Let's get straight into looking at our top electric toothbrush picks…
Top High Tech Electric Toothbrush
Oral-B Pro 7000 Black SmartSeries with Bluetooth® Connectivity
The Oral-B Pro 7000 is the top of the Oral-B SmartSeries toothbrushes and it’s definitely smart. This toothbrush has Bluetooth connectivity so that it can talk to the free Oral-B phone app, allowing you to monitor and improve your dental health and brushing technique.
The Oral-B Pro 7000 is all about motivation too, with progress checks, a SmartGuide screen and the interval and two minute timer. It comes with four excellent brush heads including FlossAction and CrossAction and has a storage section in the charging base to store your unused brushes.
The pressure sensor ensures that you’ll never over-brush and wear out your precious enamel and it comes with a tongue cleaning mode as well as a gum care mode and others. It has a decent battery life on full charge ,which allows you to take it to work, or on a short trip without having to take the charger as well.
With a luxury travel case and a good range of settings, this toothbrush can do it all, show you where you’re going wrong and even store tons of data to show your dentist who can then offer you more accurate advice than if you just tried to describe how you brush.
This toothbrush’s main competitor is the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean.
Top Low Tech Electric Toothbrush
Oral-B Pro 4000 CrossAction Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
The Oral-B Pro 4000 isn’t exactly low tech compared to a manual toothbrush but it doesn’t have the Bluetooth of the Pro 7000 or quite as many bells and whistles. This is great for those who can’t be bothered with apps and tracking and just want an excellent electric toothbrush without much fuss.
The Oral-B Pro 4000 still has the interval timer and the two-minute timer, really the most crucial of all the features. This means you can pace your brushing without thinking and brush for the full two minutes, knowing you’ve had a great and in-depth clean.
With the in-built pressure sensor, the red light will come on to show you if you’re brushing too hard and help protect the enamel. The charging base also has a storage section for brush heads, particularly useful as it keeps dust and bathroom scum off your spares.
This Oral-B Pro 4000 comes with three brush heads in total, which gives you a good range to try and out decide which are best for you when it comes to replacing them. The CrossAction head is the real deal, oscillating, rotating and pulsating for a deep clean. The Whitening head aims to get rid of those stains and the sensitive head gives you a break and has a more gentle motion.
With a reasonable battery life, this Oral-B Pro 4000 is affordable and durable and should keep going for years. With easily changeable brush heads and a wide range to choose from, you can keep experimenting and enjoy excellent oral health.
Best Budget Electric Toothbrush
Best Electric Toothbrush for Kids
Philips Sonicare HX6311/07 for Kids
Getting children into good habits early is the best way to give them a solid footing in life and take responsibility for their own health. As soon as they have a good habit, the chances of them keeping it are much higher than developing it later in life and brushing teeth to a great level will positively affect their health and attitude to health for the rest of their lives.
The Philips Sonicare toothbrush for kids is clearly committed to making brushing fun, easy and motivational. They've thought everything through and the design is terrific on all counts. The ergonomic rubber handle is comfortable and easy to use, slightly flattened so that it doesn't roll or slip in the hand.
The back of the brush head is rubberised too, making it much more gentle on developing teeth, sensitive gums and won’t hurt if clumsy hands make it bang on teeth. The brush heads themselves are available in three different sizes – this is perfect for growing children. You don’t have to buy a new and expensive handle as they grow, just the next size up in brush heads.
The interval timer and two-minute timer are in-built too but they make fun noises and help keep children on track and motivated to reach the end of their brushing time. The interval times allows perfect pacing, something which even adults struggle with and children definitely need help on.
This Philips Sonicare Toothbrush for Kids comes with eight stickers that stick easily onto the toothbrush body so that your child can make their toothbrush unique to them. The stickers are perfect for boys and girls and show children that brushing isn’t boring.
Philips have also developed a phone app and game that children can use for free, choosing a character to help motivate them and praise them for their excellent new teeth-cleaning habit.
This toothbrush should last a long time and comes in at a good price. Manual toothbrushes are only good if they’re used properly and it’s not something children are great at. This electric toothbrush works to give teeth an in-depth clean in a fun and interactive way.
What is an electric toothbrush?
An electric toothbrush comprises of a handle/body that has a small shaft coming out the top onto which you can place any compatible brush heads. The controls and rechargeable battery reside in the handle and so when the brush head is old, it’s the only thing that needs replacing.
Packed with technology, electric toothbrushes are there to help improve your oral health by taking the hard work away from you to really ensure that you get clean teeth and gums every time.
Electric versus Manual
Is an electric toothbrush really better?
There are plenty of great, well-designed manual toothbrushes out there that are capable of doing an excellent job. In fact, just walking into the supermarket dental aisle will show you all the impressive looking manual toothbrushes – so why not just stick with those?
The thing is, manual toothbrushes aren’t bad. Not at all, in fact, they can be excellent. It’s how we use them that isn’t great. When we were children we were taught that we should brush our teeth and as the years have ticked by we do it in a cursory fashion, a chore that must be done. Are any of us concentrating though? Are anyone of us making sure we’ve cleaned each, individual tooth? Are we cleaning for the recommended two minutes? Are you timing it?
With manual toothbrushes it’s easy to get lazy and the plaque grows little by little, never fully disappearing with each brushing session. This is where the mighty electric toothbrush comes in.
Electric toothbrushes are not designed for lazy people who can’t be bothered with the simple motion of brushing their teeth – not at all. They’re designed for those who want an easy way to take control of their oral health and get a highly effective clean every single day. We’re busy people and brushing teeth should not be a priority, so the electric toothbrush comes in and gives you dentist-clean teeth without much effort.
Common functions to look for
Electric toothbrushes seem to have enough technology these days to rival the iPhone and it’s easy to see it as a marketing gimmick or just totally unnecessary. But most of the functions are actually really useful. Here’s a round up of what’s common and what is really helpful;
Trying to count to two minutes by yourself is not only boring, it’s also incredibly difficult. Unless you’re going to make the effort to time yourself with a stopwatch, you’re really not going to hit that two-minute goal very accurately. The good news is that most electric toothbrushes feature timers built into their handles and let you know through noises or gentle buzzes that your time is up.
The Oral-B electric toothbrush range tends to feature the two-minute timer that buzzes to let you know that you’ve done enough. The brushes higher up the range also have a separate SmartGuide monitor that counts down, offers motivation and doubles as a bathroom clock.
Further to that, Oral-B have another timer, one that buzzes every thirty seconds to let you know it’s time to move onto another quadrant of your mouth. With the SmartGuide’s quadrant info and its guidance, by the time your two minutes is up, each and every one of your teeth will be clean.
Philips Sonicare range also features similar timers; the SmartTimer and the QuadPacer. While the gist is exactly the same, in the kids’ version the length of the timer is shorter and builds up gradually to two minutes to ease children into the electric brushing experience.
The timers are crucial for the health of your teeth and gums; brushing teeth is not something our mind focuses on and we’re thinking about work or food or bed while we brush. As a result we don’t keep track of how long we’ve done it for and often finish long before the two minutes is up. We could all use a timer, let’s not lie to ourselves, and timers are all-important for children who need direct instruction and motivation to get them to do something like teeth brushing effectively.
The pressure sensor is really the domain of Oral-B toothbrushes as they work in a different way to Philips Sonicare and it’s possible to over brush. Many people brush too hard, thinking that the harder they brush the cleaner their teeth will be. Actually, it’s very easy to wear down enamel and damage gums by brushing too hard and the Oral-B pressure sensor is a highly innovative method of seeing that bad habit and crushing it.
The Oral-B Pro line has a strip in the handle that lights up every time the in-built triple pressure sensor feels that you are brushing too hard. It’s a visual alert that tells you to relax and take off some of that pressure. This is a fast way to healthy and strong teeth. In the Pro models further up the range, the toothbrushes also feature Bluetooth connectivity and these allow you to see the pressure on your phone.
Settings and Modes
Surely you just need one setting on a toothbrush right? The clean setting? Well yes, and no. Oral-B, Philips and other companies making electric toothbrushes have seen that they can innovate as much as they like and, well, try telling a bunch of designers that they have to make a boring product! There are several modes that some popular toothbrushes feature and actually, they’re really good.
Both Oral-B and Philips Sonicare have toothbrushes that feature a Gum Care setting. These settings offer slow and gentle cleaning and massaging of the gumline and aim to help prevent gum disease. We should all take care of our gums but almost no one knows how – these settings do that for you.
For those with sensitive teeth and gums, this setting is exactly what you need. It provides excellent cleaning but at a slower, gentler pace. Ensuring you have softer and round tipped bristles on the brush head will also help this.
Oral-B in particular has a good whitening mode on some of its models and this uses bursts of speed and slowness to help get rid of stains. Philips too has whitening capabilities and can be very effective.
There are various other modes available but these are the main ones. Overall, the usual cleaning mode and the gum care modes are the most important for the regular user.
Oral-B versus Philips Sonicare
So you’re hearing a lot about Oral-B and Philips Sonicare – what of them eh? These are the two most popular electric toothbrush brands out there and they both jostle constantly for the top spot. In reality though, they both produce outstanding toothbrushes and it’s not a case of who is better, but who is better for you.
Oral-B is powered by Braun, previously owned by Gillette, and now owned by Procter & Gamble . It was founded in the 50s by an American periodontist and has always produced high quality products aimed at truly improving oral health. Oral-B tends to use circular brush heads which rotate, oscillate and pulsate to uniquely break up plaque and clean each tooth.
Oral-B is very keen on timing, motivation and getting the most out of their products. Their upper range toothbrushes come with Bluetooth connectivity, enabling you to use their free phone app to track and monitor your brushing, set goals, create dental plans and improve your oral health fast. This app and the SmartGuide monitor are genuinely very motivating, even for adults.
Philips is one of the world’s largest companies in the consumer electronics market and their Sonicare electronic toothbrush range is highly successful. Unlike Oral-B’s round, oscillating and rotating brush heads, Philips Sonicare use more oval or diamond shaped heads that vibrate at extremely high speeds. You will feel like you have a bee on steroids in your mouth but you’ll also have very, very clean teeth.
The Philips Sonicare ultrasonic and sonic technology vibrate side to side (as opposed to Oral-B’s rotation on the spot) so fast that they claim to push the toothpaste and saliva through the miniscule gaps between your teeth, busting out more plaque than otherwise.
Both brands have multiple brush heads to choose from and try out, all producing great results in different ways. A great attribute of the Sonicare line is that they offer two sizes of brush head, normal and small. This is ideal for those with smaller mouths who will get a better clean with a smaller brush head. Philips Sonicare kids’ toothbrushes also have different brush head sizes, three in fact. This means as your child grows, you don’t need to replace the expensive handle, just buy the next brush head size up.
Rotating, Oscillating, Pulsating…wah?
So we just heard about the two different brands but let’s look a bit more in depth into just what these two different approaches get us; oscillation and rotation vs sonic and ultrasonic.
Oscillation, Rotation, Pulsation
This combination is a favourite of Oral-B and their round-headed toothbrushes do it expertly. As the brush head oscillates and the bristles rotate, each tooth gets cleaned extremely effectively. Some brush heads also pulsate at the same time and this serves to stress plaque until it breaks away, giving you clean and plaque free teeth.
This combination of motions allow Oral-B to get to each, individual tooth and leave you with the cleanest possible teeth. Oral-B’s CrossAction brush head, a standard now on many of it’s Pro models, has specifically angled bristles to drive plaque and dirt from your teeth even more effectively.
Sonic and Ultrasonic
The sonic motion is the brainchild of Philips Sonicare and works in a very different way to Oral-B. Instead of rotating, the brush head moves from side-to-side very quickly, so quickly it’s vibrating. The frequency that it achieves is where the sonic name comes from and it aims to drive fluid through the gaps between the teeth to get rid of hard to reach plaque.
With Philips Sonicare brushes you don’t have to apply any pressure and merely move the toothbrush around your mouth, letting the vibrations do the work. The Oral-B brushes do require some pressure, hence their pressure sensor to inform you if you’re applying too much.
Battery life is a big deal in the electric toothbrush industry and anyone who already has one will know that toothbrushes take forever to charge. Some toothbrushes take around 20 hours to charge fully and some take more like 12. What’s really important is how long each charge lasts, with some models lasting three weeks and some just one on a full charge.
While most have charging stands that you can simply leave them on all day and know that they’ll stop charging when they’re full, there is one notable, innovative exception. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Electric Toothbrush has two methods of charging, one through USB and one through a charging base that a normal looking glass sits on and the toothbrush can just rest in the glass, and charge!
When looking for a toothbrush, the method of charging is useful to know and, while it’s difficult to find out how long the battery lasts on a full charge, it’s worth keeping an eye out for information on that too.
It should also be noted that all electric toothbrushes tend to come with shaver plug chargers, not three-pin wall chargers. While this is particularly useful for travelling, it does mean you’ll need an adapter if you want to charge it from a three-pin socket.
Now lets take a more detailed look at some of the toothbrushes available.