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This Electric Toothbrush Is the Best Thing I Bought This Year

My dental hygienist told me I had the cleanest teeth of anyone she’d seen in the entire practice.

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

This past year has been a busy one. I moved to a new city, furnished my apartment from scratch, and started my job here at the Strategist. So when I needed to take stock of my favorite stuff of the year, there was a lot to choose from: the Great Jones Dutchess perched upon my stovetop, my beloved Stutterheim raincoat hanging in the closet, the trusty P50 in my medicine cabinet. They are all things I bought this year and love, though I wasn’t sure they were worthy of the Best Thing title. Then I saw my Philips Sonicare toothbrush. While not as glamorous or expensive as some of my other purchases, it is absolutely the best.

My whole life, I relied on the manual toothbrushes the dentist gives you for free. I knew about electric toothbrushes, but I assumed they were unnecessary and needlessly expensive. Even after reading the rave reviews on this very site, I still wasn’t convinced. What finally got me was my dentist. I tend to be a very aggressive brusher, and my dentist said if I didn’t want to have receding gums in my 30s, I would need to make some changes. I could switch my brush to a soft head, ease up on the pressure, and hope for the best — or I could get an electric toothbrush.

The Sonicare has a lot of great features: an easy-to-read display, a two-minute timer, and a sleek design. But the thing I love most about the toothbrush is the pressure sensor. Unlike me, it knows when I’m brushing too hard, sending a gentle pulsing reminder that has been, if not a lifesaver, a true gum saver.

The Sonicare also got top marks in senior writer Karen Adelson’s roundup of the best electric toothbrushes. Since I’m not a dentist, I will defer to one she interviewed about why the Sonicare works so well: “While the bristles only sweep back and forth, the brush sends out vibrations designed to break up particles and debris and allow toothpaste and fluids to access hard-to-reach places,” says dentist Inna Chern. This is what sets it apart from Oral B toothbrushes, which don’t utilize the same aggressive vibrations. Personally, I love the way the brush feels. It does tickle a bit, but in a pleasant, energizing sort of way. All I know for sure is that after using the toothbrush for only a few days, my teeth were whiter, my breath was fresher, and my mouth felt cleaner than it ever had (except maybe right after a trip to the dentist.) Most important, my dentist said my gums were back in tip-top shape.

Those weren’t the only accolades my brushing received when I went to my biannual teeth cleaning. Not only did my dental hygienist tell me that my teeth looked clean, she said I had the cleanest teeth of anyone she’d seen in the entire practice — which was enough to convince me this was hands down the best 90 bucks I’d spent all year.