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For years, I resisted my dental hygienist’s suggestion to buy an electric toothbrush. To me, it seemed like a lazy person’s crutch — something you used if you couldn’t manage two minutes of brushing your teeth on your own. Then, last year, I gave in and bought an Oral-B electric toothbrush.
Just one brushing session in, I couldn’t believe the difference. My teeth were dentist-office-clean!
“An electric toothbrush’s rotating brush will clean your teeth better than a manual because your hand cannot reproduce that motion,” says Dr. Irina Kessler of New York Family Dental Arts in New York City. “It’s giving you a better cleaning every time you brush.”
In other words, this is simply one of those things that machines do better than people. So if you’re still using a manual toothbrush, it’s time to consider an electric upgrade.
Before you start shopping, keep a few things in mind. First of all, there are two main types: oscillating/rotating toothbrushes and sonic toothbrushes — which emit sonic waves that cause the bristles to rotate through vibration.
The main difference is that sonic toothbrushes are faster (up to 30,000 brushes per minute versus up to 7,500 rotations per minute). But dentists consider both types to be equally effective.
Dentists also tend to agree on this: You can’t go wrong if you buy one of the two dominant brands, Oral-B or Philips Sonicare. Oral-B uses oscillating/rotating/pulsing technology, while Sonicare uses sonic waves. But there are several other toothbrush manufacturers producing great brushes with these two technologies.
Long story short, you’re about to face a myriad of choices. But don’t panic! “The best electric toothbrush, ultimately, is one that gets used two to three times per day,” says Dr. Jordan Weber of Burlington Dental Center in Burlington, Kansas. In other words, the advice is much like it is if you’re hunting for the best water flosser: Just find one you’ll want to use, and you’ll be fine.
Jump To: Best Overall Oral-B | Best Overall Philips Sonicare | Best Oral-B for Kids | Best Philips Sonicare for Kids | Best Splurge | Best Budget | Best for Sensitive Teeth | Best for Braces | Best for Travel | Best Eco-Friendly | Best Silicone
Based on information from six dentists, we chose the best options in electric toothbrushes in several categories. We began by establishing the most important factors to consider. They are as follows:
What To Look For
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand
All of the dentists surveyed were comfortable recommending electric toothbrushes by Oral-B and Sonicare. “Your safest bet is to opt for electric toothbrushes from well-known and established brands that have a proven track record in oral care,” says Dr. Jennifer Silver, a dentist with Macleod Trail Dental in Alberta, Canada.
“I always get asked about brands that are commonly visible on social media like Burst or Quip,” says Dr. Lawrence Fung of Silicon Beach Dental in Culver City, California. “The packaging is great, the size of the brushes are fantastic for traveling, but they tend to be less effective than a more robust option like Oral-B or Sonicare.”
That said, they are not the only companies producing quality toothbrushes. “You can tell if a toothbrush is clinically effective by going to ADA.org and looking at the ADA Seal Category section,” Kessler says. “This site shows the toothbrushes currently holding the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This seal signifies the toothbrush’s safety and effectiveness in eliminating plaque and minimizing gingivitis.”
So, if you want to buy a toothbrush that’s not made by Oral-B or Sonicare, just be sure to check whether the brush has received the seal. For example, the Quip has the ADA seal, and (as of right now) Burst does not have the ADA seal.
Mode of Action
When choosing an electric toothbrush, you will purchase one that works by rotating, oscillating and pulsing — or one that works by sonic vibrations. Both are equally effective.
Brush Movement Modes
Oftentimes, the higher the quality (and the price tag) of the toothbrush, the more brushing modes it has.
There are up to eight modes available on Oral-B electric brushes, depending on which toothbrush model you buy. They include Daily Clean, Gum Care, Sensitive, Super Sensitive, Whitening, Pro Clean, Intense and Tongue Clean.
Sonicare toothbrushes also come in increasingly expensive models with an increasing number of modes: Deep Clean, Deep Clean+, White, Polish, Gum Care, Gum Health, Sensitive and Tongue.
The dentists surveyed universally agreed that the most important factors in oral hygiene are good technique and brushing for the full two minutes — but having different brushing modes can be very helpful.
Kessler says that when shopping for an electric toothbrush, “look for a variety of brushing modes that cater to specific needs, such as sensitivity, teeth whitening, or gum massage.”
“For those with [teeth and gum] sensitivity, consider a toothbrush with a sensitive cleaning mode,” Silver says. “Sonic toothbrushes, in particular, can be gentler while still delivering effective cleaning.”
Quality and Variety of Brush Heads
Oral-B mostly tends to have round brush heads, while Sonicare has diamond-shaped or oval heads. “Round brush heads are best for reaching all areas of the mouth, and oval brush heads work best for people who have limited jaw mobility,” Kessler says.
Other considerations regarding brush heads are the ability to change them for different needs and the bristle stiffness.
Fung says that one of the must-have features of an electronic toothbrush is “the ability to change heads to ones that are more applicable to your specific gum health needs. For those who have recession and sensitive teeth, sensitive heads would be better.”
“There is a variety of bristle stiffness with electric toothbrushes,” Kessler says. “It is recommended to get soft bristles because they are gentle on the gums and tooth enamel, reducing the risk of causing damage or abrasion, and they effectively remove plaque and debris without causing irritation or discomfort.”
Fung concurs: “When picking a toothbrush head, softer is better always.”
There are a number of special features available in electric toothbrushes. Some are considered important by dentists, while others are less necessary and merely drive up the price.
“I always recommend a toothbrush with a rechargeable battery so it’s consistent in its performance,” says Dr. Steven Cohen of Livingston Smiles, a cosmetic dentistry practice in Livingston, New Jersey. “Traditional battery-operated toothbrushes degrade over usage and their performance varies after each use, decreasing in its efficacy.”
Kessler recommends looking for an electronic toothbrush with “pressure sensors [that] will alert you when you’re applying excessive force.” Also: “A timer to tell you how long to brush a quadrant of your mouth. And digital prompts that remind you to replace the brush head.”
Fung cautions that you don’t necessarily have to “pay a higher price for unnecessary things like a fancier handle or a bluetooth connection — unless you really want an app to track your toothbrushing habits.”
Electric toothbrushes range in price from about $10 to $400. The dentists surveyed were less concerned with price, and more concerned that their patients use the brushes correctly and often. None said that you need to spend hundreds on a toothbrush
“Oral-B products are widely regarded as the best overall electric toothbrushes for most people,” Weber says. “And they make a number of great toothbrushes that retail for less than $120.”
Here are the best toothbrushes in several categories, according to dentists:
Our Recommendations for Best Electric Toothbrushes
1. Best Overall Oral-B — Oral-B iO Series 3 Electric Toothbrush
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Oscillating/rotating | Brush Movement Modes: 3 modes — Daily Clean, Sensitive, Whitening | Brush Heads: Round head (not compatible with all other Oral-B brush heads); brush head replacement reminder | Special Features: 2-minute brushing timer (30 seconds for each of four quadrants), pressure sensor, 1 lithium Ion battery included | Cost: $75-$80 (Amazon and Walmart)
“This iO Series toothbrush is a great option for anyone that wants to spend less than $100 and doesn’t need a huge amount of features,” Weber says. And Kessler says she personally uses an Oral-B series toothbrush.
- Pros: Trusted brand, 2-minute timer, alert to change heads, pressure sensor
- Cons: Requires iO specific heads, cost (about $12.50 or more for two replacement brush heads) adds up over time
2. Best Overall Philips Sonicare — Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush DiamondClean
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Sonic | Brush Movement Modes: 1 mode, 2 intensity settings | Brush Heads: Diamond-shaped head (compatible with all other Sonicare brush heads); brush head replacement reminder | Special Features: 2-minute brushing timer (30 seconds for each of four quadrants), pressure sensor, corded electric and battery-powered, travel case | Cost: $99.99 (Amazon and Walmart)
“Sonicare is always on the leading edge of toothbrush technology and ease of use,” says Dr. Tyler Hales of Facer, Hales, Parker Dentistry, a cosmetic dentistry practice based in South Orange County, California. “This is an amazing toothbrush that leaves your teeth feeling clean every time.”
While this basic version of the DiamondClean only has one mode, “it has everything you need, it’s from a reliable manufacturer, and still costs less than $100,” Weber says.
- Pros: Trusted brand, 2-minute timer, alert to change heads, pressure sensor
- Cons: Just one cleaning mode, slightly pricier than Oral-B’s equivalent
3. Best Oral-B for Kids — Oral-B Electric Toothbrush for Kids 6+
Professionally certified / Trusted brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Oscillating/rotating | Brush Movement Modes: 1 mode (gentle mode) | Brush Heads: Comes with 2 extra brush heads, compatible with a variety of Oral B brush heads, extra-soft bristles | Special Features: 2-minute brushing timer (30 seconds for each of four quadrants), pressure sensor, corded electric and battery-powered | Cost: $49.99-$59.99 (Amazon and Target)
With extra-soft bristles and a timer to help kids learn how long they should be brushing, this children’s toothbrush for kids ages 6 and older is considered by many dentists to be the best on the market. Oral B is a “trusted choice in children’s oral care,” Silver says.
It comes in themes for kids, including Minnie Mouse, Star Wars and a cute tooth theme, and dentists say the theme choices are more than just a bonus. “Generally speaking, I think children build better oral hygiene habits when they like their toothbrushes,” Cohen says. “It’s helpful that TV programs and movies with their favorite characters have collaborations with top-performing electric toothbrush companies.”
- Pros: Extra soft bristles, gum pressure sensor and built-in timer, comes with extra brush heads, also comes in a toddler version (3+)
- Cons: Just one mode, pricey compared to a manual brush
4. Best Philips Sonicare for Kids — Philips Sonicare for Kids 3+ Bluetooth Connected Rechargeable Electric Power Toothbrush
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Sonic | Brush Movement Modes: 1 mode | Brush Heads: Comes with 1 brush head, compatible with mini and standard kids brush heads Special Features : Bluetooth connectivity with fun and educational app, timer, musical, customizable with stickers, battery-powered | Price: $30-$40 (Amazon and Kohl’s)
Sonicare’s toothbrush for kids has extra soft bristles for young teeth and comes with an interactive, educational app that helps them get engaged in the process. “This toothbrush is fun and great for the kids to use,” Hales says. “Sonicare makes it easy for the kids to brush their teeth and get a great result.”
- Weber concurs: “This is a good product,” he says. “Just make sure to verify the correct age range.”
- Pros: Kid Timer (2 minutes) and Kid Pacer (30 seconds per quadrant), interactive education app, extra-soft bristles, fun “Ice Age” characters
- Cons: Just one mode, pricey compared to a manual brush
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Oscillating/rotating | Brush movement modes: 7 modes include Daily Clean, Sensitive, Gum Care, Intense Clean, Super Sensitive, Tongue Clean and Whitening | Brush Heads: Round brush head, comes with 4 replacement brush heads (2 Ultimate Clean and 2 Gentle Care), informs you when brush heads need to be replaced | Special Features: Connects to app that shows when your teeth are clean in real time | Cost: $400 (Amazon and Target)
This high-end toothbrush has all the special features of a top-of-the-line electric toothbrush. It also has an AI-powered, 3D-tracking system that makes sure you’ve cleaned every tooth. It does this by syncing up to an app that goes through a diagram of your teeth, showing which ones have been properly brushed. “I recommend this toothbrush because it keeps patients engaged and compliant with oral hygiene,” Dr. Cohen says.
“This is an excellent product if budget isn’t a concern,” Dr. Weber says. “It has a very nice design, an abundance of features, and it has the modern style charger, which is very easy to keep clean and avoid buildup and debris on the toothbrush/charger.”
- Pros: Personalized cleaning with an interactive app, many cleaning modes, all the special features you’d expect
- Cons: Very expensive
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Oscillating/rotating | Brush Movement Modes: 1 mode | Brush Heads: Patented dual action brush head, featuring two moving parts, replacement heads adaptable to all Spinbrush toothbrushes, including Daily Clean, Ultra White and Truly Radiant toothbrushes. | Special Features: “Color-Wear” bristles fade to remind you to change brush heads every three months, extended bristles for hard-to-reach places, battery-powered. | Cost: $11-$12 (Amazon and Walmart)
This bare-bones electric toothbrush requires you to change its batteries and doesn’t offer help with brushing technique. That said, it’s super affordable and has the ADA seal, which means it’s considered safe and effective in removing plaque when used correctly. It also has soft bristles.
- “Any time you use an electric toothbrush from a manufacturer that isn’t as familiar as Sonicare or Oral-B, make sure the bristles are soft and that the motor action is not too abrasive,” Weber says. “Firm bristles and an overly-aggressive toothbrush can be damaging to teeth and especially gums.”
- Pros: Dual action brush head, extremely affordable, ADA Seal
- Cons: No frills, not one of the big and trusted electric toothbrush brands
7. Best for Sensitive Teeth — Oral-B Gum and Sensitive Care Electric, Battery Powered Toothbrush
Professionally Certified/Trusted Brand: ADA Seal | Mode of Action: Oscillating/rotating | Brush Movement Modes: 3 modes include Daily Clean Mode, Gum Care Mode (massage mode) and Sensitive Mode | Brush Heads: Round head, comes with one extra brush head, compatible with variety of Oral-B brush heads | Special Features: Interactive app for personalized brushing, travel case, 30-second timer for each of 4 quadrants, visible pressure sensor changes colors when pressing too hard, lithium-ion battery | Cost: $93-$99 (Amazon and Walmart)
The Oral-B Gum and Sensitive Care Electric has three modes specifically constructed to be gentle on teeth. If you have a larger budget, Weber also recommends “almost any Oral-B iO series toothbrush for sensitive teeth and gums, since they have smart pressure sensors and multiple intensity settings.”
- Pros: Special gentle modes, visible light-up pressure sensor, timer, connects to app for real-time brushing feedback
- Cons: Does not fit Oral-B iO brush heads, expensive compared to manual toothbrush
8. Best for Braces — Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0 Electric Toothbrush and Water Flosser
Professionally certified/Trusted brand: ADA Seal | Mode of action: Sonic | Brush movement modes: 3 modes include Brush, Floss, or Brush/Floss (high and low speed) | Brush heads: 2 diamond-shaped, flossing brush heads (1 compact, 1 full size) | Special features: 2-minute timer with 30-second pacer, recharge indicator, built-in electric water flosser with 10 pressure settings,16 oz removable reservoir, 2 brush head covers, travel case, corded electric | Cost: $160-$178 (Walmart and Amazon)
“Dental hygiene is extremely important in patients with orthodontics because it is much easier for food debris to lodge in and under brackets and wires,” Cohen says. This toothbrush is great for braces because of the inclusion of a water flosser.
- “Anything from Waterpik is a good choice if you want to add a water flosser,” Weber says. “The brand has obviously been a pioneer with water flossing, and this is a very good product.”
- Pros: 2 products in 1, ADA-approved sonic technology, great for travel
- Cons: Pricey
9. Best for Travel — Voom Sonic Pro 3 Rechargeable Electric/Battery Powered Portable Toothbrush
Professionally certified / Trusted brand: ADA Seal | Mode of action: Sonic | Brush movement modes: 3 modes include Whiten, Clean and Massage | Brush heads: 2 diamond-shaped brush heads are included | Special features: Lightweight and portable with vented cap, 2-minute timer with 30-second pacer, sonic technology (3 speeds up to 40,000 strokes per minute), 1 Lithium Ion battery included | Cost: $22-$33 (Amazon and Walmart)
This toothbrush has many of the features that dentists look for (like a timer and powerful brushing technology) but it also holds a charge for three months. Plus, it comes with a vented cap, so you can toss it in your toiletry bag. “This is a convenient option for maintaining oral hygiene during travels, promoting consistent care,” Silver says.
- Pros: Great option for travel, holds a charge for three months, effective brushing technology
- Cons: Not made by Oral-B or Sonicare, sonic tech vibrates rather than rotates (if that matters to you)
10. Best Eco-Friendly— Fayet Bamboo Smart Sonic Electric Toothbrush
Professionally certified / Trusted brand: No ADA Seal (British company) | Mode of action: Sonic | Brush movement modes: 5 modes including Clean, White, Polish, Gum Care and Sensitive | Brush heads: Diamond-shaped, biodegradable brush made of 100% bamboo, includes three brush heads | Special features: Effective brushing power (up to 39,000 strokes per minute), biodegradable brush heads, waterproof, corded electric / battery-powered, timer and pacer, wireless charger | Cost: $70 (Amazon)
This electric toothbrush offers intense cleaning power comparable to other electric toothbrushes — without contributing more plastic to landfills. (The heads are bamboo and the handle is made of recyclable plastic.) It’s also waterproof, so you can use it in the shower.
- Pros: Made of sustainable materials, single charge lasts 40 days, anti-seismic ring reduces noise
- Cons: Not made by Oral-B or Sonicare, no ADA seal, not available in many places
11. Best Silicone — Foreo Issa 3 Rechargeable Electric Ultra-Hygienic Sonic Toothbrush with Silicone
Professionally certified / Trusted brand: No ADA Seal | Mode of action: Sonic | Brush movement modes: 1 mode (16 intensities) | Brush heads: Oval design created to reach out-of-the-way places | Special features: Bacteria-resistant silicone bristles last up to six months before having to be replaced, timer, built-in tongue scraper | Cost: $189-$299 (Amazon and Sephora)
Some people are switching from plastic to silicone for their personal care items (such as makeup sponges and electric toothbrushes), because silicone is considered more durable and more hygienic (due to being bacteria-resistant). If you’re looking for a silicone electric toothbrush, this one from Foreo Issa has sonic technology and many of the features of standard electric toothbrushes (like a built-in timer).
- Pros: Medical- grade, non-porous silicone, free of BPA and phthalates, 16 intensities, timer, low battery indicator
- Cons: No ADA Seal, pricey, not Oral-B or Sonicare
- Jordan Weber, D.D.S., owner of Burlington Dental Center
- Jennifer Silver, D.D.S., a dentist with Macleod Trail Dental in Alberta, Canada
- Lawrence Fung, D.D.S., a dentist, a clinical instructor at the Center for Esthetic Dentistry at UCLA and owner of Silicon Beach Dental in Culver City, California
- Irina Kessler, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist at New York Family Dental Arts in New York City
- Steven Cohen, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist at Livingston Smiles in Livingston, New Jersey
- Tyler Hales, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist at Facer, Hales, Parker Dentistry in South Orange County, California
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.