Which one would we choose?
The ProtectiveClean 4100 is the toothbrush I would choose.
Make no mistake, both of these are excellent toothbrushes, which will serve you very well, but the 4100 takes the edge because of the pressure sensor, battery life and features for the price.
- The cleaning action of the toothbrushes are different. Sonicare uses a sonic action compared to the oscillating-rotating and pulsation action of the Oral-B.
- The brush head styles are different.
- The design of the brush handles are different. The Oral-B feels more grippy, whilst the Sonicare looks more premium.
- The Pro 1000 is available in more colors.
- The 4100 automatically turns off at the end of a cleaning cycle.
- The 4100 is quieter than the Oral-B Pro 1000
- The 4100 has a pressure sensor built-in.
- The 4100 has an ‘EasyStart’ feature.
- The 4100 reminds you when to replace your brush head.
- The 4100 has a battery life of at least 14 days compared to the 7 of the Pro 1000.
- The charging stand supplied with the 4100 supports global voltages, the Oral-B does not.
- The Pro 1000 is the more cost effective toothbrush to own.
These differences are explained at length later in this article. However, you might wish to learn more about each brush being compared. To do so, check out our hands-on reviews:
Please note. Every effort is made to ensure the key differences listed are correct, but these differences are subject to change without notice. Products and the box contents can be changed without notice and different variants can exist.
Detailed comparison: what’s the difference between the Oral-B Pro 1000 and Sonicare 4100 ProtectiveClean?
The 2 models being compared here today are what I would consider as lower mid-range brushes.
This might not sound all that impressive, but the reality is, both of these are excellent toothbrushes that deliver what you need.
Importantly they offer what you need at a fair price.
If you were to ask me which is the best electric toothbrush from Sonicare and which is the best electric toothbrush from Oral-B, it would be these 2 brushes I am comparing here.
What this means is both are great options and you shouldn’t worry too much about which you pick.
That said, the 4100 does offer a few extra features out of the box which does make it a potentially better option for many. Those extras primarily lead to you and me have a better daily experience with the 4100.
So, with that covered, let me explain the differences between these 2 electric toothbrushes.
The major difference is the cleaning action of the toothbrush.
The Sonicare ProtectiveClean offers a sonic cleaning action, which means the bristles move from side to side in a sweeping motion.
Compare this to the oscillating-rotating action of the Oral-B. It does too move side to side, but the circular shape means the cleaning action is rounded. Oral-B also adds in an extra cleaning dimension known as pulsations which are essentially vibrations to aid in the cleaning process.
I explain this difference in more detail in a separate article, Oral-B vs Sonicare, if you are keen to learn more.
Different they are, but both are proven in clinical trials to be effective and have the backing of leading dental professionals and organizations around the world. In fact, both of these toothbrushes have achieved the American Dental Association seal of acceptance.
For lack of a better analogy, it is like choosing between a General Electric or Whirlpool washing machine. Both do the same job but the way the products are implemented and deliver the results are slightly different.
As a consequence of the different cleaning actions, the brush heads supplied with each toothbrush are slightly different too.
The Oral-B Pro 1000 has a small round brush head, whilst the Sonicare has a slightly larger oval/rounded rectangle shaped brush head.
The small round brush head is generally a little easier to position in the mouth, particularly for those who have smaller mouths with crowded teeth.
An Oral-B head tends to clean a single tooth surface at a time, whereas the larger Sonicare brush head tends to cover 2-3 teeth at the same time.
For most people, this is not a deal breaker, but may well be something to be considered.
The 4100 comes with a C2 Optimal Plaque Control brush head compared to the CrossAction brush head on the Oral-B Pro 1000. Both clean the teeth well, but clearly noticeable is the fact many of the bristles on the CrossAction brush head are angled.
This angling of the bristles is to help achieve the best clean of the teeth and gums.
Both brands offer a range of different brush heads that have different bristle configurations and styles to achieve different cleaning results. These heads are interchangeable with the handle, so you don’t need to stick with the style of brush head that came supplied in the box.
Both the Sonicare 4100 and the Oral-B 1000 have a fairly typical electric toothbrush look to them. The handles are rounded cylinders with the brush head fitting onto a metal shaft that extends from the motor sealed inside the handle.
They are too very similar in physical size and weight with only very small differences in the physical size of the handle.
What does stand out is that the Oral-B is the more grippy handle in hand. On the front of the handle is a large rubber grip that runs the length of the handle and on the rear are a series of ridges in the plastic which give something for the fingers to grip too.
The Sonicare, on the other hand, is finished with a matte plastic, which doesn’t feel slippy to the touch as such, but it probably would be slightly harder for someone with limited dexterity to keep a firm grip of.
The Sonicare strikes the more premium of the 2 models. It is available in 2 color options, white & mint, and black & white. The main handle color is either white or black with color accents around the power button.
The Pro 1000 comes in a few extra color options. You have white or black color options too. But there is also a pink and green color option. Rather confusingly though you may see these color options labeled as the Pro 1 1000. It is the same brush, just a different color.
With the black, pink and green colored Oral-B Pro 1000, there is still a good amount of white colored materials. It is just the rubber grip on the front of the handle that is black, pink or green.
Both brushes have a similarly placed power button and battery status icon on the handle.
A single press of the power button will turn on either of these toothbrushes, with both offering a single cleaning mode, which is perfectly satisfactory.
As the brushes are turned on, it will activate the timer and pacer that helps you brush the teeth evenly and for the recommended 2 minutes. Both the 4100 and 1000 have this useful timer feature.
However, at the end of a 2 minute cleaning cycle, the Pro 1000 continues to operate until you physically press the power button to turn it off. The Sonicare, on the other hand, turns itself off automatically.
If you want to brush for longer with the Sonicare, you will have to turn the toothbrush on again, but the power off feature is a nice convenience for most and makes it very clear that the 2 minute cleaning cycle is complete.
Another of the differences between these 2 toothbrushes is the noise they make when in use. The Sonicare is the quieter of the 2. The Pro 1000 from Oral-B produces a much louder, mechanical sound compared to the quieter vibration/humming sound of the Sonicare. For those who want a more technical answer, the Oral-B comes in at around 76 decibels compared to the 58 of the Sonicare when in use.
A common issue with oral health is that some people brush their teeth with too much force. Brushing with too much pressure can cause unnecessary damage to the teeth and gums. A pressure sensor can help reduce the chances of this damage occurring.
The 4100 from Sonicare has this sensor built-in, whereas the Pro 1000 does not.
If the toothbrush detects excessive pressure, it will slow down the motion of the brush head and cause the handle to vibrate until such time as the pressure is reduced. The vibration in the handle and the change in brushing speed is your alert to the fact you are brushing too hard.
Yet another feature that the 4100 has, is what is known as an EasyStart mode.
This is designed for first time electric toothbrush users. Over 14 brushing sessions, the power of the toothbrush is gradually increased, meaning you don’t get the full power of the toothbrush the first time that you use it.
Transitioning to an electric toothbrush from a manual one can be daunting for some and the increased number of bristle movements can be offputting and the cleaning action can feel too intense. This EasyStart mode gradually increases the power to help you and me get used to the experience of using a powerful electric toothbrush.
I have already mentioned brush heads, but this Sonicare toothbrush has another feature that is connected to its brush heads which is quite impressive too.
The toothbrush handle will alert you, via an amber/orange LED when it is time to replace your brush head.
On average, you should replace your brush head every 3 months, but statistics tell us that 42% of people don’t replace their brush head this often.
The 4100’s brush head reminder system gives you the prompt to change just when you need it.
Check out our article on BrushSync technology for a detailed explanation of how it works, but it is all centered around an RFID chip that is built into the toothbrush head.
Unfortunately, these brush heads are a little more expensive because of this technology, but it is very useful if you know you often forget to replace your brush head.
Getting towards the end of the differences now. One of the last major differences is the battery in the brush handle.
The 4100 has a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery, whilst the 1000 has a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery. I won’t go into the technical differences, but both are rechargeable, but the Pro 1000 only offers 7 days’ life on a full charge compared to the 14 days of the Sonicare 4100.
But, whilst you may squeeze a couple of extra brushing sessions from the Pro 1000, the Sonicare went well beyond the advertised 2 weeks in our hands-on testing. In fact, it lasted 5 weeks on a single charge, which is quite simply amazing.
Aligned with this is the charging stand with the toothbrush as well. Both come with a charging stand that the brush sits on and both have a 2 pin power plug, hardwired into the stand. But, the Sonicare charging stands supports 100-240v compared to the 110-130v of the Oral-B.
What this means, is that if you travel internationally with Oral-B you would need a voltage and plug adapter compared to only needing a plug adapter with the Sonicare. It is a small but subtle difference that might apply to you.
Now the last difference is the price of the toothbrushes. Both are very similarly priced to buy, but over the life of the toothbrush, the Oral-B Pro 1000 works out better value, because the cost of each replacement brush head is a couple of dollars cheaper. Over a few years, this can make a bit of difference to the total ownership costs. As a rough guide, the 4100 works out at around 13 cents per day compared to the 9 cents of the Pro 1000.
Does one clean better than the other?
It depends on who you ask!
If you asked the respective brands directly, they would each suggest their model does.
Studies have shown that the rotating-oscillating technology, as used by Oral-B generally speaking, has the edge here.
This is because the smaller brush head size and the motion it has resulted in greater improvements of users oral health than a Sonicare model.
This is however under clinical study conditions and in real-world use, both offer an excellent clean.
Honestly, I personally prefer the Oral-B cleaning action, but do happily use Sonicare toothbrushes too.
Why I feel this way is because I tend to come away with my teeth feeling cleaner after use. This is likely more a psychological (mental) feeling than reality. The cleaning action or Oral-B is a bit more of an aggressive clean or so it feels, but the Sonicare is by no means bad. In fact, one of the appeals of Sonicare is how gentle it is. It feels softer on the teeth and gums, but it still clinically proven as being effective.
Let me be clear, that in daily use the real difference in the cleaning performance is going to be negligible. Other factors, such as your brushing technique and routine are going to have more impact than the cleaning action alone.
If one of these is to be your first electric toothbrush, either will offer significant benefits compared to a manual brush.
Is one better priced than the other?
Both brushes are very similarly priced, in fact, both have the same recommended retail price of $69.99.
However, over a 3 year period, the Sonicare 4100 works out to be more expensive than the Pro 1000 because of the cost of replacement brush heads.
Whilst prices are always subject to change and vary from one seller to another, you can generally buy both these brushes for $50, about $20 less than their suggested selling price.
In fact, on occasions either brush can cost as little as $40.
So, there is little to separate them in terms of price at the initial point of purchase.
But, as both of these brushes come with just 1 brush head in the box, you will need to buy replacements fairly soon.
A typical Oral-B brush head is priced at around $5 each whereas a Sonicare head is at least $8 each, if not more.
Sonicare heads have typically always been more expensive than Oral-B, but in this instance, the RFID chip built into these heads increases the price too.
Sonicare do offer heads without the RFID chip. These are cheaper and are compatible with the 4100, but you won’t get the brush head replacement reminder.
When pricing both brushes over a 3 year period, the cost of ownership works out at around $100 or 9 cents per day for the Oral-B and $138 or 13 cents per day for the 4100.
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.
These are 2 excellent toothbrushes that I could use happily on a daily basis.
The 4100 does offer a few more desirable features and feels the more premium brush in hand. The pressure sensor and the brush head reminder are particularly appealing, as is the extra battery life.
These extras do come at a slight price premium, but it is one that I think most would agree is worthwhile as you get a toothbrush, which I at least feel is more enjoyable to use on a daily basis.
Ultimately, whatever brush you decide upon, it is you who needs to make the decision; but do so based on which is best for your needs or that of the end user.
Only pay the price you are happy with and do not be led into buying something if it is not right.
Hopefully, I have presented the facts and made the whole decision process that little bit easier.
If you found this useful, have any questions, thoughts or opinions, please leave them in the comments below.