To find the best electric toothbrush money can buy in 2019 we started by narrowing it to those that offered not only advanced features, but ones that provided a two minute timer with a 30-second quadrant indicator. We then factored in price point, customer sentiment and ratings, and organized our list based on what will both clean well and motivate us to brush the recommended twice daily for two minutes.
And that’s why our #1 pick is the best rated Philips Sonicare Essence. It offers super powerful cleaning at a super affordable price, without the need for all the flashy premium features you see in new electric toothbrushes today. Keep reading to learn more about our top Sonicare brush, along with the 4 other top picks on our list of best electric toothbrushes.
- 1 Top 5 Best Electric Toothbrush Compared
- 2 How We Tested the Best Electric Toothbrushes
- 3 Why Should You Buy an Electric Toothbrush?
- 4 How Often Should You Upgrade?
- 5 Electric Toothbrush Types: Rotating/Oscillating vs. Sonic
- 6 What Our Experts Say
- 7 What Didn’t Make the Cut
- 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an Electric Toothbrush
Top 5 Best Electric Toothbrush Compared
#1 Philips Sonicare Essence – Top Pick/Best for Receding GumsWHY WE LIKE IT: The Philips Sonicare Essence stays true to its name by providing you with only the essentials. It doesn’t come with any flashy extras, but it still delivers exactly what you need to maintain clean, healthy teeth…all at a super affordable price.
The Philips Sonicare Essence features a patented sonic technology that propels fluid between your teeth and along your gum line to effective remove any plaque build ups you may have. The toothbrush also has a nice contoured brush head that can get to the harder-to-reach places in your mouth. This makes it a great choice for people with receding gums, sensitive teeth or braces.
Unfortunately, you won’t get any of the smart features we’re starting to see in some of the cutting-edge electric toothbrushes. However, this doesn’t mean that the Sonicare Essence won’t clean your teeth effectively. The smart features are useful if you want to fully customize your brushing experience and track your habits, but you can still get a comprehensive clean with this simple electric toothbrush. Additionally, you’ll still get some added convenience with the built-in SmartTimer that will automatically shut off the brush after the recommended 2 minutes of brush time. You’ll also get a long battery life of around 2 weeks. If you just need simple cleaning power without all the flashy extras, this is the brush for you.
#2 Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries – Honorable Mention/Best Smart ToothbrushWHY WE LIKE IT: The Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries is a household brand name in dental care by this point and for good reason. This electric toothbrush features bluetooth connectivity and a related smartphone app for brushing feedback, as well as a host of cleaning modes.
The Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries has taken brushing your teeth into the 21st century. By now, you know all about smart homes and devices, but what about smart toothbrushes? Perhaps the best feature this toothbrush offers is its companion app, which tracks your brushing habits and gives you feedback about what you’re doing right and wrong.
You’ll also get 6 different cleaning modes: Daily Clean, Gum Care, Sensitive, Whitening, Deep Clean and Tongue Cleaner. While you may not utilize every single one of these modes, it’s great to have a mode that suits your personal preferences. The Oral-B 7000 includes a pressure sensor alert system that tells you when you’re brushing too hard and the included SmartGuide can even tell you when you’ve brushed long enough. To get all these features, though, you’ll need to be prepared to pay the price. This is the most expensive option on our list.
#3 Fairywill Electric Toothbrush – Best for Sensitive TeethWHY WE LIKE IT: The Fairywill electric toothbrush is excellently designed when it comes to overall visuals and it features a good variety of cleaning modes. This is a basic model that performs like a high-end electric toothbrush.
The Fairywill electric toothbrush looks great, with a sleek, matte-black design. It looks and performs like a high-end electric toothbrush, even though it doesn’t offer all of the high-end features, which keeps the price low. You also get 5 different cleaning modes – White, Clean, Sensitive, Polish, and Massage – although we didn’t really feel too big a difference between them.
One of the biggest downsides to this electric toothbrush is its overall power level. If you’re looking for something powerful to blast your teeth clean, this isn’t the model for you. The Fairywill takes a very gentle approach to cleaning your teeth and gums, which makes it an excellent choice for people with sensitive teeth. You also get the longest rated battery life out of any other toothbrushes our list: a whopping 30 days! In practice, we found that the actual battery life was a little shorter than this, but it still outlasted the other toothbrushes we tested.
#4 Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 – Best ValueWHY WE LIKE IT: The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 features the classic sonic cleaning power that has made the Sonicare line so popular, accompanied by extra-convenient features like auto-off and BrushSync.
The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 excels best when you consider just how effective it is at eliminating plaque and debris from the surfaces of your teeth and the hard-to-reach places of your mouth. Plus, this Sonicare brush keeps your brushing habits as effective as possible with an included pressure sensor that tells you if you’re brushing too hard and a built-in QuadPacer that tells you when to switch to a new section of teeth.
You only get the essentials with the ProtectiveClean 4100 since it only includes 1 brush head and 1 brushing mode, but we found that these essentials do more than enough to keep your teeth as clean as possible. One of the most helpful features included with this electric toothbrush is its proprietary BrushSync feature, which alerts you when it’s time to change out your brush head. This brush offers tons of high-end features for the best price, so if you’re looking for value, this is the choice for you.
#5 Oral-B Black Pro 1000 – Best BudgetWHY WE LIKE IT: The Oral-B Black Pro 1000 is one of Oral-B’s simplest options, but also one of its best. Its biggest selling point is the proprietary 3D cleaning, which oscillates and rotates to provide a much more comprehensive clean.
The Oral-B Black Pro 1000 is one of the simplest electric toothbrushes you’ll find on our list, but it’s also one of the most effective at cleaning your teeth and gums. It features Oral-B’s proprietary 3D cleaning, which provides the typical oscillating back and forth, along with additional rotation. This feature has been clinically proven to provide a better clean and most users agree.
You won’t get a ton of extra features with the Pro 1000, but it still offers a super helpful pressure sensor that tells you when you’re brushing too hard and a QuadPacer that vibrates every 30 seconds to tell you to start brushing another section of your teeth. And at such an affordable price, you’re getting a steal to have these premium features included. If you’re looking for a simple electric toothbrush that doesn’t skimp on cleaning power, the Oral-B Pro 1000 is one to keep your eye on.
How We Tested the Best Electric Toothbrushes
Test 1: We Scrubbed 20 Coffee Soaked Eggs, Tested the Battery Life and More
For our first test, we stained around 20 eggs in a gallon of cold-brew coffee for 7 days straight in an attempt to simulate what a few years of drinking the stuff might do to your teeth if you never stopped to brush them. Now we’re not saying that eggshells and teeth are going to show similar results from a single brushing – enamel has properties which are more complex than eggshells when it comes to how they stain – but it was still a good way to get a general barometer on how each brush approached the cleaning process and what they could get done in the same amount of time.
After the eggs had been stained, we assigned one to each brush and gave them an equal shot at cleaning their respective egg. Each brush would run in a straight line back and forth across the egg for 30 seconds, the same amount of time you would normally take to brush a single quadrant of your mouth. We then photographed the eggs to show how much of the coffee had been brushed away in that half minute, or how much was still left compared to the original staining pattern.
Also, it should be mentioned that none of the eggs were hard-boiled because at the same time we were testing the cleaning power, we also wanted to make sure the brushes were sensitive enough not to break a raw egg (or not to scrape your enamel down to the bone). Electric toothbrushes have to walk a fine line between power and sensitivity to make sure they don’t scrub off the protective layers of your teeth while they’re busy with removing plaque.
We put every toothbrush in contention for this list through a number of rigorous tests to ensure that they could deliver on the promises set out by their advertisements, and were pleased to see that many not only hit the marks we set, but even over delivered in areas like battery life and ease of use.
Test 2: How Does Your Mouth Feel
Next, we wanted to find out just how effective the toothbrushes were at getting the surface of your teeth clean. We did this in two ways: feel, and physical results. The first metric was more subjective and was the result of using each toothbrush for 5-day stints, and gauging how clean my mouth actually felt after each test. While it’s easy to say that my teeth were clean on the surface (even the cheapest electric toothbrush will take care of visible debris), the real results were more nuanced. How much residual food was left after flossing? Did my tongue feel cleaned or scraped down to the bone? Gum comfort during the brush?
All of these factors were folded into helping us whittle down which toothbrushes could hold their own in the arena and which were merely visiting for a souvenir, but the real test was still yet to come.
Test 3: Battery Testing From Fully Charged to Empty
To test the batteries we brought each toothbrush to a full charge, and then (quite painstakingly, I might add), sat there and pushed the button in two-minute increments for hours on end to see how many sessions each could handle before they finally gave up.
A quick note on our testing rubric here: All of our scores have been rounded on a curve to account for power loss that might amount to you not getting the full cleaning ability out of the brush. For example, while some models did technically keep running a little past the one hour mark, during those last couple of runs we weren’t really able to get enough power out of the brush to call it an “electric brushing session” as the battery continued to lose the rest of its juice.
Other models, on the other hand gave us full power well after an hour, which is not only a solid result on its own, but also means that maybe in better conditions you might be able to stretch it longer. The rounding system accounts for both these situations to give each type of brush (auto-cutoff vs. slow loss of power) an equal footing in the race.
Test 4: Toothbrush Feature Set and Toothbrush Hand Comfort
The last two tests involved the feature set of a toothbrush and how comfortable it felt in the hand, along with less obvious metrics like the number of extra brush heads you get in the package or what kind of charging case a brush might have.
Once all these factors were accounted for on each toothbrush, we narrowed down the results from 13 to the five electric toothbrushes you can buy in 2019!
Why Should You Buy an Electric Toothbrush?
During the research phase of this post, we spoke to two experts working in the field of dentistry, and both had only one response to give to the question of “why should you buy an electric toothbrush over a regular one?”.
“Why wouldn’t you?” – They’re Cheap, Long Lasting and the Benefits Out Way the Cost
With the price of electric toothbrushes continuing to drop as more features, technology, and power are added, there’s almost no reason not to have an electric toothbrush in 2019.
To get into more specific details; electric toothbrushes make the whole process of oral hygiene a lot easier to manage and fit into your busy schedule, all while you get the absolute most out of every brushing.
The time-saving features are obvious when you speak to dentists about what makes a brushing session successful. See, the biofilm that covers the enamel on our teeth (and eventually turns to plaque if left untreated) can’t always be successfully scrubbed out with a manual brushing technique alone.
Electric toothbrushes cut down on the effort you need to get 10x the amount of cleaning power in the same two minute span that dentists recommend everyone stick to, whether they’re brushing manually or otherwise.
But even though you can help things out a little more with electric toothbrushes or by using mouthwash like Listerine, ultimately the reason you have to go to the dentist to get a cleaning every six months is that stubborn plaque needs vigorous scraping to release completely, and not much else will do.
Electric Vs Manual Toothbrush: Electric Wins Every Time
So what does this mean in the context of electric vs. manual toothbrushes? Well, while the average brusher might achieve around 300 strokes per minute using a manual brush, high-end electric options like the Sonicare DiamondCare and Oral-B Pro 7000 series top 30,000+ and 40,000+ strokes per minute, respectively. This increase in strokes means your teeth get much cleaner, much faster, and your brush does a more thorough job with a quarter of the effort.
But dentists still recommend you spend the full two minutes necessary to get each quadrant of your mouth clean – what a pain, right? Not with electric toothbrushes!
Instead of trying to set a stopwatch with a glob of toothpaste hanging out of your mouth, many electric toothbrushes (even the cheap ones) have some kind of integrated timer which can help get you to that two minute mark each and every time you brush. The timer also gets a lot more advanced with the addition of features like Bluetooth connectivity and companion apps (“Bluetoothbrushes”, anyone?), which can help you keep track of how long you’re brushing, how long you’re spending in each quadrant, and track any progress you’ve made in your daily oral regimen since you started going electric.
If you have kids in the home who are stubbornly resisting the climb to a two-minute brushing cycle, options like the Frozen-themed Oral-B Pro-Health toothbrushes are a cheap and simple way to get them used to it over time. Not only that, but with the help of Oral-B’s “Fun Zone” app they can even turn the whole thing into a game which tracks their progress over time and gives them points when they consistently post “high scores” for how they brush.
All of this adds up to better oral health for you and your family vs. manual toothbrushes. So the next time someone asks why you’re getting an electric toothbrush, you know what to say: “Why wouldn’t you?”.
How Often Should You Upgrade?
Unlike smartphones or laptops that demand you upgrade to the latest and greatest model every year, electric toothbrushes seem to follow a much slower product cycle.
Short Answer: You Don’t Need to Upgrade Often
Over the past few years there have been a few noticeable advancements in the so-called “extra tech” area of electric toothbrushes, feature adds that don’t necessarily add to the function of how well a toothbrush performs, but can still help you integrate better brushing habits overall. Namely, the addition of Bluetooth connectivity.
The New Models Track Your Brushing Habits and Efficacy
Oral-B is the main contender in this field, and has dove headlong into the same data-driven craze that’s caused everyone to go out and start monitoring their heart rate through wearables like FitBit or track their calories through apps like MyFitnessPal.
The Oral-B App connects to several different Oral-B models including the flagship 8000 Genius model, and is great for adults and kids alike to find out more about their brushing habits and get tips on how to improve.
All that said, most of these features are merely fun add-ons that don’t actually add to the effectiveness of how well your teeth get brushed. That’s all handled by the motor underneath the hood, which aside from a few subtle upgrades here and there, hasn’t changed all that much over the years. If you’ve got a Sonicare from 2010 (hopefully with a new brush head or two), chances are it will have the same strokes per minute and core brushing technology as the latest model from 2019.
There isn’t a whole lot about the two technologies that can be improved further than they already have, which means that if you currently own an electric toothbrush you like (and are okay with giving up the option to take a selfie while you brush), you probably don’t need to upgrade your model anytime soon.
Don’t Worry About the Electric Toothbrush Head Replacement Price
Lastly, we should mention here that you don’t really need to invest much in replacement heads for sonic brush models, and a generic 4-pack off Amazon will do just fine while costing you even less than what it would to get a comparably-sized pack of manual brushes.
Electric Toothbrush Types: Rotating/Oscillating vs. Sonic
But what really is the difference between the two primary brush types, and is it possible that one type might be better for you than the other? To start, let’s talk about how each brush type works.
Rotating/Oscillating Electric Toothbrushes
The first is a rotating brush, which is a staple of pretty much every Oral-B toothbrush on the market. Rotating brushes do pretty much exactly what the name describes: they rotate, some in a continuous pattern (rotating), others in a back-and-forth motion depending on the mode and model of your brush (oscillating).
The rotating/oscillating action helps to scrub away plaque in much the same way a manual brush would, albeit at a much higher rate of strokes per minute. In the past few years there’s also been the release of oscillating-rotating-pulsating brushes, like the latest Oral-B 7000 Genius series, which implements an extra layer of pulsing vibrations on top of the oscillation to simulate some of the benefits you would get from a sonic-based brush.
Sonic Electric Toothbrushes
Sonic cleaning works by vibrating the head of a toothbrush to cause it to rapidly move back and forth, up to 40,000 times per minute. This focused vibration stimulates the liquids in your mouth (saliva, water, toothpaste) and induces what’s known as the “non-contact cleaning effect”, where instead of just scrubbing away at the plaque as a rotating brush might, it’s agitated to the point where it essentially dissolves under the stress.
This also helps to add to the “flossing” effect of a sonic toothbrush, which, while not a full replacement for the real thing, is still better at dislodging smaller bits of food from between your teeth than a rotating brush might be.
So which is the best choice for you? Well, it all depends.
Sonic toothbrushes are a better choice for people who may have sensitive teeth or gums, because they are more precise about where their effects are felt the most, i.e; a shorter path of action means you can clean down to the gum without brushing the gum itself. That said, most sonic models worth their salt come at a higher price tag than a similarly equipped rotating/oscillating model might, something to keep in mind before you buy.
How Pricing Works for Each Model
Speaking of price, the gulf between how a cheap oscillating model performs compared to a cheap sonic model is something that bears mentioning. Sonic models are either really great or pretty terrible, and you’re not going to have many options to compromise in between. Oscillating models however are really good at the top-end ($75 – $150), while still being pretty darn effective even at the lower side of the price spectrum (think closer to $35 and up).
To close out the debate, we’ll go with a little science. During our research we found a case study from 2013 which followed 130 people over 12 months, 65 of whom were using oscillating brushes, and 62 using sonic. The results of the test showed that when it came keeping teeth generally clean and preventing most types of plaque in healthy individuals, there were no significant differences in performance between the two technologies, but in participants with more dental issues the oscillating-rotating brushes did show a statistical advantage over sonic. This means that on the whole if you’re trying to shop on the cheap side and don’t have sensitive gums at the start of your electric toothbrush journey, a more reasonably-priced oscillating model should get the job done just fine.
What Our Experts Say
As mentioned earlier, we interviewed two experts in the field of dentistry to compile up-to-date information on everything you need to know in the realm of electric toothbrushes.
The first was Yale-alum Dr. Daniel Rubinshtein, who works as a cosmetic dentist in New York City. We wanted to get the opinion of a cosmetic dentist because unlike a general dentist who will see many problems before they’ve grown out of control, cosmetic dentists usually are the ones to step in once the damage to teeth has become so severe that full reconstructions are necessary. This includes problems as benign as general coffee/smoke stains all the way up to teeth rotting straight out of their socket. They’ve seen the worst of the worst, which is what makes Dr. Daniel one of the best qualified experts to comment on why electric toothbrushes should be a part of everyone’s daily hygiene regimen to avoid ever having to step foot in his office.
We also spoke with former dentist and current dental hygiene speaker Anastasia Turchetta, who takes a modern approach to oral health that factors in many of the newest trends going on with kids and adults today. Throughout every interview we ran we found one concurrent theme: in the fight between manual and electric toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes win out every time.
“Electric brushes just get you a deeper clean”, said Dr. Rubenstein. “They’re always the superior choice.”
Current and former dentists unanimously agree that if you’re above the age of ten and want to get serious about your oral health, an electric toothbrush is the best first step you can make in the right direction. Even on the more mundane subjects they were in agreement, things like how often you should replace your brush head (2-4 months depending on the type), and the differences in cleaning power between oscillating and sonic models.
How to Keep Your Electric Toothbrush Clean
Finally, the experts recommended that you make sure to always keep your electric toothbrush clean, because if you let any of the old toothpaste or plaque build up underneath the head it won’t be long before bacteria starts to grow.
The last thing you want to be doing when you’re brushing your teeth is adding even more bacteria into the mix, and often just taking the head off and giving the toothbrush a good scrub with hot soapy water is enough to disinfect it once every few days.
What Didn’t Make the Cut
Although we tested 13 different electric toothbrushes and oral care systems, the keen-eyed among you may notice that only 5 electric toothbrushes seem to have made the podium. So what happened to the rest?
|Electric Toothbrush Model||Pros||Cons||Why It Wasn't a Top Pick|
|Waterpik 5.0||Good price for water flossing||Not enough power||Didn't do well on egg or real world testing|
|Waterpik 7.0||Good price for water flossing||Not enough power||Didn't do well on egg or real world testing|
|Oral-B Pro 1000||Lower price, good balance in hand||Not enough power, didn't scrub deeply, low battery||Not worth the cost w/o Bluetooth|
|Oral-B Vitality||Cheap||Didn't score well on egg test, low power||Too flimsy to warrant cost|
|Oral-B Kids Frozen Edition||Cheap, themed for kids||Low power, not sensitive enough for children's gums||Not enough timer features to help kids learn how to brush, low power|
Some toothbrushes were clearly doing what they could to emulate the same cleaning effect that higher-end models had, the cheaper construction of the parts made it obvious that they weren’t up to the same standard.
Whether it was through the subjective testing or the results seen in the egg tests, there were some pretty clear disparities between how certain toothbrushes performed under fire compared to those that made top marks.
This doesn’t mean the toothbrushes that missed our list were bad necessarily (and again, anything that’s electric is still going to be better 100x than manual), but they also didn’t get the job done with the same level of efficiency or comfort that the picks below did on a regular, replicable basis.
Mistakes to Avoid When Buying an Electric Toothbrush
- Buying brush heads that are too big: If a brush head is too big, it makes it harder to reach all parts of your mouth. Also, since it is electric and moving at high speeds, a big head could end up making your gums feel uncomfortable and a little sore, depending on the softness of the bristles.
- Using hard bristles on sensitive gums: Speaking of bristles, you should always be sure you’re buying the right softness rating on your brush head for you mouth. If you bleed easily, go with a softer bristle, but if your mouth can take some punishment and you like feeling ultra-clean, a harder bristle style could get the job done.
- Overspending on features: If you think you’re enough of an adult to make it to two-minutes for every brush cycle, you probably don’t need something like Bluetooth to keep track of your brushing cycle or post it to Facebook. That said, Bluetooth is still helpful for anyone trying to cement better routines, so even though it is a bit of an “extra” buy, it’s still worth a look if you’re struggling to hit the mark.
Key Features of a Top Rated Electric Toothbrush
- Like brushing too long, brushing too hard is also bad for your gums. Pressure sensors will track how hard you’re brushing, and tell you to lighten up if needed.
- It will do this in a number of different ways, either by reducing the RPM or spinning rate of the brush head, lighting up the handle (in the case of the Oral-B 7000), or deactivating the brush head altogether.
- Remember that both under or over brushing is bad.
- These timers will help keep you on track, and guarantee that you always hit the mark.
- More advanced timers exist in Bluetooth-ready models that won’t just keep track of how long you’re brushing, they’ll pretty much let you turn the process into a full-fledged game, complete with high scores and everything!
- If you’re having trouble getting your child to make it the full two-minutes every time, we recommend getting them an Oral-B with this feature included as a way to start building better oral health habits.
- This timer tells you every 30 seconds to move on to a different section to make sure you get a good even clean across all quadrants of your mouth in a single brushing session.
- Quadpacer timing is important because it ensures you never overbrush one area while neglecting another, which can be a big problem for adults and children alike.
Small brush head
- This makes it easier to get into those hard to reach places, and gives you more precision control over your brushing targets.
- Experts agree that you’ll generally want to stick with small heads whether you’re a child or an adult, because lowering the surface area of contact with the brush is a good way to prevent over-brushing and enamel degradation.
Comfortable to hold
- You want the brush to feel solid at the right weight, and easy to manuver around your mouth so you can reach back to the small corners and get everything as clean as possible.
- For my money the Sonicare DiamondClean is far and away the most comfortable electric toothbrush I’ve ever held, with an almost powdercoated housing and a perfect sense of balance struck between the brush head and the hilt.
- We’ve spoken a lot already about the benefits and drawbacks of Bluetooth features for electric toothbrushes, and the argument remains essentially the same.
- If you’re having trouble getting to the two-minute mark for every session and want an app that can make the process a little more fun for both you and your kids, options like the Fun Zone in the Oral-B app are a quick and easy way to achieve that goal.
Long battery life
- A brush that lasts up to a week without charging is ideal, though some may not be able to hit that target every time.
- Another feature to think about are charging cases, for the road. The Oral-B smart series actually contains its own battery, so if you charge the case at home you’ll have a backup to bring with you for those extra-long incursions between available electric sockets.