The best subscription toothbrush
The Burst Sonic is a clinically proven electric toothbrush that delivers ultimate value and convenience via the subscription service offered.
I have not been won over by the charcoal bristles, but there are other likeable features including the battery life, money back guarantee and warranty.
- Subscription service
- Long battery life
- USB charging stand
- 90 day money back guarantee
- Lifetime warranty
- Clinically proven
- Charcoal bristles
- No pressure sensor
Some other options to consider
Alternatives depend on whether or not you would like the subscription model for your electric toothbrush or more specifically, brush heads.
Burst is our top pick for the best subscription toothbrush.
A subscription free option is the Oral-B Smart 2000. It’s our top pick for an electric toothbrush today.
It doesn’t offer the same battery life or choice of cleaning modes as the Burst Sonic. But, it has a visible pressure sensor and the backing of one of the largest brands within the personal healthcare space.
|Oral-B Pro 2000||1,704 Reviews||$84.97||View on Amazon|
Design, usability, clean & general use
Burst is delivered to you in a fairly simple looking brown cardboard box, with little more than the Burst logo on the front of it.
Open it up to reveal the brush and accessories neatly laid out inside.
I like the fact that the box is recyclable and there are limited plastics to get rid of upon receipt of the product.
It is here you could suggest that more time has been spent on the brush and how it performs rather than the packaging.
Available in 3 different colours (black, white, rose gold), it is the black colour handle that I have.
What is nice to see is that all the accessories match.
With some of the competition, you may get a black brush handle, but white accessories. It is nice to see the consistency.
There is nothing revolutionary about the design of the brush, it has a fairly conventional look.
Tall and relatively slim, it feels comfortable in hand.
Depending on the models, Oral-B brushes tend to have a rubber strip on the front and raised plastic ridges on the back of the handle for grip, whilst Sonicare brushes tend to be finished in a fairly smooth touch plastic, but whatever the coating is, it provides just enough resistance to keep the brush in hand.
This sonic brush from Burst is much the same, but the lower half of the brush handle has this diamond shaped texturing to the body which creates a whole series of ridges which makes the brush easy to hold onto, even when wet. It looks quite classy too.
In both black and white the brush looks fairly minimalistic without lots of bits and pieces that scream look at me.
The back and sides are free from buttons, controls or any noteworthy features.
On the front, you have the circular power button on the upper half of the handle.
The black button on the black body is almost lost, it certainly doesn’t stand out. Only in certain lights will you catch the smiley face that is printed on the button.
There is a good resistance to the button. Not too firm, but not too soft.
Below the power button are 4 further icons running down the handle.
3 of these icons are for the built-in cleaning modes. They light up with a white light when that mode is selected.
I am not sure why icons are used. It is not immediately obvious what each are. Just have the name of the mode, like Sonicare do.
The 4th and final icon is a + sign that lights up red, when the brush is being charged. This is the battery indicator.
4 weeks battery life is available from the battery, from just 1 hour on charge.
This icon will also flash red for a few seconds at the end of the cleaning cycle, if the remaining battery power is below 20%.
On the base of the handle is a recess into which fits the protuberance on the charging stand. This is how the inductive charge is delivered through the built-in battery. This is the most common setup for electric toothbrushes.
It is here on the base of the brush where it feels cheapest. A gloss black panel forms the base and is part of the seal to all the electronics inside. It just looks and feels a little lower grade than the rest of the handle.
All of the electronics are sealed inside the brush handle. The toothbrush is water resistant and can be used in the shower if you so wish.
Whilst you don’t want to pretend your toothbrush is as submarine whilst in the bath, the splashes of water and rinse under the tap or shower are no issue for the brush.
Extending from the top of the brush handle is a metal shaft. This is connected to the motor inside the handle and is what the brush head connects to.
A brush head is provided in the box.
This is a colour matched brush head and unlike most brushes that tend to have white, blue, green or yellow bristles, here they are black.
The bristles are black on all colour variants of the Burst sonic toothbrush.
The reason for this is because they are coated in binchotan charcoal.
Sourced from the hills of Wakyama, Japan, this charcoal is safe for use in your mouth and is added to the bristles to help with the removal of bacteria.
Activated charcoal has been around in medicines and healthcare for many years, but in the last couple of years there has been a resurgence and many products now include it.
Having extensively researched the use of activated charcoal within oral healthcare products I personally think it is a bit of a phase or ‘fad’ and the demand for such will drop off. The reality of the situation is, the science proves the benefits are limited and the small amount on the bristles of the Burst brush head, is very unlikely to have any noticeable positive effect, for most people. Most dental professionals would not advise the use of charcoal.
Essentially, what I am saying here is traditional nylon bristles without charcoal as effective as charcoal infused ones.
On the subject of bristles, the Burst brush head has bristles of varying lengths and feels relatively soft to the touch and on first use in the mouth.
However, I did notice a slight stabbing into the gumline when brushing. This was not some intensely painful stabbing, but noticeable. After a while you can forget about it as you get used to it. I figured it might be because of the varying bristle length.
Having dug a little deeper, it turns out Burst uses polybutylene telephthalate (PBT) bristles rather than the more common nylon. Burst are open about this but according to Kweon Young Jun a successful patent applicant, PBT bristles “are better than nylon for toothbrush bristles in that they are cheaper, more durable, and less water-absorbent. However, PBT and PET are too stiff and inflexible, and thus, not soft. As such, since it appears that toothbrush bristles made from PBT or PET damage the gums, PBT or PET usually have been used only in inexpensive disposable toothbrushes, or in combination with nylon-made bristles, as a way to reduce the cost.”
Kweon goes onto explain the complications in the tips of bristles and essentially confirms my thoughts that the slight stabbing sensation into the gums was not my imagination and in reality, it is because a cheaper grade of bristle material is being used and the tips of those bristles are not likely rounded as they tend to be on the bristles of those brush heads from leading brands.
What impact this has on the teeth and gums long term, I do not know, but I don’t think they will do any damage! Surely they can’t with so many professionals recommending them.
Sunk within the brush head is an X shaped element. This is the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) constructed tooth polisher that Burst says will help remove surface stains on the teeth.
I am no scientist or have data to confirm, but I am not sure this is large enough to have much impact on the tooth surface.
It may seem like I am making a bigger deal of the brush head than is necessary and I am certainly not calling these things out as big issues, but I do feel it is worth knowing the situation.
The bristle type and tooth polisher is not a make or break issue for Burst. I would just like them to add a more conventional brush head, even if it was a couple more dollars as a result.
This, in turn, means the head covers a larger surface area and combined with the varying bristle lengths should help clean not only the tooth surfaces, but the interdental spaces too.
In actual day to day use, I felt the clean was pretty good and very similar to any Sonicare electric toothbrush.
There is no reason for me to believe Burst was doing a bad job of cleaning the teeth, it certainly managed to remove the plaque build-up I had.
Clinical studies have proven how well Burst actually cleans, which is reassuring.
Headline statistics from the studies show that Burst has 10x greater plaque removal than a manual toothbrush, reduces bleeding gums by up to 3x after 15 days and is proven to improve the health of the gums.
I personally prefer the cleaning sensation of Oral-B, but would happily use Burst on a daily basis.
A handy little addition on the back of the brush head are a series of raised dots (complete with the Burst smiley face – I like this). This is a tongue cleaner. Pass this over the tongue or over the inside cheeks to help remove more bacteria from the mouth.
You might like to know that it is perfectly fine to use Burst with braces too. No special brush head required.
The brush heads are designed to be replaced every 3 months on average. This is the beauty of the Burst subscription program, they are automatically delivered to your door right around the time that you need them.
There is just the 1 style of brush head as I have previously mentioned and whilst the default subscription is $6 every 3 months for 1 brush head, you can login to your account and change the frequency from 1, 2 or 3 months.
Brust are not alone to offer these intervals with shipping and part of the reason they do, is so that the delivery acts as a reminder to you or me to replace the head. However, it would be nice to see a little more environmentally friendly plan where you can get a years worth of brush heads delivered at one time for example.
At full speed, the brush operates at 33,000 vibrations per minute.
You can see this movement in the bristles, you can feel it on the teeth and gums too.
When powered on the brush makes a strong vibrating/humming sound much like a Sonicare brush. It is much quieter than Oral-B.
That 33,000 vibrations is on the first cleaning mode, named whitening. This is the default mode if you like.
When activated, this will light up the first icon on the brush handle.
The next mode is sensitive, which operates at 31,000 vibrations per minute and the third is massage mode.
When activated, they light up the second and third icon on the brush handle respectively.
To change the cleaning modes, you power the brush on via a press of the power button, you then press it again to move to the next cleaning mode.
Therefore to get to massage mode, it is one press to turn the brush on. A second press to move to the sensitive mode and a third to access massage.
Press and hold the button and it will turn the brush off.
If the brush runs through a full cleaning mode, it will default to the last cleaning mode used.
The whitening mode provided a good overall clean and I was pleased with the results.
Do be aware that there is only limited ‘whitening’ a brushing mode can offer. This whitening is actually stain removal, lifting the marks and discolouration on the teeth to make them appear whiter, rather than actually changing the colour of the tooth.
With a reduction of just 2,000 vibrations per minute, the sensitive mode was not quite as sensitive as I expected. Yes, I could tell it was a little more gentle. However, if I had sensitive teeth and gums I would suspect it would have felt a little intense still.
The massage mode is designed to be more like pulses. The best way I can describe it is, it is like turning the brush on and off rally rapidly, you get like a pulsing sensation, a burst of power and then slight relief. I don’t know what the vibrations per minute are, but it felt like it was quite high.
The reality is that few actually need these different cleaning modes, they are not all that important.
In most cases, 1 cleaning mode is sufficient and that is what the majority stick to.
More beneficial for your oral health is regular brushing for the right amount of time, but in some instances, they can be beneficial, hence their existence.
Built into the toothbrush are a few essential as well as ‘nice to have’ features.
I determine a timer and pacer to be essential and Burst has this.
Dentists recommend 2 minutes of cleaning twice a day, what this does not help with is ensuring you and I brush our teeth evenly.
The idea is that you break the mouth up into 4 sections. Upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left.
You spend 30 seconds cleaning each section, that way, over the 120 seconds (2 minutes) of brushing time, you will give a relatively even clean to the teeth and gums.
The pacer is part of the built-in timer acts as an alert to you, to change quadrant as you brush to encourage this even clean.
The pacer activates at 30 second intervals, by pausing the brush motor briefly.
This pause alerts you, via the change in brush sound and the lack of movement in the brush head, that it is time to change quadrant.
At the end of the 120 seconds (2 minutes) the timer runs out and the brush automatically turns itself off. A clear sign to you that the clean is over.
You can always power the brush back on if you want to brush for longer and you don’t have to follow this pacing, but it is good practice.
Do be aware too, that there is a particular technique with cleaning the teeth. The brush head should be held at a 45 degree angle to the teeth.
According to the documentation supplied by Burst, this has a pressure sensor built-in. This means if you brush too hard, the motor in the brush slows down to avoid doing any damage to the teeth and gums.
This is not mentioned on their website and in using it, I can’t say I noticed any difference when I intentionally applied too much pressure.
Maybe it is present but was not obvious, however, both Sonicare and Oral-B have slightly different implementations of this that alerts you at the same time as reducing the motor speed. You normally get a different vibration in the handle or a notification light. Neither are present here on Burst.
Whilst the package comes with the essentials you need to get you up and running, it would be handy if there was a travel case provided to protect the brush and the bristles in transit.
Burst does sell a black and white travel case as an optional accessory for $19 through their website here.
Whilst it will not be appropriate for all, if others in your household use Burst, there are packs of Burst bands you can buy for $12 that fit around the brush and act as markers for whose brush is who, much like Oral-B’s coloured rings.
The brush comes with a 2 year warranty as standard which applies if you are no longer subscribed to the service. However, remain subscribed and the warranty is upheld for the lifetime of your subscription, which is a bonus.
I have not tested, but Burst do suggest they have a no quibble policy about sending out a replacement during this warranty period, should you have an issue.
For new subscribers, there is too the peace of mind of a 90 day money back guarantee, which is to be commended.
Whilst I don’t think Burst is quite perfect in my opinion, few products are and we all have different preferences. I have to give full credit for creating a decent electric toothbrush, that benefits from some smart user friendly features.
I could happily use it on a daily basis.
Summary of design, usability, clean & general use
- Slim and comfortable brush to hold and use
- Looks good
- Various colour options available
- 3 cleaning modes (Whitening, Sensitive and Massage)
- Sensitive and massage mode felt quite powerful
- Icons on the brush handle not that clear, names of modes would be better
- 1 brush head included
- Brush head made with PBT charcoal infused bristles
- Bristles stab a little into the gums
- Gave a good overall clean
- Clinically proven to remove more plaque and improve gum health
- Tongue cleaner on the back of brush head
- Brush head automatically sent out every 3 months if subscribed with an option for increased frequency
- The built-in 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer
- Brush automatically turns itself off when the cleaning cycle is complete
- The brush is fairly quiet in use
- Cleans well on the whole
- 4 week battery life from the built-in rechargeable battery
- Water resistant and can be used in the shower
- No travel case provided
- Lifetime warranty if subscribed
- 90 day money back guarantee
Built into the Burst sonic toothbrush is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.
It has a 700mAh capacity, which means between charges you will get 4 weeks of usage time.
This is equivalent to 112 minutes of running time or 28 days usage, based on 2 cleans a day each lasting 2 minutes in total.
My own hands-on testing confirmed that the claimed battery life is accurate, in fact, I achieved another few days, which is always a bonus.
The battery is not user removable.
You recharge it by sitting it within the provided charging stand.
There are 2 parts to the charging stand.
You have the base, on which the brush sits and into which is hard wired a USB cable.
The base has a protuberance on it, which fits into the recess in the base of the brush handle. It does too have 4 foam feet on it to keep it securely in place on a flat surface.
The second part to the stand is what I can best describe as a cap. It sits over the base and provides a more secure frame in which the Burst brush can sit.
The frame has the word Burst printed on the front and increases the stability and improves the aesthetics of the charging stand.
Connect the USB cable to a USB socket on your computer, power bank, wall socket or other device to charge it. You do have also a 2 pin US power adapter complete with USB port into which you can connect the USB cable if you want to charge the brush from the mains.
The charging stands accepts 5V, 0.6A.
Capable of being charged in as little as 1 hour, it is much quicker to recharge than most of the competition that normally requires 8+ hours.
Habit means that I normally leave the brush to charge overnight.
The ‘+’ icon on the brush handle is the power/battery indicator.
When the battery reaches less than 20% it will flash to alert you at the end of a cleaning cycle.
When the brush is being charged, it will be lit a solid red, until the battery has been recharged. Once fully recharged, the red light will go out to indicate this.
When you compare the battery life of a Burst brush to the competition, it stands up fairly well, beating the majority.
Oral-B electric toothbrushes tend to be about 7-12 days, whilst Sonicare brushes tend to last 3-4 weeks.
With this battery life, it is good for most people who travel. You can go away for a few days or even a few weeks and not need to worry about taking the charging stand.
If you do need to take the charging stand, USB connectivity makes it friendly for international travel, you will not necessarily need to take a bulky plug adapter or voltage converter.
Summary of battery life
- Built-in user rechargeable 700mAh Lithium-Ion battery
- 4 weeks usage time – 112 minutes or 28 days usage based on 2 cleans a day
- Charges within just 1 hour
- USB powered charging stand
- 2 pin US, USB wall adapter supplied
- The icon flashes red when less than 20% power remaining
- The icon stays a solid red when charging until the charge is complete and the light goes out
- Competition still offer up to 2-3 weeks usage on average
Price & where to buy
Burst’s sonic toothbrush be purchased directly from Burst or from Amazon if you’re not fussed about the subcription.
The toothbrush is not sold in stores or through any other online retailer at this time.
This means that the price is more controlled and tends not to change very frequently as competition is not the same.
Burst is centered around a subscription model.
It begins by you paying for the toothbrush and then committing to 3 monthly charges and delivery for the replacement brush heads.
You can change the brush head delivery frequency, if desired, from your online account.
The normal price of the toothbrush is $100, if you opt for it in white or black.
This is a one off fee, that buys you the brush handle, a brush head, charging stand, wall plug, and associated documentation.
Replacement brush heads are available at $10 each.
As you complete the checkout process you will be subscribed to Burst and every 3 months a new brush head will be shipped out to you.
You can cancel at any time.
There is a rose gold colour option that comes with a travel case in the box, this is slightly more expensive at $145, with replacement brush heads coming in at $11 each.
Assuming you opt for a white or black coloured brush, the costs look like this:
- Year 1 – $130 ($100 for the handle, plus 3 charges of $10 for the 3 monthly brush head delivery)
- Year 2 – $40 (4 charges of $10 for the 3 monthly brush head delivery)
- Year 3 – $40 (4 charges of $10 for the 3 monthly brush head delivery)
The total cost over 3 years is $210 or 19 cents per day.
This price does exclude the cost of water, toothpaste and electric to charge it. This price also works on some assumptions, but you get a rough idea.
You can bring the cost down further if you were to share it with other members of your household. All you need to invest in is extra brush heads.
For the sake of comparison, Quip’s subscription service works out at 12 cents per day.
However, with multiple cleaning modes this is potentially more closely aligned to the Sonicare 5100, which works out at 20 cents per day. or even the 6100 at 23 cents per day.
With this in mind, Burst represents really good value all things considered.
Please note that all prices quoted are approximates and will vary based on location, supplier and time of purchase. These figures were correct at the time of writing and should not be relied upon as hard fact, but used as a guide during your decision process.
Summary of price & where to buy
- Subscription model
- Available from Burst or Amazon.
- Toothbrush normally sells for $100
- Replacement brush heads $10 each, charged for and shipped every 3 months
- Works out at around $210 or 19 cents per day over 3 years
- A total cost of $180 or 16 cents per day over 3 years when referred
- Share brush handle with another user to extend the value
Reliability & long term use
In an ideal world, I would test Burst for a much longer period, but I was not able to test it for more than 6 weeks.
During that time I have had limited reason to question the long term reliability of this brush.
The construction is on the whole very good.
I don’t think the fit and finish is quite as good as Sonicare, but I would not suggest that there is any reason to think this should not last as long.
Burst’s own website has over 12,000 reviews at the time I write this review and very few are negative or complain of reliability issues.
If I were to be the pessimist, then it is still early days for Burst, it will be interesting to see how many are still functional in 3-5 years time.
If you do not continue the subscription, the brush comes with a 2 year warranty, which is respectable.
Continue to remain subscribed, which is really the point with Burst and you have a lifetime warranty, which I simply cannot argue with.
Convenience is a big appeal of the Burst toothbrush.
Once you have paid the initial fee and setup the subscription, it is a convenient option for many people today.
For many, it will ensure that you will actually replace your brush head a little more regularly than you would if a replacement were not to be delivered to the door.
The brush itself has many of the must have features (timer and pacer) included as well as nice touches such as automatic power off.
The money back guarantee and lifetime warranty are simple additions that add to the overall appeal of this product.
I have not been won over by the charcoal bristles. I don’t believe the benefits are quite as great as is made out. But, the toothbrush cleans the teeth well and it is clinically proved.
A financially incentivized ambassador program has helped this toothbrush burst (please excuse the pun) onto the scene, certainly amongst those very socially active individuals.
All things considered, Burst is a solid toothbrush. But, there are options to consider that might suit you better.
- Height (without head) – 7.59 inches/19.3cm
- Height (with head) – 10 inches/25.4cm
- Width – 1.1 inches/2.8cm
- Thickness – 1.1 inches/2.8cm
- Weight (without head) – 0.23lb/106g
- Weight (with head) – 0.24lb/112g
All are approximates
The Burst sonic brush spoken about in this review was provided by Burst PR department. Electric Teeth did not purchase this model. No financial reward was provided to conclude the review the way that we did.