The best Oral-B toothbrush on a budget
The Oral-B Pro 500 provides benefits over a manual toothbrush.
Rated as our best cheap electric toothbrush, it’s a solid choice for those on a budget. But, investing a little extra might well be worthwhile.
- Grippy handle
- 3 cleaning modes
- No battery status feedback
- Doesn’t remember the last mode used
- No cleaning mode icons or labels
- No pressure sensor
This is a better option for daily use
If I were buying a new electric toothbrush today, my choice would be the Oral-B Smart 1500.
It addresses some of the frustrations of the Pro 500.
You gain a notification LED for the battery, a visible pressure sensor and a deeper clean feeling with each use.
It’s affordable with the features you need. It is our number 1 choice for the best electric toothbrush.
|Oral-B Smart 1500 - Blue||15,630 Reviews||$79.18||View on Amazon|
No feedback on the battery’s charge level is frustrating
17 days of use is what I achieved in my testing. This is great, given that the built-in rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery is claimed to give 10 days of use.
3-4 weeks is the average usage time of most electric brushes, so the 500 falls below this, but for the price, this can perhaps be excused.
The lack of an LED on the handle to give any feedback on the battery life is the most irritating part of the Pro 500. You can’t tell if the battery is low or not. The only way you know the battery needs a charge is when it slows or stops.
Avoid it slowing and cutting out in the middle of a brushing session by placing it on the charging stand every few days to keep it topped up.
When placed on the provided charger you don’t get any feedback either. You just have to hope it is being recharged. It takes up to 22 hours to complete a full charge.
The stand supports 110-130v and has a 2 pin power adapter hardwired into it.
A grippy handle that’s more difficult to keep clean
The tapered design of the Pro 500 handle makes it look and feel a little different to most other brushes. It’s available in several different colors, so you can find your preference.
Wrapping almost the entirety of the handle is a rubber grip with a dimpled texture. It assists in holding the brush securely. Unfortunately, the dimples catch residual toothpaste and debris, making it harder to keep clean.
The brush is water resistant so can be rinsed under the faucet to aid with cleaning. It also means it can be used in the shower if desired.
A single function button powers the brush on and allows for switching between the 3 brushing modes. The white convex shape, complete with power icon, stands out from the handle. The firm push required isn’t ideal if you suffer with arthritis or painful joints.
The Pro will stand upright on a countertop and a molding on the back of the handle helps prevent it rolling when laid flat.
It’s got a 2 minute timer and pacer to help you brush evenly
Two of the essential features our in-house dentists recommend are a timer and a pacer. The 500 has both.
The pacer is activated from the moment the brush is powered on, pausing the brushing action every 30 seconds to tell you to move on to the next part of the mouth. There are 4 sections in total and you need to brush the inner, outer and biting surfaces of the teeth during this time.
After 2 minutes the alert changes slightly to tell you that you have brushed for long enough. Unlike some brushes, the Pro 500 doesn’t power off automatically. This may be a disappointment to some, but it’s not a big issue.
Brushing for the full 2 minutes is very important, but just as important if not more so, is using the correct technique. Make sure you learn how to brush your teeth properly, you need to use an electric brush in a different way to a manual one.
It lacks the protection of a pressure sensor
The Pro 500 does not have a pressure sensor. This means that you are not alerted in any way should you scrub the teeth too hard. Forceful brushing will damage teeth and gums in the long term.
Pressure sensors often don’t feature in the cheapest of toothbrushes. You don’t need it to brush your teeth well, but it is a feature that dentists recommend. If you know you’re in the habit of brushing too hard, you should seriously consider the Smart 1500, or any other brush that has one.
The sensitive cleaning modes are good for first-time users
The box states 2 but the 3 brushing modes available on the Pro are:
- Sensitive plus
- Daily clean
In most instances, you only need one, daily clean. This will suffice for the vast majority of users.
But, sensitive is a great option for new electric toothbrush users or if you have particularly tender gums. Those with gum disease will also benefit from the slower and less intense movements.
No icons or labels to tell you which mode you’re using
Pressing the power button at any time allows you to switch between the modes.
Unfortunately, there is nothing to confirm which mode you have selected. There are no labels, icons or LEDs on the handle. Instead, you have to learn the order. You will get used to the different sounds and sensations that each offers.
It doesn’t remember the last mode used
Frustratingly, the brush does not remember the last cleaning mode used. This means every time you use the brush, you will need to press the power button 3 times to access our preferred mode, Daily Clean.
It’s not a deal breaker nor a reason to avoid the Pro 500, but it’s something to be aware of.
Satisfactory cleaning results from the less powerful motor
The cleaning action doesn’t feel as intense as other premium Oral-B models, yet the actual brushing results are more than satisfactory.
The Pro 500 has an oscillating and rotating movement to the small round brush head, referred to as a 2D cleaning action. Premium models have a 3D action, which adds in a movement known as pulsations.
If you have used Oral-B before, you might be able to tell the difference. If not, then it is likely going to feel quite powerful and a big step up from a manual brush.
With a small round brush head, you can clean the tightest of spaces in the mouth with relative ease. The plaque removal is good, and, being electric, it does a lot of the work for you.
A single Precision Clean head is provided. It is one of many styles from the diverse range of Oral-B brush heads that are compatible with the push-on, pull-off attachment system the Pro 500 has. It provides a good overall clean, but dentists typically prefer the softer bristled head of the Pro GumCare. This can be purchased separately and pairs nicely with the more gentle cleaning modes.
Fairly priced but with compromises
$40 is the retail price, but you can buy it for around $30.
Over 3 years, the Pro 500 costs $85 when accounting for replacement heads at $5 each. Hence it’s our pick for budget Oral-B brush.
I strongly recommend considering the Smart 1500, which is our top recommended brush. It costs $120 over 3 years but brings multiple benefits that justify the extra $35.
You can’t repair it yourself but have an industry average 2 year warranty included
By the very nature of the product, they are not immune to failure. 2 years of manufacturer support is provided as standard. I would anticipate 5+ years of service from the Pro 500, with regular care.
More affordable brushes often come with compromises, my testing hasn’t revealed durability to be an issue with the 500. It’s solid and durable in hand with limited features to go wrong.
Unfortunately, it is not designed to be repaired yourself at home and would need to be returned to a service center at your expense should it go wrong.
Dr. Gemma Wheeler has looked in detail at the environmental impact of electric toothbrushes. Unsurprisingly they are worse than a manual brush, but that isn’t necessarily a reason not to use them.
The Pro 500 doesn’t have the same impact as some other brushes that have additional, non-essential features, such as microchips and OLED displays. With the Pro 500 you get only the things you truly need.
The brush heads are made from petroleum-based plastic rather than plant-based plastic and whilst Oral-B has partnered with schemes such as TerraCycle, it does not yet have its own recycling scheme for used brush heads or faulty products.
Conclusion: brilliant budget option
Great for those who want something affordable, and reliable with good cleaning results. The Pro 500 is our best budget brush.
It’s one of the most grippy toothbrushes and has multiple cleaning modes to suit different users.
Minor irritations, notably the lack of any feedback on the battery charge level, mean that other brushes, like the Smart 1500, are more enjoyable to use, if your budget can be stretched.
- Height (without head) – 18cm
- Height (with head) – 22cm
- Width – 3.2~2.5cm
- Thickness – 3.2~2.5cm
- Weight (without head) – 99g
- Weight (with head) – 105g
All are approximates