What makes a good electric toothbrush?
There are many factors that make up a potentially good electric toothbrush, but what is good for one is not always good for another, depending on personal needs and circumstances.
This page outlines many of the required and desirable features.
We would generally recommend looking out for:
- Battery life
- Pressure sensor
- Cleaning modes
- In box accessories.
If you buy one of those made by the leading brands, you are going to do ok and you should not really have a bad brush.
Often the more you can spend the better the brush will be, but there is a point (probably about £50), where the benefits returned per pound decrease considerably.
Find the one that is best for you
There is not one ‘perfect’ electric toothbrush. Whilst many of us share the same needs, we are all potentially different.
Ensure you find the best electric toothbrush for YOU.
This guide will help you on this journey and you can even use our comparison tool to make things easier if there are particular models you wish to compare. If you still feel you need a bit of assistance, just contact us here.
Manual vs Electric
The toothbrush has existed since 3500BC and is ingrained in our lifestyles, or at least it should be.
For many of us, we can recall our parents showing us and constantly reminding us to brush our teeth and it is often not until we are older do we realise the importance of this.
Despite the long history of the toothbrush, it is within the last 100 years or so that we have witnessed the introduction of the electric brush.
Whilst electric toothbrushes offer consistent power delivery and a host of features that can improve how effective our toothbrushing regime is, nothing can actually beat regular cleaning, with the right technique with any form of brush, be that manual or electric.
Electric toothbrushes are advised and studies (1 & 2 ) have shown them as a better option, but simply brushing your teeth correctly is one of the best things you can do.
Price is often a driver in the decision making process and there is no denying that often a manual toothbrush is cheaper. However with selection of the right brush and some clever purchasing decisions the price gaps can be narrowed and in the long term can actually be as cheap whilst bringing additional benefits.
Types of Electric Toothbrushes
Ok, so now we are getting into the nitty gritty as it were in choosing an electric toothbrush.
There are different types of toothbrushes which use slightly different technology and engineering to do the same job.
It’s a bit like having gas or electric heating in your home. Both can heat your home but they do so in slightly different ways.
Primarily, the decision is between Sonic and Oscillating-Rotating toothbrushes, but there is a newer, less common type of toothbrush, known as ultrasonic.
This kind of toothbrush uses 2 methods to clean the teeth. The first is a mechanical side-to-side cleaning motion of the brush to remove plaque by essentially sweeping and scrubbing the surfaces, like a manual brush (although the motor moves the bristles, not you).
The Sonicare range offer around 31,000 movements per minute, but more powerful models like the DiamondClean range offer up to 62,000 brush movements per minute.
The second is a non-contact approach that uses the sonic technology that disrupts plaque beyond the tips of the bristles.
To achieve this secondary cleaning motion, the brush head must vibrate at a speed that falls within the range of frequencies that humans hear (20-20,000hz). This intense vibration agitates fluids that surround the teeth and can loosen and remove dental plaque in locations that are beyond the physical touch of the toothbrush.
The brush head on a sonic brush is a lot like a manual toothbrush in its size and shape.
It was Philips, under the Sonicare brand that first brought this to market in 1992 and even today remains the leading brand of sonic toothbrush; although others like Colgate & Omron also use such technology.
This kind of toothbrush has a small, round brush head that moves back and forth (side to side movements) in a circular motion to help remove plaque and dental debris.
When using an oscillating-rotating toothbrush, you should gently move the brush head from tooth to tooth, letting the brush do the cleaning. The movement of the bristles and the head itself, essentially scrubs the teeth clean.
Many cheaper electric toothbrushes use this technology, but it is Oral-B who have championed such and developed it to be as popular as it is.
This oscillating-rotating movement is referred to as ‘2D’ cleaning by the brand.
Add in Pulsations (essentially vibrations) and this now becomes ‘3D’ cleaning.
Pulsations offer a more sophisticated motion and gives another dimension to the brushing.
Whereas the 2D cleaning requires the physical movement of the brush head against the teeth, pulsations are essentially a ‘non contact’ form of brushing.
It is a non contact brushing as the high frequency pulsations generated by the brush agitate fluids that surround the teeth and and can loosen and remove dental plaque in locations that are beyond the physical touch of the toothbrush.
Pulsations are essentially Oral-B’s description for sonic technology, but they do not refer to it as such as it was a competitor that brought this approach to market.
Clinical Studies such as this one suggest a marked difference in the clean offered by the oscillating rotating brush compared to the sonic option.
That study was published by Procter & Gamble, parent company of Oral-B, whilst a more independent study completed by Chochrane suggests that there is some evidence oscillating technology used by Oral-B is more effective. However, the admission here is that the differences are small and clinically unclear with further studies required.
A newer and less commonly seen approach to teeth cleaning, this technology does not rely on a psychical motion to clean the teeth. Instead the vibration of the brush head is so intense that it achieves ‘ultrasound’ classification, emitting a wave of 20,000Hz or 2,400,000 movements per minute; considerably more than the very popular sonic technology.
The high frequency, but low in amplitude waves means the bacterial chains found in the mouth that make up plaque are broken up by the vibration and can work as far as 5mm below the gumline. Essentially the brush can clean the teeth simply by resting the brush on it.
Although an ultrasonic brush does not need a traditional brush head, many brushes do also provide additional sonic vibration ranging from 9,000 to 40,000 movements per minute, in order to provide additional sweeping motion which removes food particles and bacterial chain remnants.
Two independent studies, one by the School of Dentistry at the University of Kansas and one by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio both concluded after 30 days of testing, that Ultrasonic brushes do have a marked improvement over a manual brush.
The Megasonex range of brushes are the most notable within this category.
3 types of electric toothbrush there may well be, but the reality is that, the choice is between sonic and oscillating-rotating. Thus it is almost a choice between brands rather than technology.
Whilst ultrasonic brushes have a place, they have a tough battle to compete against the leading brands and the belief that you do not need a ‘physical’ motion of a brush head to clean teeth and gums.
The following animation shows how the sonic and oscillating-rotating motions differ.
A 6 month trial concluded both Sonicare and Oral-B offered benefits to the users.
Ideally more independent research is required, but to complete, it’s not that simple. Such requires a large number of participants and considerable funding. Such funding often comes from leading brands within the dentistry space, that can in turn influence conclusions.
Lots of brands exist within the electric toothbrush space, but ultimately there are 2 market leaders.
Philips with their Sonicare range and Oral-B with their oscillating and rotating brushes.
Colgate are really the third brand, they use the same sonic technology as Philips.
Whilst it will be your choice in which to opt for, we would advise sticking with one of the bigger brands to be assured of quality, support and performance.
Your dentist or local high street store may promote a particular brand based on their preferences or support they may well be getting from a brand.
All toothbrushes come with a standard ‘Clean or Daily Clean mode’ the one mode that most of us go to by default.
This is normally the first mode that is accessed on the brush, even if you have additional cleaning modes.
Extra or different modes of cleaning are available on the more premium models, the more you pay, often the more modes you get.
The range of modes we have seen on brushes are:
- Clean/Daily Clean
- Deep/Pro Clean
- Gum Care
- Tongue Cleaner
The most commonly offered, desired and used are:
- Clean/Daily Clean
How each cleaning mode differs is generally though the power delivered to thee brush head and the amount of time you brush for.
Deep clean and whitening modes often last for longer (3 minutes), as spending more time cleaning will often help get a better overall clean.
Sensitive cleaning modes however will normally remain at the typical 2 minute time, but the amount of power the motor delivers to the brush head will likely be considerably less than the typical daily clean mode.
Remember, generally speaking, only buy the brush with multiple cleaning modes if you intend to use such or it makes sense to buy that model.
There is no point having a ‘Whitening’ mode if you have a full set of false teeth as the ‘whitening’ mode is unlikely to have any benefit as they are artificial teeth.
What types of brush heads can be used?
The availability and variety of brush heads depends on the brand and model of electric toothbrush you opt for and what is offered by the manufacturer and possibly third party suppliers.
Most brands have a standard ‘go to’ brush head that is offered with most electric toothbrushes. The good news is most brushes have interchangeable heads unlike a manual brush. This interchangeable design is specific to each brand, so an Oral-B head will not work on a Colgate brush.
The leading brands normally have 2 or 3 different heads that are designed to achieve different things. Oral-B have the most extensive range of brush heads, each designed to do something different. They have 6 currently. Read more about these in our Oral-B brush heads comparison, or watch the video below.
Premium electric toothbrushes that often come with multiple cleaning modes will sometimes offer different brush heads in the box. For example, a brush with a ‘clean’ and ‘whitening’ mode may offer 2 different brush heads as standard, each engineered to work best with the specific cleaning modes.
Remember these additional brush heads be those supplied in the box or purchased separately are not critical to have or use. All will still effectively clean your teeth but the design of some, like the 3D White brush head are better suited if you are trying to whiten your teeth, whereas the commonly supplied CrossAction is the more general purpose head.
It is also worth noting that brands re-package the same toothbrush, but include different brush heads and give it a different name. In some ways this is convenient but also mightily confusing.
These 3 brushes are all the same brush handle and box contents with the exception of the provided brush head.
- Oral-B Smart Series 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun – 3D White
- Oral-B Smart Series 4000 Cross Action Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
- Oral-B Smart Series 4000 Sensi Clean Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
So, from this you can probably see just how confusing it all gets. We are here to help!
Do also be aware of fake or counterfeit heads. If the originals are £10 per pack and you are being offered the same for £4 ask why.
Brush heads are not cheap (about the cost of a manual brush) and there are many companies out there trying to offer you a better deal, by offering replacement brush heads similar to the original. Sadly some of these are not up to standard and can do more damage than good.
There are plenty of reputable third party suppliers, so whilst our recommendation is always to use originals, be vigilant. We do not want you to be injured as a result. Read more in our guide to fake brush heads here.
Your dentist is always a good person to turn to if you want advice on what brush head is best for you and your oral healthcare. Your personal circumstances may require specialist brush heads.
A great feature of most manufacturer original brush heads is that the colour changing bristles.
First patented in 1989 and introduced by Oral-B in 1991, this innovation is a nifty way of reminding you when it is time to change your brush head.
Typically you need to change your brush head every 3 months, like you would a manual brush.
It is all too easy to forget when you last changed the brush head so the fading bristles allow you to get a guide on how much life you have left.
When new, certain bristles on the brush head will be a more vivid colour (often blue or green). Over time (3 months) these fade and when the are a very pale compared to when you started; at this point, it’s time to change.
Whilst you don’t have to change precisely 3 months from the time you began using your brush head, doing so for longer, even if the bristles have not faded, could be doing more damage than good.
Brush head detection & reminders
A special microchip in the brush head works in conjunction with sensors in the brush handle to select the appropriate cleaning mode and brushing intensity. Saves a couple of button presses for more convenient day to day use.
It goes further by monitoring how often the head is used and for how long triggering an indicator light to illuminate on the brush handle when it is time for the head to be replaced.
Currently only available on the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart.
Design & Size
The electric toothbrush does not conform to a standard design or size; but most have similarities and measure in (including the brush head) at around the 18-25cm height range.
The physical shape of the brush handle tends to by cylindrical or a slight variation of this, and are generally a couple of centimetres thick and wide.
Few are uncomfortable to hold with most being easily usable by all, even if you have limited hand and finger movement. Some do have more grips on them, be that rubber or plastic that can really help if the brush is wet.
Some brushes are smaller. These are often those with smaller batteries or less features, designed for a specific purpose like overnight travel or one time use.
The brush head itself also comes in different sizes. Typically a brush head is an oval/rounded rectangle shape although Oral-B have designed a smaller, circular head which in our opinion feels easier to use in the mouth, particularly on rear teeth. The size gives the feeling of more manoeuvrability compared to the Philips or equivalent competitors.
Most brands also produce a children’s/kid’s range of brushes which are smaller and lighter with colourful designs to appeal and be more useful to our offspring. Whilst older children from roughly 6 years upwards could use a regular adult sized brush, kids brushes are overall smaller and better designed for their smaller mouths and teeth.
Read our Best Electric Toothbrush for kids article.
Batteries & Charging
An electric toothbrush requires a power source. This power source is a battery be that a fixed internal or user removable batteries.
No electric toothbrushes (unless professional dental equipment used by your dentist) will plug directly into mains power whilst you use them. This is a safety and convenience factor.
Most electric toothbrushes now have an internal rechargeable battery which will last the life of the device.
The size, shape and capacity of the battery will differ between brands as will the performance and the impact such has on design.
Whist each internal battery has what is known as a milliampere (mAh) rating, this is not well documented by manufacturers and most brush batteries are rated by the number of days they will last, be that 5, 7, 14 or 21 etc.
The most common battery life is about 14 days.
Philips generally have the longest battery life at 2-3 weeks, with Oral-B averaging 2 weeks.
Affecting the battery and its life is the technical makeup of the battery. For many years Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries have been used but now Lithium is the more popular choice as it is better for constant charging and longer use times.
AA or AAA powered toothbrushes exist and these are generally cheaper ranging from £1-£20, compared to the £15-£250 of the built in options.
Whilst they serve a purpose and can actually last a very long time (months rather than days), the power delivered to the brush head and the overall performance and features tend to be significantly weaker. You do not normally get any warning visually of the batteries condition and how much power remains, where you often do with a built in battery. AA powered brushes tend to just get slower as the batteries deplete and you notice a not so good cleaning experience.
It is a cheap way to try an electric toothbrush and most certainly is an option if away from power for long times or you don’t want to carry a charger (i.e when travelling), but they often long term do not offer the best value and may not really best represent what an electric brush can do for you.
When it comes to charging, you can normally use rechargeable AA/AAA in those brushes that are powered in this way. This can keep the overall battery cost down.
Those with internal batteries are commonly charged via induction charging. The brush will normally come supplied with a charging stand that has a prong on it. The brush sits on this prong and over a period from 8-24 hours will charge the battery.
Such a setup keeps the brush sealed and safer for use in and around water. Most brushes can be left on charge permanently, but for optimum performance it is best to deplete the battery from time to time.
Depending on the model chosen, additional charging stands, or cases may be provided. You may even get a charging glass (no prong to sit the brush on, just put it in the glass).
Whilst any brush is susceptible to failure, the removable caps required on a removable battery brush can be a weak point and affect the water resistance of the brush. Over time the seals can perish. This is not an issue on those with internal batteries.
Also note that the power connector for charging stands is a 2 pin connector to be used with shaver sockets found in bathrooms. You can purchase adapters to use with 3 pin mains sockets in the UK.
Most electric toothbrushes be that Sonicare, Oral-B, Colgate etc with fixed internal or removable AA batteries tend to be water resistant.
By their very nature they will come into contact with water and moisture.
Running the brush under a tap or even a quick dunk in the water is fine.
Many choose to use their electric toothbrush in the shower, this is fine too.*
Whilst many would survive, the brushes are not designed to be left underwater, so avoid this.
Those brushes with removable batteries tend to be more susceptible to failure as the seal will become worn over time.
*Always check with the manufacturer or consult documentation before doing so to ensure it is safe.
An electric toothbrush needs an electric motor inside to be able to drive the cogs and gears to actually make the brush head move. A byproduct of this is noise.
All electric toothbrushes we have seen and handled make some noise, but some are quieter than others.
Oral-B brushes tend to be the loudest in our opinion. You can hear them when they are running and if you do not want to disturb others when cleaning your teeth, shutting the door is a must.
Philips Sonicare and Colgate brushes are quieter, but they tend to produce a different type of sound, a more prominent hum and they feel like they vibrate more in the hand.
They are still audible and far from silent, but quieter than Oral-B.
Whilst you could simply choose any old electric toothbrush that happens to be on the shelf of your local supermarket or chemist, this is not the ideal way of doing things as you might not end up with the best brush for you.
Like many things we buy in life, the electric toothbrush offers lots of options. Yes as a standard feature they all clean the teeth, but many offer many more convenience options to improve the overall functions, comfort and suitability for you and those who will use the toothbrush.
Most of the available features are explained below.
- Tells you via a colour changing LED or a series of colour changing LED’s how much power is remaining in the internal batteries of the brush.
Some lack an indicator to keep costs down. But this means you can’t easily tell when it may need charging, meaning the brush suddenly stops or slows down.
- LEDs/Cleaning Mode Displayed
- Different brands handle differently how cleaning modes on the brush are accessed.
Some have a single power button that can be pressed a differing amount of times to select a mode whilst others may have a different button for each mode.
Do consider whether you would like an identifier as to what mode you are using.
Premium Oral-B brushes like the Sart Series 6500 and Genius range have a visual icon that is illuminated when the appropriate cleaning mode is selected. Yet the Pro range does not, so it’s hard to tell whether you are using the standard clean mode or the sensitive mode.
Philips Sonicare brushes tend to have an LED next to a named cleaning mode on the brush handle, to make things clear.
- Coming in a few different forms, we refer to a storage compartment as a tray or stand where spare/additional heads can be stored when not in use.
Some of the more premium models often come with spare or alternative heads and the storage compartment can be used to house them.
Some storage compartments have covers over them whilst others leave the heads exposed.
Particularly useful if you intend to make best use of the different cleaning modes on a brush and use a more suitable brush head or if you wish to share the brush handle with another user.
- Whilst white is often a basic core colour option for an electric toothbrush, many do come in other colour options.
Most Oral-B brushes tend to have a white body with a front rubber panel that is accented in a colour, but they do offer ‘full colour’ options in their premium ranges as do Philips.
The colour options vary from model to model and manufacturer. Black and Pink are common with some Rose Gold and even more unusual Amethyst options. Sadly the colour choice is not always that extensive or varied.
Generally, the retailers will show the different colour options available at time of ordering if there are different options available and here at Electric Teeth we will mention them our reviews too.
It is not uncommon for one colour option to be sold exclusively somewhere, so you may need to shop around or refer to the manufacturer’s website if you want a particular option.
A point to note is at the bottom of brush heads, particularly on Oral-B models you see a coloured ring, be that yellow, green, blue or pink. For more information see our article Oral-B coloured rings – what are they for?
- Becoming increasingly popular is the provision of 2 brush handles in one box.
This is great for families or groups that require multiple handles and want to benefit from the cost savings that come with such.
The box contents is usually the same as the single handled option but with the addition of a second brush handle.
Examples include the Pro 4900 which gives and extra handle compared to the 4000 and the Genius 8900 which is a dual handled option of the 8000.
- Easy Start Mode/Power Settings
- As a first time user of an electric toothbrush, the increased power offered by the motor can come as a bit of a surprise and may be a little sensitive to some users.
To help ease you in and get you used to the difference in power and sensation, some models, particularly those from the Philips Sonicare often offer an ‘Easy Start’ mode. This can be switched on and during a period of time (usually 14 days) the brush will automatically increase the power delivered to the brush head.
This means the first few uses will be at less power with a gradual increase to full power.
- Brushing too hard can be just as damaging as not brushing at all.
“You could actually be harming your gums and possibly teeth” – Professor Peter Heasman, Newcastle University – BBC
The bristles of the brush should skim the tooth surfaces to sweep away, bacteria, food debris and plaque. Hard and aggressive brushing will not normally help.
“Too much pressure and too frequent brushing can abrade enamel, or the root if the gum has receded.” This abrasion, he says, can cause teeth to become hypersensitive to hot and/or cold”. – Jay W. Friedman – Consumer Reports.
You will often hear the motor of the brush straining if you are brushing too hard, but some models come with a pressure sensor built in.
The sensor will alert you when you are brushing too hard.
Depending on the brush and how the pressure sensor has been implemented, this could be through an audible warning (common on Philips Sonicare brushes), through a visual indicator (common on Oral-B brushes) and/or via your smartphone screen if the brush you are using pairs to your phone.
It is particularly useful if you are using an electric powered toothbrush for the first time.
Often within a few weeks you will learn how much pressure you need to apply, and the feature could be considered redundant after this time.
- A newer technology for toothbrushes that is making its way to more and more models. The Bluetooth technology allows your toothbrush to communicate with your smartphone or tablet via an app.
Philips and Oral-B are leading the way here and both have their own application available from the Google Play Store or iTunes:
The apps then allows different features of the brush to be managed and with some models offer up motion tracking.
What features are available depends on the model of brush, but all will give a basic on screen timer and diarised logging of the clean.
This log helps build up a pattern of data which can be shown to your dentist or act as a cue to yourself on how to improve your clean.
Often tips are shown on how to improve your clean as well as easy access to order brush heads, toothpaste and more.
You can read more about this in our Bluetooth connectivity explained article.
- One of the newer features to make its way to electric toothbrushes, motion tracking is found on the premium models like the Genius 9000 and Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected, that pair with a smartphone or tablet via an app.
Using sensors built into the brush handle and for some models such as the Genius 9000 the front facing camera of your smartphone, the exact location of the brush in your mouth, during your clean is tracked and pictured on screen.
This in turn allows you to be shown where you need to pay more attention to your cleaning and improve over time your oral hygiene regime.
- Predominantly seen with older Oral-B models, the Smart Wireless Guide is essentially a small clock looking device that is designed to be positioned near you when cleaning your teeth.
When not in use it shows the time, but when you activate your brush, it begins showing on screen the time you have been cleaning for.
It rates via a star system and via an emotive face how well you are cleaning.
A sad face will show with maybe a 2 star rating if you clean for just 1 minute whilst a happy face with 4 stars will show if a full 2 minute clean has been achieved.
If you apply too much pressure when brushing, you may also get an angry face on screen.
It does also have a guide as to what quadrant of the mouth you should be brushing as the timer counts too.
Designed to be an aid, it keeps you focused and motivated to achieve a good clean.
For more information see our article on Smart Guides.
- A rarer find, some models come with an UltraViolet (UV) sanitiser.
As the name suggests, using UV rays, bacteria and germs found on a toothbrush head can be killed off by placing the brush heads into the sanitiser.
The sanitiser itself if usually a small compartment on the charging stand that holds one or two brush heads and runs through a cycle by emitting light from a special bulb inside.
It is not an essential when buying an electric toothbrush but certainly helps keep things clinical.
You can buy UV sanitisers as separate accessories if you would like to benefit from what they do.
- Most dentists and healthcare professionals will advise cleaning your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time (NHS).
It is easy to get distracted when cleaning your teeth and not clean for long enough. So most brushes have a timer built in to help.
This timer usually gives an audible alert during or at the end of a cycle so you know when the 2 minutes are up.
Many brushes also have a 30 second pacer or quadpacer included too.
Different brands will refer to this timer differently, but essentially when cleaning your teeth your mouth can be broken up into 4 sections (quadrants) on which you spend 30 seconds cleaning each.
The brush then alerts you via the quad pacer to change quadrant. You have the top right, top left, bottom right and bottom left.
Alerts are usually audible via a pause in the brush head motor or a noticeable change in sound.
Both the timer and quadpacer alerts can come via the pressure sensor or the on screen timer in an app, subject to your brush and its features.
2 minutes is the ‘standard’ for most brushes in their default ‘clean/daily clean’ mode. Deep clean or whitening modes will often last longer and affect the timer as a result. Refer to the brush manual for further information.
- As the name suggests, at the end of a cleaning cycle the brush will automatically power itself off.
This alerts your the clean is over and can save battery life.
Some models come with this option switched on as standard and you can turn it off if you like, whilst some models do not offer this auto power off at all.
If brushes do auto power off you can restart the brush or end the clean early at any time if you choose.
- Normally of plastic construction the travel case is a protective shell in which your brush handle and one or more brush heads are placed to protect them when carried as you travel.
A case helps reduce the chance of accidental activation or damage to the brush parts.
Most travel cases are fairly thin plastic, but more premium travel cases are available with the more expensive brushes or as as an optional accessory.
See what travel cases you can buy here on the Shavers website.
Newer and more premium travel cases can charge your brush and even USB powered devices such as a phone.
Philips premium travel cases even allow you to charge your brush via a USB port rather than a conventional 2 pin power adapter.
How does an electric toothbrush work?
You might well be wondering how all this technology comes together and what does an electric toothbrush really look like on the inside.
There is a lot of science and technological engineering that goes into making a brush.
Fundamentally, it is based on a power source (the battery) delivering current to a motor which uses a series of gears to turn and move the brush head.
We have taken a brush apart and explained (with no complicated science) how an electric toothbrush works.
Voltages & travelling with toothbrushes
Depending on which country you live in and where you are travelling to, will affect whether you can use your electric toothbrush when staying or travelling to places with different voltages.
If the power in your brush will not last you long enough for your travels, research the sockets and power used in the destination country.
Typically brushes purchased within European countries can be used in other European countries as the voltages used are similar 200-240V.
Brushes purchased in Europe may not work on the lower voltage American mains power supply and vice versa.
The manual and/or charging stand or travel case for your brush will stipulate what voltage is supported.
If your brush does not support the voltage you may need an adapter to help step the voltage up or down or alternatively you may need an adapter such as this to use the 2 pin connector often found on the charging stand to a mains socket.
Find out more and learn all about using an electric toothbrush abroad.
Trial Periods/Try Before You Buy
You may well have done plenty of research and now found the brush or think you have found the electric toothbrush that is right for you.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could now use it and actually get some time to decide whether it is the right brush for you?
Sadly none really at this time have try in-store or at home before you buy scheme, but having the option of actually returning a brush a few weeks after buying and testing it would be great right?
The good news is leading brands like Oral-B and Colgate offer trial periods that last up to 30 days.
Sadly these are not marketed all that well.
Use the brush as much as you like within this time period and if you are then not satisfied and do not want to keep it, send the brush back for a refund.
This trial period is often marked on the side of the box and/or in the documentation that comes with the brush. Whilst the process will vary for each manufacturer, generally speaking an address will be provided for you to send the fully boxed brush back along with your proof of purchase. Once returned to them, they will issue a payment to you for the full price you paid for the brush.
Whilst the trial/test period will generally apply to all brushes within the Colgate and Oral-B range it is always worth double checking first if you feel this is an essential factor in your decision making process.
We have written more about the Oral-B trial programme here.
We have written more about the Colgate trial programme here.
The electric toothbrush is not like a car, it does not need annual maintenance or servicing but there are small things you can do to prolong the life of the brush.
Keep your brush clean. Dental matter, water and residue toothpaste can build up on the toothbrush handle over time. Try and wipe this off and keep the brush in top condition. This post gives a bit more information on how to achieve that.
Optimise the battery. If the electric toothbrush has a built in battery, it is good practice to put it through charging cycles that encourage the battery to perform at its best for longest.
Always consult your instruction manual for you particular brush model for directions on how best to do this.
General guidance would suggest it is fine to keep your brush on the charging stand and keep it topped up. To ensure that the battery holds its maximum capacity, at least once every six months, charge the battery fully and then let it discharge until it no longer functions.
Once depleted, recharge fully and carry on using like you did before.
Warranty & Guarantee
2 years or 24 months tends to be the standard time that electric toothbrushes are covered under warranty.
This warranty or guarantee covers faulty products that are as a result of poor workmanship or failure of parts.
Warranties do not cover damage and faults as a result of user damage.
For example, if the brush no longer powers on or off, or the battery is lasting only one day rather than 7, such faults would be covered. However, if the brush was faulty because it had been dropped and the plastic housing shattered, this would not be.
Some brands, particularly Oral-B do offer extended guarantees. In Oral-B’s case this is a free extension that lasts a further 12 months, to take the total to 3 years or 36 months.
To obtain this all you need do is complete a registration process, within 24 months of purchasing your electric toothbrush.
If the inevitable happens and the brush fails thus requiring repair by the manufacturer, you can send the brush in for a free of charge assessment and repair.
You can read more about this process in our articles:
- Oral-B Warranty
- Sonicare Warranty
- Colgate Warranty
For other brands, refer to your user manual or contact the customer services team for your toothbrush brand.
Where to buy/shop around
Over recent years with the advent of online shopping and our supermarkets expanding their ranges, you can now purchase toothbrushes in more places than ever before.
From large high-street chemists and beauty stores like Boots and Superdrug, through to your supermarkets, like Asda, Tesco and more. Online companies like Amazon, Argos and Shavers.co.uk sell electric brushes too as do many local dental practices. Manufacturers are even selling many of their own brushes themselves.
Purchase from a location you know and trust and pay what you are prepared to pay.
If you want to ensure you are getting the best prices and buying from a recognised seller, go online, do your research and see what the going prices are. Manufactures like Oral-B, Philips Sonicare and Colgate promote their resellers.
Typically we find Amazon has one of the largest ranges and often offers the most competitive price as well as cost effective and speedy delivery.
These things are as important as your electric toothbrush
Whether you have decided on your electric toothbrush or not, there are other factors that are almost, if not as important as the brush itself and the act of cleaning your teeth. These are:
- Clean and brush your teeth properly
“The way you use your toothbrush is just as important as the one you choose” – British Dental Association spokeswoman – BBC.
Whether you are using a £5 AA battery brush or a £100 lithium battery brush, neither are any real use unless you use it twice a day for a minimum of 2 minutes.
Just as important is the technique you use. Anyone can put a brush in their mouth but move it around like a mad man with no real order and that has no benefit.
Simply buying and using an electric toothbrush will not instantly improve the cleanliness or health of your teeth.
See our detailed guide here on how to brush your teeth properly.
Follow this with your new electric brush and you are on the path to success.
A toothbrush can clean the tooth surfaces but the effectiveness of the clean is helped massively by using a toothpaste in addition to the brush.
Like when you clean your dishes, you add soap to the cloth or sponge to do a better job, the same is true when it comes to brushing your teeth.
There are hundreds of different toothpaste options and in truth it is more complicated than choosing a toothbrush, but fundamentally pick up and use a fluoride based paste and you are on the right track.
Specialists toothpastes that help with sensitivity and whitening exist. If you are in the market for these, then you can read more about them here.
- Change your brush head/toothbrush every 3 months
You would unlikely keep a pair of wellington boots with a hole in them as they would no longer be doing their job properly.
Keep a toothbrush or brush head for more than 3 months and the same principal applies. The use of the brush wears the bristles down and reduces the effectiveness, to the point the bristles may do more damage than good
Fading bristles and in app reminders can help with this.
Brush for 2 minutes twice a day, properly.
Brushing for just 4 minutes a day, even with a manual brush is a massive step forward in better oral hygiene and a healthier and more confident you.
It is the recommended time to brush for and any less will be impacting your health (NHS).
There are ongoing debates (Chochrane report 1 & 2) as to whether flossing is beneficial or not.
However one thing can’t be denied, although the scientific research may be lacking into the actual effectiveness of flossing, nobody can outrightly say that there are not benefits to be had.
I think we have all had times where food gets stuck between our teeth and only flossing gets it out; there’s some stuff even an electric toothbrush can’t get out.
Thus, flossing once a day is recommended.
There are lots of different floss options and in our opinion, some of the more basic string floss is just as good as the premium ribbon options. One of our favourites though is the Wisdom Flosser.
A good oral healthcare routine will do its bit to keeping you fit and healthy and looking after your teeth, reducing the chances of having to have fillings or any serious dental work.
Sadly at times we all need some work, but a good routine can help prolong the need for this.
Whilst you may have a good routine, regular dental checkups, at least once a year, are extremely important to get a professional opinion and seek advice on improvements and spot issues early.
Just because the toothbrush app says you have brushed perfectly for the last 6 months, it does not mean you need to skip a visit to the professional.
Sometimes there are things we can’t see ourselves that a dentist can.
Using mouthwash is not an essential part of an oral healthcare routine, but is can be beneficial if used at the right times.
Do not use straight after brushing (NHS), you are just washing away all the good work of the toothpaste. Use to freshen the breath and mouth in between cleans, maybe in the morning, after lunch and mid afternoon. Do it when you feel it is right, but not straight after brushing your teeth.
How we tested & compiled this information
The lists and information presented here have been created by taking into account various different factors. Whilst ultimately it is personal opinion, interpretation and feeling, the information and lists of recommendations have been influenced by extensive research, personal testing with different brushes from different brands; actually using them in an everyday scenario and taking into account feedback from other people, readers of our content as well as reviews from other people both online and offline.
Consideration is also taken for the brands mentioned, the support, the reputation and quality that they offer.
There are likely many other options that do and could fit within the lists provided and this is to be accepted. As time moves on so do products, every endeavour is made to keep this information as up-to date as possible but circumstance could be that better options exist.
Select the Best Electric Toothbrush for you
You have all the information you should now need to successfully research, understand and begin choosing the right brush for you.
Even with all of this information, the process is not simple.
There are many different models to contemplate from different brands at different price points, but hopefully you have more confidence to select the brush for you.
If we have not already made that job a little easier, we do have a comparison tool. Our website contains the data for many of the most popular electric toothbrushes. This useful tool allows you to put this data side by side and see the hard facts for various brushes right on screen in front of you.
For good measure we often include a little opinion of our own.
The Best Electric Toothbrush Conclusions
At over 10,000 words this guide contains a lot of information for anyone to absorb.
We gave our no ifs and buts recommendation right at the start (the Genius 9000), along with our runners up (the Pro 6500 and Smart 6 6000) and justifications for this. We even had a series of lists based on some more generalised conditions, such as budget or the best brush for kids, but still you read on.
The remainder of this guide hopefully has given you all the important factors to consider and we really hope that if you have not yet decided, you soon will.
We understand the pain of choosing a new electric toothbrush. What you think is a 5 minute job quickly turns into what seems like a lifetime. They all seem so similar but different, but it is so hard to see what those differences are.
It was this very fact that encouraged us to set up this site and hopefully help you make that selection process easier.
We would love to hear your story and what brush you have chosen and why. Drop us an email using our contact page here or leave a comment below.
Have you used any of the brushes mentioned and got something good or bad to say?
Do you agree with our lists and comments or think we are missing something that others could really benefit from?
You do not want others to struggle to find the information you have gained or acquired, share it below in the comments and let others benefit, your comments will make the difference to us and others.