This post contains a wealth of information on choosing an electric toothbrush.
It’s based on extensive hands-on testing (we’ve tested hundreds of brushes over the years!) and advice from our in-house dentists.
We answer important pre-purchase questions, such as how much you should spend.
There’s also advice from Dr. Gemma Wheeler about other things you can do to take care of your teeth.
Click a link below to jump to the section that appeals to you most.
And if you’ve got any questions, please ask in the comments.
Our top 6 picks for 2021
In the sections below you can read a bit more about each brush and the reason we have chosen it as the best in its category.
1. Oral-B Smart 1500
Best value electric toothbrush (Oral-B)
Read our full Oral-B Smart 1500 Review
Effective, affordable and reliable are 3 words that summarise the Smart 1500.
It is pretty much the perfect toothbrush for the vast majority of people.
It has all the features we regard as essential for daily brushing.
This includes a 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer that encourage you to brush for the dentist recommended 2 minutes.
Brushing for the right amount of time is one of the most effective ways you can improve your oral health.
A 360 degree visible pressure sensor on the handle lights up red if you brush too hard. Brushing too hard can damage your teeth and gums, so this is your cue to adjust your brushing technique.
The rounded brush handle is gloss white, but the 1500 is available with different color accents around the power button.
Comfortable to hold, the 1500 comes with 3 brushing modes. The default daily clean mode is suitable for most users, but the gentle sensitive mode is a little less intense, and there is also a whitening mode.
A single brush head is provided in the box. The small round head cleans the teeth well and is clinically proven as effective.
Sealed inside the handle is a rechargeable battery that lasts around 2 weeks on a full charge.
Admittedly, the ‘Smart’ part of the name is a bit misleading. There are no smart features, such as Bluetooth, that you find in some of the more expensive Oral-B models.
Overall, the Smart 1500 is a brilliant toothbrush. Despite the huge array of choice this really is a great option and the one we recommend to our family and friends.
2. Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100
Best value electric toothbrush (Sonicare)
Read our full Philips Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 Review
The ProtectiveClean 4100 is the Sonicare equivalent of the Oral-B Smart 1500. We rate it as the best value toothbrush from Sonicare.
It is very comparable to the Oral-B Smart 1500 and remains one of our most recommended brushes. Oral-B marginally wins as our top pick as it is the cheaper option.
The 4100’s handle is slim, solid and well built and does have all the hallmarks of a more premium option.
It has just 1 cleaning mode, which makes the brush simple and easy to use.
It would have been a nice touch if there was a second, more gentle mode, but unfortunately, there isn’t.
The built-in timer and pacer encourages you to brush for the right amount of time. On average Americans brush for 45-70 seconds per day, rather than the recommended 4 minutes!
The 4100 automatically powers off at the end of the cleaning cycle, so you know you haven’t brushed for long enough if the brush hasn’t turned off.
The rechargeable battery is impressive and lasted around 5 weeks in our testing.
When it’s time to replace your brush head, a light on the handle of the 4300 illuminates. Worn bristles lead to less effective cleaning, so this is a welcome feature.
3. Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige
Best Sonicare electric toothbrush
Read our full Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige Review.
The 9900 is the best smart toothbrush available on the market today.
What makes the Prestige stand out though is how Sonicare have actually simplified the ‘smart toothbrush’ experience.
Despite being packed with technology it has been geared to just getting the job done and taking away things that might otherwise distract you from the core task of brushing your teeth.
Sensors track and log the position of the toothbrush in real-time. This is shown in a 3D mouth map, so you can see what teeth you have and have not brushed well. Tracking is good but not perfect.
The brush records how much pressure you use and if you are scrubbing the teeth. Where appropriate adjust the power of the toothbrush to stop you from doing damage.
All of this information can be reviewed in detail when you want. But, the clear colour coded dashboard is most useful, giving key insights at a glance.
It is a complete package with lots of small refinements that just work.
Of course, it cleans the teeth really well. The new A3 Premium brush head is fantastic. It provides the most invigorating clean of any Sonicare head we have used to date. Plus, no more switching heads, the A3 cleans, whitens and helps improve gum health too.
The 9900 offers a respectable 4 weeks on a single charge.
You can charge it with the included USB charging stand. Or, use the stylish and compact travel case that has a USB Type-C connector.
4. Oral-B iO
Best Oral-B electric toothbrush
Read our full Oral-B iO Review.
The iO is the Oral-B equivalent to the 9900 Prestige.
Using the Oral-B app you can see which surfaces of the teeth have and have not been brushed very well. It also provides tips on how to achieve 100% brushing every time.
The smart features of the iO are designed to educate us to brush our teeth better.
A revised design in comparison to most other Oral-B models means the iO looks sleek and more current than some of the cheaper options.
The inclusion of a display in the brush handle is, without doubt, a stand out feature.
Via the buttons on the handle, you can navigate through the menus on the display to choose from 7 brushing modes. Needless to say, your teeth feel lovely and clean after each use.
The visible pressure sensor uses a red light to alert you when you are brushing too hard and a green light to alert you when you are brushing correctly .
The magnetic motor is a little quieter than other Oral-B models.
Oral-B advertises the iO as ‘AI-enabled’. This essentially means the built-in technology can track the position of the toothbrush in the mouth.
The iO also charges in as little as 3 hours via its magnetic charging stand and can be charged within the provided travel case.
All very appealing it is, but it does come at a price. It is not cheap and the brush heads are exclusive to the iO. They are not interchangeable (like other Oral-B heads) and they are more expensive.
5. Fairywill Sonic FW-507
Best Budget electric toothbrush
Read our full Fairywill FW-507 Review.
Fairywill is a lesser-known brand than Oral-B or Sonicare, but this Chinese company produces a range of good products.
The FW-507 has 5 different cleaning modes, ranging in intensity.
It includes a 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer to encourage you to brush for the recommended 2 minutes.
I can assure you that the clean is comparable to those offered by other sonic toothbrushes.
It is a slim and lightweight brush, with a rechargeable battery that lasts a very impressive 30 days. That is a lot longer than most toothbrushes. It charges via a USB connection.
In the box you get 8 brush heads, which is more than other brands include. This reduces the total cost.
The travel case is handy for those on the go, protecting the toothbrush when not in use.
The build quality does feel a little cheaper than leading brands, but this is a fantastic product for the price.
6. hum by Colgate
Best For Travel
Read our full hum by Colgate review
You will be humming a very happy tune if you select the hum by Colgate as your next electric toothbrush.
This brush really does compete in a league higher than its price would suggest.
It includes technology usually found in more expensive electric toothbrushes.
It does not have quite the refined look of the Oral-B iO or the Sonicare 9900. But like those two brushes, the hum can track the position of the toothbrush in the mouth in real-time.
Using the Colgate app, you can see which teeth you have brushed and be guided to an excellent clean each time you use it.
You don’t have to use the smart features, but it makes sense to as it will help you improve your oral health. Better still, with every logged brushing session you win points and in this instance, points equal money off prizes.
You are basically getting paid to brush!
The battery life is a little weak and the cleaning action is not as intense or as satisfying as the likes of a premium Sonicare toothbrush.
There are 3 cleaning modes, a travel case in the box and a choice of handle colors, as well as an option to subscribe to brush head deliveries.
Considering the selling price of this toothbrush, it really is doing well to compete with much more expensive models.
The video below summarises our best electric toothbrush recommendations for 2021.
Common pre-purchase questions
In this section our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler answers some of the common questions we get asked by people considering a new toothbrush.
Is it better to choose an electric toothbrush instead of a manual toothbrush?
Some people will see benefits when using an electric toothbrush instead of a manual toothbrush.
The purpose to toothbrushing is to:
- remove plaque, which contributes to dental decay and gum disease.
- remove food debris from the teeth to reduce the risk of dental decay.
- introduce a fluoride containing toothpaste to reduce the risk of decay.
When asking whether an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush is better, the question is really “which one removes more plaque and food debris, without harming the teeth and gums”.
Despite the clear evidence in reducing plaque, there is no evidence to support the use of electric toothbrushes when it comes to reducing decay.
For people wearing braces, a review of the evidence concluded that there is no reason to support the use of electric toothbrushes for reducing plaque on teeth and avoiding gum disease (although this evidence only covered a period of 8 weeks).
When thinking about the safety of your brush, know that both manual and electric toothbrushes have the potential to cause harm when used incorrectly. An example is causing wear on the outside of the tooth by scrubbing too hard. Evidence has shown that electric toothbrushes are of no greater concern to teeth and gums than a manual toothbrush, and some studies even support the use of electric toothbrushes to prevent worsening tooth wear caused by over brushing.
One other consideration is which one are you more likely to use? A toothbrush that encourages you to brush twice a day for two minutes each time, is always going to be better than one you can’t use.
Finally, when thinking about whether an electric toothbrush is better than a manual toothbrush, you will also want to think about the environment. This recent study discussed the greater impact of electric toothbrushes on the environment.
The take home message?
It is a personal choice.
If you are good at cleaning with a manual toothbrush and have no gum disease or tooth wear, then a manual toothbrush is satisfactory. It also has less impact on the environment (especially bamboo toothbrushes).
If you struggle getting your teeth clean enough with a manual toothbrush, or if you suffer from gum disease, then an electric toothbrush is a better option for you.
Will spending more money on a toothbrush improve your oral health?
This depends on your starting point!
If you have healthy gums and teeth, spending more money on a toothbrush will not improve your oral health.
However, if you are suffering from gum disease you could benefit from spending a bit more money on the right electric toothbrush for you.
Be aware, spending more money on a toothbrush does not always mean you are getting a better product.
There are a number of types of electric toothbrush, including side to side movements, sonic, and rotation oscillation.
There is a small amount of evidence showing that rotation oscillation brushes are better than other types of electric toothbrush. They reduce levels of plaque gum disease. But one review rightly points out that the difference is small and it is unknown whether these clinical trials actually translate into day to day use.
The good news is that rotation oscillation toothbrushes tend to be cheaper than other widely available electric toothbrushes.
Apart from this, there is almost no evidence supporting one type of brush over the others. However, key characteristics which may benefit you in an electric toothbrush are:
- a pressure sensor to prevent over brushing.
- a timer to help ensure you are brushing for the full two minutes.
- a good quality toothbrush head which is changed every three months or when you can see them fraying.
Our number 1 pick in the list above, the Oral-B Smart 1500, includes all of these.
Spending more money on a toothbrush may provide things like travel cases and better battery life, but these aren’t going to actually help brush your teeth better!
Is a smart toothbrush worth it?
A smart toothbrush is one with bluetooth technology. This is developing all the time, and in the last few years has emerged from just connecting to a timer, to being able to connect to an app on your phone.
Some smart toothbrushes also send reminders as to when you should change your toothbrush head.
There is no evidence currently available to support the use of a smart toothbrush over a normal electric toothbrush.
As a dentist, I would point out that many of the benefits advertised by a smart toothbrush can be gained more affordably elsewhere, such as by setting a calendar reminder on your phone, or by learning proper techniques from our videos and your own dental professional.
This topic is discussed in more detail in our article: is a smart toothbrush worth it?
How much should you spend on an electric toothbrush?
Our number 1 choice is based on the best value for money.
You don’t need to spend loads of money to get a good brush.
Actually, some of the best electric toothbrushes come in at under $100.
If you spend more than this you will be paying out for gimmicks that aren’t going to help you get a better result when it comes to cleaning your teeth. The most important things to look for in a toothbrush are:
- a pressure sensor to prevent over brushing.
- a timer to help ensure you are brushing for the full two minutes.
- a good quality toothbrush head which is changed every three months or when you can see them fraying.
These will be included in many toothbrushes coming in the $50 – $100 bracket.
An expensive electric toothbrush will provide some extras like charging cases and better battery life, and if these are important to you then you may need to spend a little more, but it’s not necessary for a good clean.
Will an electric toothbrush help with gum disease?
Yes, electric toothbrushes help with gum disease.
Managing gum disease is all about reducing the amount of plaque on the teeth and under the gums. An important part of this is physical removal by toothbrushing and interdental cleaning.
Reviews by Van der Weijden Niederman and Yaacob et al support the fact that electric toothbrushes help with gum disease. More recently, an 11 year long study by Pitchika et al has examined long term successes of electric toothbrush users. These papers have found:
- electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes, in both the short and long term.
- electric toothbrushes provide a benefit in reducing levels of gum disease (compared to manual toothbrushes) both in the short term (6%) and long term (11%).
- electric toothbrushes reduce the progression of advanced gum disease, with users having less bone loss.
- users of electric toothbrushes, and who have gum disease, are less likely to lose teeth.
What else can you do to look after your teeth?
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Brush for 2 minutes each time
- Use the correct brushing technique
- Spit after brushing, don’t rinse with mouthwash or water
- Clean between the teeth once a day, with floss or interdental brushes
Creating a regular cleaning habit by following these steps will have the biggest impact, over and above the toothbrush you choose.
We also answer more pre-purchase questions in our buyer’s guide below.
Electric Toothbrush Buyer’s Guide
Having given our answers above, what follows below is a buyer’s guide that further explains toothbrush choices.
We’ve tried to provide the information we think you’ll find most useful, without getting too bogged down in detail.
If you would like a more thorough explanation, you can view our full length buyer’s guide here.
Explaining our choice for ‘best overall’
At the top of this page, we’ve given our recommendations for the best electric toothbrush.
Part of the difficulty in answering the question is figuring out exactly what people mean by ‘best’; do they mean the best once all factors have been considered, or the best in terms of technology and performance?
Generally, we think people would like to know which electric toothbrush is the best without having to spend a lot. A brush that is affordable but has the most important features. We’ve therefore chosen the Oral-B Smart 1500 as the best, because:
- It’s not that expensive
- It has a built-in 2 minute timer
- It has a 30 second (quad-pacer) built-in
- It comes with a pressure sensor
- It has a great battery life
The pressure sensor, timer and quad-pacer are features we consider worth paying for and they aren’t always included with slightly cheaper brushes. We give our thoughts on other features and how important they are in the next section.
For those that want truly the best in terms of performance (and if money isn’t an issue), we’d recommend the Oral-B iO or the 9900 Prestige, which also happen to be the best Oral-B electric toothbrush and best Sonicare electric toothbrush respectively.
If we had to choose between the two, the 9900 Prestige just takes the edge as a more complete package, despite the fact that the iO is the newer model.
They are both smart toothbrushes, which we explain in more detail in our guide here.
Both of these brushes offer extra cleaning modes and smart technology, including real-time tracking. But that comes with a price and for some people it will be overkill. Unless you really feel you can benefit from these smart features, avoid them, and save yourself the cash.
Believe it or not the Oral-B Smart 1500, which is considerably cheaper, can serve you just as well — it isour recommendation for the best overall brush.
The built-in timer and pacer encourage you to brush for the right amount of time, evenly across the mouth. The pressure sensor alerts you if you are brushing too hard, which is a cause of gum recession and the brush head replacement reminder system tells you when it is time to swap out the current head for a new one. Damaged, frayed or worn bristles can be damaging to the teeth and gums, this technology helps stop this damage from occurring.
Are there any new innovations to consider?
There are some interesting developments happening around toothbrush technology — “automatic” or “mouthpiece” toothbrushes are one such example.
Y-Brush is the best mouthpiece toothbrush we have tested so far. However, we don’t yet deem any to be a suitable replacement for the traditional manual or electric toothbrush.
There are now various smart toothbrush options as well, which we run through in our guide here.
Are there any soon-to-be-released products worth holding out for?
Ultimately no, there are not.
No upcoming products are going to revolutionise the way you brush your teeth or the standard of clean you can achieve.
Of course new products do come along fairly regularly so there could always be something else.
We are currently testing the Fairywill P80 (view on Amazon), but we do not expect anticipate changing our recommendations based on this.
Oral-B has a model called the Oral-B Sense in the pipeline , which it describes as a “fitness tracker for the mouth”. This looks to be an interesting product, but as above, unless you really feel you need the features it offers, we wouldn’t suggest holding out for it.
If you are interested in new toothbrush technology, such as mouthpiece toothbrushes, there are a few products due for release over the coming months:
However this technology is very new and has limited clinical testing.
Based on the products we have tested so far, we would not recommend delaying the purchase of a regular toothbrush in favour of one of these products, especially as some of them will not be released until late 2021.
Other brushes we’ve recently tested
While only a handful of brushes make it into our list of the best electric toothbrushes, we’ve put many more to the test.
Rarely will a modern electric toothbrush fail to achieve the basic standards we look for in a brush.
But to keep our overall recommendations simple we use strict criteria and only select a few brushes as “the best”. We explain our recommendations in more detail here.
That being said, we know there will be interest in the other brushes we have tested (particularly the more expensive ones), so we’ve included a quick overview of them below.
Recent years have seen an increase in the appeal and offering of smart toothbrushes. As you will have learnt, we don’t typically recommend them. They are expensive, and you don’t need one to clean your teeth well. But, inevitably, the top of the line models come with smart features built-in, out of the box.
The Oral-B iO and the Sonicare 9900 Prestige are the two leading smart toothbrushes. We have included them above as the best Oral-B and best Sonicare brushes. They are truly the best in terms of technology. However, we encourage our readers to consider the cheaper options, such as the Smart 1500, as these can do the job just as well.
The Philips Sonicare ExpertClean 7500 is another one of the more premium options. It is a potential upgrade over the DiamondClean 3rd generation. You now have a pressure sensor. This is not a visible sensor, but the handle vibrates when it is activated to alert you.
It has a brush head replacement reminder system. An orange light shines on the brush handle when it is time to change your brush head. This is very useful. The negative consequence is the higher price of the brush heads.
The brush also has 3 different pressure settings and 4 cleaning modes. They don’t clean the teeth any better. Nor are they essential, but they offer choice.
The 7500 has Bluetooth Smart features. But it does not have the position detection and tracking facilities of the Prestige, DiamondClean Smart or older FlexCare Platinum. If the app is used in real-time, you get an on-screen timer only. Data is synced post brushing. It is displayed on the screen in the form of colored charts. This data shows performance for the last 7 days only. It doesn’t allow brushing history and learnings as you might expect.
The 9900 Prestige is the latest addition to the Sonicare lineup of brushes that offers Bluetooth connectivity. Like the DiamondClean Smart this does actually offer real-time tracking.
They fundamentally work the same, but the unique element to the Prestige is that even if you don’t use the app in real-time, the handle stores and syncs more of this data in the background. You get a mouth map for cleaning, pressure, and scrubbing, something the Smart does not offer. This means you get more meaningful data over time, irrespective of real-time app use or not.
The 9900 is also focused on simplification. It sounds odd given the brush offers so many features, but it is more about getting the job done and installing good repetitive habits to help you and your oral health in the long term.
Unless you can commit to using the smart features, there are better value options available.
It was Oral-B that really pushed smart technology into the toothbrush some years ago. The iO is the latest iteration with even more tech, including a display in the handle.
We have only ever seen it before on the Oclean X. The cleaning performance was great. The display was touch-sensitive and horrible to use. The iO’s display is not touch-sensitive. Despite this, the X has a lot going for it. It has a magnetic wall mount, great colour choices and it is very affordable.
But, with the introduction of the Oclean X Pro Elite, there is really little reason to opt for the older X variant. The touchscreen has been radically improved and is a delight to use. It might not be essential, but it adds something to the experience. In addition, the Elite is super quiet. In fact, it is the quietest electric toothbrush that we have ever tested, by quite some margin. Oh, and it is a smart toothbrush too. It sends data back to your smartphone to help you track and improve your oral care habits.
It is perhaps no surprise that Oclean is affiliated with Chinese technology giant Xiaomi. Their Mi toothbrush is another extremely good value option. It comes complete with, yes you guessed it, Bluetooth technology. Yet again the implementation of this tech was not great. You need to be quite forgiving to really get the value from it. These models are too not widely stocked giving favor to those household names.
Slightly older models like the Oral-B Genius X are extremely capable. It has more features than you need, but it is much more affordable than the iO. It does away with the clunky position detection technology used by the Genius Pro 8000. All the sensors are built into the handle. There is no need to stand in front of a smartphone camera to track the movements, as was the case with the Pro 8000.
Oral-B’s app has evolved over the years. It can be a little confusing. Particularly when there are different configurations for different models.
The Pro 6000 is a solid mid-range toothbrush. It cleans the teeth well, has extra cleaning modes, a pressure sensor and 2 weeks battery life. It is neither cheap, nor extortionately expensive. It is somewhat lost in the range though. Particularly when you consider the slimmer handled Smart 3000. It offers multiple modes, nigh on identical cleaning performance and comparable battery life. All for less money.
Oral-B has always underperformed in the battery department. Sacrifices might be expected for entry-level models. But, around 1 week on a single charge isn’t really good enough from the Pro 500 and 1000. For a little extra, you can own the more capable Smart 1500. It comes with twice the battery life, 3 cleaning does and a visible pressure sensor.
Even then, the 2 week battery life is no match for the budget-busting brand that is Fairywill. They have constantly over-delivered. A month is the minimum you will get from their brushes. The E11 is one such example. When the battery does need replenishing, you use the detachable USB cable. Compact and convenient for some. The drawback here is the proprietary design of the cable and the position of the charging port on the base.
It is incredibly light in hand and comes with 8 brush heads included in the box. Based on value for money alone, it is simply sensational.
The Pro 2056 from Fairywill isn’t quite such good value, but it is a bit unique in that it has a UV Sanitizer included in the box.
By no means an essential, if you are worried about bacteria on your brush head, this countertop solution might help you. Heads get placed within the unit and a cleaning cycle of 10 minutes helps kill off any bacteria by directing ultraviolet light right at the bristles.
The brush handle is a little bit dated and a bit cheap looking. It is certainly functional, but the Fairywill P80 is a much better product.
Stylish and providing a great clean, this is the first from the company to have a visible pressure sensor built-in. It is a very likeable product.
Despite Colgate’s brand awareness, they have not offered many brushes to the US market. Most of their products are focused on offering value. This is now exception with their most recent brush the hum by Colgate.
Bucking the trend somewhat, it delivers smart features at a much more affordable price. It doesn’t mean you should buy it, but it isn’t much more expensive than our best value choices. It is not as powerful as the likes of the Sonicare 4100 ProtectiveClean, though. For some this will feel like inferior cleaning.
There are 2 versions, one powered by AAA batteries and the other with a built-in rechargeable. You are going to get around 10 days of battery life from the rechargeable version, which isn’t ideal.
But, the real-time tracking is pretty reliable and provides some good pointers. But, you do have to follow the exact steps, rather than taking your own route around the mouth. A bit of a bonus is that with regular use you can earn points. Those points equal money off purchases from Colgate.
You can claim every so often free replacement brush heads by cashing in your points. If you don’t have enough, heads are sold in packs of 2 and are affordable at $5 each. You can also subscribe to regular deliveries.
It is available in 3 different colors. It comes with a travel case. The hum by Colgate is a solid product for the price and better than the Connect E1 that they also make.
The E1 was made in partnership with Kolibree. It was the first toothbrush to be stocked in Apple stores. But, much of what we know and love about Colgate has been lost and the software experience is substandard. It simply isn’t a great brush for daily use. A little more work on the software would have resulted in significant improvements.
Just like the hum, the Quip Smart also allows you to earn money off future purchases.
The popular compact toothbrush has gone smart. A new motor tracks the cleaning performance. For each clean, you gain points and then extra if you achieve brushing streaks.
It doesn’t offer real-time tracking and what data it does store is less detailed. But, it is still useful if you are committed to improving.
It is no more powerful than the original Quip toothbrush. It is still a crossover between manual and full electric.
It does retain the lightweight and travel friendly form factor. It comes with the cover cum wall mount which we love.
It is available with and without a subscription. It works out better value when you subscribe. The warranty is extended for the life of the subscription too.
Boasting a similarly compact form factor is the Philips One by Sonicare.
You can choose between the removable battery or rechargeable variant. Both come in different color options but with just 1 cleaning mode and 1 style of brush head. This makes it much less confusing to use than premium Sonicare models.
It has a 2 minute timer, 30 second pacer and automatic power-off. Unfortunately, the motor is weaker than most Sonicare toothbrushes. The clean doesn’t feel as invigorating.
There is a subscription option, but the lack of a replacement AAA battery with the subscription is frustrating.
Gleem is a newer brand, made by Procter and Gamble. They own Oral-B too. Gleem offers sonic cleaning action rather than the oscillating-rotating of Oral-B.
The rechargeable variant of their brush is our preferred model. But there is no denying that the battery powered brush is slim, light and travel friendly. It is cost effective too. It just fails to compete with Quip and the Philips One as there is no subscription option.
If you like subscriptions, then Burst Oral Care is a brand to seriously consider. Their Burst Sonic toothbrush performs really well. It has the all-important timer and pacer. It does lack a pressure sensor but makes up for it with the great battery life and great design. It catches the eye and there are some fun elements to the brand. The charcoal-infused bristles are not as good as some make out — evidence of the benefits is lacking. But all in all, it’s a very good option.
It was only a matter of time before your toothbrush came with a smart assistant. Well, in the case of the Oral-B Guide it is the charging stand rather than the toothbrush itself. But, yes, built into the splash resistant charger is Amazon Alexa. You can be brushing your teeth whilst listening to the news, music or your schedule.
It is more cost effective to buy an Amazon Echo separately from your toothbrush. To give some credit, the configuration of the lights on the top of the stand are very handy for keeping you on track with your brushing. Visual indicators make it clear which quadrant you should be brushing and how long you have been brushing for. It also makes it clear when you are brushing with too much pressure.
No electric toothbrush, cheap or expensive can ultimately clean your teeth better. You have to use it correctly. Improper technique and brushing time is the cause of so many dental care problems.
Mouthpiece style toothbrushes like AutoBrush are trying to resolve this. They have a brush head that positions the bristles at the perfect 45 degree angle. But, in addition, it focuses on cleaning all the tooth surfaces at the same time. Conceptually it is a great idea. However, in practice, it really does not work that well. It fails to reach all the tooth and gum surfaces, leaving lots of plaque behind. And despite being designed to correct technique issues, there is still a technique to use it. Worryingly, there is a kids version. The engaging characters on the brush handle might be fun, but it is no replacement to regular toothbrushing.
Y-Brush is better, but only by a little bit. It is the best mouthpiece toothbrush we have tested so far, but still isn’t a suitable replacement for a regular toothbrush. Using more reputable nylon bristles, it manages to lift more plaque from the teeth and gums. The plaque disclosing results speak for themselves. It is easy to use and has a good battery life. But revisions are needed. It looks and feels a bit homemade at the moment. Refinement in the materials and production process are required, as are different sized mouthpieces. The one size fits all approach means brushing can feel awkward and uncomfortable.
We are all for innovation if done well. On paper the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion reads like a great idea — it is a combination of water flosser and sonic toothbrush.The thinking is that 2 products in 1 can take up less countertop space, whilst delivering the benefits of both products. In reality, it is expensive and impractical. You don’t get the choice of different tips like you do with a normal water flosser. Water is fed through the brush head, making angling and positioning more difficult. The battery life of the toothbrush itself is poor. And the noise it makes is quite irritating. It is a shame as Waterpik’s Complete Care range is pretty good. It’s also proof that a separate water flosser and toothbrush is the answer.
How important are other features and factors?
In the following section, we include our own insight on the other questions you may have when shopping for an electric toothbrush. This is compiled having extensively tested the range of brushes available in the USA.
To make things nice and clear we have labeled each with what we consider to be of high, medium and low importance.
How important is a timer?
If we could have only one feature on the toothbrushes we recommend, a timer would be our first pick, its importance is highly underrated.
Too few people brush for the dentist recommended 2 minutes. Failing to do so puts your oral health at risk.
When brushing your teeth, it is all too easy to get distracted, misjudge time and think you have been brushing for longer than you really have.
The built-in timer, helps keep you focused, on track and brushing for the right amount of time. Counting down from the moment you switch the brush on, it alerts you when your 2 minutes are up. Only when the 2 minutes are up, should you stop brushing.
Some brushes even turn themselves off at the end of the 2 minute cleaning cycle (this is another desirable feature you may want to look out for).
Of course our top recommendation, the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 has a 2 minute timer built-in.
How important is a quad pacer?
Essentially this is another type of timer, that works in conjunction with the previously mentioned 2 minute timer.
A quadpacer is a very useful addition and can seriously impact how well you clean all the teeth in your mouth.
The inclusion of a quad pacer on an electric toothbrush helps us brush our teeth evenly. It is no good spending 2 minutes brushing just the top row of teeth, or just those front teeth, all need equal attention.
A quadpacer works by essentially splitting the mouth and the 2 minute cleaning time into 4 pieces.
2 minutes is equal to 120 seconds. Split 4 ways that gives 30 seconds.
If we now imagine breaking the mouth up into 4 sections, in section 1 you have your upper right teeth, section 2 your upper left, section 3 your lower right and section 4 your lower left.
The idea is that you spend 30 seconds cleaning each section.
What the quadpacer does is alert you as you hit these 30 second intervals. As you get the alert, you move to the next section.
The way this alert presents itself does differ from 1 brush to another, but normally you will get a brief pause in the brushing motion, which also causes a change in the sound the brush makes. In most instances, this is more than enough to alert you that it is time to change quadrant.
By the end of the 2 minute clean, you should have cleaned all 4 sections and given an even clean to all of the teeth in your mouth.
Our number 1 recommended brush, the Sonicare 4100, includes a quadpacer.
How important is a pressure sensor?
This is not an essential feature, but one that we feel is highly underrated.
It is most useful to new electric toothbrush users, but even those who have been using an electric brush for years can still benefit.
The bristles of a toothbrush need only skim the surface of the teeth and gums. You do not need to scrub the teeth aggressively to clean them and remove plaque and bacteria.
Sadly, because many of us have never been shown how to brush our teeth properly, we do brush the teeth with too much force. Over time this can lead to gum recession, a condition best avoided if possible.
Where you have gum recession, brushing too hard will also wear away the outermost surface of the tooth, causing what dentists call abrasion. Abrasion itself can result in sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks.
The pressure sensor, therefore, is able to monitor the force with which you brush and alert you when you get a little too aggressive.
In most cases, as the sensor is activated it will alert you through a change in sound, a vibration in the handle and in some cases by switching on a light in what we call a visible pressure sensor.
During that time, the best brushes will also decrease the speed of the bristle movements to avoid doing too much damage to the teeth and gums. When the pressure is relieved the normal brushing power will return.
A pressure sensor is there to help and protect you and act asa gentle reminder to use a little less force and help you maintain a healthy smile.
As you might expect, our number 1 recommended toothbrush, the Sonicare 41000, includes a pressure sensor.
How important is price?
Our experience has suggested that most people have a perception that the more you spend, the better the electric toothbrush is and the better the clean you get from it.
The reality of the situation is, this is not true.
Whilst the most expensive brushes might be able to achieve better results, often these brushes are more expensive because they include features and accessories that are not essential.
Simply switching to the most basic and cheapest of electric toothbrushes will give you many of the benefits.
Even if you can afford and justify the most premium models, this is no benefit to you if you do not use the right brushing technique or brush for the right amount of time.
In most instances, by the time you spend more than $50 on a toothbrush the returns are diminishing for each dollar spent.
Our primary recommendation is the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100. It is one of the cheaper Sonicare models available today and is priced very competitively.
However, spending a bit more may bring features such as Bluetooth connectivity that might be beneficial to you and your oral health.
How important is battery life?
Often many people desire a toothbrush with a long battery life, but they rarely need it because when not in use it sits on the charging stand in the bathroom.
Therefore battery life needs not be a big part of your buying decision, however, it should be a consideration, particularly if you find yourself traveling frequently or unable to charge your toothbrush at regular intervals.
Over recent years performance and usage time of batteries have gotten better. Most brushes are on par with each other, with an average of around 2 weeks use between charges.
Typically the cheaper the brush the less battery life it offers but this isn’t always the case.
Going away for a week or two, knowing you don’t need to take a charging stand to replenish the battery can be helpful.
If you do need a particularly long battery life, Philips Sonicare tends to be the best for this.
How important is the cost of replacement brush heads?
An electric toothbrush is a long term investment that benefits your oral health.
The cost of replacing the brush heads every 3 months, as is recommended can affect the long term ownership cost. Therefore you may want to consider this cost before making your decision.
Typically Oral-B brush heads are cheaper than Sonicare with a single head costing $5 and $8 respectively.
You will need to buy 4 new brush heads a year, so these costs can add up. But, you can often buy in bulk or get deals that bring the overall cost down a little.
In most instances, you have the choice of opting for a third party (compatible with) brush head. There may not be the same range of choice and the quality may be slightly inferior, but there are some great options at very good prices for both Sonicare and Oral-B.
Do be aware of fakes/counterfeit brush heads which pose as genuine but are often not the real deal. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
Is it useful to get a brush with a travel case included?
Far from the first thing you should consider when buying an electric toothbrush, but a travel case can be extremely handy, even if you are not a regular traveler.
What is often a plastic case that holds the handle and up to 2 brush heads can make it much easier to transport the toothbrush and the brush heads in those instances you need to.
When in the case, the likelihood of damage — particularly to the bristles on the brush head — is reduced. There is also less chance of the brush accidentally being switched on. Any excess moisture and toothpaste in the heads remains in the case and not on anything else that might be in your bag; nobody likes toothpaste stains on their clothes!
Premium models like Oral-B’s iO range or Sonicare’s DiamondClean range even allow the toothbrush to be charged in their travel case. This means there is no need to mount on a charging stand, ideal for regular travellers.
How important is a gum cleaning mode?
This is not a mode that everyone needs, but if you are in the early stages of gum disease or experience sensitivity in the gums when brushing, you may find this mode helpful to ensure the gums become more tolerant to brushing and generally healthier.
Gum cleaning mode is lower powered than the standard cleaning mode and moves the brush head less aggressively, but in a way that cleans and encourages blood flow in the gums.
Having the mode available can act as a good reminder to brush the gums occasionally.
How important is sensitive cleaning mode?
Like gum cleaning mode, this is not a mode that everyone needs.
The motor tends to move more slowly for a gentle but still effective bristle movement over the teeth and gums.
It can be helpful if you have tender teeth and gums, and is particularly useful for those with gum disease or going through dental surgery.
How useful are the smart features in the likes of the Oral-B iO and 9900 Prestige?
Smart features on offer today can be very useful, but they are far from essential and usually come with a premium price tag. We discuss this in more detail in our post: Is a smart toothbrush worth it?
They can also add a certain convenience to the way in which you use and interact with the brush.
Sonicare’s BrushSync brush head replacement reminder system is a great example of how technology can be used very effectively — it reminds you exactly when you need to replace the brush head. This is a luxury, though, and only worth paying for if you’re shopping without a budget.
We run through the various smart toothbrush choices in our guide here.
How important is a whitening mode?
Arguably an overrated cleaning mode, this is not something you need on your electric toothbrush.
Whitening mode is normally just an extended (longer than 2 minutes) cleaning cycle, which allows extra time so that additional attention can be given to those front teeth that are most obvious to others.
No electric toothbrush, with or without a whitening mode can actually whiten the teeth.
All that is happening is that the power and efficacy of the toothbrush cleans the tooth surfaces to a higher standard and lifts off substances that have dulled and stained the teeth. Therefore it restores the natural color or whiteness that had been hidden under the stains.
How important is a tongue cleaning mode?
Remembering to clean your tongue in an important part of oral hygiene, but a dedicated mode for it is of low importance in the scheme of brush features — it’s not worth spending extra money on.
The tongue is home to lots of bacteria and is often one of the major causes behind bad breath.
Cleaning the tongue after brushing, simply by dragging the brush head across it several times can really help freshen the mouth up and for some be a cure to bad breath.
A tongue cleaning mode is just a shorter and lower-powered mode that is more convenient than others available on the brush.
How important is brush head shape and size?
Studies have shown that the small round brush heads like those found on Oral-B electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque and do essentially result in better oral health.
However, these studies have often been completed under strict conditions and the real world reality is that any electric toothbrush will provide meaningful benefits over a manual toothbrush.
To get the ‘best’ results the correct brushing technique and time needs to be adhered to and even the most scientifically engineered toothbrush head cannot control this, that is down to you.
It is worth paying a little attention to though, particularly if you have a small mouth. It may well be that the smaller round brush head will allow you to reach areas of the mouth that other brush heads would not.
More important than brush head size is adopting the right brushing technique.
Is it worth having Bluetooth?
It is not essential and we would not encourage you to spend a lot more to get a brush with Bluetooth technology unless you feel you will make good use of it.
You need to invest a little time to get the most from Bluetooth and that may include changing habits of a lifetime.
In-built Bluetooth technology can send data about your brushing back to your smartphone. This data can then be used to help educate you on how to improve your technique and in turn improve your oral health.
We acknowledge that there are certainly significant benefits for some users. The best Bluetooth equipped brushes can be likened to having a dentist on hand each time you brush.
However this does involve you making use of it and fitting it into your routine, so consider whether this is likely to happen before you spend extra cash on it.
Further to the above, as part of our extensive hands-on testing of brushes we’ve tried to answer any of the questions you may have before and after buying.
Browse the sections below for more information, and feel free to ask a question in the comments if there’s anything we’ve missed.
What are the benefits of an electric toothbrush?
The following are the key benefits to owning an electric toothbrush:
- Consistent power delivery for a dentist-like clean
- Can remove up to 100% more plaque than a manual brush
- Reduces tooth decay and improves gum health
- Can help to eliminate bad breath
- Timers and pacers to encourage a 2 minute clean
- Various cleaning modes
- Differing styles of brush head to achieve different results
- Fading bristles remind you when to change your brush head
- A relatively low lifetime cost
- Can improve your oral hygiene routine
Is an electric toothbrush worth the investment?
The increased efficiency with which they clean, the convenience they offer and the way in which they encourage you to brush for the right amount of time can certainly pay off.
Whilst there is an initial purchase price, this is offset over time as you could have fewer or cheaper dental bills, not to mention healthier teeth and gums.
Purchasing at a reasonable price helps to ensure the investment pays off. Our primary recommendation, the ProtectiveClean 4100 is a great example of this — it includes the ‘core’ features we recommend having, but doesn’t pile on unnecessary extras.
Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?
The short answer is yes, electric is better than a manual toothbrush when it comes to effectively cleaning your teeth.
We will be the first to say a manual brush is adequate for daily teeth cleaning, but the clinical studies and trials show how an electric brush is better.
The most important thing is that you brush your teeth with the right technique, for two minutes twice a day.
Do electric toothbrushes damage teeth?
When used correctly, an electric toothbrush does not damage the teeth or gums.
Do electric toothbrushes cause gum recession?
No, the toothbrush itself does not cause gum recession.
It can exaggerate or accelerate recession, but this is as a result of user (human) error rather than the action of the brush. This effect is just as likely to happen with a manual toothbrush.
Do electric toothbrushes whiten teeth?
No, electric toothbrushes do not whiten teeth.
Electric toothbrushes can help prevent and remove stains on your teeth, but no brush can whiten teeth beyond their natural whiteness.
The regularity with which you clean, your diet, lifestyle and toothpaste can all have a bearing.
How long do electric toothbrushes last?
The average life span of an electric toothbrush is around 5 years.
Manufacturers normally offer a 2 year warranty should the brush fail sooner.
But some brushes will last a lot longer — we know of people still using electric toothbrushes that are 10 years old.
Read more: How Long Do Electric Toothbrushes Last?
Can you share an electric toothbrush?
Although almost one in ten (9.7 percent) said they had shared a toothbrush (Oral Health Foundation, 2014), it is not advised.
Bristles of the brush head can harbor bacteria and germs that can have a negative consequence on your health when shared.
The interchangeable brush heads of an electric toothbrush make sharing a brush handle easier and possible.
In fact, we are advocates of sharing the handle (not the brush head) as it is a great way to keep ownership costs down and get extra value from your toothbrush.
Can electric toothbrushes get wet?
With few exceptions electric toothbrushes are designed in such a way that they can be rinsed under a tap for cleaning, wiped with a cloth and exposed to water.
The vulnerable electronics are sealed inside the brush handle with measures in place to stop water from getting in.
Different manufacturers have different advice and guidance on using in the shower, for example. At no point should the brush be submerged in water.
Electric Toothbrush Reviews
We’ve made it our business to review all of the top brushes in the USA so that we can compile a ratings post like this.
We’ve listed our latest reviews below, or you can use the search box at the top of the page if there’s a particular review you are looking for.
You can see the full list on ourelectric toothbrush reviewspage.
- Fairywill P80 Review
- Unobrush Review
- Oclean X Pro Elite Review
- Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige Review
- Oral-B Smart 1500 Review
Electric Toothbrush Comparisons
If you’re choosing between two or three brushes, you may find some of our side-by-side comparisons useful.
These include actual photos of the brushes (we buy them in to review and compare them) and our recommendation of which we think is the best choice.
Choose a comparison from the list below, or use the search box at the top of the page if there’s a particular one you’re looking for.
Below you can find some of our most popular comparisons, or you can view ourcomplete list of electric toothbrush comparisons here
- Oral-B iO vs DiamondClean Smart
- Oral-B iO Series 7 vs Series 8 vs Series 9
- Quip vs Sonicare vs Oral-B
- Oral-B Genius X vs Genius Pro 8000
- Sonicare 4100 vs 5100 vs 6100
- Oral-B 1000 vs 1500
- Oral-B Pro 6000 vs Genius Pro 8000
- Oral-B iO vs Sonicare 9900 Prestige
- Sonicare 9900 Prestige vs DiamondClean Smart
What are your thoughts & opinions?
Is there a brush you’re thinking of buying? Not sure about the difference between two brushes? We’re always interested to hear from readers, so let us know any thoughts, questions or opinions you have by leaving a comment below.