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Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Pressure sensor on a toothbrush illuminated

If you’re buying an electric toothbrush, you will definitely want to consider getting one with a pressure sensor. We explain why in the sections below, but first of all here’s a list of those that do come with a pressure sensor.

Oral-B brushes with a pressure sensor

In the Oral-B range, most brushes come with a sensor, including the brush we recommend as the best Oral-B electric toothbrush, the Oral-B Pro 3 3500.

Preview Product Rating Price
Oral-B Pro 3 - 3500 Oral-B Pro 3 - 3500 19,365 Reviews £100.00 £44.99

The Oral-B toothbrush pressure sensor is designed to illuminate when too much pressure is applied, as shown in the image below.

The sound of the brush motor will change slightly.

This makes it really easy to tell if you are brushing too hard, because you have both the visual (red light) and audible (change in sound) alerts to help notify you.

Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor? 1

Whilst this approach remains on the vast majority of brushes, with the introduction of the iO though, comes a slight rethinking and working of the pressure sensor.

Dubbed the ‘smart pressure sensor’, this sensor will light up red when too much pressure is applied. However, it will also shine a green light when the correct pressure is being applied.

The correct pressure is an indicator that you are using just enough force in conjunction with the brush head movements to clean away plaque.

Therefore you actually want a green light to be emitted from the LED ring when brushing.

The red light still highlights excessive pressure.

With this new design, the sound of the brush motor does not change, so you have only a visual alert.

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Oral-B iO Smart Pressure Sensor

Here is a full list of Oral-B brushes that come with a pressure sensor. Click on one of the brushes below to see our review and buying options for that brush.

Sonicare brushes with a pressure sensor

Fewer Sonicare models come with a pressure sensor, and on those that do, it isn’t always as visible as on Oral-B models.

The brush that we recommend as the best overall Sonicare electric toothbrush, the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300, does include one, and we’ve also included a list below of others that include one.

Preview Product Rating Price
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300 10,398 Reviews £139.99 £99.99

Below is a list of Sonicare brushes that do come with a pressure sensor. Click on one of the brushes below to see our review and buying options for that brush.

  • 3100 Series
    • The handle vibrates and a small LED on the handle (not that visible) lights up.
  • ProtectiveClean 4300
    • The handle vibrates and a small LED on the handle (not that visible) lights up.
  • ProtectiveClean 5100
    • The handle vibrates and a small LED on the handle (not that visible) lights up.
  • ProtectiveClean 6100
    • The handle vibrates and a small LED on the handle (not that visible) lights up.
  • ExpertClean 7300
    • The handle vibrates and a small LED on the handle (not that visible) lights up. The smartphone app shows on screen, if used at the same time.
  • DiamondClean 9000
    • The handle vibrates and a small LED on the handle (not that visible) lights up. The smartphone app shows on screen, if used at the same time.
  • DiamondClean Smart
    • The handle vibrates. The visible light ring at the bottom of the brush handle is lit with a purple light. The smartphone app shows on screen, if used at the same time.
  • 9900 Prestige
    • The handle vibrates. The visible light ring at the bottom of the brush handle is lit with a purple light. The smartphone app shows on screen, if used at the same time.

What is a pressure sensor and why is it important?

A pressure sensor, with respect to electric toothbrushes, are small components inside the brush handle that detect when you are applying too much force during your brushing routine.  When it detects the use of excessive pressure, the brush will in turn do something.  What it does depends on the model.

The following video I created, explains and demonstrates this a little more.

Pressure Sensor - Electric Toothbrush Features - How Important?

Pressure sensors have been available on select Oral-B electric toothbrushes for quite a few years now, but it continues to be added to newer models and Philips Sonicare are adding it to many of their brushes also.

It is a really useful , especially for first time users of an electric toothbrush and is in part why we recommend having in our electric toothbrush buyer’s guide post.

The bristles should skim the teeth

The bristles of the brush should skim the tooth surfaces to sweep away, bacteria, food debris and plaque.  Hard and aggressive brushing will not normally help, hence the pressure sensor to alert you to these instances where you do apply too much force.

Professor Peter Heasman of Newcastle University says “You could actually be harming your gums and possibly teeth”BBC

Whilst Jay W. Friedman remarks  “Too much pressure and too frequent brushing can abrade enamel, or the root if the gum has receded.” This abrasion, he says, can cause teeth to become hypersensitive to hot and/or cold” – Consumer Reports

Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor? 3

What happens when I brush too hard?

The effects on your teeth and gums may not be instant.  It depends on how much pressure, for how long and your mouth as to how your body will react.  

Needless to say a brush head that is moving at a reduced speed is not as effective as cleaning and if it is fighting against the pressure it can be rubbing against the tooth and gum rather than the desired skimming, which can only cause potential damage to the teeth, wearing away the enamel.

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Exactly what happens to your toothbrush when you brush too hard depends on the brand and model of brush you have.

The most basic electric toothbrushes do not have a pressure sensor and do nothing, so if you are brushing too hard, you could be doing damage.

Some basic brushes do have a pressure sensor that when activated will reduce the amount of power delivered to the brush head in order to reduce the chances of ongoing damage to the teeth and gums.  If the excess force is removed, the motor will power back up to a fuller speed and perform as normal.  This change can happen within split seconds.

More advanced models will not only reduce the motor power but will alert the user by switching on a light on the brush, quite often a red warning light found at the top of the brush handle.  This comes on as soon as too much pressure is detected.  It remains on until such time as the pressure is reduced.

Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor? 5

The most advanced will change the motor speed, illuminate a warning light whilst also sending a message to your smartphone application which is tracking your tooth cleaning.  These Bluetooth enabled brushes will often log the amount of time too much pressure was applied for and use it as a way of coaching you to achieve better oral health.

In all instances, if you listen you will hear the brush motor change when you apply too much pressure. Perhaps try it briefly just to get yourself used to the different sound of the motor.  You will then subconsciously recognise if you brush too hard and stop because you may not only hear the motor straining but subject to your model will likely get some form of alert.

Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor? 6

Do I get an audible warning?

To date I have only come across 1 toothbrush, the Shyn brush (available in the USA) that offers a true audible warning like a beep.

Oral-B models do change the sound when activated, there is a different pitch from the motor or the brush.

Will I learn to stop brushing too hard?

Yes, you should do.

Brushing your teeth should be relatively effortless.  When using an electric brush, let it do the work, you just move it to the correct position, as highlighted in our article how to clean your teeth

Normally, if you are finding you are brushing too hard and have a brush that alerts you, then within a few days you can usually break that bad practice.  For some it may take longer, it’s just a case of learning and reacting.

Often within a few weeks you will learn how much pressure you need to apply, and the feature could be considered redundant after this time.

Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor? 7

Can I get an add-on pressure sensor for my brush if it doesn’t have one?

No. This is built into the brush at the time of manufacture.  There is no way to add one on.

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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34 thoughts on “Which electric toothbrushes have a pressure sensor?”

  1. I find it hard to see my back teeth and to brush accurately along the gum line. I try to do this, and the pressure sensor does not flash. Does this mean I would not be damaging my gums even if I do stray onto them a little? Is there a way I can feel along the gum line better please? Thanks.

    • Hi Daniel. If the pressure sensor does not light up, you should not be doing any damage to your gums. Even if it does, don’t worry too much, the key thing here is to get to the point where excessive pressure is not being applied regularly.
      The best advice I can give for trying to reach the back teeth is to either use a mirror as you brush, open wide to take a look. Or alternatively close the mouth so it is in almost a more natural, closed resting position (open a bit for the toothbrush) and to just glide the toothbrush along in what you believe should be the natural angle/line of the teeth and gum. You should with a bit of practice be able to feel the brush on or off the gum and give you an indication that you are or not brushing correctly.

    • Maria. I am sorry I am unable to answer this question for you. I don’t know precisely how the pressure is measured and what exactly is deemed ‘acceptable’ this is outside my expertise.

  2. I want one with the pressure light but NOT one that cuts the motor power. Found that very annoying. Do you know any that do just the light? Thx

    • I am afraid I do not. There may well be a brush, but not from the leading brands.

      It is all done with the safety of your oral health in mind. The power is restored as soon as the pressure is relieved.

  3. Hey,
    Great information.

    Can electric toothbrush with pressure sensor damage my gums?
    My teeth aren’t straight(I need braces) so sometimes I brush the gums in accidently. (With no pressure) Especially from the inner side.
    I already have gum recession so I am afraid to make it worse.

    In addition, it takes me long time to brush like 6 minutes average. But I invest few seconds for each teeth. Is it ok?

    Hope you can answer me, thanks!

    • Hi Ben.

      The short answer is no, an electric toothbrush will not damage your gums. It will only really damage your gums if you are brushing with too much force. If the pressure sensor is activated, this is your alert that you are brushing with too much force.

      It is good for the toothbrush bristles to make contact with the gum a little.

      A few seconds for each tooth is usually fine.

      The best action you can take if you are unsure is to speak to your dentist who can give you personalised advice.

  4. does my philips sonicate HX685ST 180122-1C have pressure sensor on it?
    If not, can you please send me model numbers that do. Thank you.

    • Hi Peggy.

      Form doing a quick bit of research, I think the answer is yes. However, this model number doesn’t return many results for me. I think it is part of the ProtectiveClean Series which all have pressure sensors.

      It would be good if you can link me to where you have seen this model?

      I am really only getting models from Ebay. It could be you are in a different country to the UK and I am not familiar with this part number.

      • Hi thanks for reply. I am reading the model numbers from bottom of my own personal unit. I am located in Canada, and bought this Philips Sonicare toothbrush at my local drugstore called SHOPPERS DRUG MART…. the biggest drug chain in Canada. My dentist was inquiring whether it had a pressure sensor…. that’s why I reached out.

        • Hi Peggy.

          Thanks for confirming.

          Models differ across the globe, so I needed to check.

          The model you have should have a pressure sensor.

          When you brush, if you put too much pressure the handle should vibrate in a way that becomes noticeable. It will continue to do this until the pressure is reduced.

          • Thank you. Now that you said this, I did notice this occurring every so often and I wondered what was happening. Now I know. Thank you so much for clearing this up.
            Wishing you a very merry Christmas and lots of laughter and smiles for the New Year….
            Peggy O.

  5. Hi thanks so much for all this info it’s amazing! Can I ask if a oral b pro 600 pink edition has the gun sensor light on? Thanks again

  6. I found your website by chance and appreciate that you’ve done some research on toothbrushes with pressure sensors. It made it so much easier for me to find a brush with one on. It’s a shame that the big brand websites don’t have a simple guide like this. Thank you!

    • Yes and no. Let me explain.

      The brush has a sensor built in that will slow down the power of the brush motor if you are brushing with too much force. This is good as it helps protect the teeth and gums. The motor will speed up again, if the pressure is reduced/stopped.

      However, it does not have what I really call a true pressure sensor.

      Aside from a very slight change in sound there is no way to alert you that you are brushing too hard.

      It does not have a red light, that turns on to alert you, like other brushes from Oral-B with a built in pressure sensor.

  7. I am looking for an electric toothbrush the has a pressure sensor with a light that alerts me when I’m brushing to hard, but I don’t want a toothbrush with blue tooth (that’s to techy for me) which brush would you recommend?

    • Hi Kali.

      Thanks for the comment.

      You have a couple of options, they are:

      Pro 2000
      Pro 2 2000
      Pro 2500
      Pro 2 2500
      Pro 2 2900
      Pro 3000
      Pro 3 3000

      Whilst I would not suggest paying the premium for a model with Bluetooth if you have no intention of using it. However, other features of a Bluetooth enabled brush may appeal. Just because the brush handle may have it you don’t have to use this if you don’t want to.

        • Hi Maris,

          Prices do vary, but typically it will be the Oral-B Pro 2 2000. Look out for the Pro 2 2000S model.

          S = Sensitive, this is the softest bristled brush head you can get.

          You can always buy the Oral-B Pro 2 2000N (that comes with a CrossAction brush head) if that is cheaper and buy the sensitive (also known as Sensi UltraThin) brush head separately.

          Also worth considering the Pro 2 2500N. Although this normally comes with a CrossAction head supplied, it can sometimes be cheaper than the Pro 2 2000.

  8. I am using the Oral-B toothbrush. It just keeps my teeth really clean and gives an awesome look. can you give some reviews about using it with kids

    • Hi Jess.

      Glad you are enjoying using one of the Oral-B brushes.

      We have reviewed a number of kids brushes. It does depend on their age as to what is suitable.

      If you need more assistance, please let us know.

  9. I’ve been using an electric toothbrush for a couple of years now (just a basic vitality one) and I did notice a slight gum recession. I then upgraded to a Pro 2 2000, which does have a pressure sensor, and almost immediately the sensor triggered. So yeah, I have been brushing too hard for quite a while. Hopefully it wont get any worse now that I have a pressure sensor 🙂

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