We purchase every product we review with our own funds—we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Healthy, attractive teeth and gums for a lifetime: Who doesn’t want that? Well, it all starts with good oral hygiene, which means a quality toothbrush used twice daily, along with regular flossing. But what constitutes a good toothbrush?
At BestReviews, we set out to find out. We began by asking a lot of questions.
Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual one? (Answer: Yes. Studies confirm that an electric toothbrush can eradicate plaque far more effectively than a manual toothbrush.)
What are the different types of electric toothbrushes, and how are they different?
What kind of electric toothbrush is best for dentures and braces?
We spoke with dental professionals to get their advice. And then we purchased an assortment of top electric toothbrushes from leading manufacturers and put them through their paces.
At BestReviews, we never accept free products or perks from manufacturers in exchange for a good review. We do our own research, speak with experts in the field, and listen to feedback from actual customers. That allows us to give you unbiased, accurate recommendations and shopping advice.
If you’re ready to purchase one of our five finalists, check out the matrix above. But if you’d like to learn more about not just our top picks, but electric toothbrushes and oral hygiene in general, read on. Up ahead: clean, healthy teeth. Your mouth is going to thank you.
As each electric toothbrush arrived at the BestReviews lab, we checked packaging, instructions, and whether or not an initial charging period was required before it could be used.
We noted whether each toothbrush was oscillating or sonic.
We also took into consideration the number and kind of brush heads supplied and how long they were reported to last.
How an electric toothbrush feels in your hand and mouth is highly subjective, but each manufacturer strives for the most ergonomic design. We gave each toothbrush a test run and judged them on ease of use, comfort, and general “feel.”
We also looked at battery recharging times and any extras that made a product stand out from the crowd.
Finally, we considered price, which factors into any buying decision. We also examined feedback from existing owners to evaluate each product’s overall value.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
Philips boasts that its Sonicare DiamondClean will whiten teeth within a week of use while simultaneously removing seven times more plaque than a manual toothbrush with its diamond-shaped, medium-firm bristles. In addition to its five cleaning modes, this brush offers some outstanding features, not least of which is the DiamondClean’s charging glass. Uniquely, this glass can serve as a cup for water when it’s not resting on its base. Say goodbye to the unsightly wires of a traditional charging station and hello to a less busy bathroom counter.
We consulted Dr. Steve McConnell, owner of the Marin Center for Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry in Novato, CA, and Courtney Casper, a registered dental hygienist at the same practice.
Dr. McConnell and Casper agree that electric toothbrushes are better instruments, in large part because they’re less “technique-sensitive” than manual brushes. Electric toothbrushes give more consistent results because they clean teeth in a more consistent manner.
We asked the pros which type of electric toothbrush they recommend: the oscillating type that mimics human brushing action (though much faster) or the sonic type that creates tiny, rapid vibrations.
Both Dr. McConnell and Casper say that sonic toothbrushes tend to work better because they're similar to the microsonic scaler equipment used in a professional clinic. Microsonic scaler technology removes both the biofilm (goo) and calculus (hard deposits) on teeth.
That being said, it’s not a hard and fast rule that sonic electric toothbrushes are better than their oscillating counterparts. With modern operating modes and brush head technology, some oscillating electric toothbrushes are equally as efficient.
Remember to replace your toothbrush head every three to four months in order to guarantee the best brush.
While electric toothbrushes are not complicated machinery, there are a few features to consider before buying one.
These electric toothbrushes vibrate an astonishing 30,000+ times per minute. The high speed loosens and removes plaque, food bits, and bacteria from the surfaces of the teeth, between the teeth, and even slightly below the gum line. The speed also induces a fluid dynamic inside your mouth, which helps to remove bacteria even slightly beyond the tip of the toothbrush’s bristles. On the downside, some users don’t like the feel of the vibration, and others find sonic toothbrushes irritating to their gums.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Oral-B Pro Power Rechargeable 1000
Ease of Use
There’s nothing complex about the Oral-B Pro Power Rechargeable 1000. It’s an oscillating model that comes with just one brush head. You could interchange it with the more complex heads from other Oral-B models (and the Pro 1000 has the same multi-angled “3D” action), but there’s only one mode, so we doubt you’d get the same degree of effectiveness. That said, a lot of people like this toothbrush for its simplicity. It’s light (4.25 ounces) with a slender, rubberized handle. In the lab, we felt it was just a small step up from the thin handle of a manual toothbrush, however.
These electric toothbrushes spin, some in full circles, others in partial circles that alternate direction. Either way, you generally get at least 5,000 brushstrokes per minute and often many more.
Oscillating toothbrushes move in a fashion similar to manual brushing, but they are far more effective at removing plaque, bacteria, and bits of food from between the teeth.
On the downside, they can be a little harder on your gums than sonic toothbrushes.
Most dentists agree that sonic toothbrushes work better than their oscillating counterparts because they’re more similar to the instruments that dentists use.
While you’ll find inexpensive, throwaway electric toothbrushes, most quality brushes have rechargeable batteries and come with a recharging base that can also serve as a stand.
Others run on regular batteries, which make them convenient for travel but typically less powerful than their rechargeable counterparts.
Once a day, be sure to complete a full cleaning — brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash.
It’s fairly typical for an electric toothbrush to hold its charge for a week between charging sessions, but some hold a charge much longer.
Dentists recommend you brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily. A built-in timer, which either switches the toothbrush off at the two-minute mark or vibrates to indicate the time is up, makes it easier to achieve this goal.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Phillips Sonicare 2 HX6211/04
At about 4.5 ounces, the Philips Sonicare 2 is easy to use and comfortable to hold. It arrived with a bit of a charge, but the manufacturer still recommends an overnight charge before use. Fully charged, it will run for two weeks. As with most of its rivals, its warranty lasts two years. While there are many brush heads in the Philips range, only one comes with the Sonicare 2. Blue “reminder bristles” change to white as they wear down. This color change serves as a reminder to replace the head, and we think it’s an excellent feature.
This common feature is a vibration every 30 seconds during the two-minute brushing period. It prompts you to switch to the next quadrant of your teeth for even coverage.
The four quadrants are the inside of the upper teeth, outside of the upper teeth, inside of the lower teeth, and outside of the lower teeth.
Brushing your teeth harder is not better. In fact, brushing your teeth too forcefully can actually wear down the enamel.
Many people brush too hard, which can damage the gums. Toothbrushes with pressure sensors stop if you press too hard, and then start again when you let up.
All the big names in electric toothbrushes sell a variety of brush heads that work with their brushes. Along with standard brush heads, you’ll find brush heads for sensitive teeth, orthodontic work, extra whitening, extra plaque removal, and many others.
While the standard mode is sufficient for most people, there are electric toothbrushes that offer a variety of modes, including sensitive, massage, and whitening.
Many higher priced electric toothbrushes offer a variety of extras, such as apps to track your brushing activity, motion sensors, facial recognition, and colorful lights. As fun as these features are, they are not essential and add to the price of the toothbrush.
Watch out for these major enemies to your teeth and gums: soda, sugary treats, sticky foods, cigarette smoke, crunching on hard foods, and enamel-stainers such as wine, coffee, and black tea.
Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear through the gum line.
Continue to help young children brush their teeth until they are able to do so on their own, usually around age six or so.
Brush twice daily, for two minutes each session.
Use a soft brush head to avoid irritating your gums.
Hold your toothbrush so the bristles are at a 45° angle to your teeth.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Waterpik Sensonic SR-3000
According to Waterpik, the Sensonic SR-3000 isn’t just a sonic toothbrush; it’s state-of-the-art technology. It does clean powerfully yet gently. The Waterpik is ideal for people with orthodontic work, as the brush heads have rounded bristles (instead of angular or flat ones). Although the Waterpik operates in only one mode, three brush heads are included: one for “general” cleaning, one for “precision,” and one for “trouble spots.” The brush weighs 6.8 ounces, placing it on the heavier side of the scale. Our testers thought the sculpted body did much to make it ergonomic. Some owners, however, find it too big to hold comfortably.
Don’t scrub at your teeth. It doesn’t take excessive pressure to remove plaque, and you are likely to damage or inflame your gums.
Make sure to brush along your gum line, not just across your teeth.
Replace your brush head at least every three months or more often if the bristles look worn or frayed.
You don’t need gobs of toothpaste — a pea-size dab is enough. Add more to your brush if necessary.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing, and don’t swallow toothpaste.
Follow your nightly brushing routine with flossing for the best oral hygiene.
Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after every use, and store it upright to dry, preferably with a cover.
See your dentist at least twice each year to catch problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, jaw problems, or oral cancer early on.
After finishing a meal, wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Your mouth becomes more acidic while eating, and this acidity makes brushing harsher on your enamel.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.