We’ve researched some great contenders, tested Oral b against Philips, listened to professional dentists and analysed consumer feedback, to find the best electric toothbrush…
The manual, throw-away toothbrushes many of us grew up with are – or should be – a thing of the past.
Sure, they “did the job” – but how well did they do it? Compare them to the technologically advanced dental care products of today and you’ll see that modern electric toothbrushes offer significant improvements over manual brushing.
This short guide will take you through the key advantages power toothbrushes have over manual, and our review of the top rated toothbrush for 2016 – and so far, these are still holding as the top options for 2017.
Electric toothbrushes, or power brushes as they’re sometimes called can remove up to twice the disease-causing plaque and tartar that manual toothbrushes can, leaving teeth looking and feeling far cleaner, as well as preventing gum disease – a potentially serious condition which, if left unchecked, can even cause teeth to decay, loosen and fall out.
Let’s take a look at the questions you should ask yourself when considering the right electric toothbrush to purchase.
Guide Quick Links
- Types of Electric Toothbrush
- Electric Toothbrush Heads
- Warranty and Guarantee
- Electric Toothbrush Sizes
- Rechargeable features
- Extra Features to consider
- Good Oral Health
Which Type of Toothbrush is best to use – Oscillating or Sonic?
This first thing you will notice when you start looking into electric toothbrushes is the different styles of brush heads. There are two main types:
Sonic: High power “Sonic” toothbrushes look very much like the shape and style of disposable brushes, and clean by pulsating/vibrating at very high speed. In fact, some Sonic electric toothbrushes such as the Philips Sonicare HX6511/50 EasyClean can produce up to 31,000 brush strokes every minute.
These brush heads are larger, and feel familiar to users of manual toothbrushes. They clean hard to reach places by driving the bristles deep between teeth and sweep plaque away with ease. There’s no way manual brushing could compare to this cleaning power – which is proven with over 100 clinical trials.
Oscillating: Most of the Oral-B electric toothbrushes use the smaller, “rotary” brush heads that spin in a circular oscillating/rotating motion. These brush heads can “hug” each tooth individually, providing what Oral-B call a 3D precision clean.
The Oral-B toothbrush such as the Professional Care 1000 oscillate at very high speeds, and have been clinically proven to clean teeth and gums better than both manual and Sonic electric toothbrushes. A 12 week clinical comparison study looked at the difference between Sonic and Oscillating brushes at reducing plaque and gingivitis.
The study found that the Oral-B oscillating electric toothbrush was the better of the two – “producing substantial, statistically superior results”. This is one of the main reasons we so highly recommend the Oral-B Triumph 5000 SmartGuide.
What Types of Brush Heads Can be Used?
If you prefer a more precise cleaning action, smaller, interchangeable rotary brush heads are your best option. If you anticipate requiring different types of cleaning – for example, whitening, polishing, flossing or cleaning sensitive teeth – consider purchasing an Oral-B electric toothbrush which can accommodate multiple brush head types. Remember to change your brush heads at least every three months. For optimal brushing, some of the more advanced models have notification built in to let you know exactly when to change heads.
A Basic electric toothbrush with a single mode is simple to use – but if the default mode irritates your gums, or doesn’t otherwise meet your needs, you’re best off choosing a brush with user-selectable modes combined with the option of interchangeable brushes instead.
Is the Electric Toothbrush the Right Size?
Just like manual toothbrushes, their electric counterparts come in “kid sizes” and “adult sizes”. For a child’s small hands, consider a kid friendly toothbrush – they’re easier to hold, don’t roll off countertops (and have additional features to make brushing fun for youngsters – encouraging a thorough and regular brushing routine). They also feature smaller brush heads and gentler cleaning modes for children’s small mouths.
For everyone else, it’s a matter of preference – electric toothbrush handles vary slightly from one model and brand to the next, so try a few out and choose what feels best in your hand.
Is there a Warranty and Guarantee?
No one enjoys purchasing a product, only to have it fail and be offered no support by the retailer or manufacturer. Any reputable brand of toothbrush should come with at least a 12 – and extendable warranty. Some brands also offer a money-back guarantee within a specified number of days.
One thing we really like about Oral-B is the free 3 year warranty that they offer. Simply register your purchase online to activate this warranty and secure years of trouble free use.
Is the Electric Toothbrush Rechargeable… or do the Batteries Have to be Taken Out and Replaced?
While there’s something convenient about simply discarding and replacing dead batteries – especially if traveling to remote areas – it’s not the most environmentally friendly or cost effective practice – and most of our brushing is done at home, in the bathroom, close to a power outlet. That’s why, for the majority of people, a rechargeable toothbrush is the best choice.
Look for models which hold their charge for at least a week of regular use. Some electric toothbrushes also include battery life indicators, which are very helpful at determining when to recharge the battery before it runs out of power.
Extra – and Useful – Features to Consider
You’ve probably noticed that some electric toothbrushes cost more than others. Quality and prices can vary widely, from as low as £10 right up to £200. A primary determinant of cost is the brand, speed, power and features of the toothbrush in question – high powered oscillating or Sonic brushes are proven to clean better, and their price is reflective of that fact. But there are additional features to consider which may help sway you in one direction or another.
Pressure sensors detect and alert users to a habit picked up from using manual toothbrushes – excessive brushing, or brushing with too much force, which, over time, can damage the gums.
Timers fall into two categories. The first is a quadrant timer which prompts you to move to the next area of your mouth after thirty seconds. This ensures every part of the mouth is cleaned evenly. Two minute timers alert you when you’ve brushed for the dentist-recommended time of two minutes, which is necessary to rid the mouth of plaque and bacteria.
Wireless displays and smart connectivity are features found on higher spec brands of electric toothbrushes. While not necessary for the toothbrush to do what it was designed to – clean your teeth and gums – they allow for a more interactive brushing experience, teaching and encouraging proper brushing habits, rewarding you with good ratings for a job well done and even letting you pre-programme the brush to best suit your needs.
The Value of Good Oral Health
Here are just 3 benefits to using an electric toothbrush.
Simply put, electric toothbrushes do a much better job at cleaning teeth compared to manual brushing – proven by countless clinical studies. The results of which is removal and prevention of stained teeth, and a whiter, healthier smile.
More effective cleaning around the gumline – removes more plaque, food particles and reduces gingivitis. If plaque is not efficiently removed from gums, it can cause inflammation and irritation. This condition can lead to a gap forming between the teeth and gums, which could then lead to gum disease.
The main cause of tooth decay is the buildup of plaque bacteria. These bacteria produce acids that corouds tooth enamel, eventually penetrating to the softer inner part of the tooth where a cavity can develope. Some electric toothbrushes are proven to remove twice as much plaque compared to manual brushing, massively reducing the chance of tooth decay.
…and of course – a fresher breath and more attractive smile!
Taking great care of your teeth and gums is important and can’t be understated. You only get one set in your lifetime – and we now know that diseases of the mouth – many of which are largely preventable – can negatively impact your overall health (in addition to looking unsightly, feeling unpleasant and being costly to treat).
That’s why an electric toothbrush should not be chosen solely on cost. Certainly, price may be a factor in your decision – but I always recommend you save for the best toothbrush you can afford. Here’s another way to look at it: a high quality electric toothbrush is an investment in your health. Around the £100 mark may seem a great deal of money to spend on one – but if you consider that it may last for up to four years, that’s only a little more than £2 every month.
In short: Choose based on performance and features first, and price second.
Want to invest in an power toothbrush but the prices just seem too high? See our cheap electric toothbrush recommendations for buying a quality brush without the big price tag.
What age Groups are Electric toothbrushes suitable for?
Electric toothbrushes can be used at any age, from baby to pensioner. However, you must ensure that you choose the correct toothbrush for your needs. Electric toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes available to suite the following age groups:
Babies and Toddlers: These toothbrushes have very small brush heads, soft vibrations and must be used by a parent or suitable adult on the child. Never leave a baby unsupervised with an electric toothbrush – no matter the size of brush. Always check with the manufacturer or professional dentist to ensure the toothbrush is suitable for your baby.
Children 3 – 7 years: Oral-B has a fantastic range of electric toothbrushes designed specifically for kids of three years and older. They come in a range of attractive colours, featuring Marvel and Disney characters.
Outside the baby, toddler, and kids range you’ll find mainstream electric toothbrushes such as the Oral-B professional and the Philips Sonicare models. These toothbrushes would be suitable for children from around 7, to teenagers and adults.
Do you use toothpaste with electric toothbrush?
This may sound like a silly question, but it’s something people often ask. Yes, you would use toothpaste with an electric toothbrush, just like you would with a manual brush. There’s no special kind of toothpaste required, just any regular fluoride toothpaste will work just fine. Check out our list of recommended toothpastes here http://toothbrushtalk.co.uk/best-toothpastes/
Can you use an electric toothbrush in the shower?
Electric toothbrushes are designed to operate in wet conditions, and most are fully waterproof. With that said, we can’t speak for every electric toothbrush out there. However, we do know that Oral B and Philips Sonicare toothbrushes are waterproof and can be used in the shower.
A word of warning – never have your toothbrush charger plugged in near water. Do not charge your toothbrush in the bathroom or kitchen, and always allow your toothbrush to completely air-dry between uses to protect your toothbrush’s longevity.
Are electric toothbrushes bad for your teeth?
In a word, no! The only way an electric toothbrush would cause any damage, or be in any way “bad” for your teeth would be in a case of “over-brushing”. Brushing for too long, too often and with too much pressure (whether manual or electric) can wear down tooth enamel, leading to sensitive teeth. Excessive brushing could also cause receding gums.
An electric toothbrush used properly does no harm to your teeth. That’s why organisations such as the British Dental Health Foundation and Professional Dentists worldwide recommend electric toothbrushes. In fact, high end electric toothbrushes have built in pressure sensors, timers and brushing programs which not only improve overall dental health, but protect your teeth.
Are electric toothbrushes worth it?
Some electric toothbrushes can be an expensive investment, but that’s exactly what you’re doing – you’re making a financial investment that can improve the detail health of your whole family.
As previously mentioned, electric toothbrushes are highly rated and favoured by dentists, an electric toothbrush can provide cleaner teeth, less chance of tooth decay and better overall dental health. Yes, they are worth buying. However, some electric toothbrush can be quite expensive, and outside the budget for a lot of families. That’s why we also provide the best value electric toothbrush with our best electric toothbrush overall, so that anyone can afford the benefits of an electric toothbrush without having to pay for all the bells and whistles.
Which electric toothbrush has the best battery life?
Most high-end electric toothbrushes have a built in rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. Both Philips Sonicare and Oral B Professional / Genius have these which provide up to three weeks of use before needing recharged. If you’re looking for an electric toothbrush with long lasting battery power, we recommend any one of the Philips or Oral-B brushes with rechargeable Lithium Ion battery – both perform equally well and will out outperform any toothbrush powered with disposable batteries.
Can you use an electric toothbrush with braces?
Absolutely! Electric toothbrush manufacturers such as Braun Oral-B understand the importance of oral hygiene for people who wear braces. Braces are especially bad for trapping food particles and creating a build-up of plaque. Insufficient cleaning around the braces can lead to staining of tooth enamel, and tooth decay. It’s for this reason that Oral-B have created an electric toothbrush head as part of their “Ortho Care Essentials” range that’s specially designed for brace wearers.
Their brush heads gently remove plaque from braces, more effectively than standard brush heads.
Can you take an electric Toothbrush on a plane?
Yes, it should not be a problem taking your electric toothbrush onto a plane. A lot of electric toothbrushes come with a handy travel case, and many people take their electric toothbrush with them on holiday. Official government websites have electrical items such as hair dryers, electric shavers, and laptops listed as “allowed” items for traveling on a plane. An electric toothbrush should not be an issue. Check with your airline if in doubt.
Note: You will not be allowed to take a full tube of toothpaste onto a plane. If you want to take toothpaste with you on your travels then it must be put into a container with a maximum volume of 100ml.