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To find the best electric toothbrush, we put in almost 100 total hours of research, interviewing experts, evaluating every model on the market, and testing 12 toothbrushes ourselves in hundreds of trials at the bathroom sink. We found that the best toothbrush for most people is a simple model called the Oral-B Pro 1000. It has the fewest fancy features of the models we tested, but it does have the most important things experts recommend—a built-in two-minute timer and access to one of the most extensive and affordable lines of replaceable toothbrush heads available—for the lowest price. That, according to the experts we spoke to, is as much as an electric toothbrush can or should do for you. The extras available in electric toothbrushes that cost $150 more don’t make them any more effective than the Pro 1000.
Our Pick: Oral-B Pro 1000
The Oral-B Pro 1000 brush comes with a minimal charging pedestal that simply requires dropping the brush onto a peg. Fully charged, it lasts for at least a week of twice-daily two-minute brushing sessions before needing a recharge, which is on a par with the other toothbrushes we tested in this price range and plenty for most people.
Runner-Up: Philips Sonicare 2 Series
If you can’t find the Oral-B Pro 1000, get the runner-up, the Philips Sonicare 2 Series. Like the Pro 1000, the 2 Series is not trumped up with unproven features and includes everything you need in an electric toothbrush. The 2 Series runs much more quietly, but unlike the Pro 1000, it comes to a full stop after two minutes of brushing (rather than restarting the cycle as the Pro 1000 does) and has a less diverse, more expensive range of brush heads, giving you fewer options for texture and shape.
Also Great: Goby Toothbrush
If a subscription service will help you replace your brush heads regularly, Goby has all the features we look for in a brush: a 30-second quadrant timer that stops after two minutes and a rechargeable battery. The Goby has only one type of brush head available (rotating), so if you like to customize your brush this service may not be for you.
Why you should trust us
During the research process, we spoke with several experts on the subject of dentistry, including dental school faculty at leading research universities, a professional dentist, and a consumer advisor appointed by the American Dental Association (ADA), which confers a Seal of Acceptance on dental care products that seek the certification and meet a set of agreed-upon criteria.
In addition, we invested over 50 hours in researching, evaluating, and testing the best powered toothbrushes widely available to find the best one. (On a personal note, the last time I went to get my teeth cleaned, both the dentist and hygienist tripped over themselves to compliment the condition of my teeth, even though I hadn’t gotten a cleaning in three years, drink coffee every day, and eat healthy sums of candy.)
Should you upgrade?
Per the ADA’s recommendations, the only necessary thing in toothbrushing is a basic toothbrush that you use properly. As of September 2017, five models from Oral-B have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance (including our pick).1 But regardless of the manufacturer, powered electric toothbrushes have been shown to provide superior dental care to manual toothbrushing—they remove more plaque and reduce gingivitis at statistically significant rates.2 If you find yourself struggling to meet two minutes, if you tend to brush unevenly, or if you find manual brushing to be too much labor, upgrading from a manual toothbrush to an electric one that automates these elements would make sense.
If you already have an electric toothbrush that performs these services, there’s no need to consider upgrading. If you use a manual brush and don’t struggle to maintain good habits, there’s little reason to consider upgrading in that case, either.
One thing worth pointing out about electric toothbrushes is that they are not cheaper in the long run. Electric toothbrushes cost about 10 times as much as manual toothbrushes, and you have to replace the brush heads at the same frequency (every three months), each for about the same cost as a manual brush. What you get for the higher cost is less friction in achieving good brushing habits, and, according to research, a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis, even if that reduction may come only from having a brush that encourages good habits, like a full two minutes of brushing for each session.
How we picked and tested
After sorting through the dental care research, which is littered with (unusable) clinical studies sponsored by the companies that make the toothbrushes being tested, we’ve learned that all you really need out of an electric toothbrush is a two-minute timer to make sure you brush your teeth for the right amount of time. Manufacturers have blown up the high end with scientific-sounding “features” like cleaning modes and UV lights; nothing proves these other features work, let alone that they are necessary (see The features you don’t need). All an electric toothbrush can really offer is automation of the brushing process by adding a timer and easing some of the physical labor, according to the professors and dentist we spoke to.
“Average folks brush 46 seconds. With timers people will go to at least the two minutes,” said Dr. Joan Gluch, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School. “Clinically, we see patients do better with powered toothbrushes.” Dr. Mark Wolff, a professor at NYU Dental School and chair of the Cariology and Comprehensive Care department, agreed: “It helps people that don’t brush well,” he said. “If you need the guidance, invest in the guidance.”
To begin the search, we trawled the manufacturer websites of the highest-rated brands and looked at the recommendations of Consumer Reports and the Good Housekeeping Institute for toothbrush models as well as their replacement or substitution toothbrush heads, an important factor in choosing a best toothbrush.
Back in March 2010, Consumer Reports performed its own tests for plaque removal and concluded, “[T]he two priciest brushes removed 75 percent or more of plaque in our tests, on average.” In the years following those tests, two of the top models have been discontinued and replaced by similar ones, and one has been recalled; as of May 2016, CR no longer tests toothbrushes at all. GHI’s recommendations don’t say much and do not explain whether expensive features are really necessary.
Aside from these older tests, we didn’t find any independently conducted research that both draws the conclusion that one model or type is better than another and explains the process and results. And none of our experts differentiated between the plaque removal ability in any of the types or models of brushes available.
So we looked for, at minimum, brushes with a two-minute timer, but still wanted to test higher-end brushes to compare their usability against that of the simplest models. We eliminated brushes without rechargeable batteries because loose batteries are a hassle and a waste. We also eliminated models that were reviewed as loud or having either short battery life or a too-small range of compatible brush heads. If a brush was compatible with a wide range of brush heads, that was a small point in its favor.
Both Oral-B and Sonicare make extensive lines of brushes and don’t exactly go to pains to make it clear what the difference is between all of them. Although the Oral-B 7000 costs more than the Oral-B 1000 because of added, unnecessary features, such as additional “cleaning modes,” we chose to test it to see if the user experience was better. It wasn’t.
We applied the same buying model to the Sonicare line and tried not to buy brushes that were differentiated only by their unnecessary features. We also bought one high-end brush, the DiamondClean, to assess if the cleaning experience was $120 better. It was not.
Once we understood the features of all the products, it was a matter of getting them in hand and seeing what it was like to hold them, charge them, use them, replace their heads, and have our brushing sessions timed and monitored. To stress-test them, we also dropped our picks onto a tile floor from chest height to test for durability and submerged them in water while they were running for a full two-minute brushing cycle to test for water resistance. We compared the brushes on all these usability points to arrive at our conclusion.
In our experience, all of these brushes, even the top-end ones, did the same thing—moved toothpaste around in your mouth. Toothbrushes that identify as “sonic” like Philips and Waterpik models tend to be quieter and have a vibration-like movement, and oscillating brushes are louder. But this is a distinction between different types of brushes made by different manufacturers, not expensive brushes versus cheap ones.
The features you don’t need (what you get if you spend more)
The funny thing about electric toothbrushes is how similar a $70 model is to a $200 one. Once we get past the features mentioned above, there are precious few necessary value-adds to an expensive electric toothbrush: a travel case, a UV sanitizer (which is of negligible use), maybe a couple extra heads, a slightly sleeker body, a longer-lasting battery, auto-syncing with an app (See What about “smart” toothbrushes?). As for sonic cleaning, different cleaning modes, or pressure sensors, experts tell us they are not necessary.
We broke down the features that come with each general price range for electric toothbrushes from the main two brands (Oral-B and Philips Sonicare). See the table in Wirecutter’s original article.
All of these brushes come with a two-minute timer. That’s the main benefit of having an electric toothbrush.
Spend more than $30 or so, and you typically get a quadrant timer. This element, though a nice option, isn’t strictly necessary unless you like that style of brushing or your dentist has noticed that you struggle with brushing evenness. “The time spent in each quadrant is just an aid to help ensure that you brush long enough to remove plaque on every tooth at the gum line and chewing surfaces, assuming you’re brushing properly,” said dentist Matthew Messina, a consumer advisor for the ADA. “Plus, we are not aware of studies that show brushing longer in smaller areas has an added beneficial effect in removing plaque.”
Spend about $70, and your brush comes with a travel case and a few extra cleaning modes, which vibrate the brush at different patterns or frequencies. These brushes also tend to move at a higher frequency, to the tune of 30,000 to 40,000 movements per minute, as opposed to a lower-end brush’s 8,000 to 20,000 movements per minute. There isn’t a proven difference in effectiveness between faster and slower brush movements in existing independent research. We found only one small, old, imperfect study that compared brushes with 2,100, 2,500, and 3,500 brushstrokes per minute and found that the middle frequency was the most effective at removing plaque (“at most 1.5 times better” than the other frequencies and yielded “about 50 percent fewer plaque sites” than the highest frequency). Respondents also said it was the most comfortable frequency. However, there were only 10 participants, they brushed under supervision only some of the time, and they used each toothbrush for only three days.
Cleaning modes don’t matter, according to experts we spoke to and research we’ve seen. The only one that might help is “sensitive mode” for people who find the brush’s normal oscillations too jarring. “People with sensitive teeth may find that their teeth are less sensitive when the brush head moves slower or less pressure is applied,” said Dr. Messina. The average person doesn’t need it, though. “As far as whitening goes, all toothbrushes help remove surface stains when used with a toothpaste because toothpastes contain mild abrasives and detergents for this purpose,” said Dr. Messina.
In this price range, you’ll also get a small boost in battery life. That doesn’t matter much, as it’s easy to have your brush live on its charger in your bathroom.
Over $100 will get you a couple more modes on your brush, a travel case that can charge the brush on the go, and perhaps a pressure sensor that lights up once activated.
The pressure sensor is meant to alert the user when they are brushing too hard, something that dentists and experts agree is a bad thing. In theory, then, a pressure sensor can be good. However, in our testing, we found that some brushes with pressure sensors required the user to bear down very hard on their teeth before the alert would trigger. The amount of pressure a user can apply before the sensor discourages them suggests the available pressure sensors are more of a gimmick than an actual useful feature.
Around $150 puts you in the realm of Bluetooth brushes (and a dip in battery life). These typically come with several brush heads, in addition to a charging travel case, and even more cleaning modes. Oral-B’s offerings stop there, but for over $200 you can get a brush from Philips Sonicare that comes with a glass charger that looks sort of fancy.
Is “sonic” brushing better?
A point of order about the word “sonic”: Per advertising from Sonicare that is now close to two decades old, some people take this to mean that sonic toothbrushes “knock off plaque” with “sound waves.” This is not an effect proven in any research.
However, sonic toothbrushes can produce a secondary effect described in a handful of studies involving fluid dynamics. Independent research does show that the fluid dynamics generated by a toothbrush moving at high frequency can “remove bacteria in vitro even at distances up to 4 mm beyond the tips of the bristles” (Stanford, 1997). The efficacy of this movement varied depending on the distance and time spent, and nothing will remove 100 percent of the bacteria/plaque all the time, but this is a significant, if secondary, effect generated by a “sonic” toothbrush.
We could not find any independent studies comparing toothbrush models or brands, and all the ones tested for the fluid dynamics aspect are Sonicare brushes, which are all 31,000 movements-per-minute brushes. Other brands have toothbrushes that move faster, slower, and at roughly the same speed as this. Though the fluid dynamics effect exists, remember that it’s secondary to actual bristles scrubbing your teeth and gums.
Our pick: Oral-B Pro 1000
The Pro 1000 is among Oral-B’s least expensive models, but it comes with all the features most of our experts recommended, for the lowest price—a two-minute timer (with a nice-to-have quadrant alert) and a wide selection of compatible and affordable brush heads. And recently the Pro 1000 was among the first five electric toothbrushes to receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The Pro 1000 has comfortable-feeling oscillating bristles, a simple one-button interface, and a battery that lasted 11½ days with twice-daily use in our tests. The body survived drop tests on the floor and into water. Best of all, you’re not getting overcharged for features like digital monitors, travel cases, or inductive chargers—none of which will actually get your teeth any cleaner than the Pro 1000 can.
The one-button simplicity is a great feature—there are no useless cleaning modes. The Pro 1000’s timer goes off every 30 seconds, alerting the user of the time by briefly pausing. After two minutes, the brush pulses three times to signal that a full cycle is up, but will continue brushing after if the user wants to keep brushing; it must always be manually turned off. This is nice for touching up on areas of your mouth you may not have given enough attention to. On many more expensive brushes, like the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, pushing the button more than once activates different cleaning modes, forcing you to cycle through every option to get back to the simple default cleaning mode.
Using the right brush head for your teeth and gums matters, and we like that the Pro 1000 can take advantage of Oral-B’s brush head line. The range is the widest of all toothbrush lines, making it easier to customize the brush for one user’s preferences and recommendations from their dentist. Bruce Schechner, a New York-based general and cosmetic dentist, said that “everyone reacts differently” to different brush shapes and sizes, and those factors don’t matter “as long as you’re using one you feel comfortable with.” Wolff said that whether a brush includes elements like rubber flaps doesn’t matter, but brushes should be “soft to medium, at hardest.”
Oral-B’s brushes are also, on average, less expensive than replacement heads for other brushes. Dentists recommend getting a new toothbrush every three months, so these cost savings can add up over time. The Sonicare brush heads tend to be more expensive, but brands like the Waterpik and Dazzlepro have heads that are roughly the same price.
Higher-priced Oral-B models don’t have much more to offer than our pick. Investing $50 into the Pro 1000 gets you access to the same set of brush heads as buying the $150 Oral-B Black 7000 model (with the exception of a couple of less widely available models).
The Pro 1000 is rated to last for seven days of brushing sessions on one charge; in our real-world testing, it lasted for 11½ days, which is average for a brush in this price range. Like the more expensive models we tested, the brush survived its drop test, fits in its charging cradle well, and can switch out brush heads easily. Oral-B changes the name of this brush about once a year, but functionally the entire series remains pretty much the same.
The Pro 1000 was also quite comfortable to use. Oral-B models use rotation and pulsation, so its brushes don’t buzz as intensely when the brush’s head touches your other teeth. All Sonicares vibrate at the same (high) frequency and produce a more jarring sensation when the back of the brush collides with other teeth.
It is worth noting that our previous pick, named the Oral-B Pro 1000 (also known in some contexts as the Healthy Clean Precision 1000), is still available and is functionally identical to the current Pro 1000. At the time of our last review, the Healthy Clean Precision 1000 included one of the pressure sensors we mentioned earlier, but despite what the Amazon listing says, the model we tested did not include it. The Healthy Clean Precision, therefore, is essentially the same toothbrush; it just comes in a different color and with a different brush head. Online pricing can be fluid and seems to be influenced by the popularity of an item, so get the one you can find cheaper.
The Oral-B Pro 1000 has a limited two-year warranty that requires the buyer to retain the receipt and ship the product to an authorized service center if it needs fixing. This is typical for a product in this price range and category.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Overall, we found the oscillating-format Oral-B toothbrushes to be louder and more sonically grating than the vibrating format of the Sonicare brushes we tested. Without a point of comparison, it’s possible our slight annoyance would go away as we got used to it.
The other major flaw of the Pro 1000 is that its head is a departure from the usual rotating/pulsating motion of most powered Oral-B brushes. The head it comes with has two moving parts: one that moves up and down vertically and a longer set of bristles at the top that flop back and forth. Compared with other toothbrushes, the motion was a little violent.
Fortunately, due to the aforementioned large range of brush heads, you can buy another type that feels better if you do not like the Pro 1000. Toothbrushes are meant to be replaced every three months anyway, so buying new brush heads is an inevitability; you just have to eat the cost of the two Pro heads that come with the brush.
As with most of the toothbrush models we tested, the battery life indicator on the Pro 1000 is vague: It lets you know when the battery is full (a continuous green light for five seconds after you remove it from the charging base) and when it is “low” (a red flashing light after turning the brush off). Oral-B does not specify how long it takes to get the brush to a full charge, but you can charge it every day without significantly affecting the battery’s capacity as long as you deplete it fully once every six months.
Long-term test notes
The most significant thing about a powered toothbrush that might change over the course of its lifetime is the battery life; over the years, rechargeable batteries tend to lose capacity. In the case of a toothbrush, this might mean it becomes less powerful or not lasting as long while traveling.
Runner-up: Philips Sonicare 2 Series
The Philips Sonicare 2 Series is one of the least expensive Sonicare brushes, at around $50. This brush is quieter than our recommended Oral-B model, with a more subtle motion (though the vibrations can feel slightly more uncomfortable when the back of the brush knocks against your other teeth). The 2 Series also has twice the battery life of the Oral-B, lasting two weeks on a single charge instead of one week (in our tests it lasted for 16 days of use), so it might be a better choice for travelers.
A nice perk of all Sonicare brushes, including the 2 Series, is that the brush heads come with a tiny plastic hood you can snap off and on to guard against the coliform sprays flying around one’s bathroom if you store your toothbrush in open air. The cap is easy to lose, but it’s a nice touch.
The Sonicare 2 includes the two-minute timer and rechargeable battery. When we first tested this model, it did not have the 30-second pacing timer, but we recently confirmed with Philips that current Series 2 handles now come with a quadrant timer. We don’t think the pacing timer is absolutely necessary, but it’s nice that the line now has this feature.
The replacement brush heads for the 2 Series are slightly more expensive at $27 for three ($9 each); the Oral-B’s replacement heads can be as cheap as $5 to $6 each, making the Oral-B’s expenses a little lower in the long run. Per our testing, Sonicare brush heads are interchangeable, and all the Sonicare brushes we tested were able to accommodate each other’s heads. Sonicare does not make this explicit anywhere in its product materials. Most of Sonicare’s brush heads are oblong with soft bristles and lack options for additional structural elements, like rubber flaps or “polishing cups,” so you get fewer options than you do with Oral-B.
Like the Oral-B model, the 2 Series comes with a limited two-year warranty (PDF) that requires you to retain the receipt and ship the brush out if it needs service.
The 2 Series is about the same price as the Oral-B Pro 1000, but online prices can fluctuate.
Best online subscription toothbrush: Goby
The Goby Electric Toothbrush is only a few dollars more than our other picks and comes with the same no-frills features: a two-minute timer that shuts the brush off at the end, plus a quadrant timer to prompt you to switch areas every 30 seconds. Goby offers an “optional” brush head subscription service—however, keep in mind that you can’t get new brush heads anywhere else and there is only one kind available. Unlike the Sonicare, there is no travel case to stash your brush head.
To brush your teeth, The Goby uses a rotating brush head similar to the Oral-B’s rather than an oscillating head like you’d find on the Philips Sonicare, and it feels like our top pick’s. Though a rotating brush head can produce some vibrations, we’ve found that the Goby is not uncomfortable to use. Goby says its rechargeable, induction-based battery will last two weeks, or 28 cycles, on a single charge. In our testing, a new unit lasted a little longer than that, running for 33 cycles. However, an earlier production model we tested, which may have been defective, lasted only 14 cycles. We prefer the Goby over the weaker Quip subscription brushes, which only vibrate softly like cheaper Oral-B Pulsar disposables.
The Goby’s subscription can be set up to send new brush heads every one to three months. (Dentists recommend that you replace your brush every three months, so the more frequent options are not very necessary for a single user.) Amazon does offer subscription deliveries for its products, too, but only for Prime members. The replacement brush heads for the Goby cost $6 with $3 shipping, about the same as the 2 Series replacements and a little more expensive than the Oral-B’s heads.
One interesting design feature we appreciated: The USB charge cord and the base stand are separable, which means you can charge either with the base stand or directly from the power cable.
The Goby is a brand-new product without the track record of Philips or Oral-B. Though we’re impressed by the Goby for its simplicity and efficacy, we can’t say yet how long it will last with daily use. It is simply too new a product and too new a company to know. Goby offers a lifetime warranty on its brush, but, as of now, it’s unclear if the company will outlive your brush.
Care and maintenance
The only downside of our Oral-B pick is that it comes with a somewhat strange and overactive brush head with two moving parts. Fortunately, Oral-B offers a wide variety of brush heads that are generally more affordable than those from Sonicare. If you choose to buy the Pro 1000 brush, we suggest planning on buying a different set of brush heads in the very near term, even before you will naturally need a replacement. (Brush heads should be replaced every three months.)
As we noted earlier in this guide, brush heads are a matter of personal preference of size, shape, and material. A number of third-party brands make replacement heads for Oral-B toothbrushes that tend to be much cheaper. There are some reports in user reviews that these aftermarket brushes sometimes do not fit or are of a lower quality than branded brushes, and the heads tend to be rated lower. Pay close attention when shopping for brush heads to what is “Oral-B” vs. “Oral-B compatible.”
What about “smart” toothbrushes?
It’s been a couple years since the first app-connected, or “smart,” electric toothbrushes became available, but they still don’t offer enough capabilities for their added cost for us to recommend them for most people. (They’re at least double the price of a standard electric toothbrush.) “Smart” brush capabilities vary widely, but mainly these devices automate the process of tracking your brushing habits, typically by connecting to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. The most expensive “smart” models, like the Oral-B Genius and Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected can track where the brush is in your mouth.
“I think that one of the things that people look for with Bluetooth connection—or anything that connects to their phone—is confirmation that what they’re doing is enough, or good, or better than what they were doing before,” Dr. Maria Lopez-Howell, a dentist and ADA spokesperson told us. “And I think that, if this gives the patient information that they’re brushing enough time, [and] if this is encouraging a patient to brush—this is something that the American Dental Association is wanting.”
There are plenty of free apps—including Oral-B’s for Android and iOS—that can be used with non-“smart” brushes, powered or manual, to help you time and track your toothbrushing, remind you to clean your tongue and floss, and so on. Dr. Lopez-Howell pointed to The Children’s Oral Health campaign’s 2min2xwebsite, produced in collaboration with the Ad Council, which offers a series of two-minute videos kids can watch while brushing.
“Truthfully, at the end of the day, for pennies and minutes—you don’t need all of these more costly brushes—you can choose oral health,” Dr. Lopez-Howell said. No matter the toothbrush (manual or powered, “smart” or not), “brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once daily, and visit your dentist to make sure that you’re doing the right thing.”
One of the fancier brushes in the Sonicare line, the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected not only has far more cleaning settings than you need (three total, each with multiple speeds), it can connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth that’s meant to track if you’re adequately brushing every part of your mouth. (See the What about “smart” toothbrushes? section) The app shows an illustration of a mouth that starts out tinged yellow, and it gets whiter as you brush your teeth over the course of two minutes. The areas of your mouth that you fail to brush well enough will stay yellow, in theory. In reality, the location tracking wasn’t accurate enough to give us much useful information about this. The app divides the mouth into six areas, and it could reliably tell if I was neglecting either the front or back of teeth, but not if I was missing one specific tooth. The app also expects you to brush the areas of your mouth in a specific order, and if I moved the brush to a part of my mouth where the app wasn’t expecting it to be, it didn’t pick up on that. When a brush like this costs about as much as an uninsured office visit to a dentist, I’m going to stick to getting brushing advice from a professional.
The Oral-B Pro 3000 3D White Smart Series is another smart brush. The least expensive of all Bluetooth models we’ve considered, this brush is part of the Oral-B line of electric toothbrushes that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance. It is similar to our top pick in form and function, except it has three cleaning modes (two more than necessary), and connects to an app via Bluetooth. It’s also twice the price. Though this model does not offer position detection, it stores brushing time and pressure data from the 30 most recent brushing sessions, which you can sync to the app later, should you prefer not to bring your phone or tablet into the bathroom every time you clean your mouth. If you find reviewing your basic brushing performance motivational, and would rather not need an app or pen and paper handy each time you brush, consider the Pro 3000 Smart Series.
The Oral-B Genius 8000 can track the brush’s position in your mouth, thanks to on-board location sensors and access to your phone’s front-facing camera. (For more on our experience with the Genius, see “Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 Review: Who Needs a Smart Toothbrush?”) Smart capabilities aside, the brush itself, like our pick, is a reliable tool. Like other models in the Oral-B line, it has more cleaning modes than necessary and is compatible with any of the company’s replacement heads. And like the Pro 3000, the Genius has an on-board pressure sensor that flashes red when you brush too hard (no app necessary). If you travel with an electric toothbrush, you’ll appreciate the included case, which can charge the brush handle and a phone. Still, unless you find that being “watched” helps motivate you to thoroughly brush regions in your mouth you’d usually miss, you could spend half the cost of this brush for another habit-tracking smart model, such as the Pro 3000, or less than a quarter of the cost for an equally great clean with our pick.
The Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush E1 uses on-board sensors and “artificial intelligence” to track the brush head’s location as you move it around your mouth. (For more on our experience with the smart capabilities of the E1, see “Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 Review: Who Needs a Smart Toothbrush?”) The E1 vibrates but does not oscillate, and does so more quietly than most electric toothbrushes we’ve tested. Although it does have an on-board two-minute timer with quadrant pacing, this device lacks a pressure sensor (a possible dealbreaker for some), and it is compatible with only a single style of replacement brush heads, which can be purchased only from the Colgate website. Factoring in shipping costs, these replacement heads are among the most expensive we’ve considered, by far (a definite dealbreaker, in our opinion). The handle itself is among the lightest and most streamlined we’ve tested, featuring a single on-off button (Colgate doesn’t offer superfluous cleaning modes). As with other smart toothbrushes, we believe the E1 is overkill for most. However, if you’re interested in accurate brush head position detection along with automated habit-tracking, and would prefer not to grant another app access to your phone’s camera and/or microphone, the E1 performs well in these respects (and—replacement brush heads excluded—generally costs less than its closest competitors, the Oral-B Genius 8000 and the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected).
Greater Goods’s Sonic Electric Toothbrush costs less than any brush we’ve considered so far. However, the replacement heads come in only one style. And though heads are about half the price of those that accompany our top pick, I found myself needing to replace them in about half the time (the bristles got smashed down), virtually negating the long-term savings for this brush.
The Quip is a no-frills toothbrush with a single brush head style and a simple timer that indicates each 30-second interval, shutting off at the two-minute mark. This is the only brush we tested that uses replaceable batteries instead of a built-in rechargeable battery. Quip has an unusual business model—the only way to get a new brush head is through the company’s website, which encourages a subscription that sends a replacement every three months. Though you can purchase individual brush heads separately for $5 with free shipping, if you need a spare head you can’t just run to the store to get a new one. (And you’d better keep spare or rechargeable AAAs around.) The overall pricing structure is a bit confusing, and the store page defaults to the more expensive metal brushes, but toggling the interface gives you access to the slightly less expensive plastic brushes. Although the stylish design (of the more expensive metal model) and the quiet operation are both impressive, we found the vibrations to be weak. The Quip could be a nice option for someone who travels a lot and prefers the freedom of no charger, but it doesn’t have the brush head options or wide availability of our main pick.
Philips Sonicare 3 Series Gum Health feels and works very similarly to the 2 Series, with a glossy plastic handle and minimal gripping ridges. Now that our runner-up comes with a quadrant timer, this toothbrush has no features that we think are worth spending extra on.
Waterpik Sonic Toothbrush Sensonic Professional Plus (SR-3000) is from a newer brand and has a bulky base with grippy rubber panels, a single button, and smaller range of heads than Oral-B or Philips. This brush’s higher price gets you one extra cleaning mode, two extra battery level indicator lights, and a travel case. It claims to give better results by moving the brush head faster than Sonicare models do, but according to all the research we could find, faster doesn’t mean better.
The battery in the Oral-B Healthy Clean + Pro White Precision 4000 lasts about three days longer than that of the Pro 1000, and the base is a bit chunkier than our pick’s. The brush has four cleaning modes (programmed to a separate button) and includes a pressure sensor, though to activate it you have to really cram the brush into your teeth, making it ineffective. The additional cleaning modes are extraneous, so there’s no reason to pay for them.
The Dazzlepro Advanced Sonic’s handle is a little large and unwieldy, a satiny plastic tapered toward the middle of the handle, and the charging base is hefty, but this brush does a reasonable approximation of the Sonicare brushes’ motion. The Dazzlepro brush has a separate “sensitive” cleaning mode. However, the company has a lower profile, and the warranty lasts only one year (compared with Sonicare and Oral-B’s two years), so if you need support you may be left wanting. This brush is currently unavailable on Amazon and Overstock.
The very expensive Oral-B SmartSeries Black 7000 comes with a “digital guide,” another (unnecessary) abstraction of a timer, and six brushing modes programmed to a separate power button. The base is very heavy, with large rubber panels in black and silver plastic, and weighted toward the bottom, with the same light-up pressure sensor as the 4000 model. The 7000 comes with a travel case and a charging stand that can hold four extra brush heads encased in a little plastic dome.
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is pretty sleek with a matte plastic finish, and it has some real luxury features, like an inductive charging glass and travel case, but its price is a lot to spend for those items. The DiamondClean has five cleaning modes (four too many) that you must manually cycle through if you need to turn the brush off before reaching two minutes. It also has some of the most expensive brush heads, at around $11 apiece.
The Conair Opti-Clean was cheap for a rechargeable brush, but it did not survive a dunk in the water.
We also eliminated a few other models without testing:
The Foreo Issa is a silicone brush with a sleek and unusual look, but owner reviews on the Sephora site suggest that the all-silicone brush tips lack the ability to clean as thoroughly as plastic bristles. A second model that integrates bristles, the Issa Hybrid, is also available, but per our reasoning above, we don’t need to test this model to know that there is nothing aside from the unusual look to justify its $200 price tag.
CVS Rechargeable Sonic (discontinued): Not too expensive as brushes go, but requires users to press the power button multiple times to cycle through the superfluous brushing modes to turn the brush off.
The Cybersonic 3 Complete Sonic and Cybersonic Classic came up in our product searches, but we decided not to test them because they have a very limited selection of brush head options (with an optional and dubious-looking “free” replacement program that winds up costing $8 in shipping per brush head).
The ToiletTree Rechargeable seemed like a good value prospect, as it comes with a free secondary travel toothbrush, but reviews report that it is very loud and stops working after a short period of time. It is no longer available on Amazon.
Wrapping it up
The affordable Oral-B Pro 1000 makes taking good care of your teeth easy. You can pay more for additional features, but according to the experts, there’s no need to—this simple, entry-level brush cleans your teeth as well as any of the many more expensive brushes.
The American Dental Association has a set of criteria to give products its Seal of Acceptance. Many products don’t seek this certification, but a product can’t receive the recognition unless the ADA has independently verified and approved its claims. In 2017, Oral-B became the first electric toothbrush brand to receive the ADA seal, with five series of the Oscillating-Rotating-Pulsating Power Toothbrush receiving the seal. However, the only factors that the ADA has found necessary to mouth health are brushing for two minutes with a reasonably soft brush and using proper technique. Jump back.
This was the conclusion of the study published in 2003 and its iterations since then. But there are two caveats to this conclusion. One is that a powered toothbrush is equipped to make brushing easier, and therefore good dental health easier to achieve—they require less physical labor to use, and can have built-in mechanisms, like a timer, to make good habits more concrete. Another is that the Cochrane report, which is a survey of randomized controlled trials, also specifies that the studies used were reporting on unsupervised brushing sessions—essentially, participants were sent a toothbrush, either manual or powered, and expected to report back on results. Self-reporting of habits in scientific studies, as a type of information is not as high-quality as observations by scientists in a lab setting, but so far science has not compelled people to quarantine themselves for observations of their toothbrushing habits, nor has the funding materialized to compensate them for their time. Hence, self-reporting is as good as it’s going to get on this scale of habit studying, but it’s far from perfect.
The other problem with the Cochrane report is that though it’s conducted by a nonprofit, it includes in its survey studies that are conducted by companies testing their own toothbrush products. Unsurprisingly, we’ve never found a study published by P&G’s Oral-B that has found its electric toothbrushes inferior to another brand; the same goes for Philips’s Sonicare. This doesn’t necessarily apply to every study, but it applies to a gross majority of the toothbrush research available. But caveats about biased research aside, scientists do consistently find that an electric toothbrush is significantly better at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis in the average person’s mouth. Jump back.
1. Toothbrush Buying Guide, Consumer Reports, May 1, 2016
2. M. Kühner and P. Raetzke, Relative effectiveness of various alternating frequencies of a power toothbrush., Journal of Clinical Periodontology, February 1, 1993
3. M. Yaacob, et. al., Powered/electric toothbrushes compared to manual toothbrushes for maintaining oral health, Cochrane, June 17, 2014
4. Learn more about toothbrushes, ADA
5. Acceptance Program Guidelines, ADA
6. ADA Seal Product Category, ADA
7. CM Stanford, et. al., Efficacy of the Sonicare toothbrush fluid dynamic action on removal of human supragingival plaque, Journal of Clinical Dentistry, January 8, 1997
8. CK Hope, et. al., Effects of dynamic fluid activity from an electric toothbrush on invitro oral biofilms, Journal of Clinical Periodontalogy, July 1, 2003
Maria Lopez-Howell, ADA spokesperson, phone interview, September 21, 2017
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