Braun Oral-B and Philips Sonicare have been the undisputed electric toothbrush industry giants for over 30 years now. The two brands represent a modern day clash of titans that continuously re-invent their products in order to earn more market share. Their constant efforts to outmaneuver one another are best depicted by their relentless ingenuity. Something that we, the consumers, benefit the most from.
Falling in love with your electric toothbrush is the shortest route to improving your oral hygiene. This is why we spend considerable time digging into both brands and comparing their models. We did so in 4 categories: high-end ($200+), mid-to-high-end ($120+), mid-end ($70+) and bottom of the barrel ($20+). Here are our straight suggestions:
Oral-B VS Sonicare Category Winners
|Product||Category||Battery Life||Brush Modes||SmarTimer||Pressure Sensor||Bluetooth||Price|
|Sonicare DiamondClean||High-end||16 days||5||YES||YES||YES|
|Oral-B Genius Pro-8000||Mid-to-high-end||8 days||5||YES||YES||YES|
|Oral-B Pro 5000||Mid-end||9 days||5||YES||YES||YES|
|Sonicare Essence||Low-end||12 days||1||YES||NO||NO|
How Did We Go About Comparing Oral-B and Sonicare?
It is essential to explain that even though both brands manufacture electric toothbrushes, the technologies that they use are different. Philips Sonicare uses high frequency vibration technology, while Oral-B has mastered rotation-oscillation technology. Is one, better than the other? You will have to keep reading in order to find out.
For the purpose of this review, we have taken 4 toothbrush models from each brand. We used price range as the founding metric for this comparison. We took one lower priced, two medium priced, and one high end models from each brand, and measured them against each other. Here is the list of other metrics that we used in the comparison:
- Brush heads (variety and price per unit)
- Battery life & voltage
- Brushing modes
- Unique features (UV sanitizer, Bluetooth technology, dual charging system)
- Pressure sensor
- Timers (StarTimer, Quadpacer)
- Warranty & Guarantee
Let us dive into some of those features before we engage into the one-on-one comparison between individual toothbrush models. If you want to know the overall best electric toothbrush, you can check out our top 10 list.
How do technologies differ?
Often times I hear that comparing Oral-B and Sonicare, is like comparing apples to oranges. But, it really is not. Just because two technologies differ in functionality, does not mean their purpose is not aimed at achieving the same goal. In other words, you do not compare the form of apples and oranges. You compare their nutrition properties and how they can improve your overall health and immune system.
The same concept holds true for Oral-B and Sonicare. The end objective of each product released by either brand is to enhance your overall oral hygiene habits and health. For example, fighting tooth decay and preventing or eliminating receding gums. In this sense, we are measuring the effectiveness of each technology to deliver on such results.
Oral-b Rotary Powered Toothbrush
Braun Oral-B utilizes a rotary technology. Also known as oscillating, this is by far the most used spinning brush technology by other brands as well. The idea of this mechanism is to spin the brush head around a single tooth, in one direction or the other. For this reason, the majority of Oral-B brush heads have bristles arranged in a circular pattern on a small round brush head.
Making the change from a manual toothbrush to an oscillating one might be uneasy at first, because of the brush head size. Brushing one tooth at a time, as opposed to two or more together, does take time to get used to.
Rotary brushes’ speed ranges from 1,300 to 8,000 oscillations per minute. There is also an added pulsating mode that creates additional 40,000 pulses per minute.
The similarity to Philips’ sonic technology, is that at 40,000 pulses per minute, Oral-B brushes can also create a non-contact brushing effect (cavitation). This results in the removal of plaque and food debris from tight spaces where the bristles do not reach.
Sonicare brushes are capable of generating brush head movement speeds in the sonic range or above. Respectively, the name Sonicare comes from the word sonic, as in sound.
The typical vibration of a sonic toothbrush usually occurs at around 260Hz. The range of frequency that humans hear is anywhere from 20 to 20,000Hz. So, even though this puts sonic brushes towards the lower end, it does not mean they are slow. On the contrary, 260Hz translates to 260 brush head movements per second. Or, 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
Ultrasonic, is the next level of sonic brushes. This technology follows the same movement methodology, but it creates far greater speeds and it operates at higher frequencies. On average, the fastest Philips toothbrushes work at 1.6MHz. This translates to some 96 million waves, or 196 million brush head movements per minute. Truly remarkable speed for a toothbrush.
At the speed of ultrasound, the brush head creates pressure waves and imploding bubbles (cavitation). This generates the non-contact brushing effect mentioned above. All of this sounds nice and dandy. But, the question of whether or not this technology actually removes addition plaque remains. The last available study from 2004 suggests that it does not. This goes for both Oral-B and Philips products. Since they both claim that their toothbrushes have the cavitation effect.
Where the Two Brands Differ
Design – Sonicare, especially the higher end models, such as DiamondClean, have a more settled look and feel. This is how you would want your “other half” to dress up for a nice midtown cocktail party with a red carpet. This is the settled, but masculine James Bond evening tuxedo, or the not too long, but also not too short and revealing black evening dress. With Sonicare’s design, the message is “stay classy”. An appropriate exclamation for Sonicare’s design would be “Ohh”.
Oral-B designs, particularly, the Pro-7000 and Pro-8000 models, have futuristic and alien written all over them. This is Lady Gaga on a good day, wearing something a tiny bit more appropriate, but yet very eye-catching. This is something a pick up artist would wear when he goes to a big Hollywood mansion party to hit on women. “Dayum” is a very appropriate reaction to Oral-B’s designs.
Having said all of that. There is no winner here. These designs are a matter of personal taste and preference.
Brush heads are quite important to a toothbrush, be it electric or not. At the time of our research, Oral-B not only offered a larger variety of brush heads, but they were also priced lower. The final count was 6 different and worthy brush heads for Oral-B vs 4 for Sonicare.
Battery Life & Voltage – On average, Philips Sonicare models have better (longer) battery life. In some cases, the battery lives of similarly priced toothbrush models differed by up to 6 days, in favor of Philips. This is quite significant. Furthermore, Sonicare models operate at 110 and 220V, while Oral-B units only work at 110V. This is something worth considering if you are a traveler.
Similarities Between Sonicare and Oral-B
Warranty & Guarantee – We were happy, but not surprise, the find out that both Philips and Oral-B offer 2 year warranties. These are replacement warranties, in case the toothbrush breaks or stops working.
In terms of Guarantees, Sonicare will let you have your money back within 28 days. This comes short of Oral-B’s 60 day money back guarantee. If you are a procrastinator, and need more time making decisions, Philips is not the right brand for you.
SmarTimer – Also known as the 2 minute timer, this feature is quite popular among electric toothbrushes. It notifies the user every 30 seconds to start brushing a different part of their mouth. It also turns itself off after 2 minutes. Needless to say, both brands offer this option.
Pressure Sensors – list of top electric toothbrushes for receding gumsThis feature is especially good for sensitive gums. Both mid-to-high end Sonicare and Oral-B models have this option. Our discusses these sensors at more length.
LCD Displays – check!
Brushing Modes – At Dental Dorks, we have mixed feelings on this topic. While, in the world of Winnie the Pooh, more is always better, the same statement does not necessarily hold true when it comes to brushing modes on electric toothbrushes. Research has shown numerous times that people end up just adjusting and using one brushing mode after a month or so.
Philips and Oral-B each offer similar brushing modes, just named differently. In this regards, both brands are good for people with braces.
The ongoing battle for market share has compelled both brands to think outside the box. Competition often leads to great innovations, which in term can transform entire industries.
When it comes to electric toothbrush features, however, we are Dental Dorks, are a bit skeptical. Why do I say that?
You have probably heard the expression, “there is an app for everything”. Well, it holds true even when it comes to tooth brushing.
Both, Philips and Oral-B have included Bluetooth technology in their highest-end toothbrushes. This enables people to connect their toothbrushes to interactive apps on their phones. These apps are advertised to aid consumers develop better brushing habits and discipline. They also raise the price of brushes tremendously. At Dental Dorks, we are skeptical about the usefulness of these apps. So, there is no winner here. Since both brands have their own apps.
UV Sanitizer – Often perceived as a cool feature, the UV sanitizer is a little box with UV lights inside. Its purpose is to kill bacteria from recently used brush heads. According to Philips, rinsing your brush head with water will not effectively remove all bacteria that was transferred there from the mouth. However, there are no scientific studies to prove the effectiveness of the UV sanitizer. So far, this appears to be yet another marketing feature meant to raise the price by over-inflating the notion of innovation.
Tongue Cleaning Mode – This is one of 5 or six modes that is included in Oral-B’s high end toothbrushes. To be honest, it does not matter what kind of motions you use to scrub your tongue with your brush. If they come with a hands-free mode that cleans your tongue while driving, I will be impressed. Until then, no thank you.
UPDATE: Despite being quite a useless mode, Philips has also included the tongue cleaning feature in some of their models, such as the Sonicare HealthyWhite+. They have even gone one step further, by including a tongue spray.
Glass Charger – This is how Sonicare wins the “unique features” battle. Philips’ DiamondClean model comes with a glass that is a charger, and you can also use to rinse your teeth. It is quite neat. All you have to do to get the toothbrush charging, is drop it in the glass.
Oral-B is a brand of oral hygiene products, which is owned by Brown, which was acquired by Procter & Gamble in 2006. It was a periodontist from California, named Dr. Robert Hutson, who created the Oral-B brand and who patented their first product – the Oral-B 60. The model was named after the fact that it had 60 tufts, and it was patented in 1958.
In 1991, the company won the Edison Award for product innovation for their newly patented indicator toothbrush. This included a brush head with the first ever fading bristles. This technology is now improved, and it remains the leading indicator for when a brush head is worn off and needs to be replaced.
Up to date, Oral-B has more than 20 patents on various designs and technologies. Two of which have stood the test of time and are still used today. First, the Cross-Action toothbrush designed with angled bristles for a more complete cleaning. And, second, the Oral-B Stages. A toothbrush specifically designed to cater children during their four stages of dental development.
Sonicare’s history is not as “ancient” as that of its primary competitor. The first toothbrush to use sonic technology was not introduced until 1992, at a periodontal convention in Florida. GEMTech, an oral health oriented company led by David Giuliani, had developed the first dental hygiene device using a piezoelectric multimorph transducer. It was not until 1995, that Philips acquired the company and its technology.
Even though Philips did not win any fancy technological awards, by the end of 2001, Sonicare was the best-selling electric toothbrush in the United States.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean VS Oral-B Genius Pro-8000
This is the Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield category of electrical toothbrush comparison. Or, perhaps the Klitschko vs Fury. It really depends on what year you were born in, and how much you follow up with boxing.
The Pro-8000 and the DiamondClean are the high-end, features stacked, and most expensive electric toothbrushes on the market. Celebrities’ number one choice. Here is a comparison table with their features and options:
A lot of reviewers have claimed that the batter life of the Pro-8000 lasts even less than 10 days. On average, people said it lasted them 7 days. I guess, this depends on how much you play around with the settings and the brushing modes. Our tests were conducted twice a day, for 2 minutes each time. In either case, DimondClean outlived Oral-B’s model by 4 days or more. Regardless, of both gadgets operating the same Lithium Ion battery.
Both models come with fancy charging travel cases. However, if you do choose to go with the Pro-8000, you better not be planning any travels outside of the US and Canada. Their power charging only supports 110V. Sonicare, on the other hand, gives you a cool charging glass to go with the case, and allows you to charge it anywhere in the world.
It is puzzling why Oral-B has not introduced an electric toothbrush that has better charging capabilities. But, at least they have developed the first indicator bristles. These let you know when it is time to replace the brush head. It is a cool features, if you lose track of time.
Everywhere across the board, these two models score more or less the same. The brushing mode that brings the total number to 6, in favor of Oral-B, is the tongue cleaning. Unfortunately, for Oral-B, we at Dental Dorks cannot accept this mode as a serious competitive edge. For this reason, we are not giving it any credit.
If you have no consideration for your money, and you are ready to splash out the big cash, get the DiamondClean. At the very least, you will have to worry less about charging the brush.
Philips Sonicare FlexCare+ VS Oral-B Pro-7000
This is where it gets really interesting. Initially, we were going to compare the FlexCare Platinum to the Pro-7000. However, recent drop in prices, has made the Oral-B model some 20% cheaper than the Philips one. So, it would not have been a fair comparison. In order to honor our money metric criterion, we have decided to compare the FlexCare+ with the Pro-7000, since they are priced the same.
Oral-B really need to work on those batteries. This is one of two reasons why they have recently lowered the price of this model by around 20%. It uses an inferior battery that is really falling behind Philips’ superior Lithium Ion batteries.
The second reason for lowering the price, is to make way for the Pro-8000. Now, that there is a higher model, the Pro-7000’s price can be lowered, in order to drive up the price for the higher model. In reality, the two toothbrushes are absolutely identical. If anything, this is the time to buy a Pro-7000 and spend around 60$ less than you would on a Pro-8000. But, let’s keep it civilized.
Philips have really disappointed us by only including one brush head. At this price, it is insulting to consumers not to present them with at least one extra brush head. Considering the necessity to replace heads every 3 months, it is best that you purchase 2 extra right away. But this, will drive the price up, and make the gap between FlexCare+ and Pro-7000 even bigger. For us, this was a big fail on behalf of the giant sonic toothbrush manufacturer.
In conclusion, the FlexCare+ is more expensive, comes with less brushing modes, it has no indicator bristles, and includes only 1 brush head. However, its battery still lasts twice as long, it has multi-voltage charging abilities and it is sonic fast.
In this clash, we leave the final decision to you.
Philips Sonicare 3 Series VS Oral-B Deep Sweep 5000
With these two models, we are dropping the comparison bar under $100. Make a note, though, that the Deep Sweep 500 and the Pro-5000 are two different types of toothbrushes. The Pro series we could not feature in this comparison, because it is priced over $1000. So, instead, we are using Oral-B’s other 5000 model.
As you can see by the table above, Sonicare continues to dominate the battle for battery endurance. This will continue to be so, until Oral-B decide to make a permanent switch from NiMH to Lithium Ion.
Where Oral-B exceeds, however, is in their ability to offer a lot of features even with their inferior models. Makes you wonder, why splash $200 plus, when you can get the same toothbrush for less than $100. Well, we are beginning to wonder the same.
The Deep Sweep model, unlike the 3 Series Sonicare, even offers Bluetooth connectivity to your smart phone. Philips is quite reluctant to give that option away, unless you are ready to spend the big bucks. Even though at Dental Dorks we are not really big fans of this particular feature, we admit that it gives the 5000 model an edge in this situation.
Moving forward, Philips continues to be stingy with their brush heads. The 3 Series includes just the one ProResults Gum Health, while their adversary will arrive at your doorstep with two heads. I am not sure what the manufacturing cost of brush heads is, but by providing just one, Philips makes their product non-sharable. Having two brush heads from the beginning, allows you to share the unit with someone in your family.
The Deep Sweeps comes out as the dominant model in this comparison. That is, if you care about brushing modes, pressure sensors, and smartphone applications. In terms of plaque removing capabilities, both brushes will do the job the same. But, if you are going to spend the same amount of money, you might as well go with Oral-B. This way you will have more features to play around with.
Sonicare Essence VS Oral-B Vitality Floss Action
This is the battle for ruling the bottom of the barrel. These are the lowest priced (under $30) models available from Philips and Oral-B.
Let me be straight out here. Just because the Essence and Vitality Floss Action are cheaper, does not make them obsolete. This is why they are still being manufactures. And, this is why they have some many positive reviews.
Here is the good thing about Sonicare, it comes with 31,000 brush strokes per minute regardless of how expensive the toothbrush is. That’s why it’s called Sonicare. Oral-B’s actual performance falls short with their inexpensive Vitality Floss Action. When performance begins to suffer, modes and features stop playing a decisive role in the comparison.
These electric toothbrushes are not fancy. You would not want to take them to your prom night. These are more or less your distant cousins. The ones your aunt and uncle drop for you to entertain, while they are visiting your parents. The same ones you do not want your friends to meet.
But, let’s be more civilized and on point with this review. Sonicare simply outperforms Oral-B in this category because of their superior brushing speed technology. On top of everything, the Vitality model comes with AA batteries. Even though they are rechargeable, they are still no competition for Lithium Ion batteries.
If you are looking to test an electric toothbrush, but are not ready to spend a lot of money, Essence is a good choice. It comes with an Easy Start option, which gradually increases the speed of the brush head to 31,000 movements per minute. This allows people to properly adjust to the Sonicare technology.
You have come a long way, especially if you have read up to this point. But, here is the bottom line. Sonicare wins the bottom of the barrel war. The Essence model is the cheapest electric toothbrush with the best brushing performance.
In the mid-price range, go with Oral-B. Performance cleaning wise, the two brands are similar. But, Philips will give you less options to play around with, and less brush heads. I just cannot stress that enough, they are so stingy when it comes to brush heads.
At the high-end game, it does not matter whether you go with DiamondClean or Pro-8000. Both are excellent choice. And both are overly expensive, in my humble opinion. But, hey, if you have the money, why not enjoy a futuristic toothbrush!