Oral-B cleaning modes explained

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 83940)

Whether you have just bought one or are looking to buy a new Oral-B electric toothbrush, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you were confused by the different cleaning modes that the brush may offer.

Some toothbrushes have just 1 mode, others 2, whilst some have as many as 6 modes.

As a general rule, the more you spend, the more you get; but that does not mean you need all these different cleaning modes.

What do all these different modes do and why might you need them?

Well, let me explain this for you.

If you are after a brush with specific cleaning modes, I have created a handy comparison chart, available further down that page which shows which brushes have which modes.

What are the cleaning modes available on Oral-B toothbrushes?

At the time of writing Oral-B electric toothbrushes offer up to 6 different cleaning modes.  Those modes are as follows:

  1. Daily Clean
  2. Gum Care (Also referred to as Massage)
  3. Sensitive
  4. Whitening
  5. Pro Clean (Previously Deep Clean)
  6. Tongue Cleaner
woman brushing teeth

What does each brushing mode do?

  • Daily Clean

    • This is the standard mode for daily teeth cleaning.
    • The cleaning cycle lasts for 2 minutes; 30 seconds for each quadrant.
    • Those brushes with a built-in timer and quadpacer built in which will give an audible tone, via a pause in the brushing motion at 30 second intervals and then at the end of the 2 minute cycle.
    • 8,800-10,500 oscillations and 20,000-45,000 pulsations (subject to model – see power delivery).
    • The Cross Action, Floss Action, Deep Sweep or Precision Clean brush heads are suitable for this cleaning mode.
  • Gum Care (Also known as Massage)

    • Suitable for those with sore or inflamed and even bleeding gums. It offers a gentle massage of gums to stimulate blood flow and strengthen and nurture the gum tissue.
    • The cleaning cycle lasts for 2 minutes; 30 seconds for each quadrant.
    • Those brushes with a built-in timer and quadpacer built in which will give an audible tone, via a pause in the brushing motion at 30 second intervals and then at the end of the 2 minute cycle.
    • 2,600-9,900 oscillations and 12,000-45,000 pulsations (subject to model – see power delivery).
    • The Cross Action, Pro Gum Care, Sensitive, Floss Action, Deep Sweep or Precision Clean brush heads are suitable for this cleaning mode.
  • Sensitive

    • A gentle yet thorough cleaning for sensitive areas of the mouth, this mode is also recommended by some dentists as a better option than the Daily Clean as it is not so powerful.
    • The cleaning cycle lasts for 2 minutes; 30 seconds for each quadrant.
    • Those brushes with a built-in timer timer and quadpacer built in which will give an audible tone, via a pause in the brushing motion at 30 second intervals and then at the end of the 2 minute cycle.
    • 6,500-7,400 oscillations and 30,000-33,000 pulsations (subject to model – see power delivery).
    • ThePro Gum Care and Sensitive brush head are most suitable for this cleaning mode.
  • Whitening

    • Aims to polish teeth to give that dentist clean look and feel for brighter teeth.
    • Suitable as an occasional or everyday cleaning mode.
    • The cleaning cycle lasts for 2 minutes and 20 seconds normally.
    • The first 2 minutes are for completing the normal cleaning and the additional 20 seconds for focusing on the front teeth.
    • Those brushes with a built-in timer and quadpacer built in which will give an audible tone, via a pause in the brushing motion at 30 second intervals and then at the end of the 2 minute and 20 second cycle.
    • 6,100-9,900 oscillations and 28,000-45,000 pulsations (subject to model – see power delivery).
    • The 3D White brush head is most suitable for this cleaning mode.
  • Pro Clean (Previously Deep Clean)

    • This is cleaning mode is the same as the Daily Clean but pre-programmed to last for longer.
    • The cleaning cycle lasts for 3 minutes; 45 seconds for each quadrant compared to the standard 2 minute clean and 30 second intervals.
    • Each Pro series brush has a timer built-in which will give an audible tone via a pause in the brushing at 45 second intervals and then at the end of the 3 minute cycle.
    • 8,800-10,500 oscillations and 40,000-48,000 pulsations (subject to model – see power delivery).
    • The Cross Action, FlossAction, Deep Sweep or Precision Clean brush heads are most suitable for this cleaning mode.
  • Tongue Cleaner

    • Used for cleaning the tongue or inside of the cheeks.
    • More gentle than a conventional cleaning mode.
    • Suitable for daily or occasional use.
    • The cleaning lasts for 20 seconds.
    • 7,300-8,200 oscillations and 30,000-33,000 pulsations (subject to model – see power delivery).
    • The Pro GumCare and Sensitive brush head are advisable for this mode.

This hopefully helps explains what each mode means and how exactly the brushing modes differ.

The following table helps compare the modes a little further and also lists, which models offer which brushing mode.

Click to enlarge the image.

Two minute timer and quadpacer (professional timer)

The dentist recommended cleaning time for your teeth is 2 minutes, or 120 seconds.

Brushing modes, Daily Clean, Gum Care and Sensitive are programmed to run for this length of time.

From the moment the brush is turned on, a built-in timer is activated.

At the end of the 2 minute cleaning cycle, the motor in the brush pauses and restarts briefly three times.

This pausing of the brush motor causes the brushing sensation to change as well as the sound of the brush.

This is your signal that the 2 minutes of brushing time has been achieved.

Normally at this point, you would turn the toothbrush off, by holding the power button for 1-2 seconds.  You can continue to brush the teeth if you prefer.  The brush will not automatically turn itself off.

Pro Clean, and Whitening modes last longer than 2 minutes and the Tongue cleaning mode is shorter than this at just 20 seconds.

The same pausing action happens at the end of the programmed cleaning cycle time.

Although not present in all electric toothbrushes Oral-B manufacture, the vast majority have what Oral-B call a professional timer.

Also known as the quadpacer or 30 second timer, this is an additional feature that assists in the brushing routine.

During a 2 minute cleaning cycle, there are four periods of 30 seconds.  The idea behind the pacer is that you spend 30 seconds brushing each quadrant of the mouth.

Imagine breaking the mouth up into four sections, upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left.

If you spend 30 seconds cleaning the surfaces of the teeth in each quadrant, by the end of the 2 minutes, you will have brushes evenly around the mouth.

The professional timer/quadpacer helps you achieve this.

At 30 second intervals, there is a brief pause of the motor before it restarts again.

Like the 2 minute timer, this causes a change in the brushing sensation and the sound of the brush and is the alert you need to change from one quadrant to another.

If you have a Bluetooth enabled toothbrush, the app will give a visual representation of this timer and pacer feature on-screen in real-time.

With some models of toothbrush, you can turn this professional timer off and leave just the 2 minute timer enabled.  You will need to refer to the instructions for your Oral-B toothbrush for directions.

It is not normally possible to turn the standard toothbrush timer off, which runs for 2 minutes.

Power delivery – The number of oscillations, rotations and pulsations

As you may be aware, the small round brush heads from Oral-B move side to side in a circular motion.  They have what is known as an oscillating-rotating cleaning action, as shown in the following graphic.

The brush head moves thousands of times per minute.

The number of times the brush head oscillates does depend on the model of toothbrush you are using.

And to make things a little more complicated, the Pro and Genius series of brushes also have a third type of movement called pulsations.

The number of oscillations and pulsations of each Oral-B toothbrush is listed below:

  • Pro Health Jr
    • Oscillations: 7,600
    • Pulsation: 0
  • Stages Power kids
    • Oscillations: 7,600
    • Pulsation: 0
  • Kids 3+
    • Oscillations: 7,600
    • Pulsation: 0
  • Kids 6+
    • Oscillations: 9,900
    • Pulsation: 45,000
  • Vitality
    • Oscillations: 7,800
    • Pulsation: 0
  • Pro 500
    • Oscillations: 7,800
    • Pulsation: 0
  • Pro 1000
    • Oscillations: 8,800
    • Pulsation: 20,000
  • Pro 1500
    • Oscillations: 9,900
    • Pulsation: 45,000
  • Pro 3000
    • Oscillations: 8,800
    • Pulsation: 40,000
  • Pro 5000
    • Oscillations: 8,800
    • Pulsation: 40,000
  • Pro 6000/6500
    • Oscillations: 10,500
    • Pulsation: 48,000
  • Pro 7000
    • Oscillations: 8,800
    • Pulsation: 40,000
  • Pro 7500
    • Oscillations: 10,500
    • Pulsation: 48,000
  • Genius Pro 8000
    • Oscillations: 10,500
    • Pulsation: 48,000
  • Genius 9600
    • Oscillations: 10,500
    • Pulsation: 48,000
  • Genius X
    • Oscillations: 10,500
    • Pulsation: 48,000

Don’t be too worried about the number of oscillations, rotations and pulsations. Any electric toothbrush should clean the teeth better than a manual brush.

You don’t need to own the most powerful model.  Just cleaning your teeth regularly and with the correct technique is a big step forward in ensuring healthy teeth. Keeping a regular brushing routine is more useful than having a powerful brush. However, the theory is, the more movements of each, the better the brush can clean the teeth.

You should be aware though, that different cleaning modes use a different number of movements.  This means, that you could have the technically most powerful brush, but if you use the sensitive brushing mode, you will not be using the full power of the toothbrush.

Do I need to use special brush heads?

No, you do not necessarily need special brush heads.

But, Oral-B does offer specialized brush heads, which are designed and suited for particular cleaning modes.

You can use the standard CrossAction head for all cleaning modes, but the 3D White brush head is more effective when used with the Whitening mode for example.

My comprehensive guide to Oral-B brush heads, complete with video, explains this in more detail.

The choice is, of course, yours but it is advised to use the appropriate head to gain the maximum effect from each cleaning mode.

How do I change the brushing mode on my Oral-B toothbrush?

If your Oral-B toothbrush has only 1 cleaning mode, you cannot change it.  This is the only option you have.

If your brush has multiple cleaning modes, the way you change the mode depends on the model.

With many models, you have to press the power button to change the cleaning mode.

For example, the Pro 3000 has 3 modes.  The first mode is Daily Clean, the second Gum Care and the third, Sensitive.  To select the Sensitive mode, the power button needs to be pressed 3 times.

With the Genius range, you press the separate cleaning mode button (a downwards arrow) to change the mode.

You can only change the brushing mode selected after you have pressed the power button to turn the brush on.

The brush will default to the standard daily clean mode upon being switched on unless you have a Genius model, where it will use the mode previously selected on the handle.

Cleaning mode icons

With most Oral-B electric toothbrushes, it is not very easy to tell which cleaning mode you have selected.

The Teen, Pro and Smart range of handles offer no icons or labels on the brush handle to show what mode you have activated.

You can only know what mode you have selected, by remembering the sequence of modes on that brush.

The modes available and their sequence is listed in the user guide.

With the Smart range of brushes, that have Bluetooth connectivity, if you are using the smartphone at the same time, the mode selected will be shown on screen.

If you are using one of the Genius series brush handles, then there are icons on the handle of the brush.

Each icon will be lit with a white light as that mode is selected.

Sadly, Oral-B does not use the name of the mode, you need to remember what the icon is, to know what mode you have selected.

The cleaning mode icons are shown in the following image.

Whilst some seem obvious others are not.

When the default, Daily Clean mode is selected or active, no icons light up.  There is no icon for this mode on the brush handle.

The icon with a tooth and a plus (+) icon is the Deep Clean/Pro Clean mode.

The icon of a feather is the sensitive cleaning mode.

The icon of a diamond is the whitening brushing mode.

The icon consisting of 3 wavy lines is the massage mode.

The icon of the tongue is the tongue cleaning mode.

Some brushes have, or work with a Smart Wireless Guide.  This guide is a small unit with a display that shows the brushing time and also shows the cleaning mode icons to help identify the cleaning mode in use.

The following image shows what the icons will look like on the smart wireless guide, they are the same icons found on the Genius brush handle.

Which brushes have which cleaning modes?

To make it easy to find brushes with a particular cleaning mode I have compiled the lists you see below.

I also link to my review of a brush, and to its listing on Amazon in case you wish to buy it.

I recommend checking out other retailers prices too, but Amazon is our go-to recommendation as they are often the cheapest.

To avoid repetition, I have only linked to the review/where to buy the first time it is mentioned.

Which brushes have daily clean mode?

This cleaning mode applies to the following Oral-B models:

Which brushes have gum care mode?

This cleaning mode applies to the following Oral-B models:

  • Kids 6+
  • Pro 3000
  • Pro 5000
  • Pro 6000
  • Pro 6500
  • Pro 7000
  • Genius Pro 8000
  • Genius 9600
  • Genius X

Which brushes have sensitive mode?

This cleaning mode applies to the following Oral-B models:

  • Pro 1500
  • Pro 3000
  • Pro 5000
  • Pro 6000
  • Pro 6500
  • Pro 7000
  • Genius Pro 8000
  • Genius 9600
  • Genius X

Which brushes have whitening mode?

This cleaning mode applies to the following Oral-B models:

  • Pro 5000
  • Pro 6000
  • Pro 6500
  • Pro 7000
  • Genius Pro 8000
  • Genius 9600
  • Genius X

Which brushes have Pro clean mode?

This cleaning mode applies to the following Oral-B models:

  • Pro 5000
  • Pro 6000
  • Pro 6500
  • Pro 7000
  • Genius Pro 8000
  • Genius 9600
  • Genius X

Which brushes have tongue cleaning mode?

This cleaning mode applies to the following Oral-B models:

  • Pro 7000
  • Genius Pro 8000
  • Genius 9600
  • Genius X

How can I compare the Oral-B electric toothbrushes?

The following Oral-B electric toothbrush comparison chart shows the main brushes available and how they compare.  You can see which brushing modes each toothbrush has as well as checking whether or not it has a two minute timer and pacer.

Click to enlarge the image.

For more detailed hand on comparisons, see our written ones here or check out our YouTube channel for more.

I hope this post help answer the questions you may have had about cleaning modes.

Your comments

Do you like or make use of particular modes on your Oral-B toothbrush?

Have you got something you want to share with others about the modes and the way they work?

Perhaps you have a question that I have not answered.

Leave a comment or question below.

Jon Love

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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Leave a comment or question

13 thoughts on “Oral-B cleaning modes explained”

    • Hi Connor.

      How you switch between modes depends on the Oral-B toothbrush you have.

      If you have just a single power button on the toothbrush you change modes by pressing the power button to turn the brush on, then pressing the button again to move to the next mode.

      You can continue to press the power button to go through the modes available on the brush. The number of modes depends on the brush handle you have. If you go through all the cleaning modes, the last press of the power button will turn the brush off.

      Alternatively, if you have a second button with a downwards facing arrow (known as the cleaning mode button) then you press that to change the modes, after having pressed the separate power button to turn the brush on.

      If you have this second button, you can keep pressing it to cycle through the different modes.

      I hope this helps. If you need more assistance, please let me know.

      Reply
    • The 2600 is the lowest speed the brush will operate at during the gum care mode. The brush will vary the speed.

      I don’t think there is a brush that operates at just 2,600 oscillations in gum care mode.

      The slowest brush is the Oral-B Vitality or Pro 500.

      Reply
  1. My patient has an electric toothbrush. When you turn the power on, it will Vibrate three times and then stops. I’ve change the bristles into new ones it’s still having the same problem

    Reply
  2. Hi,

    I just see that the page was updated.
    3 comments:

    A. Rotation/pulsation/oscillation
    I think we can (should?) remove the term “rotation”. Oral-b doesn’t provide any figure or meaning. I’ve always suspected “Rotation” is exactly the same as “Oscillation”. Oral-B website has a knack for throwing a lot of marketing BS to impress.

    B. highest speed
    You mentioned the extra higher speeds:
    Oscillations: 10,500
    Pulsation: 48,000
    You write that these speeds are available on higher-end models.
    I believe that’s mostly right. When I read you, I should understand that the higher end model features these extra higher speeds as standard (=Daily cleaning).
    But I have a different understanding: these higher speeds are only available on the pro-clean mode. This mode is indeed only available on the models that you listed (I shall add the 5000).

    one of my toothbrushes (a 6000N bought in 01/2019) has a noticeable higher speed when I switch from Daily cleaning (aka 8800/40000) to Deep-Clean (aka 10500/48000). I also have 2000 and 3000 models. I have a very strong feeling that the 2000, 3000 and the 6000 have the same speeds in Daily cleaning: 8800/40000.

    Any thoughts?

    C. cleaning mode labels
    I believe there is really only 2 scenarios where several cleaning modes are usable:
    1. the toothbrush has only 2 modes.
    2. the toothbrush has any number of modes but has a dedicated symbol

    Therefore the 5000 series should be avoided and the 4000 series is barely manageable. 5000 has 5 modes, good luck without any symbol!

    Reply
    • Hi Largo.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Seeing as Oral-B reference their cleaning action as rotating-oscillating and pulsations, we will stick to this for consistency.

      As far as I am aware our speeds and number of movements are correct as per previous communication with Oral-B. Happy to update if there is clear information to show what we have provided is incorrect.

      Reply
    • Hi Julie.

      Have you connected the Genius Pro 8000 to your smartphone already?

      If so, it might be you have set up a specific journey within the app that focuses on teeth whitening or gum health for example. In some cases, this causes certain modes to be disabled and therefore the icons do not light up on the brush handle, as the mode has been disabled as a result of the app being configured in a certain way.

      Do you think this might be the case?

      If not, you can reset the handle via the app, which is worth trying to see if it resolves the problem.

      If this does not work, it may well be defective.

      Reply
  3. Wtf does the symbols mean? How about put a picture and what it is or does. The app does NOT help and apparently GOOGLE doesn’t know. How about you lazy ass hats tell us! Picture and what it does..that’s all we care about. Keep It Simple!!

    Reply
    • Hi Sheena,

      I agree that Oral-B don’t make it particularly clear what mode is what by using icons. The following image shows you what icons relate to what cleaning mode.
      Cleaning Mode Icons

      Reply
    • I just got a 8000 to replace my previous 7000 smart series. However the 8000 pro clean is always at 2 min. And not 3 min. I dont seems to find a way to set just the pro clean timer. Can you advise?

      Reply
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