For something you use every day, the world of electric toothbrushes is surprisingly complex. What you actually need from an electric toothbrush will depend on a number of factors, such as the condition of your teeth, your diet, and how hard you brush. In other words, more is not always more. With so much choice available to consumers, we spoke to 11 experts, including dentists and oral hygienists, and consulted customer reviews to find out the best models on the market.
One thing to note is that the market is fairly dominated by Oral-B and Philips, for good reason; they both feature the Oral Health Foundation on labels. According to Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, this logo means that “the product’s claims have been robustly examined and tested by our independent panel of scientific experts [and] that the product is not only safe to use, but that it can also live up to its claims.”
In general, our experts suggested not overthinking the process. Sonya Krasilnikov, a dentist and co-founder of Dental House, says, “Choosing between Philips Sonicare and Oral-B is like picking between a Mercedes and BMW. It’s mostly personal preference. Their mechanism is different, but both achieve great results.”
Best overall | Best (less expensive) | Best sonic | Best (less expensive) sonic | Best (even less expensive) sonic | Best quiet | Best for sensitive teeth and gums | Best for kids | Best for younger kids
What we’re looking for:
Cleaning motion: Mostly you’ll find three types of electric toothbrushes: oscillating, rotating, and sonic. Oscillating toothbrushes move the bristles side to side, while rotating ones move them in a circle. Sonic toothbrushes vibrate “side to side at really high speeds, sometimes up to frequencies of 50,000 movements per minute,” according to dentist and American Dental Association (ADA) spokesperson Dr. Ada Cooper. One isn’t necessarily better, but some dentists prefer the high-frequency power of sonic toothbrushes.
Pressure sensor: You don’t want to ever brush too hard. Brushes with pressure sensors will beep or stop to signal you’re being a bit too thorough. They aren’t essential, but dentist Sharon Huang of Les Belles NYC recommends having one if you’re making the switch from manual to electric for the first time.
Battery type: Going to clean your teeth to find your brush is out of juice is one of life’s great frustrations. And so battery quality is where we saw the biggest divergence in cost. Most manufacturers guarantee up to 14 days’ charge as standard, so we were particularly keen to find models that exceeded that. Whether a toothbrush does or not is largely down to the kind of battery used — a Ni-MH battery is standard, while a lithium-ion battery should allow for more than two weeks between charges. However, the more expensive models typically have more features — Bluetooth connectivity or alternating cleaning modes — and these do drain the battery considerably.
Dentist recommendations: Toothbrushes are so similar in design that this isn’t a product where aesthetics are going to win out over functionality. So we trusted our panel of experts to help us understand what to look for. Where a product is overwhelmingly recommended by dentists, hygienists, and oral-care specialists, we’ve highlighted it below.
Best overall electric toothbrush
Oscillating | Pressure control | Lithium-ion | Dentist recommended
This Oral-B Smart model offers a range of cleaning modes for a modest price. It was recommended by Mayur N. Pandya, clinical director at Together Dental Group — he called it an “excellent all-round” model, specifically citing the pressure control and the ability to whiten teeth by removing surface stains. In fact, he told us it was an ideal starter model, as it includes Bluetooth connectivity but doesn’t cost the earth — ideal if you want to invest in a more expensive model but aren’t sure yet.
The Smart 4 features a round, oscillating head, meaning it rotates and vibrates simultaneously — orthodontist Janet Stoess-Allen says that because teeth are curved, “rotating heads are more effective in getting to all sides.” This model comes highly rated on Amazon, too, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5, with 77 percent of the 6,600 reviews being five stars. Reviewers noticed this toothbrush features a lithium-ion battery — meaning it can exceed the 14-day battery life typical of most other models. This is, in fact, the best-value toothbrush we could find with a lithium battery, but just be advised that the black or pink models of this toothbrush are fitted with a weaker Ni-MH battery instead.
Other notable features include the pressure sensor, which flashes if you’re brushing too hard, and a two-minute timer; Pia Lieb, founder of Cosmetic Dentistry Center NYC, told us that not enough people brush for the full two-minutes.
Best (less expensive) electric toothbrush
Oscillating | Pressure sensor | Lithium-ion
A more affordable option is this toothbrush from Oral-B’s less expensive Pro range. As well as having soft bristles (which help prevent gum damage), it features a two-minute timer, which vibrates every 30 seconds so you know to move to the next quadrant of your mouth, as well as a pressure sensor like the Smart 4 model. Dentist Inna Chern told us pressure sensors that beep or stop moving when you’re being too aggressive “eliminate the possibility of overzealous brushing.” Finally, the two-minute timer ensures you brush for enough time. It is highly rated on Amazon with 52,000 reviews, 80 percent of which are five stars. And due to the round, oscillating head, customers wrote that they were able to achieve a deep clean easily. It even comes with a lithium-ion battery, which is impressive at this price.
Best sonic electric toothbrush
Sonic | | Pressure sensor | Lithium-ion | Dentist recommended
This is the newest model of the DiamondClean toothbrush (which dental experts told us was one of the best sonic toothbrushes). Compared to oscillating toothbrushes (which rotate 7,500 times per minute), sonic brushes can rotate up to 30,000 times per minute. This means they can disrupt more plaque, but they can also feel quite intense — so many of them offer multiple cleaning modes to offset this (such as slower speeds for gum care and sensitive teeth).
There are four similar models in the DiamondClean range — in addition to the 9100, there is the 9000, 9500, and 9700. We compared reviews of all these models and found the differences to be largely aesthetic — for example, the 9500 comes in a “lunar blue” colour, and the 9700 comes with a storage case for several kinds of brush heads. The cleaning is largely the same, but the 9100 has the most features our dental experts singled out, such as a 20-second tongue-cleaning mode and Bluetooth-enabled progress reports on your brushing technique. Orthodontist Dr. Chaw-Su Kyi said that not only does she recommend this model to customers, but she uses it herself, too.
Best (less expensive) sonic electric toothbrush
Sonic | Pressure sensor | Lithium-ion | Dentist recommended
This model comes from Philips’ inexpensive ProtectiveClean range, which is like the sonic version of Oral-B’s Pro range. It is popular with dental therapist and hygienist Anna Middleton, who says it has many features commonly seen in more expensive models, including “alerts when you need to replace your brush head — it’s hard to remember to do that every two to three months.” The Quadpacer function also tells you when to move on to a different section of your mouth (so that you don’t overbrush), and a built-in timer signals when your total time is up. Dr. Kyi noted the sonic technology comes at “a fraction of the price” compared to other Sonicare models, while Chen says the high speed will help “shake off plaque and tartar, aiding in the removal of these gingivitis-causing, bacteria-holding compounds.”
Krasilnikov says the sonic sensation is not for everyone: “Some patients love the feeling of the vibrations, but others think they’re too ticklish.” If you think the faster, more intense clean might not be for you, consider the Oral-B models we featured above.
For a less expensive toothbrush, this model naturally features fewer cleaning modes — in fact, there’s just one, with two intensities, but it comes highly rated by both Amazon and Boots customers.
Best (even less expensive) sonic electric toothbrush
Sonic | No pressure sensor | Lithium-ion
Reviewers on Amazon were happy with this toothbrush by Mitimi because they found it not only inexpensive and easy to use but loved that it comes with four extra brush heads. One reviewer switched to this toothbrush after using a pricier Oral-B model and said that they saved a small fortune from not having to buy extra heads when they needed replacing. Another customer suggested that his dentist “hated” this toothbrush as it had cut the customer’s dental bills down considerably. Reviewers wrote that the blue detailing on the brush bristles wears away when they are ready to be swapped out.
Best quiet electric toothbrush
Oscillating with vibration | Pressure sensor | Lithium-ion | Dentist recommended
Oral-B’s iO range is relatively new — and this model came recommended to us by Dr. Jaz Gulati. He said the toothbrush uses a frictionless magnetic drive, “which makes it very quiet compared to previous models,” and noted the toothbrush has the same special features as many of the ones featured above. “For those into tech and apps — it has a great Bluetooth-pairing function, which allows you to check if you actually reached all the areas of your mouth via tracking.”
On Amazon, 81 percent of the reviews are five stars, and it’s the highest-rated iO model on Boots, too, with 253 reviews total. Customers liked features such as the magnetic charging dock and the fact the toothbrush can fully charge in just three hours. It features the most cleaning modes of any toothbrush featured, with seven in total (these include Daily Clean, Sensitive, Gum Care, Intense Clean, Whitening, Tongue Cleaner, and Super Sensitive), and it has the two-minute timer, too. It also has the most advanced pressure sensor here, with a light that flashes red, white, or green depending on if you’re applying too much, too little, or just the right amount of pressure.
Best electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth and gums
Oscillating| Pressure sensor | Lithium-ion | Dentist-recommended
If your teeth and gums are particularly sensitive, this Oral-B toothbrush comes highly recommended by reviewers. One bought it after receiving a “telling off” from their dentist about their poor gum health and noticed an improvement right away thanks to the sensor’s warnings about over-brushing. A total of 46 customers with sensitive teeth said this toothbrush was a lifesaver, especially with the sensitive mode, which is softer and kinder to teeth. That makes sense. Dentist Matt Messina told our sister site that “hard-bristled toothbrushes are wonderful if you’re going to clean the grout from your bathroom tile, but they’re not for use in the mouth.” One customer, who said their teeth often felt sore in the mornings, said this toothbrush didn’t make them dread brushing their teeth.
Best electric toothbrush for kids
Oscillating | No pressure sensor | Ni-MH | Dentist-recommended
Generally, our experts suggest starting children age 6 and over with manual toothbrushes. “They should learn how to brush their teeth effectively, and manual brushing improves their dexterity skills,” says Dr. Kyi. If you’re considering electric options, dentist Mayur N Pandya says to look for one with “soft” settings, such as gum care or pressure sensors. “Built-in features, like gum-pressure control and a timer help kids develop great oral care habits and help them learn to brush independently, too.” Oral-B’s Junior Smart toothbrush with a pressure sensor is sold out. But this model has a two-minute timer, getting kids and adolescents used to the recommended amount of brushing time.
Best electric toothbrush for younger kids
Oscillating | No pressure sensor | 2 AAs | Dentist-recommended
For younger children ages 3 and over, you can also introduce an electric toothbrush to set up good hygiene habits. “Colgate Kids and Oral-B have some great ones, like this Trolls toothbrush,” Pandya says, “which turn brushing your teeth into a game.” It’s battery-powered with a gentle oscillating action. And crucially, it lies flat, so your kids can practice putting toothpaste on the bristles themselves.
• Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation
• Inna Chern, dentist
• Dr. Ada Cooper, dentist and ADA spokesperson
• Dr. Jaz Gulati, dentist
• Sharon Huang, cosmetic dentist
• Sonya Krasilnikov, dentist and co-founder of Dental House
• Dr. Chaw-Su Kyi, orthodontist
• Jonathan Levine, dentist
• Pia Lieb, founder of Cosmetic Dentistry Center NYC
• Matt Messina, dentist
• Anna Middleton, dental therapist and hygienist
• Mayur N. Pandya, chief clinical officer at Together Dental Group
• Janet Stoess-Allen, orthodontist
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