The electric toothbrush world is a confusing one, since it’s littered with marketing jargon that will blow a lot of sunshine your way, but won’t actually give you a real rundown on what toothbrushes are generally considered best. You’ll get a lot of white noise with “sonic” and “20,000 brushstrokes per minute” that may or may not tell you anything about how well it’s going to clean your pearly whites. So, rather than read the labels, we sought out the people who know teeth: Dentists. Then, with a load of plaque disclosing tablets, we checked the effectiveness of their choices. Not only did we find the 12 best electric toothbrushes, but a lot of information you should know.
How to Pick a Toothbrush, According to the ADA
The American Dental Association doesn’t have a stance on whether or not electric toothbrushes or manual ones are better. They say that both are equally bad if they sit in a holster, never to be put to use. Therefore, the better toothbrush is whatever one will find its way to your mouth.
What they do suggest is seeking out a toothbrush that has the ADA seal of approval. That seal is earned only by manufacturers who have had their products tested and certified by a third party of scientific researchers who can attest that it meets all the necessary standards of quality. That seal cuts through the jargon and lets you know that if you use the brush properly, it will help get your chompers squared away.
Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes
While manual and electric toothbrushes can both give you a scrubbed mouth, there are advantages that go along with an electric that are not found in a manual. The fact it automatically scours does tend to give you more cleaning power, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach and therefore tough to clean. They also move faster than your hand alone, for enhanced scrubbing per use with less effort. Using an electric will also provide you with a timer that tells you when to move off of an area and when you’ve done enough work, something that most manuals leave up to you.
The answer to “Which is better?” comes down to whatever you feel comfortable with and fits your lifestyle. An electric is usually superior than a manual if you tend to be a little lazy about your oral hygiene while a manual gives you more control over exactly how much attention each particular area of your mouth receives.
How To Get More From Your Brush
Whether you grab a manual or electric brush, the key to making it more effective is going to be how you use and care for it. Rinsing it after each use to remove detritus and excess toothpaste keeps it clean. Leaving it in an upright position so it can dry and gravity can remove any particles left behind is also good. Avoid putting it in a moist, closed case, since that creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Using your brush twice a day with an interdental cleaner – like floss – helps as well. Mouthwashes and water irrigation solutions (like water flossers) can also add to the utility of your brush. Now onto the best electrics in the game.
Oral-B Pro 1000
Oral-B has the market on circumferential toothbrushes covered, and they all do basically the same thing, which is sweep plaque away in a rotating motion that many prefer since it more aptly contours to the shape of your teeth. What’s better about the Pro 1000 than other spinners is the pressure sensor that tells you when you’re bearing down too hard on your crocodile smile. Purchase: $33
Simple and inexpensive, the HP-STX is a quality cleaner that comes with multiple brush heads at a very pretty price point. You won’t find much in the way of bells and not a single whistle; merely a good clean at a good price with plenty of heads to go around. Purchase: $40
iWhite Tooth Polisher
Partly a brush, but intended to be used in conjunction with an ordinary cleaning system, the polisher is better at lifting away stains to give you a deeper, more thorough clean. Mix it up with your regular brush about once a week and you’ll get a smoother, brighter, whiter grin again and again. Purchase: $51
Colgate ProClinical A1500 Expert
This operates at a whopping 32,500 brushstrokes a minute, which is much higher than the standard 20K that most provide. It also changes speed and operation depending on where it is in your mouth, using sensors to give you the right angle to knock off plaque in the dark recesses of your maw. Purchase: ~$55
Waterpik Complete Care 5.0
Here’s the way to go if your dentist suggests getting the pockets out of your gums to complete your hygiene regiment. Included in the base is a full water flossing system that works well with the high-quality brush which is not stellar, but well above average. Good for clutter reduction with the all-in-one base. Purchase: $67
Oral-B Pro 5000 with Bluetooth
Big and serious about its job, the 5000 is not for the dainty, but is incredible for those who want a thorough clean without putting out much energy. Those who are too slothful to make good use of the Brio above should snap this up, since its rough and tumble cleaning action does almost all the work for you, and will tell you when to do your brushing thanks to Bluetooth connectivity. Purchase: $69
Brio SmartClean Sonic
Everyone knows most of the other heavy hitters on this list, but Brio isn’t a major contender, yet. This is an affordable sonic option that can beat out most Sonicare models for average use time and again. However, it does rely heavily on operator vigilance, so sloppy brushers won’t do as well with this as with many competitors. Purchase: $70
A quaint item for travelers, the Chic is classy and stylish, packs down well, holds a charge, and disappears into a carry-on bag or work duffel. Here’s your on-the-go option, so long as you try not to pack it away wet too many times. Purchase: $110
People with sensitive gums shouldn’t think twice, since the Contour has some of the softest bristles around, which limits damage to the gums, helping to prevent infection. Those soft bristles are good, not amazing at fighting plaque, so using it more often is recommended. Purchase: $121
Silicone bristles make the ISSA more hygenic than standard bristles, and less able to wear out over time. You only need to replace the head once a year, and the pulsing action is a kindly, satisfying way to do more for your mouth. Purchase: $149
Philips Sonicare Flexcare
A really incredible brush, the Flexcare allows for several heads that do different tasks, and uses a high frequency pulse that removes plaque even before touching the tooth, giving it loads of flexibility and cleaning power. It’s multiple brushes on one body, the most versatility for your dental dollar. Purchase: $160
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
Part of the allure of the DiamondClean is the smaller head, which fits better into nooks and crannies in the mouth, to get those places that are tough to reach. The comfort makes it good, and the cleaning power is high, but it doesn’t quite make the cost of admission worth it, unless easy use is your major concern. Purchase: $180