This post contains a wealth of information on choosing an electric toothbrush.
It’s based on extensive hands-on testing (we’ve tested hundreds of brushes over the years!) and advice from our in-house dentists.
We answer important pre-purchase questions, such as how much you should spend.
There’s also advice from Dr. Gemma Wheeler about other things you can do to take care of your teeth.
Click a link below to jump to the section that appeals to you most.
And if you’ve got any questions, please ask in the comments.
Our top 5 picks for 2021
In the sections below you can read a little more about each brush and the reason we have rated it as the best in its category.
1. Oral-B Pro 2 2500
Best value electric toothbrush (Oral-B)
Read our full Oral-B Pro 2 2500 Review
The Pro 2 2500 is comfortable to hold with lots of gripping points, and has 2 brushing modes.
In our opinion, the Pro 2 2500 is as close to ‘perfect’ as an electric toothbrush can be.
It is effective, affordable and reliable.
This slim handled brush has all the features we regard as essential for daily brushing.
Included are a 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer, which encourage you to brush for the dentist recommended 2 minutes. Brushing for the right amount of time is one of the most effective ways to improve your oral health.
A visible pressure sensor on the handle lights up red if you brush too hard. Brushing too hard can damage your teeth and gums, so this is your cue to adjust your brushing technique and prevent lasting damage.
The powerful daily clean mode is suitable for the majority of users.
The gentler sensitive mode is good for those who prefer a clean that is a little less intense. This sensitive mode is ideal for those with sensitive or receding gums.
A single brush head is provided in the box. The small round head cleans the teeth well and is clinically proven as effective.
The Pro 2 2500 has a rechargeable battery that lasts around 2 weeks on a full charge. It comes with a practical travel case that can protect the handle and up to 2 brush heads.
Overall the 2500 is a brilliant toothbrush. Despite the huge array of choices this really is a great option and the one we recommend to our family and friends.
2. Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300
Best value electric toothbrush (Sonicare)
Read our full Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 Review
The ProtectiveClean 4300 is the Sonicare equivalent of the Pro 2 2500 — we rate it as the best value brush from Sonicare.
The features of the two brushes are comparable, but the 4300 is a bit pricier and the replacement brush heads are more expensive.
The handle is slim, solid and well built and does have all the hallmarks of a more premium option. There are some more exciting colour options available, too.
Although the 4300 has a single cleaning mode, it has two different intensity settings. This means you can choose a less intense brushing action if you suffer with sensitive teeth and gums.
A built-in timer and pacer encourages you to brush for the correct amount of time. It powers off at the end of the two minute cleaning cycle, so you know you haven’t brushed for long enough if the brush hasn’t turned off.
The rechargeable battery is impressive — it lasted 5 weeks in our hands-on testing.
When it’s time to replace your brush head, a light on the handle of the 4300 illuminates. Worn bristles lead to less effective cleaning, so this is a welcome feature.
Included in the box is a travel case, which protects the handle and brush head when travelling.
3. Sonicare DiamondClean Smart
Best Sonicare electric toothbrush
Read our full Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Review
Without doubt, the DiamondClean Smart is one of the most advanced electric toothbrushes you can buy. It really is the best option if money is no object.
You don’t need to spend this much and we encourage you to consider more affordable options. But, if you want the best, then this is it. It is a very impressive and complete package.
The DiamondClean Smart comes with a multitude of cleaning modes and brush heads. It offers 3 different levels of brushing intensity, so you can refine the power of the brush to suit you.
It is the only brush in the Sonicare range to offer a visible pressure sensor.
The more you can do to improve your oral care routine, the healthier your teeth and gums will be. The smart technology of the DiamondClean Smart helps you to understand how well you are brushing your teeth.
The sensors in the handle track your brushing action in realtime. Within the Sonicare app, you can see the areas of the mouth you have and have not brushed sufficiently. Your brushing performance over time is then logged within the app.
Overall the tracking works well and performs, in our opinion, a little better than competing brands like Oral-B.As such, if we had to choose one, we would rate the DiamondClean Smart as the best smart toothbrush.
The travel case will hold the handle and up to 2 brush heads, whilst also allowing the battery to recharge via the built-in USB cable.
4. Oral-B iO
Best Oral-B Electric Toothbrush
Read our full Oral-B iO Review
The iO is the Oral-B equivalent to the DiamondClean Smart.
Using the Oral-B app you can see which surfaces of the teeth have and have not been brushed very well. It also provides tips on how to achieve 100% brushing every time.
The smart features of the iO are designed to educate us to brush our teeth better.
A revised design in comparison to most other Oral-B models means the iO looks sleek and more current than some of the cheaper options.
The inclusion of a display in the brush handle is, without doubt, a stand out feature.
Via the buttons on the handle, you can navigate through the menus on the display to choose from 7 brushing modes. Needless to say, your teeth feel lovely and clean after each use.
The visible pressure sensor uses a red light to alert you when you are brushing too hard and a green light to alert you when you are brushing correctly .
The magnetic motor is a little quieter than other Oral-B models.
Oral-B advertises the iO as ‘AI-enabled’. This essentially means the built-in technology can track the position of the toothbrush in the mouth.
The iO also charges in as little as 3 hours via its magnetic charging stand and can be charged within the provided travel case.
All very appealing it is, but it does come at a price. It is not cheap and the brush heads are exclusive to the iO. They are not interchangeable (like other Oral-B heads) and they are more expensive.
5. Fairywill P11 Pro
Best budget electric toothbrush
Read our full Fairywill P11 Pro Review
If you have a tight budget when it comes to buying an electric toothbrush, then the Fairywill P11 Pro is a great option.
The Chinese brand has a broad range of brushes and has made a good name for itself over the last few years based on the value it offers.
There was a time when the materials used in Fairywill brushes felt a little cheaper than the more premium alternatives. But that is not the case so much with the P11, which has even won a design award.
It has a 2 minute timer and 30 second pacer. It turns itself off at the end of the brushing cycle, too.
It does not have a pressure sensor, which is a shame, but not a complete deal-breaker.
Most importantly, the brush cleans the teeth as well as any Sonicare or Oral-B toothbrush.
The P11 will cost you around the same price as the Oral-B Pro 2 2500. But it comes with 8 brush heads in the box rather than 1. Based on a single user, this means there isn’t a need to buy more heads for up to 2 years and it works out much cheaper in the long run.
On top of this, the built-in rechargeable battery lasted over 60 days in our hands-on testing. That is double the 30 days claimed battery on a single charge.
The P11 includes 3 cleaning modes — clean, gentle and massage. The LED’s for these modes are hard to see, due to the design. Style over function in this instance.
Having the travel case included at this price is a nice touch as well.
For the price, this is a cracking product and one that would have a price tag of £90+ if it were made by one of the leading brands.
Video of our best picks
The video below summarises our best electric toothbrush recommendations for 2021.
Common pre-purchase questions
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”.
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 2 2500, 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?
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.
Electric Toothbrush Buyer’s Guide
Having given our answers above, what follows below is a condensed version of our electric toothbrush buyer’s guide.
We’ve tried to provide the information we think you’ll find most useful, without getting too bogged down in detail.
If you would like even more detail, you can view our full length buyer’s guide here.
Explaining our choice for ‘best overall’
At the top of this page, we’ve given our recommendations for the best electric toothbrush.
Part of the difficulty in answering the question is figuring out exactly what people mean by ‘best’; do they mean the best once all factors have been considered, or the best in terms of technology and performance?
Generally we think people would like to know which electric toothbrush is the best without having to spend a lot. We aim to strike a balance between the features on offer and the cost. We’ve therefore chosen the Pro 2 2500 as the best, because:
- It’s not that expensive
- It comes with a pressure sensor
- It comes with a quad-pacer
- It comes with a travel case
- It has great battery life
The pressure sensor, timer and quad-pacer are features we consider worth paying for and they aren’t always included with slightly cheaper brushes. We give our thoughts on other features and how important they are in the next section.
For those that want truly the best in terms of performance (and if money isn’t an issue), we’d recommend the Oral-B iO Series 9 or the DiamondClean Smart, which we rate as the best Oral-B electric toothbrush and best Sonicare electric toothbrush respectively.
If we had to choose between the two, the DiamondClean Smart just takes the edge as a more complete package, despite the fact that the iO is the newer model.
These are both smart toothbrushes, which we explain in more detail in our guide here.
Both of these brushes offer extra cleaning modes and smart technology, including real-time tracking. But that comes with a price and for some people it will be overkill. Unless you really feel you can benefit from these smart features, avoid them, and save yourself the cash.
Believe it or not the Pro 2 2500, which is some £200 cheaper, can serve you just as well — it is our recommendation for the best overall brush.
The built-in timer and pacer encourage you to brush for the right amount of time, evenly across the mouth. The pressure sensor alerts you if you are brushing too hard, which is a cause of gum recession.
Are there any new innovations to consider?
There are some interesting developments happening around toothbrush technology — “automatic” or “mouthpiece” toothbrushes are one such example.
Y-Brush is the best mouthpiece toothbrush we have tested so far. However, we don’t yet deem any to be a suitable replacement for the traditional manual or electric toothbrush.
There are now various smart toothbrush options as well, which we run through in our guide here.
Are there any soon-to-be-released products worth holding out for?
Ultimately no, there are not.
No upcoming products are going to revolutionise the way you brush your teeth or the standard of clean you can achieve.
Of course new products do come along fairly regularly so there could always be something else…
Oral-B has a model called the Oral-B Sense in the pipeline , which it describes as a “fitness tracker for the mouth”. This looks to be an interesting product, but as above, unless you really feel you need the features it offers, we wouldn’t suggest holding out for it.
If you are interested in new toothbrush technology, such as mouthpiece toothbrushes, there are a few products due for release over the coming months:
However this technology is very new and has limited clinical testing.
Based on the products we have tested so far, we would not recommend delaying the purchase of a regular toothbrush in favour of one of these products, especially as some of them will not be released until late 2021.
Other brushes we’ve recently tested
While only a handful of brushes make it into our list of the best electric toothbrushes, we’ve put many more to the test.
Rarely will a modern electric toothbrush fail to achieve the basic standards we look for in a brush.
But to keep our overall recommendations simple we use strict criteria and only select a few brushes as “the best”. We explain our recommendations in more detail here.
That being said, we know there will be interest in the other brushes we have tested (particularly the more expensive ones), so we’ve included a quick overview of them below.
Recent years have seen an increase in the appeal and offering of smart toothbrushes. As you will have learnt, we don’t typically recommend them. They are expensive, and you don’t need one to clean your teeth well. But, inevitably, the top of the line models come with smart features built-in, out of the box.
The Oral-B iO and the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart are the two leading smart toothbrushes. We have included them above as the best Oral-B and best Sonicare brushes. They are truly the best in terms of technology. However, we encourage our readers to consider the cheaper options, such as the Pro 2 2500, as these can do the job just as well.
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 is another one of the more premium options. It is an upgrade over the DiamondClean 3rd generation. You now have a pressure sensor. This is not a visible sensor, but the handle vibrates when it is activated to alert you.
It has a brush head replacement reminder system. An orange light shines on the brush handle when it is time to change your brush head. This is very useful. The negative consequence is the higher price of the brush heads.
The brush also has 3 different pressure settings and 4 cleaning modes. They don’t clean the teeth any better. Nor are they essential, but they offer choice.
The 9000 has Bluetooth Smart features. But it does not have the position detection and tracking facilities of the DiamondClean Smart or older FlexCare Platinum. If the app is used in real-time, you get an on-screen timer only. Data is synced post brushing. It is displayed on the screen in the form of coloured charts. This data shows performance for the last 7 days only. It doesn’t allow brushing history and learnings as you might expect.
It is a similar story for the ExpertClean from Sonicare. It cleans the teeth really well and has a good box contents. Unless you can commit to using the smart features, there are better value options available. It does feel awfully similar to the 9000, although cheaper.
They fundamentally work the same, but the unique element to the Prestige is that even if you don’t use the app in real-time, the handle stores and syncs more of this data in the background. You get a mouth map for cleaning, pressure, and scrubbing, something the Smart does not offer. This means you get more meaningful data over time, irrespective of real-time app use or not.
The 9900 is also focused on simplification. It sounds odd given the brush offers so many features, but it is more about getting the job done and installing good repetitive habits to help you and your oral health in the long term.
It was Oral-B that really pushed smart technology into the toothbrush some years ago. The iO is the latest iteration with even more tech, including a display in the handle.
We have only ever seen it before on the Oclean X. The cleaning performance was great. The display was touch-sensitive and horrible to use. The iO’s display is not touch-sensitive. Despite this, the X has a lot going for it. It has a magnetic wall mount, great colour choices and it is very affordable.
But, with the introduction of the Oclean X Pro Elite, there is really little reason to opt for the older X variant. The touchscreen has been radically improved and is a delight to use. It might not be essential, but it adds something to the experience. In addition, the Elite is super quiet. In fact, it is the quietest electric toothbrush that we have ever tested, by quite some margin. Oh, and it is a smart toothbrush too. It sends data back to your smartphone to help you track and improve your oral care habits.
It is perhaps no surprise that Oclean is affiliated with Chinese technology giant Xiaomi. Their Mi toothbrush is another extremely good value option. It comes complete with, yes you guessed it, Bluetooth technology. Yet again the implementation of this tech was not great. You need to be quite forgiving to really get the value from it. These models are not widely stocked, giving favour to those household names.
Slightly older models like the Oral-B Genius X are extremely capable. It has more features than you need, but it is much more affordable than the iO. It does away with the clunky position detection technology used by the Genius 9000. All the sensors are built into the handle. There is no need to stand in front of a smartphone camera to track the movements, as was the case with the Genius 9000.
Oral-B’s app has evolved over the years. It can be a little confusing. Particularly when there are different configurations for different models.
The Smart 6 6000 is a solid mid-range toothbrush. It cleans the teeth well, has extra cleaning modes, a pressure sensor and 2 weeks battery life. It is neither cheap, nor extortionately expensive. It is somewhat lost in the range though. Particularly when you consider the slimmer handled Smart 4 4000. It offers multiple modes, nigh on identical cleaning performance and comparable battery life. All for less money.
Oral-B has always underperformed in the battery department. Sacrifices might be expected for entry-level models. But, around 1 week on a single charge isn’t really good enough from the Pro 1 680 and Pro 1 750. For a little extra, you can own the more capable Pro 2 2500. It comes with twice the battery life, 2 cleaning does and a visible pressure sensor.
Even then, the 2 week battery life is no match for the budget-busting brand that is Fairywill. They have constantly over-delivered. A month is the minimum you will get from their brushes. The E11 is one such example. When the battery does need replenishing, you use the detachable USB cable. Compact and convenient for some. The drawback here is the proprietary design of the cable and the position of the charging port on the base.
It is incredibly light in hand and comes with 8 brush heads included in the box. Based on value for money alone, it is simply sensational.
Colgate has for many years offered good value brushes. They haven’t been absolute must-buy products, but they do what they need to. Oral-B and Sonicare have been better in product quality and cleaning power. The sonic cleaning action has always felt weaker and this still applies to the Colgate 250R. It is cheap, but the battery life and box contents are worse than the 250+ it replaced. The design is a bit more stylish though.
The Colgate Connect E1 was made in partnership with Kolibree. It was the first toothbrush to be stocked in Apple stores. But, much of what we know and love about Colgate has been lost and the software experience is substandard. It simply isn’t a great brush for daily use. A little more work on the software would have resulted in significant improvements.
No electric toothbrush, cheap or expensive can ultimately clean your teeth better. You have to use it correctly. Improper technique and brushing time is the cause of so many dental care problems.
Mouthpiece style toothbrushes like AutoBrush are trying to resolve this. They have a brush head that positions the bristles at the perfect 45 degree angle. But, in addition, it focuses on cleaning all the tooth surfaces at the same time. Conceptually it is a great idea. However, in practice, it really does not work that well. It fails to reach all the tooth and gum surfaces, leaving lots of plaque behind. And despite being designed to correct technique issues, there is still a technique to use it. Worryingly, there is a kids version. The engaging characters on the brush handle might be fun, but it is no replacement to regular toothbrushing.
Y-Brush is better, but only by a little bit. It is the best mouthpiece toothbrush we have tested so far, but still isn’t a suitable replacement for a regular toothbrush. Using more reputable nylon bristles, it manages to lift more plaque from the teeth and gums. The plaque disclosing results speak for themselves. It is easy to use and has a good battery life. But revisions are needed. It looks and feels a bit homemade at the moment. Refinement in the materials and production process are required, as are different sized mouthpieces. The one size fits all approach means brushing can feel awkward and uncomfortable.
We are all for innovation if done well. On paper the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion reads like a great idea — it is a combination of water flosser and sonic toothbrush. The thinking is that 2 products in 1 can take up less countertop space, whilst delivering the benefits of both products . In reality, it is expensive and impractical. You don’t get the choice of different tips like you do with a normal water flosser. Water is fed through the brush head, making angling and positioning more difficult. The battery life of the toothbrush itself is poor. And the noise it makes is quite irritating. It is a shame as Waterpik’s Complete Care range is pretty good. It’s also proof that a separate water flosser and toothbrush is the answer.
We rate the Ordo Sonic+ as the UK’s best toothbrush subscription toothbrush. You can buy it outright or subscribe. It is pretty good value, although a little more expensive than our best electric toothbrush, so unless you want the convenience of regular brush head deliveries, we recommend opting for our best value choice above.
How important are other features and factors?
In the following section, we include our own insight on the other questions you may have when shopping for an electric toothbrush. This is compiled having extensively tested the range of brushes available in the UK.
To make things nice and clear we have labelled each with what we consider to be of high, medium and low importance.
How important is a timer?
We cannot stress the importance of a timer enough.
Dentists, hygienists, governing and medical bodies around the world are on the whole in unison that brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes is incredibly important.
When brushing your teeth, it is all too easy to get distracted, misjudge time and think you have been brushing for longer than you really have.
Therefore, a brush with a built-in timer encourages you to brush for the right amount of time. It lets you know when the 2 minutes are up. Then and only then, should you stop brushing.
Our top rated electric toothbrush brush, the Pro 2 2500, includes a timer.
How important is a quad pacer?
A quadpacer is a very useful addition and can seriously impact how well you clean all the teeth in your mouth.
During a standard 2 minute clean, a quadpacer will alert you when 30 seconds has passed.
You have 4 periods of 30 seconds within the average 2 minute cleaning cycle.
Imagine breaking your mouth up into 4 sections.
In section 1 you have your upper right teeth, section 2 your upper left, section 3 your lower right and section 4 your lower left.
The idea is that you spend 30 seconds cleaning each section.
As you get the alert, you move to the next section.
By the end of the 2 minute clean, you should have cleaned all 4 sections and given an even clean to all of the teeth in your mouth.
Our number 1 rated brush, the Pro 2 2500, includes a quadpacer.
How important is a pressure sensor?
Certainly a nice to have, we believe it is an underrated feature and particularly useful to first time user.
A common cause of gum recession is as a result of brushing too hard. Bristles of the brush need only skim the surface of the teeth and gums.
Where you have gum recession, brushing too hard will also wear away the outermost surface of the tooth, causing what dentists call abrasion. Abrasion itself can cause sensitivity to hot and cold.
You may be used to scrubbing with a manual toothbrush, but doing so with an electric toothbrush will do more harm than good.
Scrubbing harder is not an effective way to remove plaque and debris from the teeth. You and many others may not have known this, because you have never been told or shown how to brush correctly.
The pressure sensor alerts you via a change in brushing sensation, sound or light that you are brushing too hard.
It is a gentle reminder to use a little less force and help you maintain a healthy smile.
Our number 1 recommended brush, the Pro 2 2500, includes a pressure sensor. We also list other brushes in our post Which Electric Toothbrushes Have A Pressure Sensor?
How important is price?
Price is not all that important. Our primary recommendation, the Pro 2 2500, is not that expensive compared to other brushes.
Just because a brush is more expensive, it does not mean it is necessarily any better at cleaning your teeth.
More important is regular brushing, with the correct technique for the right amount of time. Get these things right and even a £3 manual toothbrush will do a good job, but there are of course many more benefits to using an electric one.
How important is battery life?
Battery life need not be a big part of your buying decision.
Over recent years performance and usage time of batteries have gotten better. Most brushes are on par with each other, with an average of around 2 weeks use between charges.
Typically the cheaper the brush the less battery life it offers but this isn’t always the case.
If you do need a particularly long battery life, Philips Sonicare brushes tend to be the best for this.
How important is the cost of replacement brush heads?
The cost of replacement heads can affect the long term ownership cost, so this may be something you wish to factor into your decision. Typically Oral-B brush heads are cheaper than Sonicare.
It’s recommended that you replace your brush head every 3 months, so if you follow that advice you’ll need 4 brush heads a year.
Official brush heads typically cost anywhere from about £3.50-£8 per brush head. This can be a lot of money when they will only be thrown away 3 months later, but you can save money by buying when there’s a deal on or by buying in bulk.
In most instances you have the choice of opting for a third party brush head. There may not be the same range of choice and the quality may be slightly inferior, but there are some great options at very good prices for both Sonicare and Oral-B.
Do be aware of fakes/counterfeit brush heads which pose as genuine but are often not the real deal. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
Is it useful to get a brush with a travel case included?
Even if you are not a regular traveller, having a case makes it much easier to transport the toothbrush and the brush heads in.
When in the case, the likelihood of damage — particularly to the bristles on the brush head — is reduced. There is also less chance of the brush accidentally being switched on. Any excess moisture and toothpaste in the heads remains in the case and not on anything else that might be in your bag; nobody likes toothpaste stains on their clothes!
There are even certain models that come with travel cases that enable the brush to be charged from within the case — no need to mount on a charging stand. Ideal for regular travellers.
We’ve recommended the Pro 2 2500 as our number one choice, which does include a case.
If you’re not bothered about a case, you could go for the Pro 2 2000 which is just the same as the Pro 2 2500 but isn’t supplied with a travel case.
How important is a gum cleaning mode?
This is not a mode that everyone needs, but if you are in the early stages of gum disease or experience sensitivity in the gums when brushing, you may find this mode helpful to ensure the gums become more tolerant to brushing and generally healthier.
Gum cleaning mode is lower powered than the standard cleaning mode and moves the brush head less aggressively, but in a way that cleans and encourages blood flow in the gums.
Having the mode available can act as a good reminder to brush the gums occasionally.
How important is sensitive cleaning mode?
Like gum cleaning mode, this is not a mode that everyone needs.
The motor tends to move more slowly for a gentle but still effective bristle movement over the teeth and gums.
It can be helpful if you have tender teeth and gums, and is particularly useful for those with gum disease or going through dental surgery.
How useful are the smart features in the likes of the Oral-B iO and Sonicare DiamondClean Smart?
Smart features on offer today can be very useful, but they are far from essential. We discuss this in more detail in our post: Is a smart toothbrush worth it?
You have to be committed to making use of them to really gain the benefit, particularly when these brushes come at a premium price.
They can also add a certain convenience to the way in which we use and interact with the brush.
Sonicare’s BrushSync brush head replacement reminder system is a great example of how technology can be used very effectively — it reminds you exactly when you need to replace the brush head. This is a luxury, though, and only worth paying for if you’re shopping without a budget.
How important is a whitening mode?
Certainly not a mode that is needed, whitening mode is normally just added time as part of the cleaning cycle, which allows for extra attention to be paid to those most noticeable front teeth.
If you are particularly conscious about that perfect white smile, the changes in the bristle movement help buff the tooth surface to give it a shine.
That being said, you should achieve similar results just from brushing your teeth properly twice a day with a regular cleaning mode.
How important is a tongue cleaning mode?
Remembering to clean your tongue in an important part of oral hygiene, but a dedicated mode for it is of low-importance in the scheme of brush features — it’s not worth spending extra money on.
The tongue is home to lots of bacteria and is often one of the major causes behind bad breath.
Cleaning the tongue after brushing, simply by dragging the brush head across it several times can really help freshen the mouth up and for some be a cure to bad breath.
A tongue cleaning mode is just a shorter and lower-powered mode that is more convenient than others available on the brush.
How important is brush head shape and size?
If used correctly, all electric toothbrushes will deliver a more effective clean than a manual brush.
It has been shown that small round brush heads such as those found on Oral-B toothbrushes can have a positive improvement on your oral health. However, the differences are not so significant that a smaller brush head is essential.
You need to consider your mouth, for some a smaller brush head is important to reach certain parts of the mouth.
More important than brush head size is adopting the right brushing technique.
Is it worth having Bluetooth?
It is not essential and we would not encourage you to spend a lot more to get a brush with Bluetooth technology.
You need to invest a little time to get the most from Bluetooth and that may include changing habits of a lifetime.
In-built Bluetooth technology can send data about your brushing back to your smartphone. This data can then be used to help improve your brushing habits.
However this does involve you making use of it and fitting it into your routine, so consider whether this is likely to happen before you spend extra cash on it.
Further to the above FAQ, as part of our extensive hands-on testing of brushes we’ve tried to answer any of the questions you may have before and after buying.
Browse the sections below for more information, and feel free to ask a question in the comments if there’s anything we’ve missed.
What are the benefits of an electric toothbrush?
The following are the key benefits to owning an electric toothbrush:
- Consistent power delivery for a dentist-like clean
- Can remove up to 100% more plaque than a manual brush
- Reduces tooth decay and improves gum health
- Can help to eliminate bad breath
- Timers and pacers to encourage a 2 minute clean
- Various cleaning modes
- Differing styles of brush head to achieve different results
- Fading bristles remind you when to change your brush head
- Relatively low lifetime cost
- Can improve your oral hygiene routine
Read more: Benefits Of An Electric Toothbrush
Is an electric toothbrush worth the investment?
The increased efficiency with which they clean, the convenience they offer and the way in which they encourage you to brush for the right amount of time can certainly pay off.
Whilst there is an initial purchase price, this is offset over time as you could have fewer or cheaper dental bills, not to mention healthier teeth and gums.
Purchasing at a reasonable price helps to ensure the investment pays off. Our primary recommendation, the Pro 2 2500 is a great example of this — it includes the ‘core’ features we recommend having, but doesn’t pile on unnecessary extras.
Read more: Benefits Of An Electric Toothbrush
Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?
The short answer is yes, electric is better than manual toothbrush when it comes to effectively cleaning your teeth.
We will be the first to say a manual brush is adequate for daily teeth cleaning, but the clinical studies and trials show how an electric brush is better.
The most important thing is that you brush your teeth with the right technique, for two minutes twice a day.
Read more: Electric Toothbrush Vs Manual
Do electric toothbrushes damage teeth?
When used correctly, an electric toothbrush does not damage the teeth or gums.
Read more: Do Electric Toothbrushes Damage Teeth?
Do electric toothbrushes cause gum recession?
No, the toothbrush itself does not cause gum recession.
It can exaggerate or accelerate recession, but this is as a result of user (human) error rather than the action of the brush.
Read more: Do Electric Toothbrush Cause Gum Recession
Do electric toothbrushes whiten teeth?
Yes, they can help whiten teeth.
However, no brush can whiten teeth beyond their natural whiteness.
The regularity with which you clean, your diet, lifestyle and toothpaste can all have a bearing.
Read more: Do Electric Toothbrushes Whiten Teeth?
How long do electric toothbrushes last?
The average life span of an electric toothbrush is around 5 years.
Manufacturers normally offer a 2 year warranty should the brush fail sooner.
But some brushes will last a lot longer — we know of people still using electric toothbrushes that are 10 years old.
Read more: How Long Do Electric Toothbrushes Last?
Can you share an electric toothbrush?
Although almost one in ten (9.7 percent) said they had shared a toothbrush (Oral Health Foundation, 2014) it is not advised.
Bristles of the brush head can harbour bacteria and germs that can have a negative consequence on your health when shared.
The interchangeable brush heads of an electric toothbrush make sharing a brush handle easier and possible.
In fact we are advocates of sharing the handle (not the brush head) as it is a great way to keep ownership costs down and get extra value from your toothbrush.
Read more: A guide to sharing an electric toothbrush
Can electric toothbrushes get wet?
With few exceptions electric toothbrushes are designed in such a way that they can be rinsed under a tap for cleaning, wiped with a cloth and exposed to water.
The vulnerable electronics are sealed inside the brush handle with measures in place to stop water from getting in.
Different manufacturers have different advice and guidance on using in the shower, for example. At no point should the brush be submerged in water.
Read more: Can Electric Toothbrush Get Wet
Other pre-purchase topics
- Oral-B 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Colgate 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Oral-B Bluetooth Connectivity Explained
- Oral-B Wireless SmartGuide Explained
- Oral-B Go Pro Toothbrushes Explained
- Oral-B Sound Connectivity Explained
- Electric Toothbrushes With Timers
- Which Electric Toothbrushes Have a Pressure Sensor?
- Do Electric Toothbrushes Remove More Plaque?
- Which Electric Toothbrushes Have Bluetooth?
- How Do Silicone & Rubber Toothbrushes Compare To A Normal Toothbrush?
Useful post-purchase information
As well as helping you before you buy a toothbrush, we’d also like to help you with any questions you may have once you do own one.
Below are some of the topics we get asked about the most, as well as issues we’ve run into ourselves:
- Oral-B Warranty: How It Works & What It Covers
- Philips Sonicare Warranty / Guarantee: How It Works & What It Covers
- Colgate Warranty / Guarantee: How It Works & What It Covers
- Oral-B Cleaning Modes Explained
- Sonicare Brushing Modes Explained
- Oral-B Coloured Rings: What Are They For?
- 2 Pin Plugs & Adapters for Toothbrushes Explained
- Charging An Electric Toothbrush
- Using An Electric Toothbrush Abroad
- Recycling An Electric Toothbrush
- Oral-B Electric Toothbrush Parts & Spares
- Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush Parts & Spares
- Toothbrush Holders & Storage Compartments
- Toothbrush Travel Cases
Fun & Interesting Toothbrush Topics
To really get to know electric toothbrushes inside-out, we’ve also written about some other topics that aren’t necessarily part of the buying decision, but have still captivated us nonetheless.
Electric Toothbrush Reviews
We’ve reviewed nearly all of the electric toothbrushes available in the UK.
We’ve listed our latest reviews below, or you can use the search box at the top of the page if there’s a particular review you are looking for.
You can see the full list on our electric toothbrush reviews page.
- Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige Review
- Oclean X Pro Elite Review
- Fairywill E11 Review
- Fairywill Pro P11 Review
- Oral-B iO Review
Electric Toothbrush Comparisons
As well as reviewing brushes, we also compare similar brushes side by side.
Below you can find some of our most popular comparisons, or you can view our complete list of electric toothbrush comparisons here.