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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
5 Models Tested
81 Hours Researched
9 Experts Interviewed
193 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best electric toothbrushes

Last Updated June 2019

Dental health comes not only from the right practices and techniques but also the right tools. An electric toothbrush can improve anyone’s brushing efficiency and experience.

Electric toothbrushes come in different styles and may include features like rechargeable batteries or charging cases. The two main types of electric toothbrushes are sonic and oscillating models, which move in different ways and at varying speeds. The best type for you depends on your preference, your gum sensitivity, and your price range. Some models may vibrate at specific quadrant intervals to guide your brushing so that each part of your mouth gets equal attention. Brush head size, brushing modes, and battery type are additional features to consider.

An electric toothbrush can be an investment, so it’s important to consider what factors are most crucial before making a purchase. Consider our recommended models if you feel ready to select an electric toothbrush, or continue reading to learn more about features and factors to consider.

Many people relax their brushing techniques after switching to an electric toothbrush. Always stay diligent and clean every part of your mouth.

How we tested

  1. 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.

  2. We noted whether each toothbrush was oscillating or sonic.

  3. We also took into consideration the number and kind of brush heads supplied and how long they were reported to last.

  4. 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.”

  5. We also looked at battery recharging times and any extras that made a product stand out from the crowd.

  6. Finally, we considered price, which factors into any buying decision. We also examined feedback from existing owners to evaluate each product’s overall value.

Hands on: best electric toothbrush

Hands On: Best Electric Toothbrush

What the professionals say

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.

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

Remember to replace your toothbrush head every three to four months in order to guarantee the best brush.

What to look for in an electric toothbrush

While electric toothbrushes are not complicated machinery, there are a few features to consider before buying one.

Sonic vs. oscillating

  • Sonic Toothbrushes

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.

  • Oscillating Toothbrushes

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.

Battery type

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.

Battery life

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.

Timer

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.

Quadrant intervals

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.

EXPERT TIP

Brushing your teeth harder is not better. In fact, brushing your teeth too forcefully can actually wear down the enamel.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Once a day, be sure to complete a full cleaning — brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash.


Staff  | BestReviews

Pressure sensor

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.

Brush head variety

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.

Brushing modes

While the standard mode is sufficient for most people, there are electric toothbrushes that offer a variety of modes, including sensitive, massage, and whitening.

Other extras

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.

Testing Results
Phillip Sonicare Testing
  • FEATURES
    The 4.8-ounce toothbrush comes with a 17-ounce charging glass and a 6-ounce travel charging case - a fair amount to bring with you in a suitcase. We liked the sensors on the brush that let you know when you're brushing too hard, and spots you've missed. A good tool for a bad brusher.
  • MODES
    The toothbrush has five modes – Gum Care, Deep Clean, Clean, White and Sensitive, in order of strongest to weakest. Gum Care, the strongest mode, can be as loud as 78-80 db, just loud enough to be heard through a wall. To switch modes, you have to have the toothbrush running, which we found inconvenient.

Design

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.

Tips and tricks for better brushing

  • 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.

  • 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.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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