Table Of Contents
- 1 Top 7 Electric Toothbrushes On The Market in 2018
- 2 Toothbrushes That Did Not Make the Cut
- 3 The Mad Formula Behind The Best Electric Toothbrush Reviews
- 3.1 Why You Should Go Electric
- 3.2 Is The Electric Toothbrush Going To Replace Flossing?
- 3.3 Are Electric Toothbrushes A Good Long-Term Investment?
- 3.4 The History Of The Electric Toothbrush
The best electric toothbrush is easy to use, comes with extra bristle heads, improves your brushing technique, and is somewhat inexpensive. But, finding a model that is gentle on the teeth and gums, while eliminating plaque and food debris, is no easy task.
We spent 10 weeks reading through medical journals, researching online and speaking to manufacturers and dental professionals. As a result, we made up a solid list of rotary and sonic toothbrushes to test, rate and review.
Last Updated: February 12, 2018
In order to stay up to date with manufacturing trends and technology, we have revamped our list of top performing electric toothbrushes in order to better reflect the current market. A market that is estimated to have grown to $4.1 billion in annual sales and is expected to double that number by 2021.
Our testing methodology has also changed a little bit, as we now give less preference to smartphone features and more weight to the oscillating and rotatory performance of the toothbrush. Having said that, the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 remains our top choice for people who are looking to get the most feature-packed model.
In total, we came up with a list of 52 electric and rechargeable toothbrushes from 16 different manufacturers. But, do not worry, we narrowed down that list to seven superior models!
Top 7 Electric Toothbrushes On The Market in 2018
Philips Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control
The 2 Series Sonicare is without a doubt consumers’ top pick. With over 4,000 positive reviews on Amazon and a 4.3 rating, this older model will not be extinct anytime soon. Especially now that it is available in 5 different colors, including a “white on ultra-coral” that I am itching to simply call “pink”. But, let’s leave color definitions to Philips.
Having up to 31,000 brush strokes per minute, this model is slower than the diamond clean. But, do not fool yourself. If you have never used an ultrasonic toothbrush before, you will feel the vigorous power of this elegantly designed teeth cleaning gadget. Despite being slower, the 2 Series Sonicare is also considerably cheaper and it works wonders for removing plaque and eliminating destructive bacteria in your mouth.
Being equipped with a NiMH battery, the overall life expectancy of this toothbrush is over 2 years. In case it breaks down within that period of time, Philips will replace it. When we tested this model with its battery fully charged, it lasted 15 days. We used it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. On the 15th day, the battery died during the evening brush. It still performed quite alright during the morning brushing activity.
- Up to 31,000 brush strokes per minute
- 2 year limited warranty
- Rechargeable NiMH battery
Oral-B Genius Pro 8000
This is one of Oral-B’s high-end level electric toothbrushes. As such it comes with a lot of shiny and gadget-like options that are meant to make brushing a fun activity. As a matter of fact, this model is so advanced, it comes with its own app available for iOS and Android. Bluetooth connectivity allows the user to track their daily usage and get real-time feedback. The Focused Care feature, as Oral-B call it, is meant to aid users to implement the specific brushing instructions given by their dentist.
The Genius Pro 8000 comes equipped with a travel case that is also a charging station. It can charge your smartphone as well as your toothbrush using only one outlet. We found that when fully charged, the Lithium ION battery lasts 12 days when brushing twice a day.
We tested this particular model by switching between the five available modes. It is likely that the battery could last a bit longer if you only use the daily clean mode. Other available modes include gum care, sensitive, whitening, and pro-clean.
The Genius Pro 8000 is preceded by the 6000 model and followed by the 9000 model. The reason we chose to feature this particular model in our list, is because it has the most positive customer reviews. Additionally, the 8000 series offers many improvements compared to the 6000 model. While the Genius Pro 9000 did not improve much when compared to the Pro 8000.
- Oral-B 3D movement cleaning system
- Triple pressure sensor technology
- 5 brushing modes
- 3 brush heads included
Oral-B Pro 1000
Simple, relatively cheap and clinically proven to bring about superior clean results. This is the Pro 1000 model by Oral-B in a nutshell.
This is by no stretch of the imagination the most technological electric toothbrush on the market. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. While it does have the patented 3D cleaning action (oscillating, pulsating and vibrating), a functioning pressure sensor and a timer, the 1000 series comes only with one cleaning mode. Despite being short on cleaning functions, we found this toothbrush to be quite effective in removing plaque.
In order to fully charge, the Pro 1000 took about 16 hours. This is 8 hours less than the Pro 7000 took. It also lasted longer than the Pro 7000 by 2 days (10 days total). Since there is only one brushing mode available, we were not able to play around and conduct different time-based tests.
This older Oral-B model is still available and still being manufactured. Thus, it comes with a two-year warranty and is about 4 times cheaper than Oral-B’s high tech 7000, 8000 and 9000 series. If you are looking to stay under $60, but still want an electric toothbrush, we highly recommend the Pro 1000 series.
- Pressure sensor
- 3D cleaning action technology
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
With a speed of up to 62,000 brush strokes per minute, the DiamondClean is certainly the Speedy Gonzales of electric toothbrushes. Beautifully designed, this model is available in a variety of colors, such as black, white, dark purple, amethyst and pink. Yes, that is correct ladies, you can have this toothbrush match the rest of your bathroom accessories. Gentleman, do not be jealous! There is plenty of choice for you as well.
This and other Philips models come with a one of a kind charging glass. All you have to do is drop your DiamondClean toothbrush into the glass to begin charging. In addition, you can still use the glass to rinse your mouth once you are done brushing.
This Sonicare model comes equipped with 5 modes: clean, white, sensitive, gum care and deep clean. This makes this toothbrush practically perfect for all everyday uses and purposes. The slim ergonomic design of the handle makes it extremely easy to hold, operate, and switch between settings. In addition, the illuminated display and battery indicator make this model even more attractive and futuristic looking.
Like most electric toothbrushes by Philips, this one also comes with a rechargeable Lithium ION battery. Once fully charged, the battery should be able to last you 3 weeks if you brush twice a day using the “clean” setting. The “deep clean” setting is likely to exhaust the battery faster because it is operating at a higher speed and producing more brush strokes per minute.
- Up to 62,000 brush strokes per minute
- 5 brushing modes
- 3 brush heads included
- 2 year limited warranty
- Rechargeable Lithium ION battery
Oral-B Pro 7000
Available in black and white, the Pro 7000 is one sleek looking electric toothbrush!
This piece of German technology is engineered by Braun and claims to remove 300% more plaque from along the gum line when compared to a manual toothbrush. We cannot verify this claim, nor deny it. However, we can assert that the 7000 series comes equipped with a variety of options that will help you develop a better brushing technique. For instance, sensitivity sensors will stop you from brushing too hard, while the 6 independent functions will help you clean your teeth more efficiently.
The Oral-B smartphone app is also available for the Pro 7000 model. At first, we were a bit skeptical about the effect that the app would have on brushing habits. But, after using the toothbrush for a week, we got really motivated to pursue that perfect score! In addition, the app is really easy to use, loads fast, and it appears to be bug-free.
We found the downfall of the 7000 model in its NiMH battery. When brushing twice a day, while connected to the app, the battery only lasted for 8 days. Compared to other similar toothbrushes, this is not cool, to say the least. Especially when it takes 24 hours to fully charge the battery.
- Oral-B 3D cleaning action
- 6 high performance brushing modes
- 6 brushing heads included
- Very interactive smartphone app
Brio SmartClean Sonic Electric Toothbrush
Brio is still considered a novice within the oral health industry. But, that has not halted the company from experiencing a quick growth and amassing a serious and loyal base of followers. Their responsive and hassle-free customer service, as well as their competitive product, have also earned them a place in our top 7 list.
Unlike most sonic toothbrushes, this one will cost you less than $100. In most cases, when manufacturers cut the cost, the available features and modes are simultaneously cut. So, we end up having a basic electronic toothbrush. What we admire most about Brio, is their innovative ability to keep the price low, but still, offer some advanced features.
Being a sonic toothbrush, the SmartClean model produces up to 31,000 brush strokes per minute. This makes it very comparable to the higher Philips modes.
When fully charged, the Lithium ION batted lasted a whole 5 weeks. This is more than any other battery we have tested. Do keep in mind, however, that Brio’s battery is much larger (900 mah) than other competing electric toothbrushes. This does make the toothbrush a bit heavy, but it also means that the battery will last for years to come.
- 2 years limited warranty
- 31,000 brush strokes per minute
- Subscription brush head replacement program
Waterpik Sensonic Professional Plus SR 3000
Waterik is the undisputed champion when it comes to water flossers. But, not too many people know that they also make a pretty good electric toothbrush. Perhaps, they got tired of the never-ending argument about flossing vs brushing and decided to dominate both sides.
Being able to reach 31,000 brush strokes per minute, the Sensonic Professional Plus has earned its place among the big boys. Namely, Philips and Oral-B. In fact, this Waterpik model is about 25% faster than Philips’ Sonicare FlexCare model.
The advanced ergonomic handle gives the Sensonic a smooth and sleek look. The blue rubber grip that runs down horizontally is perfectly positioned. Whether you are left or right handed, your fingers will always rest on the grip. This is perhaps the most comfortable toothbrush that we have tested.
Priced under $100, the Sensonic comes with 3 brush heads and a travel case. Considering that it also has the QuadPacer and EasyStart modes, together with a 2-speed setting, this Waterpik electric toothbrush is a bargain.
We highly recommend!
Toothbrushes That Did Not Make the Cut
Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum
This was one of the most effective and entertaining brushes that we tested. Made out of white molded plastic, the Sonicare FlexCare Platinum was among the lightest brushes that we tested. The metallic control panel gives this model a very modern and sophisticated feel.
Much like other higher end Philips toothbrushes, this model gradually increases the brushing intensity. This allows the user to get used to the brush over time. This feature is especially helpful if you are switching from a manual toothbrush. The first couple of brushes with this Sonicare model felt like tickling. I was not sure if I was doing enough, and yet my teeth felt really polished.
The FlexCare Platinum comes equipped with 3 brushing modes: Clean, White and Gum Care. Each cleaning mode allows the user to moderate the intensity of the brush using 3 additional levels. This further helps new users to ease into this powerful sonic toothbrush.
The Sonicare FlexCare comes with an interactive smartphone app that is compatible with iPhone and Android. Once you connect the toothbrush to the phone, you can start playing around with the location, pressure and scrubbing sensors. The idea of the app is to make brushing a more interactive process, as well as to help you improve your overall brushing technique.
All in all, this is a great toothbrush and it is very comparable to the Oral-B’s 7000 series. Philips claims that when fully charged, the battery will last 19 days. When we tested, the battery only lasted 14 days after being charged for 18 hours.
Philips Sonicare 3 Series
Not surprisingly, this toothbrush is very similar to its predecessor the Sonicare 2 series. However, it does have a slightly different handle design and it is slightly thinner.
Considering that this model is priced under $80, it does come with some cool features. Included are Philips’ SmartTimer, which automatically turns the toothbrush off after 2 minutes. I am not entirely sure I loved this feature, though. In order to continue brushing, the user needs to press the start button again. No biggie, but a bit unnecessary.
The Sonicare 3 Series also has the QuadPacer feature and the easy-start feature. The former is an automatic mode that vibrates every 30 seconds to remind you to move the brush from one set of teeth to the next. It does that 4 times per brushing. The easy-start is a mode that progressively increases the intensity of the brushing over the next 14 or so days. This allows users to slowly get to 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
We personally liked the Sonicare 2 Series better. First, because it is $10 cheaper and it comes with the same features, and second, because the battery lasted 2 days longer.
Philips Sonicare Essence Plus
If you are looking for a toothbrush under $40, the Essence+ might be just right for you. Philips has designed this lower-tech model as a transitional toothbrush. Meaning, if you are ready to make the switch from manual to electric, but you are not ready to spend $200, this model will suit your needs.
This model may not be heavy on the wallet, but it is heavy on the hand. At 7.4 ounces, this was one of the heaviest toothbrushes that we tested. We were hoping that this is because Philips has added a bigger Lithium ION battery that will last longer. But, we were wrong. After fully charged, the battery lasted only 7 days.
Despite the lower battery life, this is still one of the best go-to budget electric toothbrushes currently available. Philips has clearly improved on the previous model by adding their favorite QuadPacer, SmarTimer, and EasyStart modes.
The Sonicare Essence Plus comes with only one cleaning mode. But, that does not stop it from reaching the top speed of 31,000 brushes per minute. This makes it practically comparable to Philips’ 4 times more expensive DiamondClean model.
Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite
Ever dreamed of having glowingly white teeth in the dark? If yes, this Philips toothbrush can make your dreams come true.
Specifically designed to help improve the teeth whitening process, this is one of Philips higher-end electric toothbrushes. In other words, it is priced over $100. However, it does not come short of brushing features and it does have the standard patented Sonicare technology. 31,000 brush strokes per minute are not a problem for this model.
The whitening mode is advertised to remove tooth stains from coffee, red wine, tobacco, tea, and ex-girlfriends. All of this within 14 days. Just kidding about the ex-girlfriend. But, maybe Philips should consider it for their advertisement.
While the toothbrush performed very well in terms of brushing, we did not see much improvement in regards to whitening. According to Philips, 2 weeks of brushing twice a day should have resulted in teeth being whitened by 2 shades. Unfortunately, our test cannot confirm these claims.
Other than that, the tongue cleaning brush head and BreatRx tongue spray are pretty cool. They truly helped clean away bad breath, while giving the tongue a nice and smooth feel.
Oral-B Pro 6000 Series
As one of Oral-B’s higher-tech models, the 6000 is packed with features, options, and raw power. This supercharged toothbrush will perform up to 48,000 precision movements per minute if you let it loose. The price you pay for this is a heavier body. The 6000 model weighs 168g and is about 20% heavier of some Philips toothbrushes that have similar features.
Bluetooth technology allows for a 2-way communication between the toothbrush and your smartphone. Given you have downloaded the Oral-B app beforehand. However, it also helps you drain the battery dead quicker than the advertised 10 days. As a matter of fact, we only got it to work for 8 days straight.
Besides being a little chunky and not having the best of batteries, the 5 customised brushing modes make this toothbrush both fun and practical. The massage mode is especially relaxing and it felt really good on the gums. While the deep clean might come too strong for new users. The illuminating pressure sensor gives this model a more futuristic feel, which is pretty cool. It also helps you regulate how hard you press your teeth.
Being a higher end model, the Pro 6000 comes with a travel case and brush head storage. Very stylish and useful additions if you are a traveler.
Oral-B Vitality Floss Action
Oral-B does not make big claims about the Vitality Floss Action model. Besides, that it is better than your manual toothbrush.
This lower model usually sells for less than $30 and it can be a pretty decent first electric toothbrush. Considering your hand is tired and ready to make the switch from manual. Because it is priced much lower than any of the Oral-B Pro series, the Vitality does not come with the 3D cleaning action technology. Instead, it comes with the 2D technology which includes oscillation and rotation modes, but it lacks the pulsating one.
With 7,600 rotations per minute, this toothbrush did not feel powerful at all. Having tested the Pro series before this one, this felt more like it would better fit a kid. However, used properly, it still got the job done better than any manual toothbrush. Its only feature, the timer, was also helpful in reminding me when I should stop brushing. Unfortunately, there is no quadrant timer that sends reminders every 30 seconds.
As long as you can manage your expectations based on the price, the Vitality Floss Action will not disappoint.
Foreo ISSA Sonic Toothbrush
Foreo’s products are easily distinguished by their vibrant colors. Their Issa electric toothbrush makes no exception. Available in vivacious lavender, bright yellow, cobalt blue, dark blue and black colors, this toothbrush will beautify any bathroom cabinet.
The Swedish made Issa model is a combination of unique silicone design and high-intensity sonic pulses. It is easy to hold and easy to use.
The most distinguishing feature of the Foreo is the brush head that uses antibacterial silicon bristles. The rubbery silicone nubs not only feel great against your teeth and gums, but they also last up to 3 times longer than standard brush heads that use nylon bristles. The difference between the regular Issa model and the Hybrid series is that the latter uses a combination of silicon and PBT polymer.
When it comes to functionality and features, this is by far not the best electric toothbrush. With 11,000 high-intensity pulsations per minute, it falls short to compete with Philips and Oral-B. Instead, the Issa model is a daring attempt by Foreo to give the standard motor-powered toothbrush a face-lift.
- Unique antibacterial silicon and PBT polymer bristles
- Sonic pulse technology
- Beautifully designed
Pursonic S520 Electric Toothbrush
Pursonic is a rather curious brand. Their S520 electric toothbrush is well accepted across all big retail stores in the United States. However, there is very little technical information present, and most of it is found on Amazon, rather than their own website.
The company claims to have been manufacturing oral care products since 1971, but a little digging showed that they were not registered before 2013. Needless to say, this brand is a little shady.
Their S520 toothbrush is their most expensive and highest performance one. Pursonic maintains that the S520 model is capable of reaching up to 40,000 brush strokes per minute. Our tests, however, found this toothbrush to be significantly weaker compared to pretty much any Philips electric toothbrush that is priced over $30. In our opinion, the brush strokes per minute did not exceed 15,000.
Furthermore, the model we purchased for testing broke within a week. The battery died and simply refused to be charged again. Contacting Pursonic did nothing, as we never received a replacement or a decent explanation.
It appears that this is a cheaply made across the ocean brand. We most certainly do not recommend you buy it.
The Mad Formula Behind The Best Electric Toothbrush Reviews
There are many manufacturers and hundreds of different models of electric toothbrushes available on the market. In order to pick the best seven, we had to come up with an inclusive as well as exclusive criteria and stick to it. Having said that, there are two key factors that we considered before we even begun to rank the toothbrushes.
First, the models had to be available to the North American consumer. There are various brands that manufacture products above the average standard, but for various reasons, do not make them available in the United States. We have not included such brands and models because they would not be of use to our readers.
In addition to this, we have excluded internationally made and shipped models. We found that such models often lack appropriate warranty and guarantees for the American consumers. They also tend to be quite scarce in replacement parts. Not to mention that it would take 3-4 weeks to get the desired replacements.
Second, we only reviewed toothbrushes that are using rechargeable batteries. We have come to the conclusion that the rechargeable models are far better investments then the ones that use disposable batteries. Following this, we were able to lower the number of toothbrushes we wanted to review to 52.
Our elimination process continued…
Privately labeled models – China has begun to manufacture knockoffs of the better known electric toothbrush brands. A lot of sellers have begun importing these generic products and give them private labels, such as Joe’s Super Brush. Okay, this is a bad example, but you do get what I mean. Such products are untested and most definitely not ADA approved. As such, they are usually cheaper, come with fewer warranties and guarantees, if any, and could even be dangerous to use.
Outdated models – We avoided these not because they are out of fashion, but because they are mostly out of support. It is quite hard to find replacement parts and actual local support for models that the brands no longer manufacture.
Now, that we had excluded a solid number of products, it was time to focus on the positive features. Those included:
- Product availability in the United States.
- Customer support – How responsive and helpful was support regarding our inquiries. Also, what channels were supported available on (phone, email, etc…). We also considered availability days and hours.
- Online reviews – We looked at other peoples’ reviews for two reasons. First, to determine more or less what consumers think about the product. Second, to determine how many of the Amazon reviewers were genuine and how many received a product in return. This is important to us because it speaks about the integrity of the brand and the product. There are Amazon reviewers who make a living by leaving positive reviews for a variety of brands and we know how to spot them.
We also looked at reviews from popular American stores, such as Target and Walmart. These stores are good because they allow consumers to freely express their opinion and return merchandise if it is not up to their standards.
Lastly, we read a lot of articles from the American Dental Association and other independent oral health organizations, such as the Cochrane Collaboration. This helped us trim down our initial list of 107 electric toothbrushes and 38 manufacturers, down to 52 models from 16 different brands. Out of that number, we were able to pick 7.
Why You Should Go Electric
Correct teeth brushing remains essential to a good oral health. Unfortunately, many of us rush through this exercise in order to get it done. This way a lot of destructive bacteria remains and slowly causes the formation of plaque and eventually tooth decay.
Electric toothbrushes offer a good solution to this. They are not only fun to use, but they also employ the correct brush movements that our hands often tend to disregard when we clean our teeth manually.
Studies, such as the one conducted by the Cochrane Oral Health Group have consistently demonstrated that electric brushing is superior to manual brushing. The above-mentioned research shows a 21% reduction in plaque after only 3 months of using an electric toothbrush. It further claims a 6% reduction of gingivitis within a 3 month period.
By far, there is undeniable evidence that electric toothbrushes should be the preferred method.
Now, let’s look at some basics.
What Is An Electric Toothbrush?
There is no dark magic and wizardly spells surrounding electric toothbrushes. They are rather simple devices powered by a small motor that makes motions at sonic speed. The purpose of these electric gadgets is to help clean teeth by using rapid and automatic bristle motions.
All contemporary high-end electric toothbrushes come standard with rechargeable batteries that are charged using inductive charging. Such toothbrushes are not new to the market, however, they have been subjected to continuous improvement based on scientific research. Or, so do large manufacturers want us to believe.
Types Of Electric Toothbrushes
Back in the day inventors were happy when they got to the point of running electricity through a toothbrush. This, however, is no longer the case. Just like technology did not stop with one kind of smartphone, it did not stop with one kind of motor-powered toothbrush. The continuous consumer demand for better and newer products has shaped the dental health industry into one of the largest in the USA.
In our days, leading classifications of electric toothbrushes are based on the design and mechanism of their brush head action. On one hand, we have the oscillating toothbrush. In this case, the head spins around the tooth in one direction or the other in a rotary-like movement. On the other hand, there is the sonic toothbrush, which produces high vibrations from side-to-side.
The oscillating-rotating toothbrush is mostly developed by Oral-B. They have tested and perfected the design and technology over time. Currently, the idea of this type of toothbrush is to move slowly from tooth to tooth in order for more effective cleaning.
The bristles rotation gets triggered as soon as the brush head begins to oscillate. The average Oral-B oscillating device produces between 3,000 and 7,500 rotations per minute. In addition, some models have pulsating features added. This allows for further and deeper cleaning of plaque. In comparison, manual toothbrushing moves at around 400 strokes per minute. Hardly a competition when it comes to speed.
In recent years, sonic technologies have seen good investments and have shown some great advancements. This statement especially holds true in regards to teeth cleaning.
Roughly speaking, sonic toothbrushes are somewhat similar to regular ones. Their purpose is to quickly move back on forth over the exterior of the teeth in order to scrub away plaque and food debris. Where they differ, however, is the speed of movement with which they operate.
Sonic toothbrushes usually operate at around 260Hz or 260 times per second. Each vibration creates 2 brush strokes per second. So, in a minute, there are about 31,000 brush strokes, which is 10 times faster than regular electric toothbrushes. Some Philips models have even tested at speeds exceeding 62,000 brush strokes per minute.
The notion behind to sonic system is that the high brush speed creates waves of turbulence. These waves prolong the range of brushing beyond areas that regular toothbrushes cannot reach. Furthermore, if you buy into the marketing spiel, the high vibration turbulence also creates tiny bubbles from the toothpaste and water in the mouth. Arguably, these bubbles further help the cleaning process by removing additional plaque formations.
The sonic action, also known as the acoustic streaming action, was first introduced in 1983. Since then it has been improved to produce up to 40,000 brush strokes per minute. At such speed, the energy waves of pressure allow the above-mentioned bubbles and fluid molecules to reach areas between the teeth that are not accessible to bristles. The action of acoustic streaming is arguably said to go some 4mm beyond the reach of regular bristles. Technically, this means that sonic toothbrushes are capable of removing plaque from beneath the gum line.
Rotary vs Sonic
Which one is better? The short answer is, the best electric toothbrush is the one that you will use twice a day as directed. If you follow your dentist’s instructions and you brush your teeth twice a day for 2 to 3 minutes, you will see positive results.
There is research that compliments both types of power motored brushes. If we consider the amount of movement and coverage of brushing as decisive factors, then the sonic toothbrush sounds like the right choice. 12-week clinical trial has demonstrated the sonic type brushes can reach about 1/8 of an inch deeper than other rotary brushes. This reason, and the above mentioned fluid dynamics should be good enough to proclaim the sonic toothbrush as the winner.
What features to look for in your electric toothbrush?
So, you are set on buying your first vibrating toothbrush, but you are not sure what to look for. That’s fine, we all need to start somewhere. But, be advised, often times a $60 electric toothbrush can have the same core features as a $200 one. It is also quite possible that the cheaper one will outperform the more expensive one. So, let’s review some of the core elements to look for when purchasing a rotary or sonic toothbrushes.
Feature One: The Need For Speed
It does not matter how fast and coordinated your hand movement is, it will not outperform 31,000 brush strokes per minute. In this regard, manual toothbrushes are becoming obsolete. The truth is that faster movements make cleaning your teeth more effective and efficient. There is less time wasted while more plaque and bacteria are being eliminated.
The speed of the toothbrush has proven to be essential in terms of performance. Faster rotation and oscillation movements can cover larger areas of the mouth and remove more destructive bacteria. However, the speed has also proven to be an important factor in the price of the toothbrush. For this reason, sonic and ultrasonic brushes are more expensive when compared to other motor powered toothbrushes.
Feature Two: The Power Source
As I mentioned earlier, electric toothbrushes do not run on dark magic and Jedi crystals, they run on electricity. The very first vibrating brushes were unavoidably designed to be used only when directly plugged into the outlet. This is not only dangerous but also inconvenient. For this reason, batteries have now become the preferred method of charging these devices.
Early models consisted of disposable batteries because the technology was not advanced enough. Nowadays, rechargeable batteries are the standard. However, manufacturers are now competing to design longer lasting batteries.
The war on battery life is important because there are still some big gaps between leading manufacturers. There are certain toothbrushes that take 24 hours to charge fully, while others take 12 hours. Once fully charged some devices can last up to six weeks when used twice a day. In comparison, there are still devices that will not last half of that time.
In addition, some electric toothbrushes, like the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, offer more than one way of charging. One is through the easy use of a USB, and the other through a standard charging station. The convenience of charging may not be a big deal to everyone, but it is a diverse functionality nevertheless.
Feature Three: The Cleaning Method
The variety and diversity of electric toothbrushes on the market can be overwhelmingly annoying. Especially, when you have decided to buy and use one. Besides the numerous differences in design, color and battery life, motor-powered toothbrushes also differ in the manner in which they clean teeth. In fact, there are five different ways to choose from.
Vibrating – this technique creates a rapid buzz against the teeth. Interestingly enough, some Philips toothbrushes offer this feature in addition to their oscillating attribute. The two movements can be triggered to perform simultaneously and destroy plaque that even Chuck Norris could not get to.
Dual Head – refers to electric toothbrushes that have incorporated the rotating function, as well as the side-to-side movement function. As you can see in the image below, each head is responsible for a different motion. This design is advertised as more efficient in terms of plaque removal. However, users have complained that the size of the head makes cleaning more difficult.
Rotating – Refers to a circular motion that the motor powered toothbrush makes. This movement closely resembles that of people who choose to brush their teeth manually.
Rotating oscillating – Occurs when the entire head of the toothbrush oscillates. This back-and-forth motion makes it easier to focus on a single tooth.
Counter oscillating – Is the last type of electric cleaning motion that toothbrushes come equipped with. The idea with this design is to allow each tuft of bristles to rotate in the opposite way of its neighbor. For instance, while one tuft may be rotating clockwise, its neighboring tufts could be going in a counter-clockwise direction.
Feature Four: Different Settings & Modes
Sometimes a higher price tag is justified by the number of modes the electric toothbrush comes equipped with. There are models that allow users to adjust a variety of settings based on their current needs. For instance, some of those settings include deep cleaning mode, sensitive gums mode, whitening mode and massage mode. These modes are also often accompanied by the ability to change between rotating, oscillating, vibrating and pulsating motions.
Currently, there is no research that supports the notion that more settings and modes provide a better cleaning. However, it is a good enough reason for manufacturers to offer such toothbrushes at a higher price.
Feature Five: Timing Is Everything
Do not rush is one of the first advises dentists give their patients in regards to flossing or brushing their teeth. Having a timer attached to the electric toothbrush is not essential for performance. But, it is very helpful in developing a healthy habit.
Feature Six: The Pressure Sensor
This is a pretty cool feature. A pressure sensor is meant to remind us that we should not press too hard when we brush. Often times over-brushing can be rough on the gum and cause them to bleed. The pressure sensor makes an alarming sound when it senses that too much pressure is being employed. In some cases, the warning can take the form of a flash. It depends on the model and makes of the toothbrush.
Feature Seven: Accessories
There are certain accessories, such as charging stations and power cords, which all electric toothbrushes come with. Some models come with extra brush heads, which could be useful because eventually, you will have to replace them. But, other accessories, such as travel cases, can prove to be quite expensive and end up never being used.
There are some bonus features that you can look for when choosing your brushing companion. For example, look for the American Dentist Association (ADA) seal of approval. This is always a good sign that you are buying a trusted and tested product.
Another option that not all sellers and manufacturers like to give is a “money back guarantee”. In case they do offer it, make sure it is at least 1 month after purchase. Also, make sure the shipping and delivery dates are reasonable. You do not want to receive your toothbrush on the 30th day and not have time to claim your money back, in case it does not work or it is not up to your standards.
Is The Electric Toothbrush Going To Replace Flossing?
Brushing and flossing have the same oral hygiene goals but are inherently different. Even though a lot of toothbrush manufacturers like to claim that their products can readily replace string floss, this is often not the case.
One huge advantage of electric toothbrushes is that they are quite fun to use. After all, they are technological gadgets that have timers, flashing lights, they vibrate and therefore bring more joy to the process of teeth cleaning. Also, they are undoubtedly more effective and efficient in cleaning plaque than manual toothbrushes. But, this is not the question at hand.
Motor-powered toothbrushes with 30,000+ brush strokes per minute will save you time. They will truly clean the visible parts of the teeth, as well as between teeth that are not tightly squeezed. Where they will fail, however, is reaching the deep and dark parts of teeth that are very close to each other.
String cords, on the other hand, are hard to get around your finger and they often rip while flossing. Not to mention, sometimes it is quite difficult to reach the rear teeth of your mouth. However, if you have tight space between your teeth, no toothbrush will do the job as efficiently as a flossing cord.
The flexibility of the string allows to wrap it up around the tooth and scrape off stubborn plaque residue. Traditional floss is also very cost effective when compared to electric toothbrushes and their inevitable need for replacement parts.
Having said all of that, the most effective way to clean your teeth is always going to be the one that you develop a habit and learn to implement twice a day. If technological gadgets excite you and make the process more fun, then, by all means, stick to a motor powered brush!
Are Electric Toothbrushes A Good Long-Term Investment?
No. Electric toothbrushes are more expensive than manual ones on the short run and in the long run.
There are three main reasons for the higher cost:
- Electricity – Even though it will not use as much electricity as your laundry, it will still use more when compared to a manual toothbrush. So, this is still a valid argument.
- Lifespan – Much like anything else in life, and especially modern day technology, these devices also eventually seize to work. Battery life is the number one reason for electric toothbrush “deaths”. Regrettably, battery-powered toothbrushes are designed in such a way so their batteries cannot be replaced. So, when the battery fails, you will need to purchase a new one.
- Replacement brush heads – Every four months or so, based on your usage, you will have to replace the brush heads. Just like with a manual toothbrush, this is unavoidable.
One argument in favor of electric toothbrushes is that they do such a good work, that eventually you will save money by not going to the dentist as often. While this is a far stretched argument, there is some truth to that statement. Realistically speaking, a solid sonic toothbrush should be able to keep your teeth in good health. Considering you are using it twice a day with no cheat days. Keeping your teeth healthy can, in fact, lower your visits to the dental clinic considerably.
Are More Expensive Electric Toothbrushes Better?
Readers ask us this question all the time. The truth is that a lot of brands add unnecessary features to their toothbrushes in order to increase the price. In fact, most electric toothbrushes priced $69 and up will perform more or less the same. As long as their brush strokes per minute are similar, so it will be their performance.
Features such as timers, UV sterilizers, and smartphone connectivity are as useful as your iPhone’s Siri feature. They might be cool to have, so you can tell your friends about. But, at the end of the day, they fail to add any real value to essential goal of a toothbrush, which is cleaning teeth.
Our research showed that you do not need to spend over $100 in order to get an excellent toothbrush. However, there are some electric toothbrushes that perform better with braces, and some that perform better with sensitive and receding gums. We have reviewed both types for you, to make your choice easier.
The History Of The Electric Toothbrush
Much like all things in life, these battery-powered teeth scrubbers also have a history. It is not as glorious as the Trojan War, or the history of Apple, for instance, but it is filled with historical facts nevertheless.
Terminology, such as plaque and gingivitis are considered modern. However, as long as humans have existed, there has been a need for teeth cleaning. Whether it has been done for oral health purposes, or simply to remove a stubborn piece of corn stuck between the teeth, brushing has been around for thousands of years.
First tools to resemble a toothbrush were simple wooden sticks with a frayed end. Such “technological advances” were first evident as far back as 3000 BC, in the era of the Babylonians and ancient Egyptians. Interestingly enough, toot-sticks have been found buried in tombs of rich Egyptians. Indicating that tooth care is an ancient concern.
Moving away from the primitive brushing sticks, to the primitive chewing sticks. Around 1600 BC the Chinese invented what can be considered the equivalent of a chewing gum, a chewing stick. It was more designed to freshen the breath, rather than to clean the teeth. It was made with aromatic tree twigs, and it was likely designed while Chinese were on break from building the Great Wall.
The closest resemblance of a modern toothbrush was built around 700 AD by the Tang Dynasty in China. It was not the Tang Dynasty that sat there inventing a method to brush their teeth, it simply occurred during the years of their rule. The handle of the brush was made from bamboo, or in some cases animal bone and it was around 5 inches long. The head of the brush, where we are used to having bristle, was formed of hog hairs. Whether it was pig, warthog, groundhog, or hedgehog, I cannot say. It just makes me question the ancient levels of hygiene all over again!
The first toothbrush
It was not until 17th century that the word “toothbrush” entered the English dictionary. Reportedly, it was first used by an English gentleman by the name of Anthony Wood. The word was used in his autobiography when he was describing his daily habits.
The first toothbrush produced on a mass scale did not come to life until the early 1780s. More modern, for its time, the design was made by another Englishman, named William Addis. The handle of the brush was made from cattle bone, while the head from swine bristles, horse hair, or feathers. So, it took over 2000 years to basically remake what the Chinese already had and put it in mass production. In short, this is how the toothbrush was introduced to the systems of capitalism.
The concept of brushing teeth quickly gained popularity. By 1840, consumer demand forced Addis to expand his business and begin to automate the manufacturing process. It was also around that time that the first 3-row bristle toothbrush was invented. By the year 1869, Addis’ company was able to completely outsource the manufacturing of brushes to machines.
The demand and supply of toothbrushes by Addis continued through the years to come. The company supplied troops in World War I and World War II with the means to brush their teeth. In fact, Addis was producing close to 1.8 million units per year by the end of 1926.
The birth of the first electric toothbrush
As the Industrial Revolution was catching up, so was the demand for new technological advances that could make life better. The standard of living was raised, and so were people’s demands for health products.
What is often considered as the first electric toothbrush, was not really an electric device. It was a 1800s invention by Dr. Scott that was advertised as being powered by electricity, when in fact it was not. Instead, there were iron rods inside the handle. Needless to say, this prototype did not catch up.
Moving away from Dr. Scott’s creative advertisement towards the real deal. Widely known as the Broxodent, the first motor-powered toothbrush was invented by Dr. Philippe Guy Woog in Switzerland.
It was not until 1959 that the Broxodent, renamed to the Broxo Electric Toothbrush, was finally introduced to the United States. The product was distributed by E. R. Squibb and Sons Pharmaceuticals who later on changed the name again, this time to Broxo-Dent.
This model was electric, alright, but it was not cordless or rechargeable. As such, it connected straight to a wall outlet and ran on live voltage. Not something any dentist would recommend in contemporary days. Perhaps, this is why the sales of the unit plummeted rather quickly and this particular model did not gain much consumer popularity.
Mass market electric toothbrush
It was General Electric (GE) who first managed to improve the concept of the motor powered brush. They did so by introducing the first rechargeable and cordless toothbrush to the market in 1961. You no longer had to be attached to the electrical outlet and calmly wait to be electrocuted.
Despite its improvements, the GE model did not come without problems. Because battery innovation was in its early stages, the company used NiCad batteries. However, their life was short and they had to be discarded shortly after usage due to the sealed unit design of the toothbrush.
General Electric got one thing right though, and that was the charging stand. They designed it in a way so the toothbrush can stand upright. This may not seem like a considerable thing, however, modern-day manufacturers still use the same design.
New safety and technology regulations further helped shape the electric toothbrush. In the early 1990s lower voltages (12, 16 and 24) were introduced for bathrooms. As such, electric devices had to be modified in order to conform.
Broxo is still alive to this day. However, giant corporations such as Philips and Oral-B have taken the toothbrush market by storm, living very little space for Broxo.
List of Sources that we used for the research:
- CM Stanford, et. al., Efficacy of the Sonicare toothbrush fluid dynamic action on removal of human supragingival plaque. Journal of Clinical Dentistry, 1997
- ADA Seal Product Category, ADA
- CK Hope, et. al.Effects of dynamic fluid activity from an electric toothbrush on invitro oral biofilms. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2003