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Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Oral-B Pro 3 3000 & 3 3500

In this article I recommend 5 reliable electric toothbrush choices to help with the following conditions: 

  • Gum disease / periodontal disease / gingivitis 
  • Receding gums / sensitive gums
  • Sensitive teeth

The toothbrush recommendations are approved by our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler.

She also answers some common pre-purchase questions

And our buyer’s guide explains how an electric toothbrush can help with the conditions listed above.

Addressing these conditions does not end with buying a toothbrush, so please do read some of the additional content below to help take care of your teeth.

Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 1
Oral-B Pro 3 3500
  • Built-in timer & pacer
  • Visible pressure sensor
  • Good value
view on Amazon →
Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 2
Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300
  • Built-in timer & pacer
  • Brush head replacement reminder system
  • Travel case included
view on Amazon →
Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 3
Oral-B iO
  • Real-time position tracking
  • 7 different cleaning modes
  • Pressure sensor shows correct & incorrect force
view on Amazon →
Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 4
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart
  • Real-time position tracking
  • Built-in timer & pacer
  • Premium travel case
view on Amazon →

Video of our best picks

Best Electric Toothbrush For Sensitive Teeth & Receding Gums 2023

The best toothbrushes for receding gums /sensitive teeth: our top picks for 2023

If you’re suffering from the symptoms of gum disease or sensitive teeth, an electric toothbrush can improve your condition.

The brushes listed below are all good choices. 

At this stage, it’s worth saying that there isn’t a brush that is definitively “the best for gum disease” or any other condition.

The most important thing is that you choose a brush, and do the following: 

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Brush for 2 minutes each time
  • Use the correct brushing technique
  • Spit after brushing, don’t rinse with mouthwash or water
  • Clean between the teeth once a day, with floss or interdental brushes

Creating a regular cleaning habit by following these steps will have the biggest impact, over and above the toothbrush you choose.

So browse our list below, and choose the brush that appeals to you based on budget and features. 

Use it correctly, and you should soon see an improvement in your gums and teeth.

1. Oral-B Pro 3 3500

A fantastic electric toothbrush, the Pro 3 3500 delivers excellent cleaning results at a superb price.

You get all of the essential features you need, including a handy travel case.

The slim handled brush offers 3 cleaning modes, a standard daily clean, a more gentle sensitive and a whitening mode.

Oral-B Pro 3 3500 Box

Built-in is a 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer to encourage you to brush for the right amount of time and evenly.

And to help avoid doing any uncessary damage a built-in pressure sensor alerts you when you are brushing too hard. The sensor wraps around the neck of the brush and will be lit red when activated The motor will also slow until such time as the pressure is reduced.

The small round brush head supplied offers a fantastic clean of the teeth and gums. It is also small enough to easily move around, even in the most crowded of mouths. The only possible oversight is not including the softer Sensi UltraThin brush head in the box. This can be purchased separately.

From a full charge of the battery, you will get 2+ weeks of usage.

Preview Product Rating Price
Oral-B Pro 3 - 3500 Oral-B Pro 3 - 3500 31 Reviews £89.99 £39.99

Read our Pro 3 3500 review.

2. Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300

You can be assured of a quality product when you buy a Sonicare toothbrush.

The ProtectiveClean 4300 is a toothbrush I like very much.

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It actually only offers 1 cleaning mode.  But, there is the ability to select between 2 different brushing intensities.

The lower intensity mode is likely going to be more comfortable for those with sensitive teeth.

Preview Product Rating Price
Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 3,111 Reviews £139.99 £55.99

The handle feels great in hand and is available in a number of colour options.

In the box you get a charging stand, brush head and a handy travel case.

The built-in rechargeable battery is said to last 14 days. I managed several weeks when I tested this brush.

A 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer are built it.  There is also a pressure sensor that alerts you if you brush too hard.

What makes the 4300 really stand out is the brush head replacement reminder system.  The toothbrush actually tracks how long each brush head has been used for.  When it is time to replace the brush head, a light on the handle is lit.

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Read our ProtectiveClean 4300 review.

3. Oral-B iO

Now we get serious in terms of what is on offer.

The iO is the latest flagship electric toothbrush, launched in 2020.

Make no mistake, you do not NEED this toothbrush.

If however, you want the very best of Oral-B, then this is it.

It has the distinctive small round brush head that Oral-B are well known for. But, the brush motor and the handle have all been completely redesigned for the iO.

Part of the redesign means the toothbrush is now quieter than most other Oral-B models.

It does too have a display built into the brush handle which gives it a modern and fairly clean look.

Oral-B iO under running water

A smart toothbrush, its key selling feature is the artificial intelligence it uses.

Sensors in the brush handle track the movement of the toothbrush during any cleaning cycle.  This is transferred back to the smartphone application.  It then gives, in real-time a picture of how well you are cleaning.  It highlights areas of the mouth that need more attention.

Your overall cleaning performance is measured and logged in the application.

Preview Product Rating Price
Oral-B iO Series 9 Oral-B iO Series 9 423 Reviews £249.99

Of course, the brush cleans the teeth really well.

The small round brush head can be moved to all the hard to reach areas with relative ease.

In addition to the 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer, you have a pressure sensor. Unlike most pressure sensors that alert you simply when too much pressure is applied, this one actually shows you hen you are applying the right amount of force.

7 different cleaning modes are available, including sensitive and super sensitive. You and personalise the light ring 1 of 12 colours too.

Also included in the box is a travel case.

A premium case it hold the handle and 1 brush head.

Oral-B iO Series 9 Onyx Black Toothbrush in power2go travel case

What makes this a bit unique, is that the toothbrush can be charged, whilst inside the case, when you use the provided power adapter. Sadly this is a proprietary power adapter rather than a more convenient USB cable.

Read our iO review.

4. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart

The most premium of Sonicare toothbrushes. If you want the very best and most feature rich, then this is it.

With real-time tracking, this brush shows you exactly what teeth you have and have not brushed. The data is then logged in the application for review at a later date.

Commit to using the app and you will improve your overall brushing and the coverage that you achieve.

It is a feature that a select few users will find useful, particularly when you consider the price premium this brush commands.

But, you do get a number of extras included for this price.

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Multiple cleaning modes are built-in, most useful will be the more gentle gum health mode.

The slower cleaning action will be softer on the teeth and gums. Coupled with the G3 Premium Gum Care brush head and the choice of 3 different brushing intensities you will be hard pushed not to enjoy the brushing experience on offer here.

Preview Product Rating Price
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 230 Reviews £200.00

Smart features extend to the toothbrush head, that is tracked by the brush handle and an LED is illuminated when the head is due to be replaced, meaning you don’t have to remember when you last swapped it out.

There is too a visible pressure sensor is built into the handle to alert you when you are brushing too hard. This is in addition to the 2 minute timer and pacer.

And for those who like to travel, the DiamondClean Smart comes with a premium case that will hold the handle and up to 2 brush heads. You can also charge the brush whilst inside the case too.

Read our DiamondClean Smart review.

Understandably you want more information, so continue reading this article for a comprehensive explanation as to what to look for when choosing an electric toothbrush and why I have made the above suggestions.

Common pre-purchase questions

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In this section our in-house dentist Dr. Gemma Wheeler answers some of the common questions we get asked by people considering a new toothbrush.

Is it better to choose an electric toothbrush instead of a manual toothbrush?

Some people will see benefits when using an electric toothbrush instead of a manual toothbrush.

The purpose to toothbrushing is to:

  • remove plaque, which contributes to dental decay and gum disease.
  • remove food debris from the teeth to reduce the risk of dental decay.
  • introduce a fluoride containing toothpaste to reduce the risk of decay.

When asking whether an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush is better, the question is really “which one removes more plaque and food debris, without harming the teeth and gums”.

Studies (reviewed by Niederman and Yaacob et al ) show that electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque. They also show that electric toothbrushes help with gum disease.

Despite the clear evidence in reducing plaque, there is no evidence to support the use of electric toothbrushes when it comes to reducing decay.

For people wearing braces, a review of the evidence concluded that there is no reason to support the use of electric toothbrushes for reducing plaque on teeth and avoiding gum disease (although this evidence only covered a period of 8 weeks).

When thinking about the safety of your brush, know that both manual and electric toothbrushes have the potential to cause harm when used incorrectly. An example is causing wear on the outside of the tooth by scrubbing too hard. Evidence has shown that electric toothbrushes are of no greater concern to teeth and gums than a manual toothbrush, and some studies even support the use of electric toothbrushes to prevent worsening tooth wear caused by over brushing.

One other consideration is which one are you more likely to use? A toothbrush that encourages you to brush twice a day for two minutes each time, is always going to be better than one you can’t use.

Finally, when thinking about whether an electric toothbrush is better than a manual toothbrush, you will also want to think about the environment. This recent study discussed the greater impact of electric toothbrushes on the environment.

The take home message?

It is a personal choice.

If you are good at cleaning with a manual toothbrush and have no gum disease or tooth wear, then a manual toothbrush is satisfactory. It also has less impact on the environment (especially bamboo toothbrushes).

If you struggle getting your teeth clean enough with a manual toothbrush, or if you suffer from gum disease, then an electric toothbrush is a better option for you.

Will spending more money on a toothbrush improve your oral health?

This depends on your starting point!

If you have healthy gums and teeth, spending more money on a toothbrush will not improve your oral health.

However, if you are suffering from gum disease you could benefit from spending a bit more money on the right electric toothbrush for you.

Be aware, spending more money on a toothbrush does not always mean you are getting a better product.

There are a number of types of electric toothbrush, including side to side movements, sonic, and rotation oscillation.

There is a small amount of evidence showing that rotation oscillation brushes are better than other types of electric toothbrush. They reduce levels of plaque gum disease. But one review rightly points out that the difference is small and it is unknown whether these clinical trials actually translate into day to day use.

The good news is that rotation oscillation toothbrushes tend to be cheaper than other widely available electric toothbrushes.

Apart from this, there is almost no evidence supporting one type of brush over the others. However, key characteristics which may benefit you in an electric toothbrush are:

  • a pressure sensor to prevent over brushing.
  • a timer to help ensure you are brushing for the full two minutes.
  • a good quality toothbrush head which is changed every three months or when you can see them fraying.

Our number 1 pick in the list above, the Oral-B Pro 3 3500, includes all of these.

Spending more money on a toothbrush may provide things like travel cases and better battery life, but these aren’t going to actually help brush your teeth better!

Is a smart toothbrush worth it?

Not really.

A smart toothbrush is one with bluetooth technology. This is developing all the time, and in the last few years has emerged from just connecting to a timer, to being able to connect to an app on your phone.

Some smart toothbrushes also send reminders as to when you should change your toothbrush head.

There is no evidence currently available to support the use of a smart toothbrush over a normal electric toothbrush.

As a dentist, I would point out that many of the benefits advertised by a smart toothbrush can be gained more affordably elsewhere, such as by setting a calendar reminder on your phone, or by learning proper techniques from our videos and your own dental professional.

This topic is discussed in more detail in our article: is a smart toothbrush worth it?

How much should you spend on an electric toothbrush?

Our number 1 choice is based on the best value for money.

You don’t need to spend loads of money to get a good brush.

Actually, many of the best electric toothbrushes come in at under £50.

If you spend more than this you will be paying out for gimmicks that aren’t going to help you get a better result when it comes to cleaning your teeth. The most important things to look for in a toothbrush are:

  • a pressure sensor to prevent over brushing.
  • a timer to help ensure you are brushing for the full two minutes.
  • a good quality toothbrush head which is changed every three months or when you can see them fraying.

These will be included in many toothbrushes coming in the £30 – £50 bracket.

An expensive electric toothbrush will provide some extras like charging cases and better battery life, and if these are important to you then you may need to spend a little more, but it’s not necessary for a good clean.

Will an electric toothbrush help with gum disease?

Yes, electric toothbrushes help with gum disease.

Managing gum disease is all about reducing the amount of plaque on the teeth and under the gums. An important part of this is physical removal by toothbrushing and interdental cleaning.

Reviews by Van der Weijden Niederman and Yaacob et al support the fact that electric toothbrushes help with gum disease. More recently, an 11 year long study by Pitchika et al has examined long term successes of electric toothbrush users. These papers have found:

  • electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes, in both the short and long term.
  • electric toothbrushes provide a benefit in reducing levels of gum disease (compared to manual toothbrushes) both in the short term (6%) and long term (11%).
  • electric toothbrushes reduce the progression of advanced gum disease, with users having less bone loss.
  • users of electric toothbrushes, and who have gum disease, are less likely to lose teeth.

What else can you do to look after your teeth?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Brush for 2 minutes each time
  • Use the correct brushing technique
  • Spit after brushing, don’t rinse with mouthwash or water
  • Clean between the teeth once a day, with floss or interdental brushes

Creating a regular cleaning habit by following these steps will have the biggest impact, over and above the toothbrush you choose.

We also answer more pre-purchase questions in our buyer’s guide below.

Buyer’s Guide

Sensitive & Receding Gums Explained

Whilst sensitive gums are technically different to a condition known as receding gums, they are often closely linked.

Sensitive gums are sore gums, and can be a sign of gum disease.  Untreated disease will often result in gum recession.

You see, your gums act like a natural seal around your teeth.

A bit like how a plug acts as a seal in a plug hole, stopping water escaping down the drain.

The gum covers all of the bone that holds the tooth in place.  Normally this gum is around 2-3mm deep all the way around the tooth.

A buildup of plaque

In ideal circumstances, your gums should be a nice healthy looking light pink colour with a slightly dimpled appearance (similar to orange peel).

If you take a close up look at your gums, they should wrap around the top of your tooth in roughly a ‘C’ shape, with a small triangle of gum between each of your teeth.

Gingivitis is another word for gum disease, and it is caused by a bacterial infection in the gingival sulcus.

Where your gum meets the tooth it creates a small pocket between the top of the gum the top of the bone holding the tooth in place, and the tooth itself. This pocket is called the gingival sulcus and gingivitis is caused when food particles and plaque get caught here.

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What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky substance on the teeth that contains bacteria. Plaque builds up over the course of the day. Whilst some bacteria in plaque are harmless, but some are harmful to your gum health, and this is why not removing plaque causes gingivitis (gum disease).

Over time, if the teeth and gums are not properly cleaned, the plaque is not removed. The plaque builds up and the bacteria in it produce acids which irritate your gums. This can lead to redness with bleeding, swelling and tenderness.

This is the early stages of a condition called gingivitis, or as it might more commonly known, gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.

Gingivitis & Periodontal disease

At the initial stages of gingivitis, the gums are often sore and sensitive to the touch, particularly when brushing.

Thankfully in most cases, gingivitis is completely reversible. At this early stage of gum disease, the process to treat the condition is relatively simple, cheap and straightforward.

In order to treat gingivitis (early gum disease) and to stop gums bleeding, you need to remove the plaque and bacteria that are irritating the gums. This is done by improving your cleaning at home.

By simply improving your cleaning at home, you should see visible improvement within a matter of days, and within a couple of weeks the bleeding should stop altogether.

If left untreated, gingivitis may develop into periodontitis, which is when the bone that holds the teeth in is also lost. Eventually, the teeth will become loose and fall out.

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Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth may be caused by a number of issues. The two most common causes of sensitive are tooth decay and tooth wear.

If you have a poor oral healthcare regime, the sugars in your food are used by the plaque to produce acids that eat away at the tooth enamel.  Continued attacks cause the enamel to break down – tooth decay, eventually resulting in a cavity (or hole) in the tooth surface.

This exposes the softer internal part of your tooth, a substance called dentine.  Once this dentine has been exposed, the nerve of the tooth is more vulnerable to changes in temperature or acidity, which is why you can get pain.

Tooth wear is also caused by exposing the dentine, but the way that this is caused is different. In tooth wear, rather than poor oral healthcare, the dentine is exposed by too many acids, brushing too hard, or grinding your teeth.

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What causes sensitivity?

Fluid filled tubes run through the dentine and connect to the nerve.  Eating or drinking foods that are hot, cold, sweet or sour can change the fluid movement.  The nerve responds with that ‘pain’ you might be familiar with.

Even those with perfectly healthy teeth will at times get tooth sensitivity, but it is magnified in cases where there is a physical hole in the tooth surface.

What about gum recession?

Receding gums (also known as gingival recession) is when the gum lowers its position on the tooth, revealing or exposing the root of the tooth, once protected by the gum.

The bit of the tooth that is exposed is the dentine, and again this can cause sensitivity in the tooth.

The gum itself may be sore if you have gum disease because of the bacterial build-up.

Whilst strictly different from a dentistry/medical viewpoint, gum recession can be brought on by the advanced stages of periodontal disease, hence the link between sensitive and receding gums.  However, both can also be brought on by a number of other factors too.

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Gum recession can be caused by:

  • Poor oral healthcare – Failing to brush regularly or correctly
  • Trauma or injury – Sudden or severe damage to the tooth and associated tissues
  • Genetics – If your parents suffered from gum recession you are more likely to
  • Grinding your teeth or bruxism – Has your partner heard you grinding at night?
  • Abnormal tooth positioning – Irregularly positioned teeth put different stresses on the gums
  • Overly aggressive brushing or flossing – Excess pressure will aggravate and accelerate recession

Treatments for recession depend on the cause, but no matter what stage you are at, there are treatments available.

Sensitive gums can be caused by:

  • Poor nutrition – Good health is fuelled by good foods.  A lack of Vitamin C is particularly problematic for the mouth.
  • Smoking – Such a habit means you will likely collect more tartar on the teeth and have deeper gaps along the gum line and increased risk of periodontal disease.
  • Genes – Some of us are just more susceptible due to genetic makeup, but you can take precautionary steps.
  • Grinding – Whilst not directly responsible for sensitive gums, if they are inflamed, such can lead to increased disease.  The increased pressure that teeth are under can speed up the breakdown of periodontal ligaments.
  • Stress – Weakens the body’s immune system, the natural defence against infection.
  • Misaligned or crowded teeth braces or bridgework – Anything that makes it more difficult to brush or floss your teeth is likely to enhance plaque and tartar formation. Flossing is important here.
  • Hormones – Changes in natural hormone levels, particularly in puberty, pregnant women and those going through the menopause.
  • Medicines – Examples include those for blood pressure or depression can cause dry mouth. A lack of saliva gives more chance for plaque to form. Other medicines may cause the gums to enlarge. This makes them more likely to trap plaque.
  • Diseases – Those with diabetes are more likely to get periodontitis than those without and be more severe if they suffer. Rheumatoid arthritis and HIV infection are just two other diseases known to cause issues with periodontal health.

Whilst some of the causes for recession and sensitivity cannot be controlled, others can.

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Treating sensitive & receding gums

The key to cleaning the mouth properly is removing as much plaque buildup as possible.

A good routine that brushes away plaque reduces the chances of further buildup and the chances of suffering from periodontal disease and recession.

Starting with the basics, you should be brushing twice a day, for at least 2 minutes a time with a toothbrush that is in good condition.  Whether that is a manual brush or electric brush, the act of cleaning is most important.

Brush your teeth correctly

You should ensure that as you clean your teeth you do so correctly.  Yes, there is a correct way to clean them.

Flinging the brush around your mouth in an uncontrolled manner is not the approach. I have created a guide on how to clean your teeth properly.

Ideally, you should floss daily too, but more on that later.

You should then ensure you visit your dentist regularly.  It should be every 6 months or at worst annually.

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Visit the dentist regularly

Whether you have a fear of the dentist or the cost is an issue, my experience tells me that generally speaking it will be a more fearful and expensive trip, should you leave it until it is too late to treat a problem you may have.

Fix the problem before it gets worse.

1 in 2 Americans (according to the CDC) actually suffer from sensitive or bleeding gums, with many thinking it is normal.  Whilst common, it is not normal for your gums to bleed you do not want that.

It can be easy to manage sensitive gums

Thankfully it can be relatively easy to manage sensitive gums and within a few days, you can see dramatic improvements with the right steps.

When at home, the best thing to do is to avoid worrying as much as possible.  Stress and worry can make it worse.

If you have had sore gums and bleeding for many weeks or months, our advice would be to book a dentist appointment.  It need not be an emergency appointment but as soon as possible.

Should it be that only more recently your gums have begun bleeding and become inflamed, then addressing your oral hygiene routine would be the first port of call.

Make sure you brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes. You may want to brush a third time until the situation improves, but do not let this become habit; brushing twice a day is optimal under normal circumstances.

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Use a good fluoride toothpaste

When you brush, make sure you do so properly and with a good fluoride toothpaste. For adults, you should be aiming for about 1500ppm fluoride (check the back of your tube).

Spit, don’t rinse after brushing.

Floss if you can, or use one of our alternative flossers recommended towards the end of this article.

Use mouthwash a few times a day to refresh your mouth and wash away excess bacteria.  Leave it at least half an hour until after brushing – otherwise, you are simply washing away the toothpaste you have put on!

A stronger mouthwash like Corsodyl is a good option for a 7 day period. Be aware with chlorhexidine-containing mouthwashes that they react with toothpaste, making them less effective, so again do not brush too close to brushing. Use for a maximum of two weeks as side effects include changes to the way you taste and tooth staining.

If after 7-14 days you have not seen significant improvement, then speak to your dentist.

Should you ever  find yourself in a position that the situation has gotten out of hand or you cannot get on top of it, then don’t fret.  Dentists and hygienists have the specialised tools and knowledge to help remove and reduce buildup. Get in touch with them and put yourself back on track for a healthier you.

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Why use an electric toothbrush?

So, this article is about finding the best electric toothbrush for sensitive and receding gums and whilst I have already outlined my best picks at the start, I shall now delve a little deeper and explain why use an electric toothbrush and why the ones I have selected.

You do not have to have or use an electric one, but clinical studies from the likes of Cochrane have shown:

  • A plaque reduction of 21% in 3 month’s when using an electric toothbrush
  • A gingivitis reduction of 11% after 3 month’s use of an electric toothbrush

Now I am not sure about you, but 21% is a big improvement in my eyes.

If you have tooth wear or receding gums, an electric toothbrush has a great benefit because a less forceful action is needed. If less force is used on your teeth, there will be less damage to the gums and tooth, protecting them in the future.

This is just the effect of brushing with an electric toothbrush, there are many other benefits too.

  • Consistent power delivery for a dentist-like clean – it does the hard work so you don’t have to
  • Can help eliminate bad breath
  • Timers and pacers to encourage a 2 minute clean
  • Various cleaning modes
  • Different brush heads – Differing styles to achieve differing results
  • Fading bristles – Reminding you when to change your brush head
  • Value added features – Travel cases, apps & more
  • Relatively low lifetime cost
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It is not all roses, there are some negatives:

  • Initial cost – More expensive than a manual brush
  • Short battery life and need to re-charge
  • Cost of replacement heads – Equivalent to the cost of a manual brush
  • Not travel friendly – Varying support for voltages and protection to handles and heads when travelling

However, my personal opinion is that the benefits outweigh the negatives.

Price is often the biggest limiting factor, but when options exist for less than £50, can you put such a price on your oral health and well being?

Gum disease and inflamed gums can really demoralise us; I know — I have been there.  Most of us have at some point.  In the moment we often will pay whatever it takes to make things better.

The electric toothbrush is not just about helping resolve your sensitive gums quicker, many are about educating and improving your oral health as a whole.

Electric toothbrush – the features you need

Here are the features I would consider essential when when buying an electric toothbrush for sensitive or receding gums.

  • Gum/Massage/Sensitive cleaning mode

Normally an additional mode over the standard ‘clean’ or ‘daily clean’ mode, this cleaning mode generally operates the brush motor at a lower speed to reduce the pressure and sensitivity on the gums.  It continues to deliver a consistent power and motion unlike a manual brush.

This mode has been optimised for situations like yours.

  • Soft bristles on the brush head

Brush heads tend to vary in the firmness of the bristles, with many standard heads being firmer than you might like, or are desirable when you have sensitive teeth and gums.

Leading brands cater for this with ‘Sensitive’ brush heads that are included in the box or can be purchased separately.  They have much softer bristles to help avoid triggering any additional or unnecessary sensitivity.

Philips Sonicare even have a head specifically for Gum Health, perhaps best for when the greatest sensitivity has subsided.

  • Pressure sensor

The third most important factor in my mind: a pressure sensor that triggers an alert via a LED light or an on-screen notification (model dependent) that you are brushing too hard.

The brush motors will automatically adjust as a result of activation, but as one of the leading causes to gum recession such an alert will help educate you to reduce the pressure applied and let the bristles skim the tooth surfaces.

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  • Built-in timer

Too few people brush for the correct amount of time.

Most electric toothbrushes will come with a timer on board.

Set normally for two minutes the brush will alert you or even power off automatically in some cases when the time is up.  You should not stop brushing until the 2 minutes are up, your gum health relies upon it.

Most brushes also include a ‘pacer’ which helps you allocate the appropriate amount of time to the various sections of your mouth for an even clean.

Other features to consider

The following are not ‘essential’ but you may wish to bear them in mind when making your decision of investing in an electric toothbrush.

  • Oscillating & rotating technology

The studies have shown that these brushes, primarily manufactured by Oral-B, perform best with plaque and gingivitis removal, so there is some advantage.

However, the consistent motion offered by an electric toothbrush is a massive step forward and will improve results quicker than if using a manual toothbrush.

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  • Additional cleaning modes

You might be looking to solve your sensitivity issue right now, but what about if it clears up, what will you do?

Could other family members benefit from the electric toothbrush too?

All will come with a standard cleaning mode, but whitening or deep cleaning modes might be appealing to others in the same home as you.

  • Accessories

Premium models exist with an array of clever and useful accessories.

From travel cases to brush head storage compartments, if you are going to invest, invest in a brush that meets your needs now and in the future.  It is more effective to buy a package now than to add on bits later.

Travel for business or pleasure?  How will you protect it when on the go.

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  • Battery life

None of the brushes I recommend offer less than a week’s battery life, but some are better than others.  If you travel, lack a power outlet in the bathroom or intend to share the brush handle, you might want to look at other options.

There are also those that run on AA batteries.

To date, I have yet to see or handle a viable electric toothbrush that is powered by removable batteries that would be suitable for anyone with the aforementioned conditions.

  • Apps & connectivity

The most advanced brushes now have Bluetooth connectivity and link to your smartphone or tablet via an app.

Through this you can log, monitor and track your cleaning as well as receive helpful updates and share with your dental professional.

By no means ‘essential’ you can really keep an accurate log of your journey and some models even know and can advise where you have missed bits when brushing.

Find out more in our Oral-B Bluetooth connectivity article.

Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 21
  • Price

Sadly many features do come at a price, the more features the more expensive.

That said, there are many great value options available that don’t break the bank, but are more expensive than a manual brush.

Pay what you are comfortable with given the features gained.  Do remember though the cost of a toothbrush will be a lot less than the dental bill if you don’t take the right steps.

These are just some of the things you need to consider.  There are more.

If you really want to get into all the detail and understand all of the features in more depth; check out our electric toothbrush buyer’s guide.

Should you be a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to turn or what to buy, then, by all means, leave a comment on one of our posts, reach out to us here via our contact page or on our social media accounts, or speak to your dentist.

To my recommendations then.


The act of flossing is something most of us are encouraged to complete at least once a day.  The reality is few really do.

I am not here to judge whether you do or don’t, I just want you to as best as possible manage your sensitive gums.

Brushing your teeth only cleans 60% of the tooth surface, some 40% goes uncleaned unless you partake in interdental cleaning whether that is flossing or using interdental brushes.

In between teeth in everyone’s mouths are gaps. Some of these gaps are larger or smaller than others and may require different flossing tools. However irrespective of the size, you need to regularly (ideally daily) clean these gaps.

Floss is best suited to small or tight gaps between the teeth, whereas interdental brushes are often preferred for the larger gaps, not to mention the added convenience they bring.

Getting in the routine of flossing is important, but it is just as important to ensure you use the correct technique otherwise you are wasting time and failing to really deal with the source of the problem.

Done correctly, the floss will actually get under the gumline and into the spaces the toothbrush does not to remove the plaque buildup.

Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 22

You might feel you now have sensitive gums because you have not flossed previously, and the thought of running a thin bit of string between the teeth and along the gumline fills you with dread.

I know myself that flossing can be painful, it can cut into the gum.

There are different types of floss available including thicker and wider ‘tape’ style flosses.

Interdental brushes are the best option to go for, if you have gum disease.  They are less likely to hurt the gums due to their design and varying sizes, however, they do take time and can work out quite expensive.  You can learn all about them in the article Interdental Brushes – All you need to know.

There is another option though and that is using a water flosser.

As the name implies it relies on using a jet of water to be brushed in between the teeth and along the gumline to dislodge and wash away bacteria.

Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023 23

WaterPik are the best known brand in this space and have a diverse range available from portable to countertop options.  Spending just a couple of minutes reading our article on the best electric water flossers will give you a lot more insight.

Concluding comments

Sensitive teeth and receding gums are not pleasant and I wish for nobody to have to suffer with such.

However it is a very real and common problem for dentists to see and treat.

If you are suffering you need not worry, there are solutions.

We are all unique, no two mouths are identical and what works for one will not always work for another.

But depending on the severity, one of the best things you can normally do is invest in a good oral hygiene routine.

Daily brushing and flossing, when done correctly, can help to remove most of the plaque from your teeth.

Use of an electric toothbrush can enhance this plaque removal but up to 21%.

More expensive than the old fashioned manual brush, you may feel electric is not worth it, but what price do you put on your health?

The cost of treating gum disease from improper cleaning will cost you a lot more emotionally and in dental fees than any electric toothbrush.

Offering more than just a powered brush, electric toothbrushes today help educate and inform you to become better at cleaning; they are like a dental health professional at your side.

Gum disease has been dubbed ‘The Silent Killer’ as apart from a few minor symptoms, such as bleeding or receding gums, or bad breath, there may be absolutely no other signs until it is too late.

Take the precaution and make sure you are removing the bacteria that fuels this disease.

Comments and feedback

If you have anything you want to say or add about electric toothbrushes for sensitive or receding gums?

Used one of these brushes and can speak first hand about how good or bad they are?

I welcome any comments, please leave them below.

Related Posts

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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39 thoughts on “Best Electric Toothbrush For Receding Gums / Sensitive Teeth 2023”

  1. Hi,
    Thank you very much for your helpful content! I have receding gums (I’m still young, brush my teeth well and not too hard, but seem to have thin gums as the dentist said). I do not have bleeding or sensitive gums. I just bought the oral-b io 8 with the gentle care brush heads. But I wonder about the best cleaning mode for me. To slow the progression of the recession, I should minimise aggression to my gums BUT I should clean my teeth well because bacteria could worsen the recession too, plus with deepened dental pockets bacteria have an easier breeding ground (so I heard). So I don’t know if for example the gum care mode cleans well enough. I watched your videos but I’m still not sure which mode to choose.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Laura. Great question.

      Simply put, any mode available on the iO 8 is going to do a good job of cleaning the teeth. Used correctly, an electric toothbrush won’t damage the teeth and gums.

      More important than the mode is your brushing time, frequency (2 times a day for 2 minutes) and technique. I am sure you are aware of this already.

      The sensitive or gum care mode is a great place to start, to get you used to the brush etc.

      In time, if you don’t experience sensitivity or find the daily clean mode too intense, do move to this, because it uses the full power of the toothbrush and it can deliver the best possible results.

      Thanks to the pressure sensor you shouldn’t do any damage to the gums because it will alert you if you brush too hard.

      I would then suggest on your next checkup/hygiene appointment you discuss it with your dental professional to get more personalised advice for you and check that they are happy that what you are doing fits with your circumstances.

      I hope this helps. Any questions, please just ask.

  2. Hi could you please advise i have been told I have gum disease by my dentist plus really sensitive teeth and receding gums . Si I purchased an oral b 2500 with sensi toothbrush heads but it was too much vibration on my teeth which made it worse is there a more gentle vibration model out there ,thanks G .

    • Hi Graham.

      There are select electric toothbrushes that are more gentle. But, in our opinion, they do not clean as well.

      Have you specifically been recommended to buy an electric brush?

      Previously did you use a manual brush? Did you suffer with sensitivity with that?

      • Hi Jon was recommended by my dentist to use an electric toothbrush , a few years ago I did use a Philips sonicare but turned to manual when that broke maybe my teeth have got more sensitive since then , how about a child’s battery operated toothbrush would that be beneficial in your opinion . Regarding looking for an electric toothbrush was just trying to abide by my dentists wishes when I visited him about a month ago but maybe they are more sensitive than he realised , regards Graham .

        • Hi Graham.

          A kids electric toothbrush could be an option. Many are less powerful, but there are potentially other shortcomings such as no timer or pacer. They are still fairly powerful and not significantly less powerful than the model you tried. Worth a shot as you will get the benefit of the increased number of movements. It could be worth speaking to your dentist again and getting their opinion based on your personal situation

  3. My gums are starting to recede…not too bad and I don’t have sensitive/sore gums. Do I need a toothbrush with gum massage, or will the Oral B Pro 2500 do?

  4. Hello,
    I have discovered a few of your articles very recently and I like them. I need your advice please :
    Do you know Mira-teeth? It is sold by Techmira (German company). It is an ultrasound toothbrush. And I wonder if I can trust the tool of this expensive brand. Could the ultrasound be harmful for teeth problems like caries, crowns, bridges (not sure about the English words, sorry) please? Does it 100% replace a toothbrush?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment and question.

      I am aware of this brand but have yet to test their products.

      There are arguments for and against ultrasonic toothbrushes, the main negative tends to be the price.

      Whilst it could bring benefits, the additional cost for many is not worth it given that a traditional sonic toothbrush does a very good job for a much lower price.

      As far as I am aware it should not cause any problems with caries, crowns, bridges etc. If they did, these products would not have a useful place within the market.

      • Thanks so much for your quick reply.
        I had bought a Oral-B Genius X toothbrush but it was much too hard for me (the impression of a hammer in the head). So I sent it back to Oral-B after one day.
        Maybe I should try a sonic…
        I will talk to my dentist later this week and see what she recommends for me. Thanks.

  5. Hi Jon,

    I came across your comprehensive web when finding out what electric toothbrush I should use.
    My teeth is basically healthy except for receding gum above 1 tooth, which is not really sensitive.

    But when I was reading web articles about electric toothbrushes on Czech websites (I’m Czech), almost each recommendation for people with sensitive/receding gums was NOT to use
    brushes with oscillating & rotating technology, because this technology can be too aggressive for the gums.
    And so the recommendation was always to use Sonic technology in these cases.
    These opinions were stated even by dentists (or at least the articles were presented that way).

    So I’m confused now, because based on that I was going to buy Sonicare 4300, but now it looks that Oral-B Pro 2500 may be as good or even better, but much cheaper.

    Do you think this may some kind of marketing campaign (or something like that) or have you ever come across these opinions ?

    Thank you

    • Hi Tomas.

      Thanks for the comment and the question.

      There are and will always be differences of opinion on what is ultimately best. Even the dental professionals don’t agree.

      What clinical data does exist is not necessarily as comprehensive as it could be and there is a need for more study in this area.

      I don’t believe it is a marketing campaign that Sonicare is the top recommendation with the content that you have read.

      I can see why Sonicare is often the recommendation, because of the way the bristles move and when brushing it does feel more gentle than Oral-B.

      That said, the Oral-B Pro 2 2500 has a sensitive mode which is more gentle and you can get soft brush heads to fit the handle and reduce the likelihood of any unwanted exaggeration of the recession you are experiencing.

      For anyone to definitively say 1 is the absolute best, is tricky as there are always arguments for and against.

      It might be worth asking the opinion of your dentist who oversees your care.

    • Hi Blanc.

      I would recommend the iO Series 9, with a massive caveat in that you don’t need an expensive or as feature rich as this. There are cheaper but still good models for a fraction of the price.

      You do really need to be committed to the app etc to get the value I feel.

      If it is a case of choosing between the iO and the Genius X, the iO still technically gets my vote, as I explain in my Genius X vs iO comparison.

      If you already own the Genius X it is not worth the upgrade.

  6. Which toothbrush should I buy, I have receding en sensible gums. I
    Am a light smoker so also need it to remove plaques. And a travel case would be handy but I am
    Not interested in apps on my phone. Price is not Issue. Thank you

    • All toothbrushes used correctly will remove plaque and should be able to manage within reason any staining of the teeth caused by your light smoking.

      I think you could be well served by the Oral-B Pro 2 2500. It is not a smart toothbrush, but it has a good cleaning action. It does not have sensitive cleaning mode, but it does have a ‘gum care’ mode which is very similar and it does too have a pressure sensor to alert you should you be brushing too hard.

      You can spend more, but you will be getting items you don’t need or want.

  7. What do you think of battery operated toothbrushes? I’m currently using the Colgate ProClinical 150 Battery Powered Sonic Toothbrush for my sensitive teeth. What would be the electric version of this please?

    • Hi Lou.

      Electric toothbrushes with removable batteries have their place for sure. I have used the Colgate ProClinical 150 and have given it a 5 star rating for what it offers for the price.

      Electric brushes with batteries built-in tend to be a little more powerful and convenient for many. The closest alternative to the Colgate you are using is the ProClinical 250R.

      However, the Oral-B Smart 4 4000 listed here is a bit better in my opinion. If price is an issue, you could also look at the more cost effective Oral-B Pro 2 2500, but just make sure you are using it’s gum care mode with a sense UltraThin brush head.

      • Hi Jon
        Thanks for the prompt reply. I’m a bit confused. Do you have a link for the oral B 400? Would I need to use different brushes for this one also? (I need softest as I have off the scale sensitive teeth!). Also what is the difference between a sonic toothbrush and an oscillating brush? Which is better for removing plaque whilst being gentle on gums?

        • Hi Lou,

          Here is a link to my review of the Oral-B Smart 4 4000.

          I would suggest investing in the Oral-B Sensi UltraThin brush heads as these are the softest brush heads available, to give the most gentle brushing experience. Unfortunately, this brush head doesn’t usually come included in the box with the Smart 4.

          Use it with the ‘sensitive’ mode on the Smart 4 and this will be the most gentle, but effective brushing you can get from Oral-B.

          The difference between Sonic and Oscillating toothbrush is the way the bristles move. Sonic moves side to side whereas the oscillating moves side to side in a circular motion. This article explains the difference in more detail. However, don’t worry too much, in practice both are very good.

          There is varying opinion as to which is ‘best’. Independent research has concluded Oral-B’s oscillating approach is most effective, but acknowledge more research is needed.

          The reality of the situation is you use either correctly and twice daily and the results will be very good.

          If you have any other questions, please let me know.

          • Hi Jon
            Thanks for your help. I’ve found this one at boots Oral-B Pro 2 2000W Electric Toothbrush Powered By Braun – is this any good in your opinion? Does it have a setting for sensitive teeth? (Can’t find any details online). Would I be able to use this with the sensi ultra thin heads you recommended? Also it comes with a 2 pin plug/shaver plug which I haven’t got – do all of them come with a plug like this or do some cone with a standard 3 pin uk plug? Sorry for all the questions but I need to make sure I buy the right thing.
            Thank you!

            • Hello again Lou.

              Yes, this is a very good toothbrush. It is the same as the Pro 2 2500 I mentioned previously, just without a travel case.

              Click here to read my Pro 2 2000 review. The Pro 2 2000W is a variant of the 2000. So very confusing I know.

              It has a gum care mode. This is fairly gentle and very similar to sensitive mode. Most importantly, it is more gentle than the standard daily clean mode. Therefore it should be fine if you suffer with sensitivity.

              The vast majority of brushes come with charging stands that have a 2 pin plug for bathrooms. You can purchase 2 to 3 pin adapters very easily. This is one example on Amazon. It will allow you to then charge from a 3 pin socket elsewhere in the home.

              I totally understand the need to know you are buying the right one. Let me know if you need more info.

              P.S. Whilst you can’t abuse it, there is the option of using Oral-B’s money back guarantee.

              • Hi Jon,

                Thank you again for all your help, one last question the oral b pro 2 2000 says “Many people press too hard when they brush, but how do you know if you are brushing too hard? Oral-B Pro 2 2000S Electric Toothbrush protects your gums with automatic speed reduction, which alerts you and slows down the brushing speed if you brush too hard.”
                Does this mean there’s no light sensor to visually show alert me?

                • Lou, the Pro 2 2000 series has a pressure sensor built-in.

                  On the back of the handle is a panel (red/orange colour that will light up if too much force is being used, and thus alerting you to reduce that pressure. It will not light up unless the pressure is to hard.

  8. I have an sonic care diamonds but my dentist said for my overbearing and gum recession is better oral b smart 4 with soft ultra-humano head. I spent so much in the Phillips already what shall I do ? Spend again in oral b ?

    • Hi Diana.

      Thanks for the comment.

      It is good to see that your dentist has the same recommendation as us. However, it is not normally essential to switch from Sonicare to Oral-B.

      There might be some benefit, but I can’t say it would be significant enough to justify all the extra cost. It could be worth speaking to your dentist again to understand how important, in your personal circumstances why they feel this is necessary.

      The Sensitive and Gum Care mode on the DiamondClean brush should be similar/equivalent to the Oral-B solution. You may want to look at buying and using the Sonicare G2 Gum Care brush heads to use alongside these cleaning modes for best results.

  9. I have an Oral-B electric toothbrush. I have receding gums and am wondering what type of toothbrush head would be best for this condition. Thanks.

  10. I just researched and bought the xiaomi Mi sonic toothbrush for less than $30. It is a smart toothbrush, with timer and a great app that shows me where in my mouth I am for how long. I really recommend the mi sonic toothbrush.

  11. How will I notice that the pressure sensor light has come on when the brush handle is right up close to my mouth during brushing?

    • Hi Mary,

      You should notice out of the corner of your eye.

      That said, many tend to brush in front of a mirror in the bathroom, which of course makes things a lot easier and very obvious.

      If you are brushing too hard, you should hear the sound of the brush change that is also an alert to you.

  12. Hello Jon, I was prepared to pay far more to replace my brush which is over five years old. However instead of £100 I expect to pay £50 and I shall have a new brush which is suitable for me. Thank you for doing the research for me, so glad I clicked onto your website.

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