is a premium model, with Bluetooth technology, multiple cleaning modes and brushing intensities etc.
It is cheaper than the likes of the Prestige 9900. But the price difference isn’t that great when you have models like the DiamondClean Smart, which offers everything the ExpertClean does, plus extra brush heads and real-time tracking for just a few dollars more.
If you are considering the ExpertClean, you are likely willing to pay a premium and want extra features. To not get the real-time tracking and extra box contents feels like you are selling yourself a bit short and thus other models become better choices.
In my opinion, Sonicare produces far more toothbrush models, and as a result choices, than the average consumer needs. It only complicates the decision making process.
Philips really does have options fitting budgets from $50 all the way up to $500.
We wouldn’t criticise you for buying a mid range option, but unless you have a specific requirement, other models will likely serve you better.
How do brush heads differ?
Sonicare offers a wide range of brush head choices. Like the toothbrushes, there is in reality more choice than you actually need.
The first and most important thing to be aware of is that the vast majority of the heads have a ‘click-on’ style design and are compatible with most brush handles.
You don’t need to twist them on or off the handle. Push them on and pull them off.
The click-on design means that the heads are interchangeable with the different handles.
So, whether you have a Sonicare 2100 series, ProtectiveClean 4300 or a Prestige the heads will fit and work.
You then have those heads that BrushSync enabled and those that are not.
The BrushSync enabled heads have an RFID chip in them. They work best with BrushSync enabled handles.
BrushSync heads typically command a slight price premium. So, if your handle doesn’t have this, then opt for the standard heads and save some money.
And then you have the premium versions of the Sonicare heads. The ‘Premium’ versions have a rubber coating to the back and side of the brush head, so they are softer on contact with the teeth and gums. These too can cost more.
Therefore the range looks something like this:
- Standard Sonicare brush heads – no BrushSync technology
- C1 ProResults
- Standard Sonicare brush heads – with BrushSync technology
- C2 Optimal Plaque Defence
- G2 Optimal Gum Care
- W Optimal White
- Premium Sonicare brush heads – with BrushSync technology
- A3 Premium All-in-One
- C3 Premium Plaque Defence
- G3 Premium Gum Care
- W3 Premium White
Although there is choice, the C2 Optimal Plaque Defence and the G2 Optimal Gum Care brush heads are our preferred options.
If your Sonicare handle doesn’t have BrushSync, opt for the C1 ProResults head.
Like the toothbrushes themselves, it is better to pick a head and use it properly, rather than worrying too much about the style. Sonicare will claim each has benefits, but truthfully side by side the cleaning experience is comparable.
Heads should be replaced on average every 3 months. Worn bristles clean less effectively and can potentially damage the teeth and gums.
Built into the heads are fading indicator bristles that change from (usually) a blue colour, to a pale blue/translucent colour to alert you it is time to change.
Of course, BrushSync enabled heads and handles will alert you when it is time to be replaced.
Our comprehensive guide to Sonicare brush heads explains each in more detail.
What’s the difference between Sonicare’s smart toothbrushes?
Sonicare does have quite a bit of technology built into each and every one of their brushes, which could be defined as smart. But, when it comes to electric toothbrushes, generally speaking ‘smart’ refers to those brush handles with Bluetooth.
The features of a Bluetooth enabled Sonicare toothbrush differs between ranges and models.
It is potentially a bit more complicated than this, but in a nutshell, you have 2 key options.
- A Sonicare smart toothbrush without real-time position tracking
- A Sonicare smart toothbrush with real-time position tracking
The key difference here is that the brush either does or does not track and record the areas of the mouth you have and have not brushed during the cleaning cycle.
Those without real-time tracking will record a brushing session, including when and for how long you used the toothbrush.
During a brushing session, it will show a timer on the screen along with other data like an alert if you brush too hard.
Those with real-time tracking do the same, but with the additional data, which includes detailed visuals for review at a later time.
All this data is tracked by specialist sensors in the brush handle. It is then relayed back to the smartphone application for processing and presentation in a more visual and interactive format.
During a brushing session, the app is highlighting which areas to brush and changing the visuals to denote those teeth you have brushed, in addition to the brushing time and pressure applied.
Both provide dashboards and charts with useful information to promote better habits.
Whilst we like many of the features and functionality that smart toothbrushes offer, we don’t believe they are essential. And, for most people, smart toothbrushes are best avoided. Doing so saves you money and reduces the environmental impact of your dental health.
For many, ourselves included, we don’t stick to using these long term. Some will. If this is you or you think a Bluetooth enabled toothbrush will really help you, then by all means purchase one. You will be better served by the top of the line models.
If you wish to learn more about how each smart toothbrush works with the Sonicare app, it is best to refer to hands-on reviews we have available of each.
The following table summarises the key differences between smart models.
|No Position Tracking||Real-Time Position Tracking|
|DiamondClean Smart 9100||X|
|DiamondClean Smart 9500||X|
|DiamondClean Smart 9700||X|
What do the different names mean? DailyClean, ProtectiveClean, DiamondClean etc.
Philips produces a number of different sonic toothbrush models. These are grouped into ranges, or families of brushes if you prefer.
Each range tends to have one or two significant differences between them. For example better battery life, or additional cleaning modes.
As more features and functions get added, the price of the brushes tends to increase too.
Within each range, there are usually a number of different models. The differences amongst these tend to be subtle. They are often technically the same, but one might come with a travel case whilst another doesn’t.
The key ranges are:
- Elite ($)
- The essential features you require and no more.
- Satisfactory, but better options exist.
- 2100 Series ($)
- The essential features you require and no more.
- Good, but better options exist.
- 3100 Series ($$)
- The essential features you require and no more.
- Good, but better options exist.
- ProtectiveClean Series ($$)
- The essential features, plus a little more.
- The ideal brushes for the vast majority.
- ExpertClean ($$$)
- Premium handles with more features and accessories
- Offer what you need and a little of what you don’t
- DiamondClean ($$$$)
- Premium handles with more features and better box contents.
- Prestige ($$$$$)
- Top of the line with the most advanced toothbrush technology.
Although this is the general rule, be aware exceptions do exist.
Our Philips Sonicare Toothbrush Comparison describes and compares the range in more detail.
What’s the quietest Sonicare toothbrush?
The vast majority of Sonicare brush handles produce about the same amount of noise upon use.
In our hands-on testing the Kids toothbrush from Sonicare proved quietest, producing 58 decibels.
The 4300 ProtectiveClean follows closely behind at around 60 decibels.
Cleaning modes, brushing intensities and the environment in which you use the brush will impact the exact sound, but the vast majority are around or below the 70dB level.
They are quieter than the oscillating and rotating options available from the likes of Oral-B.
What’s the best Sonicare toothbrush for travel?
All Sonicare brushes now offer a minimum of 2 weeks use on a full charge.
The best toothbrush for travellers depends on how long you will be away from power for.
If you are backpacking around the world for months on end, the Philips One by Sonicare (view it here on Amazon) is likely your best choice.
Branded with the Sonicare name, this is a bit of a crossover toothbrush. It is electric, but you brush with it like you do a manual. It doesn’t provide the same intense clean, but the results are satisfactory.
Powered by AAA batteries it is a convenient option because they are easy to source and last a long time. It also comes with a really compact travel case.
Should you be going away on vacation for a week or 2, then the 4300 ProtectiveClean is still likely your best choice. It doesn’t come with a travel case, but you can buy a Philips or aftermarket case for a few dollars. And because it lasts several weeks on a full charge, you should have plenty of power remaining.
If you are travelling for a bit longer, but want some versatility in the way you use and charge the brush, the ExpertClean or DiamondClean ranges are worth considering. They have a solid battery life, plus come with a case that allows them to be charged inside too.
What’s the best Sonicare brush for sensitive teeth?
The ProtectiveClean 4300 is our top choice.
Arguably it should be the 5100 ProtectiveClean with the slower and more gentle Gum Care mode, but this brush is much more expensive for what is just 1 extra mode.
Fit a G2 Optimal Gum Care brush head (which is engineered to be effective and gentle) to the 4300 and this should be just as good.
See our post on the best electric toothbrush for receding gums and sensitive teeth for more advice.
How does Sonicare compare to Oral-B?
This is a commonly asked question that is diffcult to give a straight answer to.
Both Oral-B or a Philips Sonicare toothbrush can clean your teeth really well. Both do the job better than a manual toothbrush.
If we consider the cleaning results alone, there is evidence that supports both brands being good. But in a review of all the pre-existing clinical evidence, Oral-B has the slight edge.
Of course, cleaning results are important, but there are other factors that come into play when making a choice between models or brands. Things like usability, features, box contents and price all have a part to play.
Sonicare wins in categories like design, noise, and suitability for travel.