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Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Sonicare BrushSync Explained

Editor’s Note

If you have landed on this page and are shopping for Sonicare replacement brush heads, you may like to check out our article on SonicareBrush Heads.

What is BrushSync that Philips Sonicare offer?

BrushSync is an innovative piece of technology made up of 2 different features. They aim to bring added convenience to electric toothbrush users.

First introduced in 2017 by Philips Sonicare on their premium model, the DiamondClean Smart, the technology is slowly being added to new brush handles as their range develops.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained

To make use of BrushSync, you need smart brush heads

Before I explain the 2 features that make up BrushSync, it is important that to understand that for the technology to function you need to have both a BrushSync enabled toothbrush handle and use ‘smart’ BrushSync compatible brush heads.

These brush heads are very similar to any other style of head available from Sonicare, but there is 1 major difference.

Built into the head is an RFID microchip.

It is this chip that is the link between head and handle.  A unique identifier if you like and is key to the technology functioning.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 1

Sonicare does offer an extensive range of these smart brush heads which have been designed differently to help achieve different oral healthcare goals and requirements you may have.

The current range of heads are as follows:

  • C2 Optimal Plaque Control
  • C3 Premium Plaque Control
  • G2 Optimal Gum Care
  • G3 Premium Gum Care
  • I InterCare
  • W DiamondClean
  • W3 Premium White
  • T1 TongueCare+

On the neck of smart/BrushSync compatible heads is an icon that won’t be present on regular (non-smart) heads.  That icon is shown in the image below, it looks similar to a WiFi signal icon if you are familiar with that.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 2

A point to also note is that it is perfectly possible to use a non-smart brush head on a BrushSync enabled handle as it is to use a smart brush head on a handle that does not offer BrushSync technology.  In these instances, none of the BrushSync technology features will function.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 3

BrushSync brush head replacement reminder

As the name of this feature implies, it reminds you when it is time to replace the brush head you are using on your brush handle.

An icon or LED on the front of the handle will light up an amber/orange color when appropriate, to alert you to this fact.

When you see that light, you should remove the existing brush head and replace it with a new one.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 4

Statistics show that 4 in 10 people don’t change their brush head every 3 months as is suggested.  As a result, the head is used for too long and the bristles become worn and damaged. They can do harm to your teeth and mouth, so periodic replacement is important.  Although most brush heads have fading reminder bristles built-in, this replacement reminder system goes one step further.

BrushSync technology is very clever and will determine the optimal time to change your brush head.

The handle pairs with and tracks the brush head.

Based on the amount of time you spend brushing with that head, how much pressure you apply and your brushing style will all affect exactly when the brush handle alerts you to replace it.

Most dentists recommend changing a brush head on average every 3 months and the BrushSync equipped toothbrush will use this as a basis for the reminder system.

If however, you brushed 3 times a day, rather than the regular 2 times, the alert will appear sooner, because the head will be worn out quicker.

It would also delay the reminder if you were only using that brush head once a day.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 5

Once you have replaced the brush head, the amber light will turn off, until it detects that the replacement head needs to be exchanged for a new one.

If you intentionally or by accident placed a used brush head onto the brush handle it would alert you by lighting up the brush head reminder icon.  (This only works if the head fitted has previously been paired and tracked by that brush handle).

The handle can also track multiple brush heads which is important if you use different styles of brush heads to achieve optimum cleaning results.

As each brush head has a unique identifier the brush handle registers the brush head when first fitted.  As you fit it for the first time, the replacement reminder icon will flash 3 times to acknowledge the connection and pairing of the head.

BrushSync mode pairing

Mode pairing is the second feature of BrushSync technology.

As brush heads are fitted to the brush handle, the cleaning mode is automatically changed to the most appropriate mode for that brush head, to help you achieve optimum cleaning results.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 6

This will include changing the brushing intensity if the brush handle has different cleaning intensities available.

The RFID chip inside the head communicates with the Sonicare toothbrush handle to complete this.

So, if you click on a gum care brush head, for example, your toothbrush knows to select the optimal mode and intensity for your gums. All you need to do is to press the power button.

You can manually change these settings at any point and the toothbrush will remember the settings for the next time.

Different BrushSync features on different toothbrushes

Although BrushSync is the overarching name for this technology, not all brushes have both features.

This means that although a brush handle may be equipped with BrushSync, it may not have both the brush head replacement reminder system and the mode pairing.

Sonicare are generally quite specific as to whether it has 1 or 2 BrushSync features.

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 7

To date, the implementation has been such, that if the toothbrush has 1 x BrushSync feature, then it is the brush head replacement reminder system only.

If it has 2 x BrushSync features than both are present.

If you desire both modes, it is important to check the model you are considering is equipped with such.

Our list of BrushSync enabled handles below, should help with that.

Which brushes offer BrushSync?

Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained 8

Your comments

If you have any questions you need answering about this topic, then leave them below and I will reply as soon as possible with an answer.

If you have used a BrushSync enabled brush and want to leave your thoughts and comments for me and others to benefit from, please do.

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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73 thoughts on “Philips Sonicare BrushSync Explained”

  1. Hi, I share a Philips Sonicare HX6877/21 with my wife, each using their own brush heads. We are using BrushSync enabled heads and it has been way over 3 months, probably 4 months or more of using them twice a day and the exchange reminder light hasn’t come off at all. I searched Philips FAQ and support pages and couldn’t find a reason why it doesn’t work. Could it be that exchanging heads messes up the system? Thanks in advance for your help

    • Hi Charile. It shouldn’t do. It is designed to track them. I am not sure what might be causing it. Probably best to speak to Sonicare directly and take their advice.

  2. So I have accidentally taken the head off a few times while drying the toothbrush. Does taking the head off reset the replacement timing? I’m not sure how long the brush head has been on my toothbrush and I just don’t want to be using a worn out head.

  3. As a dental healthcare professional for 32 years, and internal hygienist for 22, I think RF ID chips are going beyond necessary and the technology could put a patient at risk long-term. I am disgusted that sonicare is doing this and will no longer recommend them if they don’t offer non-chip non-Bluetooth non-Wi-Fi options in the future. Patients need to take responsibility for something about their health, they don’t need a machine called a toothbrush to tell them when to change the head. This is going to create an in credibly stupid society

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter Dotti, it is appreciated.

      In your experience do you find that patients do replace their brush heads regularly?

      How are the RFID chips putting patients at risk?

  4. I can’t find information on if my handle doesn’t have the tongue + or the A1 Premium settings and I use one of those brush heads, will my toothbrush use the correct setting if it’s connected to the smartphone app? I don’t want to purchase them even if they are compatible but I don’t get the proper mode from the handle to use them optimally.

    • There is little difference Mike between the cleaning actions. So, even if you don’t have the ideal modes for the particular heads, you can still use them if you would prefer.
      Your toothbrush either has the modes or not. These are built-in from the factory. The app doesn’t add modes or there is no way to configure cleaning modes to replicate the modes you don’t have.

  5. One more question. I am trying to decide between 4100 model and 5100. What actually gum care mode does? Am I supposed to massage gums? Is it for brushing sensitive teeth?

    • The Gum Care cleaning lasts for 3 minutes compared to the 2 minutes of the clean mode.

      During the first 2 minutes, the brush runs the standard clean mode. The remaining minute uses a slower and less powerful sensitive/massage mode to stimulate and massage the gums, to improve their health.

      It is ideally suited to those who have mild sensitivity in their gums, with occasional bleeding and are getting or recovering from gum disease treatment.

      It is not an essential mode to have but the extra minute of lower power cleaning can be beneficial for some.

      I hope this helps.

  6. I use an old Phillips sonicare toothbrush that looks similar to Sonicare 5100. I use not brand name brush heads. Will they work with 5100 model? I know it will not sinc and will not remind me when to change the brush, but I can’t afford the original. Will it work?
    Also Do you know what is the difference between the modes on 5100 model? Is it different intensity or just length of brushing? On my old one different modes have different intensities ( strokes per minute)
    Thank you in advance for your answer.

    • Yes Julia. It is perfectly possible to use third party (non Sonicare original) brush heads with the ProtectiveClean 5100. As you suggest they simply won’t sync so you will not get the reminder when to replace them.

      The difference between the modes is the power/intensity of the cleaning action as per your old model. Our article on Sonicare brushing modes goes into more detail, if you would like to know more.

  7. Hi, I’m using a brush head with the brush head replacement reminder. I’ve been using a brush head for a long time (don’t know how long). The blue wear indicator color in the bristles is completely gone and yet I have no indication from the brush that it’s due for replacement. I just checked and the indictor is on. Do I believe the blue wear indicator or the brush head replacement reminder?

    • Hi Ernie.

      If the blue bristles have faded on the brush head, this would usually indicate to me that the brush head should have been replaced by now.

      I think it would be best to replace it. The brush handle should detect the replacement head. Perhaps make a note as to when you replace this head and check if in 3 months, the light comes on. If not, it may need to be looked into further.

  8. I just started using the Sync Technology. Excellent idea.

    Just a question since I am a techie: The brush heads before had flat metal ring surface, now I can see the RFID chip. Is there any technical reason, why the chip is visible? Is this technically necessary to transmit information to the handle?

    • Great question. The short answer is I do not know. I have no part to play in the design and production.

      I suspect it is something to do with cost and ease of installation in production, but that is my ‘educated’ guess.

  9. I have a question. It was time to replace my brush head, so I replaced with a new one. After one day of use, I realized I bought the wrong one..it was a bigger head and medium bristles. I replaced it with a new one with smaller head and soft bristles. Now the amber light blinks all the time when I am using it. Will it sync after 3 months when I replace this brush head?

    • Hi Sharon. If the handle detects a new head, it should stop flashing because the chip should have registered with the handle as a new head not previously used before. It is my understanding it should not be flashing, when the head attached is different and ‘new’.

      Is the new head you have attached, a BrushSync compatible head?

      It might be worth a chat with Sonicare directly on this matter.

  10. If I buy a Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9300 can I buy regular brushsync heads and still be able to use the app that shows you a diagram of teeth and show where you brushed?

    • Hi David. Yes. The regular or brushsync enabled heads have no bearing on the app detecting the position of the brush on the teeth. This is based on sensors in the handle.

  11. Does brush sync mean you can use the head with diamond smart models and get real time feedback thru and app of where you are brushing , etc

    • Hi David.

      I am not sure precisely what you are asking/hoping for here. But, I think the answer is no.

      The brush head is not related to the smartphone application exactly.

      Within the app, the brush will log how many uses the head has had and how many remain before it requires replacement.

      However, if the toothbrush handle itself does not have Bluetooth/smart features, then adding the brush head will not give real-time tracking to show how well you are brushing your teeth.

      If you need further clarification, please let me know.

  12. Hi, are there actual sensors in the bristles themselves? That’s trippy. How does that work? So if the color fades from the bristles is that what indicates the sensor to go off? My color has faded but my brush still looks like new because I brush very softly with it. My indicator light is flashing though. Not sure if I should change it or not.

    • Michelle.

      The bristles of the brush head have no sensors in them, but a dye that gradually fades over time/with use.

      The color has faded is a sign that ideally, you should change the brush head. It may look new or in very good condition still, but the tips of the bristles will have worn a little. You can continue to use the head, it will still work, but potentially you could do more damage longer term because of this wear to the bristle tips. Dental professionals generally recommend the replacement of brush heads every 3 months on average.

      The BrushSync enabled heads have an RFID chip built into the base of the shaft, as shown within this article.

  13. Hi there! Have a question- I just replace the brush head with a new one as it indicated on the sensor that it was time to replace it, when I put the new head on there it didn’t flash any lights? Is it supposed to? The new head I put on there is the exact type of the one that was on there prior. Also since replacing the head do I have to resync my toothbrush? Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Nicole.

      Thanks for the question.

      When attaching a new smart brush head for the first time the brush head replacement reminder light should blink green three times. This confirms you have a Philips brush head with BrushSync technology. To be honest it would be easy to miss this blinking light if you were not looking directly at it when first fitted.

      I am not sure what you mean precisely about resyncing? The handle should have detected the new head and will then turn on the amber light again on the handle in approximately 3 months.

      If you have a Sonicare toothbrush that has a smartphone application such as the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart, from within the app you will be able to see how many days use is left on the attached brush head.

  14. oh, cool. This is a forum and I can see that it looks like you addressed my query in Oct. 2019. You may remove my post-except that I have a follow-up Q. It seems that you are saying that pushing the button while charging three times both defeats the tracking and enables it. Are you saying, Jon, that I would have to go thru that iteration every time I used the brush, or, once disabled, it will remain so until enabled (if ever)?

    • Bob.

      You should only have to do this once, to turn it off.

      You would then do it once more if you wanted to turn it back on.

      You should not have to do this every time you used the brush.

  15. I would like to obtain compact brush heads for my Sonicare 5100. It appears they are difficult to find. I am an adult but have a pretty small mouth. Any suggestions where to obtain the compact heads??


  16. Thank you for this information! Why is it that Philips doesn’t have anything like this on their own website? I’ve learned everything I need to know about my Sonicare from sources other than Philips!

    • Hi Ryan.

      Glad you found it useful. It is amazing that they don’t go into more depth on their own website isn’t it?!

      I hope we didn’t miss anything you needed to know.

    • Hi John.

      I am sorry to say that I don’t have any ideas here.

      Most toothbrushes with built-in batteries are not designed to be easily replaceable. They tend to have a usable life of 5+ years, being a lot more reliable and longer lasting than they once were.

      Really the best solution I can advise is a removable battery powered toothbrush and use rechargeable batteries instead of single-use batteries.

      Some toothbrushes that use removable batteries are listed in our ‘Best Battery Toothbrush’ article.

  17. Is there a way to un sync a brush head so it can be used with a different toothbrush? I plugged in the different brush heads that cane with my two pack of toothbrushes. Now the brush that’s paired with one of my brushes won’t pair with the other.

    • Hi ALex.

      Great question.

      There is no way (as far as I know to unsync) a brush head with a brush handle.

      However, what should happen, is that anytime you connect a BrushSync enabled brush head to a BrushSync compatible handle, for the first time, the icon on the handle should flash 3 times.

      So, even if you have connected/used a brush head on a different handle, that head can be transferred and used on a different brush handle.

      Once a head has been connected to a handle, that partnership is remembered and never forgotten.

      Do you think that the head won’t pair because you did not get the flashing light? Perhaps you missed it, the first time it was connected.

      As far as I am aware, you should be able to use the head on the handle just fine and in approximately 3 months the replacement reminder should be activated.

      Do be aware, if changing heads between handles, the handle is tracking the head every time it is used on that handle. What this means is if you swapped handles everyday, it would be 6 months before the reminder light came up on either handle, because each handle does not know that head had been used on the other handle, if that makes sense!

  18. Hey Jon!
    Is there any way to turn off the flashing amber light for brush sync? I want to keep using my brush a little longer but that light drives me nuts.

    • Hi Dana.

      Yes, there is an option to turn it off. But, you will need to turn it on again if you want the reminder in the future.

      Activating or deactivating the brush head replacement reminder:

      1. Place the handle in the plugged-in charger.
      2. Brush head replacement reminder is enabled by holding the mode/intensity button and by pressing the power button three times while on the charger. The handle will beep twice to confirm it is enabled.
      3. Brush head replacement reminder is disabled by holding the mode/intensity button and by pressing the power button three times while on the charger. The handle will beep once to confirm it is disabled.

  19. Hi,

    Thanks for this post. I was wondering if the regular DiamondClean brushes (not DiamondClean Smart with the app support) would have BrushSync if I buy the correct brushes?

    • Hi Chloe.

      The DiamondClean toothbrush handle (not the DiamondClean Smart) does not, nor would not support the BrushSync compatible brush heads.

      For the BrushSync compatible heads to work, the brush handle has to have the technology built-in. The DiamondClean does not have this technology.

  20. Hi,
    I’m going to switch to a electric toothbrush. I’ve been told to use a soft or very soft bristle tooth brush. The only soft toothbrush head for the Sonicare is the S. I like the Sonicare 6100. The gum G2 is a medium and the premium gum G3 is also a medium. Is there a soft one available or does it not matter with the pressure sensor?

    • Hi Wendy,

      The softest bristles can be found on the Sensitive brush head as you have mentioned.

      However, the G2 Optimal Gum Care is essentially equivalent and has the microchip built in that allows the head to be tracked with the ProtectiveClean 6100 brush handle that you mention.

      The original sensitive brush head works with the 6100 but you wont benefit from the BrushSync technology.

      The bristles of the brush need only skim the surface of the teeth. The pressure sensor built into the 6100 will activate when any brush head is used and if it detects too much brushing force being used.

    • Hi Jon,
      Thanks for replying. I was even more confused when I went to the Philips website and compared the 3 heads and their chart says that the bristle stiffness feel is soft for the G3, regular for G2 and ultra soft for sensitive. Is bristle stiffness feel different from true bristle softness?
      Thanks again,

      • In theory, the softer the bristles are, the more gentle they are on the teeth and gums and you should be able to tell the difference between each. Although it isn’t that easy to tell.

        You could go for the Sensitive brush heads as these will be the softest. Just be aware, you lose some of the feature benefits of the ProtectiveClean 6100 if you do this.

        The Philips website is a bit strange.

        It says regular bristles on the G2 head, but it is the recommended head for caring for sensitive teeth.

        I have no special insights into their manufacturing or knowing how they test/scale the softness. However, taking into account my experience, hands on use and reading between the lines, I do think the G2 heads would be fine for you also.

  21. Will my toothbrush keep working if i don’t change the brush head when the light flashes? They are expensive, so want to use longer if won’t quit on me.

    • Ann,

      Yes, the brush head will continue to work for as long as you leave it fitted.

      Do be aware over time, the bristles do wear down and it is possible that they could be damaged or less effective as you pass that 3 month point. For some people, their teeth and brushing style means the heads actually need replacing sooner than the typical 3 months. You need to look out for the bristles splaying, becoming dis-formed etc.

      I understand that they are not cheap, it would be nice to see Sonicare make them more cost effective.

      Brush-Sync compatible heads are more expensive than the standard brush heads Sonicare make. You might find it more cost effective to use the standard Sonicare brush heads on your BrushSync enabled handle. Do be aware, using those heads will disable any BrushSync features. It is up to you as to what is more important.

  22. I have a Sonicare HX681A model and the brush heads are C2. the toothbrush has the symbol indicating that it will be activated when it’s time to attach a new brush head. I’m in my fourth month of using the toothbrush but the replace indicator has not illuminated. Is my model one that should display time to change brusheads?

  23. Hi – I am not able to get the handle to acknowledge the brush head (with the microchip). My understanding is that the BrushSync light should flash 3 times, but it doesn’t flash at all when a brush head is placed on it. Am I missing something?

    • Hi Gary.

      Thanks for the question.

      This flashing 3 times will take place the first time you fit the brush head.

      If you have already attached the brush head to the handle, it will have registered it and won’t flash 3 times again.

      I think this is likely what is happening here.

      • Thanks Jon. That may be it. I did try to pair another, different new brush head, but that didn’t work either. However, I believe I read somewhere that the 5100 can only pair with one brush head at a time, so that may be why the 2nd one didn’t register. Does this sound reasonable? So to pair a new one, I would have to wait until the first one has worn out, right?

        • Hi Gary.

          I hadn’t heard/read that is can only work with 1 brush head at a time. Do you know where you saw this?

          I would wait until the brush head you are using wears out, then see what happens.

          Appreciate any feedback.

  24. Hi. I just purchase the 5100 Protective Clean model. The instructions to activate/deactive the Brush Head Replacement feature don’t work. After holding the power button for 4-5 second, I hear the two beeps but then no activate/deactive tones. Anyone else experience this? The other two features (easy start and pressure sensor) do seem to respond to their respective settings. Thanks.

    • Rick, are you doing this whilst the brush is on the charging stand?

      If you are not getting the results expected, a call or email to sonicare support might be necessary.

      • Hi Jon – Yes, I’m doing it while on charging stand, per instructions. I’m wondering if it might have to do with the fact that the brush head I’m using (a G2 Optimal Gum care model) was used on an older Flexcare handle that didn’t have this feature. I suppose I’ll try to contact Philips, but my experience with their customer service has been abysmal. Thanks for your reply. Your article was very helpful.

        • Hi Rick.

          Your theory is plausible. I haven’t done enough testing myself to see if this would have an affect, but quite possibly.

          The only thing being, the FlexCare handle would never have essentially registered that head, but perhaps the technology is smarter than I am aware of and it knows the brush head may have been used already, therefore registering it to a new handle will affect the BrushSync reminder system and thus it will not work correctly?!

          Could it be worth trying with a new/spare head if you have one.

          • I bet you’re right, about the brush head saying “well, I don’t know you and how well used you are, so I think I’ll turn off my brush head reminder feature”, at least I hope you are. Sorry, I tend to anthropomorphize inanimate objects into human-like things 🙂 I’ve hesitated to put a new brush head on since the G2 I’m using is only a couple weeks old. But, if the new one activates the feature, I’ll replace it with the old one when the new one’s life is over and take note of how long it lasted and then just mark for calendar for when to get rid of the original one. Thanks for fleshing out my original theory. Makes more sense now. I’ll let you now what happens.

              • aaargh. I tried a brand new G2 brush head that has the replacement feature but the handle still won’t activate and deactivate it. So I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a nice guy from Philips. They didn’t even try to trouble-shoot it. They’re just going to send me a new one. They must be dealing with a known defect.

                Coincidentally, my old Flexcare started having problems and they asked me to return it and upon receipt would send me a new one of those. That was a week ago. However, with this one, they aren’t requiring a return first. I’ll lay down money that they screw the whole thing up, though I explained to the rep that these are two separate transactions, and he said fine. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I may have screwed up the replacement feature on two brush heads now.

                • Rick,

                  Ahh good and bad news here then.

                  Pleased to see that Philips have taken positive actions to try and resolve the issue for you.

                  Although the brushsync element is extremely useful you are going to have a spare brush handle that for the most part works. This is great as a spare or to perhaps give to a family member or friend.

                  I would be interested to know what happens when you attach the brush heads to the new brush, you may not have screwed up the heads.

                  Thanks for keeping me up to date.

  25. Hi, thanks for the article. I just purchased the 5100 for myself and wanted to get additional brush heads for my husband and son. I was on online chat with Phillips & they told me it was only capable of tracking one brush head with the brush sync. I was disappointed to hear this as I assumed each brush head had a unique chip that would communicate with the handle. Reading above it sounds like it is capable of tracking multiple brush heads. What is your experience with this and do you think its worth getting “smart” brush heads for my family members? I’d hate to spend the extra money for the “smart” ones if the feature will be useless. Curious to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks!

    • Susan.

      We are under the impression it can track multiple heads as each brush head as a different RFID chip in them.

      Sonicare provide different heads in the box with some models that have brushsync, so it must be able to track each otherwise they would defeat the very point of including different heads, would they not?

      We have only done limited testing with multiple heads due to our small time and ability to track lots of users over long periods of time.

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