The sale of replacement brush heads is a lucrative market for toothbrush manufacturers.
Once you have bought an electric toothbrush, for the next few years at least you are going to be requiring replacement heads.
As I understand it, this is where they make their profit, not on the toothbrush handle, but the replacement brush heads you need to buy.
The fitting of the Brush heads tends not to be the same between different brands. Oral-B brush fittings are different from the heads of a Sonicare toothbrush, they are not interchangeable so your choices are limited.
Buying a manufacturer original head gives the best chance of quality and reliability. However, many would argue that the prices of the replacement brush heads manufacturers offer can be a bit expensive.
As a result, this has opened up a market for third party sellers to create replicas. These are compatible with Oral-B brush handles but not made by or branded Oral-B.
But, such demand for cheaper heads has also fuelled a market of fakes or counterfeits, that are passed off as the real deal, but are rarely made to the same standard.
In November 2019 the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 20,000 counterfeit heads and categorically state in their press release:
Counterfeit toothbrush heads pose a serious health threat to consumers, as do all counterfeit healthcare products. Counterfeit brush heads are manufactured in unsanitary facilities with substandard materials that may sicken users or cause bleeding to a user’s gums or mouth, and structural defects may cause the brush head to detach and potentially choke users.
The officers detained the shipment as suspected counterfeit consumer goods due to poor packaging and questionable quality. Packaging and quality are 2 reasons we highlight to look out for when buying brush heads.
If you want to know more and would rather watch and listen, than read text, click play on the video below.
Where to buy authentic Oral-B brush heads online
Before we explain exactly how you can spot brush heads that are not manufactured by Oral-B, we’ll just point you to where you can buy them online, safe in the knowledge that they are the real deal.
We often link to various brush heads throughout our reviews, but we also have a post that compares Oral-B brush heads. In this post, we link to the various brush heads on Amazon. These are official Oral-B brush heads, so if you buy these you can be sure that they are not fake or replica.
How to spot fake Oral-B brush heads
When it comes to buying any product we can be easily led into believing we are buying the real thing when it is, in fact, a fake. At times, many of us will knowingly buy the fake as there is a cost advantage to doing so.
Most of us have been there or know someone who has, there is no shame in it.
When products are in demand and there is a big market for fake versions of the original. Some people choose to take advantage of this and the only loser is you as the buyer.
Why spend $500 on that lovely Michael Kors handbag you have seen in your local department store when you can get apparently the same one for $50 from a guy at the market.
$100 for a Ralph Lauren polo shirt; but just $15 for the same thing from a small shop you found on holiday.
Which one are you going to buy?
The same goes for electric toothbrush heads.
Long term, purchasing a fake can lead to problems or disadvantages that mean we wish we had bought the real/official product.
We are not saying do not buy fake or counterfeit, it is your decision, but we do not endorse it and always advise purchasing the real thing.
When it comes to your electric toothbrush and Oral-B replacement brush heads, DO NOT let yourself be led or fooled into purchasing a fake or replica – know the differences.
Photos to help you spot a fake
Please see the photos in this gallery, alongside the detailed instructions below, for assistance in spotting fake Oral-B brush heads.
You can click on the photos to see a larger version.
Oral-B compatible brush heads are different
It is worth noting that there are companies and sellers be that in a store or online who will not claim to be selling genuine Oral-B brush heads, but will state them as compatible with Oral-B brushes.
Just so we are clear, it is perfectly legal for a company to make a brush head that is compatible with an Oral-B brush handle.
The head can and will often look very similar to those made by Oral-B.
But, there are some key differences.
These heads are sold as compatible with and are not packaged, labeled or marketed as if they were the same as the originals. t is not right to suggest these are fake or counterfeit.
Fakes are made and sold to make you believe you are buying an original.
Third party or aftermarket heads like this tend to be much more cost effective and made to a fairly good standard, offering an alternative to the original.
In this instance, expect to see the name of the company, on the head and some slight design differences.
Real vs Fake/Replica Oral-B Brush Heads
The best replica, fake or counterfeit brush heads will come packaged and look like an original.
Most of the time, many of us would find it very difficult to actually tell the difference but there are some key things to look out for, which will allow you to decide whether they are fake or not.
It is not until you get home, start unpacking the product and using it that you may have cause for concern. You can’t open and try them in the shop or always tell from images online.
Further down this post is a list of key identifiers that make it possible to tell the difference between a fake and real brush head, but before we show this, here are a couple of things to consider before making the purchase, to avoid purchasing a fake.
- Purchase from only a recognized and reputable store or online retailer.
Do not purchase from Bob at the market or off eBay unless you are sure that what you are purchasing is the real deal or you are happy with your decision and happy to pay the price of using a copy or fake.
Buy from big name stores such as Walmart, Target, CVS, Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon (not third party sellers). They have policies and regulations that reduces the chances fakes or replicas being sold. These big name stores generally work direct with the real manufacturer.
- If the price is that much cheaper, there is likely a reason for it.
If your local big named store is selling the brush head you want for $10 per pack but Geoff’s cosmetic market stall has the same product for just $5, question why. How is it there is such a price difference? How can Geoff sell it so much cheaper?
- If you are being offered more for less, there is likely a reason for it.
Is there a 3rd party seller on Amazon or eBay offering your 20 brush heads for $10 when Amazon or a reputable eBay seller is selling just 8 for $20? If so, good chance they are fake as the production cost is less and it is possible to sell at this price whereas it is not for an original.
- Is the pack size different to 2, 3, 4 or 10 brush heads per pack
Manufacturers often sell heads in packs of 2, 3, 4 or 10. Be wary of packs of a different quantity. Sometimes they are genuine. However, heads are rarely sold as a single item and packs larger than 10 rarely exist.
- If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Consider the deal as a whole. Does the price, product, reviews all sound too good to be true and you seem to be getting the bargain of the century? It is usually an indicator that something is not quite right.
How to tell the difference between an original or real Oral-B brush head and a fake
The following are a list of known differences between a genuine, Oral-B manufactured brush head and counterfeit/fake/replica brush heads sold online or in store.
Depending on the source the differences and signs of the fake may differ. The following is intended as a guide only. Not all fakes will exhibit these faults or flaws, but as a broader rule, a fake or copy will show one or more of these identifiers.
- Packaging language
- The writing on the packaging will usually be in English. This may vary if your country’s primary language is not English.
- Receiving packaging in any other language, particularly Chinese if you are not in China, should act as a trigger for you to investigate further.
- German may possibly appear as Braun Oral-B is of German origin, but fakes can also be produced with German language.
- Packaging quality.
- Is the plastic fairly sturdy or really flimsy?
- Is the packaging sealed and well aligned?
- Is the writing on the back bolder and darker?
- If thin, poorly aligned, weak colours then the heads contained within could be fake.
- Reference number
- On the individually sealed brush head packaging, is there an 8 digit reference number? If not, it could be fake.
The brush head shaft
- The Oral-B logo will not scratch off.
- The Oral-B logo on a fake brush head will often be lighter in colour and can be scratched off with a fingernail.
- On an original, the grey/white paint will generally be darker in colour and should not scratch off with a fingernail.
- A raised circular mark
- A small circular and noticeable indentation towards the bottom of the brush head shaft, underneath the Oral-B logo will indicate a possible fake.
- On an original, the circle is present but raised/slightly impressed.
- A fake has a circle clearly indented into the shaft.
- Shiny metal and uniform design
- Look inside the oval cutout/slit on the front of the brush head. Inside you should see a metal piece which moves when the brush is in use.
- A real head will have a nice shiny metal with little in the way of imperfections and a uniform screw effect.
- Fake brush heads may well be less uniform, less polished or made up of a different material.
- Serialized/marked internal parts.
- On the back of the brush head the oval cutout should contain a piece of usually white plastic, often with some sort of reference number on it.
- Inside the brush head
- Looking up and inside the shaft of the brush head, the original Oral-B will have a narrower darker channel compared to a fake.
The brush head & bristles
- Fake brush head bristles do not fade in colour.
- The brush head bristles will either not fade in colour at all or if it does it may take a long time to do so.
- An original will over a 3 month period will gradually get lighter in colour, with the colour remaining strongest for the longest time at the bottom of the bristle. The colour fades from the top of the bristle down.
- Tight bristle formation.
- The bristles on the brush head will be in tight clusters and appear richer and darker in colour on the real brush than the fake.
- Fake brush heads bristles will not evenly splay.
- On an original brush head used for 3 or more months, the bristles will begin to point in different directions and not be in the same tight formation as they were new.
- However, there will appear to be some order to this splaying of bristles. If the bristles are all over the place and generally really messy, you can be pretty sure it is a fake.
- The two dots
- On the top of the brush head, there is a metal dot in the center and a single dot on either side.
- If the single dot is raised the brush head is likely a fake.
- An official Oral-B head will have a recessed dot either side.
- Brush head openings
- On the back of the original brush head, there is often one opening in the lower third of the plastic body.
- A copy or replica may have multiple openings, although originals have been known to have multiple openings.
- Fitting to the brush
- Does the brush head clip securely onto the brush handle?
- Notice any wobbling or strange sound?
- Is it too tight and needs to be forced on?
- Originals will have a tight but simple fit with little movement in the brush head shaft.
- Sore teeth and gums
- If you use the brush and find your teeth and gums become more sensitive as a result compared to previously used brush heads and nothing else in your routine has changed, this could be a sign of a fake.
Getting the final word on whether it is a fake
If you have concerns about any brush heads you may have purchased or be looking to purchase yourself, then it would be worth contacting Oral-B directly to make them aware and getting their opinion by calling their freephone number: 1-800-566-7252.