Our main recommendation
It is the Oral-B Vitality 100 that is our top pick if you are looking for a cheap yet reliable electric toothbrush.
Use it correctly and it provides a good clean of the teeth. It has dentist recommended features and is clinically backed. You do also gain the peace of mind that it is produced by a leading dental company.
In this article, we explain why we chose the Vitality from Oral-B. We highlight some comparable products and others you may wish to consider if your budget allows.
In this post
What we regard as a ‘budget’ electric toothbrush
When it comes to categorising ‘budget’, ‘cheap’ or ‘affordable’ the boundaries and expectations are different from one person to another.
But for the sake of simplicity, we roughly group prices into five brackets based on their selling price:
- £0-15: Too Cheap — these products should be avoided.
- £15-30: Budget — they do the job, but it’s worth spending slightly more if you can.
- £30-50: Optimal — these products have the essential features, but no extra bells and whistles.
- £50-150: Mid-range — extra features that may be nice to have, but aren’t strictly necessary
- £150+: Premium — the most capable if you want the very best, but overkill for most
These are not hard and fast rules and there are always exceptions.
But what years of testing and insight bring is a deep understanding of what makes a good brush and what you can realistically expect at different price points.
As a result, we consider the best budget electric toothbrush to be one that is available for £30 or less. You can often buy our recommended budget model for nearer £20.
It’s worth spending a bit more if you can
It falls within the optimal price range that we recommend shopping in, typically costing around £45.
Compared to the Vitality (our choice for the best budget toothbrush), it offers a deeper and more invigorating clean thanks to additional movements from the brush motor.
It has a visible pressure sensor that will alert you if you are brushing with too much force. A pressure sensor is particularly important if you have any gum recession.
The Pro 3 3500 has a battery life about twice that of the Vitality and you get feedback from the LED built into the handle on how much charge remains.
It is also easier to keep clean.
If you are able to wait another month or two to be able to afford our best overall electric toothbrush, we passionately believe that over the years of ownership the Pro 3 3500 will deliver superb results and value.
The Vitality is good, but the Pro 3 3500 is great.
Best if you can spend a bit more
Oral-B Pro 3 3500
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
The Pro 3 3500 contains all of the essential features our in-house dentists recommend.
We rate it as the best Oral-B electric toothbrush, all things considered.
The small round brush head is easy to move around the mouth and get into the tightest of spaces.
The oscillating, rotating and pulsating head does a great job of cleaning the teeth. It sounds clichéd, but you do really get that dentist clean feeling.
The 3500 comes with 3 cleaning modes. Daily Clean is your everyday option whilst sensitive is good if you want a more gentle brushing experience. There is also whitening mode.
All the modes last for 2 minutes, during which time the 30 second pacer is active to encourage you to brush all the teeth in the mouth evenly.
There are no rubber grips like some other Oral-B models. It might not feel quite as secure in hand for some, but the lack of rubber grip does make it easier to wipe clean.
You also get a travel case included which isn’t all that common for brushes at this price.
There is little not to like about the Pro 3 3500. It has the essential features you need, whilst being affordable.
The Pro 3 3000 is an equally good choice. The 3500 is a variant of the Pro 3 Technically they are the same. The 3500 comes with the travel case included. They are usually about the same price making the 3500 a better buy.
What we like
- Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
- Visible pressure sensor – alerts you when brushing too hard
- 2 weeks use on a single charge
- Travel case included
- Good value for money
What we dislike
- No icons on the handle to show which cleaning mode is selected
- Defaults to the daily clean mode
Useful things to know before buying
We have 3 main bits of advice we wish to share with you and anyone considering a new electric toothbrush, irrespective of their budget.
1. You don’t need to buy an expensive toothbrush
This article specifically features the most affordable brushes, and although we do advise spending a little more than £30, you don’t need to spend a lot more.
Spending more on a toothbrush doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting a better product. Often you are paying for extra features and functions you will not use. This is particularly true if you spend over £50.
Many of the best electric toothbrushes come in at under £50.
2. Smart toothbrushes are generally not worth it
Toothbrushes with Bluetooth and the ability to link to an app on your smartphone can help to encourage better technique and habit formation. But, they typically cost a lot more and are no more effective at cleaning your teeth.
3. Routine and technique are important
Your toothbrushing technique and routine have more impact on your oral health than the toothbrush itself. It’s no use having the best cheap electric toothbrush if you don’t use it properly.
What to look for in an electric toothbrush
There are 3 features we strongly recommend are present in any electric toothbrush that you decide to purchase.
In order of importance, they are a 2 minute timer, pacer and pressure sensor.
Unfortunately, you won’t get all of these with the main recommendations featured in this article, nor other cheap brushes. It is the pressure sensor that is often lacking.
Below is a short description of what each feature does.
2 minute timer
A timer helps to ensure that you brush your teeth for 2 minutes each time, which is recommended by dentists and governing bodies around the world.
A pacer helps you to spread your brushing time evenly across all parts of the mouth.
Frequently brushing too hard will severely damage your teeth. A pressure sensor alerts you when you are brushing too hard so you can adjust your technique.
Key tips for looking after your teeth
When it comes to looking after your teeth, the most important thing is to create a regular cleaning habit, following the steps below.
Doing so will have the biggest impact, over and above the toothbrush you choose:
How we chose
Our selection process
Our team is made up of dental professionals and experienced product testers. We specialise in oral health and abide by a strong code of ethics.
We buy and test every product we recommend. In most instances, we have detailed written and video reviews for each product.
We consult the clinical evidence, the feedback from consumers and industry leaders.
Together, we ensure our recommendations include only the very best choices.
We regularly review our recommendations based on newly released products and clinical evidence.
Best budget electric toothbrush 2022 — our recommendations
In the sections below we go into detail about the brushes we have tested and explain our recommendations.
We also share further insight as to why a toothbrush can in fact be too cheap.
Best Budget Electric Toothbrush
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
You just can’t argue with what you get for the price.
This is a no-nonsense, simple to use, get the job done kind of toothbrush.
The Vitality 100 is suitable for so many different users but is particularly appealing because of the very affordable price at which it is sold.
The handle is one of the most grippy on the market today. The tapered design works well for smaller and larger hands as well as those with dexterity issues.
Because the textured grip wraps 360 degrees around the brush handle it certainly won’t slip from your hand. The only downside here is that it isn’t the easiest to keep clean. Toothpaste residue easily builds up within the textured surface.
You have 2 out of the 3 features we recommend a brush have. The 2 minute timer along with a 30 second pacer are present, it just lacks the pressure sensor. This means that you can be encouraged to brush the teeth evenly and for the recommended time. You won’t get alerts when you brush too hard. Just remember bristles need only skim the teeth.
Oral-B are well known for their small oscillating and rotating brush heads. The Vitality boasts this. The size makes it easier to reach more crowded or restricted areas of the mouth.
The cleaning action is more than good enough, doing a good job of removing plaque and debris from the teeth and gums. But, because the Vitality has a 2D cleaning action it isn’t quite as intense and thorough as those that offer 3D cleaning.
Sealed inside the handle is a rechargeable battery which offers 8+ days of use on a full charge. Satisfactory for many, the negative here is the lack of feedback on the remaining charge. You don’t get an LED notification light to warn you the battery is almost flat.
There is a Plus and a Pro version of the Vitality available too. Despite the differences, it is the standard Vitality that is out pick.
What we like
- Easy to use single cleaning mode
- The grip on the handle helps to securely hold the brush
- The timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
What we dislike
- No pressure sensor
- No battery status feedback
- Battery life
- 2D cleaning action rather than 3D found in other models
Philips Sonicare 2100
*Prices correct at time of writing
Why we chose it:
The Sonicare 2100 doesn’t quite deliver the same astonishing value as the Vitality, but you can see where the few extra pounds go when you handle this model.
It looks and feels like a more premium model, despite the cheap price.
The handle is very slim and comfortable to use. It doesn’t have textured grips on the handle, instead, it has a smooth, but somehow resistive finish to the plastic. The big benefit here is that it is easier to keep clean, whilst also looking more minimal too.
It has a 2 minute timer and a 30 second pacer to help keep you on track when brushing. But as you might well have expected, because of the price, a pressure sensor is lacking.
As is the case with other brushes that don’t have a pressure sensor, be sure to brush the teeth with only a little force, the bristles need really only skim the tooth’s surface.
Compared to Oral-B the sonic cleaning action the 2100 offers is different, but all things considered, the results are comparable.
The motor in the brush handle does only offer 31,000 brush strokes per minute compared to the 62,000 movements of the most powerful Sonicare brushes. But, used correctly the brush still provides a more than satisfactory clean. You just don’t get quite the same intensity with each brushing session.
Sealed inside the handle is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery which offers about 2 weeks of use on a full charge. You do gain the LED on the handle for feedback on the charge levels.
For some, the USB charging stand will be a more modern and convenient option. But for those wishing to recharge to brush in their bathroom from a shaver socket, you can’t.
And one fairly big factor as to why the Sonicare 2100 won’t become our top choice, is the cost of replacement brush heads.
On average a Sonicare head will cost £6, twice the price of the equivalent Oral-B. This really impacts those on a budget.
What we like
- Easy to use – 1 cleaning mode
- Timer and pacer encourage brushing for the recommended time
- Slim handle design – stylish & easy to keep clean
- USB charging stand makes it more convenient for some
- Good value – get what you need at an affordable price
What we dislike
- No pressure sensor to alert you when brushing too hard
- Cleaning action not as good as premium models – brush motor configured differently
- USB charger makes it less convenient for some
- Replacement brush heads are expensive
Why do we make these recommendations?
The answer is really quite simple. These are the products we would buy ourselves or recommend to our closest family and friends if we or they had a budget of approximately £30 or less.
These are the products we know will do a good job of cleaning the teeth (when used correctly). The cleaning actions are backed with scientific evidence and we have seen firsthand how well they remove plaque from the teeth.
Sonicare and Oral-B are major players within the oral care industry and you can pretty much be assured that their brushes will give you many years of trouble free use. And should the worst happen, you will be able to access repair or replacement relatively quickly and easily.
You will also be able to source replacement brush heads with little stress. Most major supermarkets and pharmacies stock them.
Given a choice, we would advocate that you choose our top recommended electric toothbrush, the Oral-B Pro 3 3500, rather than our top choice for a budget toothbrush.
By spending just a bit extra, you will gain considerably more.
Notably, our recommendations for the best budget electric toothbrush do not include a pressure sensor.
The cleaning action will likely be more intense and invigorating and slightly more effective in removing plaque.
Battery life and charge feedback tends to be better too.
And there are often additional useful accessories like travel cases included in the box. You just don’t normally get these with cheap brushes.
When specifically looking at budget electric toothbrushes, there are and will always be other brushes from other companies that could well be deserving of our recommendation.
However, as we document in the following sections, sometimes what might appear better doesn’t always deliver.
Alas, there is no one perfect brush for everyone and we do always advise making a decision on the right oral care products for you in conjunction with your dental professional.
But, when taking everything into consideration for the vast majority of users, we can confidently stand by our recommendations knowing they will serve you well.
Other brushes we considered
Whilst the hundreds of brushes we have tested don’t all fall into the budget category, they certainly help guide us into understanding what makes a good toothbrush.
As a consequence, we can much more confidently recommend the products we do.
There are many brushes that cost less than £30 and the vast majority are not at all bad.
The Colgate ProClincal 250R is one such example.
It sells on average for around £20 and the replacement brush heads are only a fraction dearer than those from Oral-B.
It is one of the slimmest and lightest models in its class and there is no denying that the design is a big leap in the right direction compared to times past.
But for reasons we can’t really comprehend, the battery life is worse than its predecessor, the ProClinical 250+. It also lacks the very handy cap that went over it to provide protection for travel.
The 250R has a sonic cleaning action like the Sonicare 2100. The cleaning results are satisfactory, but it doesn’t give the same intensity and depth of cleaning that Philips brushes do.
Simply put, we expect better from Colgate.
We of course considered the Vitality Pro, the slightly technically more capable variant of this brush.
It is slightly more expensive, but you do arguably get a few more features, as our Oral-B Vitality comparison shows. But, the cleaning results are no better and the original Vitality just feels a bit more no-nonsense, get the job done.
Oral-B’s Pro 600 does actually overcome at least one of the issues we have raised about the Vitality. It has an LED notification light on the front to show the remaining charge in the battery.
It also offers a 3D cleaning action, which means in addition to the oscillating and rotating cleaning action there is the benefit of pulsations. This extra dimension to the clean gives a more invigorating post brushing feeling, in our opinion.
It is slimmer too, which for some will be a bonus.
You are typically asked to pay £25-30 for this brush, which is without a doubt fair.
But, for us, it doesn’t quite do enough to stand out between the Vitality and our highly recommended premium models in the Pro 3 Series. You really are better off spending another £20 over the price of the Vitality than spending £5-10 to get the Pro 600.
Supermarket chain Lidl is well known for offering budget friendly products and they haven’t excluded toothbrushes. The Nevadent sonic toothbrush they range is their main offering. If you would rather buy it online rather than going in one of their shops, you may be able to pick up a bargain on Ebay.
It has 6 brush heads in the box, offers 3 cleaning modes, and has a 2 minute timer and a 30 second pacer. Oh and yes, it comes with a 3 year warranty.
When sold for around £20, this is, without doubt, a genuine bargain. But, replacement brush head availability doesn’t seem to be great. Rarely do I actually see the heads only on sale in store and when being sold online they tend to be quite expensive and difficult to source.
Tesco and Asda both offer their own brushes too. Asda’s is simply named the ‘Asda rechargeable power toothbrush’ whilst Tesco’s is the ‘Pro Formula electric toothbrush’.
They are nigh on identical, with both looking very similar to the older generation Oral-B Vitality.
Where a lot of brushes are sonic, these have round brush heads like Oral-B and both grocers do offer replacement brush heads which is good to see. I do believe generic round brush heads fit too if required.
At £15 they are very cheap and this continues to the replacement brush heads too. You are looking at a cost of about £2 per head.
Although comparable to Oral-B we feel the slight premium is evident in the design and material quality of the Vitality.
Technically, electric toothbrushes include those powered by built-in rechargeable and removable batteries such as AA or AAA. However, we tend to separate those with removable batteries into their own category.
In most instances, those with removable batteries don’t compete quite as well as those with rechargeable batteries sealed in the handle.
Our best battery toothbrush article gives our top recommendations if a removable power source is important to you.
The Philips One is one of the best options. Compact, lightweight and simple to use it is a very likeable toothbrush. Unfortunately, the cleaning power of the motor is weak and it relies on using a brushing technique the same as a manual toothbrush, rather than the easier techniques required with most other electric brushes.
The biggest benefit of using removable batteries for most is you are not reliant on a power outlet. This is particularly appealing to travellers. Then again, there are some other criteria travellers have and subsequently we have an article with a number of travel friendly electric toothbrushes, if this is what you are after.
Going too cheap — too good to be true?
It might come as a surprise to some, but there is such a thing as going too cheap.
In the years we have been testing brushes, we have yet to test an electric toothbrush that is less than £15 that really captures our attention in any serious way.
Yes, inevitably there are some that are impressive options for the price, but there is always a compromise. What that compromise is depends on the brand and the particular model in question.
The big question that needs to be asked is how can something be produced this cheap?
Are cheap labour sources being exploited? What quality of materials are being used? Are the appropriate taxes being paid to sell such a product?
It does vary from one product to another, but our experience is that quality and reliability are often the biggest compromises. The product looks and feels cheap and rarely lasts longer than the 1 year warranty, if that long.
And because it is so cheap, it is easier and more convenient to throw away the faulty one and replace it with a new one, rather than repair it.
Manufacturers know this and it can work in their favour.
Some sellers and brands, particularly those from the far east, exploit this opportunity. Many work on the basis of making a profit by selling much higher volumes than their more expensive counterparts. The saying ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ comes to mind.
We are not saying this is a dishonourable tactic, but it is one that doesn’t sit particularly well with us considering the environmental impact electric toothbrushes have.
Selling a product really cheap isn’t typically sustainable long term. Keeping a high sales volume is particularly challenging and given the levels of competition in the market today it is far from easy.
This is something that the Chinese brand Fairywill has experienced.
They did and still do make some exceptionally cheap products. But where they were once selling thousands through the likes of Amazon, they are now selling very few.
We don’t recommend Fairywill products because of high rates of the product failing, and the companies abuse of reviews leading to a ban from selling on Amazon (we talk about that more here).
Ignoring the shady tactics and what it takes to sell on Amazon, the biggest losers are the existing owners of Fairywill products.
With their main sales outlet now closed, Fairywill has been unable to sustain support for customers. It has gotten a bit better since, but for many months after being kicked off the platform Fairywill brush owners couldn’t get replacement brush heads or spare parts.
We have had many complaints of poor or no response to warranty claims. We can comment from first-hand experience on how communications with representatives from the company went unanswered.
There is a cost to offering something cheap and that cost often is more impactful long term than paying a few extra pounds initially to get a better quality product.
Smaller companies and new brands don’t have the overhead costs of the major players like Oral-B, Philips and Colgate.
They can bring better value products to market more rapidly. But the vast majority don’t have the same reputation, reliability and infrastructure in place.
You may well get an absolutely fantastic deal on a brush from a relatively unknown brand online, but when you need replacement brush heads where are you going to go? How can you be assured the replacement heads will be there in the future? And what if the brush goes wrong?
In our best electric toothbrush article we include an extensive buyer’s guide.
The whole point of our recommendations is that we have done all the hard work in picking the best models within a particular price range.
We have done the research, we have bought the brushes, and we have extensively tested and learned what makes one brush better than another.
You might well have specific needs and wants and it may well be possible to find specifically what you want and still ensure the toothbrush is cheap.
But more often than not, where you gain or benefit from one thing, you lose out on another.
This article focuses on the most affordable electric toothbrushes and doesn’t include all the things that you could potentially consider when buying one, such as cleaning modes and the various features available.
We do however cover that information in our buyer’s guide, so check that out should you wish to delve deeper.