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The Best Electric Toothbrushes, According to Dentists

Photo: retailer

A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist U.S.

With hundreds of models on the market, there seem to be more options for getting a powerful at-home teeth cleaning than ever before. For the most part, though, the ten dentists we spoke with still recommend classics, like Philips Sonicare and Oral-B, because of the years of scientific research behind them. That’s not to say the shiny new toothbrush you bought from an Instagram ad won’t clean your teeth. In fact, dentist Jonathan Levine pointed out that in one independent study, all types of powered toothbrushes outperformed manual ones in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Plus, dentist Marc Schlenoff, vice-president of clinical development at dental office Tend, recommends electric toothbrushes because they “greatly reduce and can even eliminate the need for manual dexterity and limit the amount of force put onto the teeth and gums, therefore reducing the risk of gum recession and wear-away of tooth structure.”

The most important thing to remember is that any toothbrush you buy in the U.K. should feature the Oral Health Foundation on labels. According to Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, this logo means that “the product’s claims have been robustly examined and tested by our independent panel of scientific experts [and] that the product is not only safe to use, but that it can also live up to its claims.”

After that, you shouldn’t really stress — at least not when it comes to picking among dentist-approved electric options. Sonya Krasilnikov, a dentist and co-founder of Dental House, says, “Choosing between Phillips Sonicare and Oral-B is like picking between a Mercedes and BMW. It’s mostly personal preference. Their mechanism is different, but both achieve great results.” There are subtle differences, though, which our experts break down in their picks for the best electric models on the market right now, below.

Best rotating, oscillating electric toothbrushes

Identifiable by their small, round brush heads, Oral-B toothbrushes both rotate and vibrate (or oscillate). These brushes can rotate 44,000 times per minute — which Levine says causes “a lot of disruption of plaque” — and one study shows that rotating and oscillating toothbrushes have a small edge over comparable ones that simply oscillate.

Oral-B’s version of a tricked-out toothbrush has all the standard features plus six cleaning modes (including one for your tongue), a light-up pressure sensor, and even Bluetooth connectivity, so you can track your brushing habits on your phone. Cosmetic dentist Lana Rozenberg likes that Oral-B brushes generally “have more features” and are “more advanced than the others.”

Because of their small brush heads, Chern says Oral-B brushes are a good pick “if your mouth is on the smaller side or you have gagging issues.” A smaller brush head makes it easier for some people to reach their molars, too, she explains. If you have braces or other orthodontics, you also might prefer Oral-B, according to Stoess-Allen, who recommends the brand to her patients because it makes a brush head designed to navigate wires and bands in the mouth. [Editor’s note: this product is currently out of stock].

Like the dentists above, Pia Lieb, founder of Cosmetic Dentistry Center NYC, prefers Oral-B electric toothbrushes because they combine vibration and rotation to “remove particles that you can’t even see with the naked eye.” She likes that the Genius Pro 9000, one of the brand’s most advanced models, features a pressure sensor that turns red if you’re brushing too hard and comes with a phone holder so you can follow guidance on the app while you brush. “Having the app really does work because it makes you self-conscious of really brushing for two full minutes,” says Lieb, who says that most people don’t come close to the recommended time on their own.

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Mayur N. Pandya, clinical director at Together Dental Group, recommended Oral-B’s “excellent all-round” 4000N model as a less expensive electric toothbrush. “It’s a great piece of kit for the price. It has pressure control, and it gently whitens your teeth by removing surface stains. It also comes with Bluetooth connectivity, and connects to the Oral-B app, so it can alert you to any problem areas you might be missing.” Pandya says this would be a good option to start with before investing in a more expensive model. “Versus a manual toothbrush, this model, with its round head, will improve the health of your gums in 30 days.”

Best (less expensive) rotating, oscillating electric toothbrushes

This basic, rechargeable model offers the three main features dentists recommend: soft bristles, a pressure sensor, and a timer. “Hard-bristled toothbrushes are wonderful if you’re going to clean the grout from your bathroom tile, but they’re not for use in the mouth,” says Messina, who explains that harder bristles can damage gums and enamel. Brushing too hard can do the same, which is why dentist Inna Chern likes brushes with pressure sensors that beep or stop moving when you’re being too aggressive to “eliminate the possibility of overzealous brushing.” Finally, the two-minute timer, which vibrates every 30 seconds when it’s time to move to the next quadrant of your mouth, ensures you brush for enough time.

The Pro 2 2000N often doesn’t dispatch for several weeks, but the 2500N, which comes in black rather than white, has all of the same features listed above.

Best oscillating sonic electric toothbrush

Two of our experts recommended the Philips DiamondClean to us as the best oscillating sonic electric toothbrush. Dental therapist and hygienist Anna Middleton said it stood out due to the vast amount of settings designed to improve oral hygiene. “You can connect the toothbrush to an app, which will give you real-time feedback on your brushing technique. Plus, it has five cleaning models, including ‘Tongue Care,’ which will keep your breath fresh.” It was also chosen by Dr. Chaw-Su Kyi — it’s both the model she recommends to her customers and the one she uses herself. “The DiamondClean has all the functions you need to care for your teeth, from general day-to-day cleaning, to more advanced functions. It has a softer setting for your gums, and will give you a progress report on your brushing skills.”

This electric toothbrush also a longtime Strategist favourite: Former senior editor Simone Kitchens says, “It’s the closest approximation to that thorough, just-back-from-the-dentist squeaky clean,” and writer Stephen Haskell says, “Brushing itself feels like a mouth massage, gentle while still providing adequate pressure.”

Best (less expensive) oscillating sonic electric toothbrush

While they don’t rotate, Sonicare toothbrushes are known for their large, flat brush heads and oscillating motion. Five of our experts recommended this inexpensive model by Philips. Dr Kyi said this model “has the same sonic technology you will find throughout the Sonicare range,” but for a fraction of the price. Levine says they “use more of an ultrasonic vibrational energy to disrupt the plaque,” while Chern likes that “the sonic power helps to shake off plaque and tartar, aiding in the removal of these gingivitis-causing, bacteria-holding compounds.”

Even without a rotating head, this Sonicare brush will definitely give you a good cleaning. Krasilnikov says, “While the bristles only sweep back and forth, the brush sends out vibrations that are designed to break up particles and debris and allow toothpaste and fluids to access hard-to-reach places. Some patients love the feeling of the vibrations, but others think they’re too ticklish.”

Middleton said she recommends this inexpensive option to customers as it has so many features commonly seen in more expensive models. “It features pressure sensors, which alert you when you’re brushing too hard, ensuring you don’t damage your teeth and gums,” she says. “And it has alerts when you need to replace your brush head — it’s hard to remember to do that every two to three months.” The Quadpacer function also tells you when to move on to a different section of your mouth (so that you don’t over-brush) and a built-in timer signals when your total time is up.

Best start-up electric toothbrush

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

Although Quip is the first (and so far only) direct-to-consumer toothbrush to earn ADA acceptance, the sleek, heavily marketed brush is by far the most debated among dentists. Levine acknowledges that the very millennial-friendly brush has “raised awareness of the importance of oral health,” especially among young people, but says there has been no testing that demonstrates “disruption of plaque, plaque control, [or] improvement of any type of gingival inflammation.” Still, Chern calls it “a great brush to test the waters with,” and she loves Quip’s brush-head-refill subscription program. Stoess-Allen, who hasn’t used one herself, says as long as it has the ADA seal and soft bristles, this brush should be effective. [Editor’s note: Quip add £12 shipping for U.K. orders.]

Best electric toothbrush for braces

Kyi told us that the Philips Sonicare Daily Clean was her pick for older children, but specifically mentioned the Intercare Brush Heads, which are “perfect for cleaning around fixed braces. The bristles are of different heights, so it cleans effectively around the teeth.” However, these are difficult to source online (Phillips say the line has been discontinued), so we found an alternative in the form of the Genuine Sonicare Pro brush heads. Though the bristles are the same length, these heads feature a contoured design which allows them to reach hard-to-brush areas.

Best electric toothbrush for kids 6+

It’s worth nothing that, when asked about their best toothbrush recommendations for kids, dentists told us they’d typically recommend a manual toothbrush, rather than electric. However, if you are considering an electric toothbrush, Pandya says to look for one with ”soft” settings, such as gum care or pressure sensors. “Built-in features, like gum pressure control and a timer help kids develop great oral care habits, and help them learn to brush independently, too.”

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The Best Electric Toothbrushes, According to Dentists