The title here represents a common question, and one we will help answer in this article. Of course, there are so many options to choose from, so we will recommend a few products in answer to the question, rather than just one.
Before we look at specific models, it’s probably a good idea to look at these products on more general terms first.
Click here to go straight to specific models to get for each price range.
Why Go Electric?
First off, it’s important to note that a power toothbrush is not a necessity for most people. Proper use of a manual brush with fluoride toothpaste is enough for most people to ensure good oral hygiene levels. So if you can’t afford to go electric or don’t want to spend the extra money, a manual brush is just fine for the majority.
Just make sure you are using it properly! Proper technique and spending enough time cleaning is more important than the type of brush. That being said, there are several benefits to using an electric brush over a non-powered one.
Some of the better features of top rated electric toothbrush models include:
- In-built timers to make sure you brush for long enough, and to remind you when to change where you are brushing. In other words, many tell you when to change ‘quadrant’ so everywhere in the mouth gets the same attention
- Pressure sensors to ensure that you aren’t putting too much elbow grease in when cleaning. Over-brushing can be very damaging. If you have a tendency to put too much force on the teeth, then you may well benefit from a model with such a sensor
- Higher-end brushes may remind you when you need to change the head, which is very important
- By taking some of the effort out of cleaning, these products may be of great benefit to those with dexterity problems
- Some models feature differing modes, such as those for whitening, ‘massage’ for gums and soft modes for those with tooth-wear or sensitivity. I’m not convinced of any huge benefits with these. It would be interesting to see some research to show any advantages
- Many ranges have a range of heads to suit different patients. For example, some are designed for gums, some for braces and so on.
The gadgets like timers are useful additions, but the most important feature is how the brushes actually clean the teeth. In this regard, the two main types on the market are;
- The ‘Rotation-oscillation‘ type. These move in a circular motion, rotating slightly one way and then the other. Braun Oral-B produce the market leaders here
- Sonic types. These use ultrasonic waves to move the bristles at very high frequency. Philips’ ‘Sonicare’ range leads the way with these type.
These two ranges are regularly mentioned in the top choices for dentist recommended electric toothbrush and always get favorable consumer reports.
So the main choice for consumers often comes down a choice between Oral-B and Philips products. But which is better? There have been several studies (e.g. here and here) to determine the top option, but the results are split.
As there is not a lot to choose between them, it may just come down to personal choice. However I recommend the rotation-oscillation type, that Oral-B uses, as perhaps slightly better. Studies show that both types are safe and effective in plaque removal.
Notes of Caution
Keep in mind these points when considering a new purchase:
- As I said earlier, an electric toothbrush is not a ‘necessity’ for most people. Used properly, a manual brush should be fine for most. Studies do not show any major differences between regular and powered
- Although a powered type may make things easier, you still need to spend the same time cleaning every day!
- There is learning curve with a new brush if moving from manual, as there are slightly different techniques to using each
- Spending a lot on the higher end toothbrush models may not give any huge benefit over cheaper versions. Although the very cheapest are probably a waste of your money
- You need to change the head every 3-6 months to ensure a good clean. Worn bristles will not clean your teeth effectively
- Cleaning between the teeth is still a necessity.
Some Recommended Models
Here are some of our favored models available in 2013, based on consumer reports and research studies. As everyone’s budget differs, there are models listed to suit each:
Best cheap electric toothbrush. There are a lot to choose from at this end of the market. We choose the Oral-B Vitality series as a good option for those on a tight budget. Less than $30 (£20) for a great rechargeable model with in-built timer. It does lack some of the extra features of more expensive models, but does the basics well enough. One major downside versus the others below is the lack of a pressure sensor, which helps prevent over-brushing.
Another great cheap option is the Oral-B professional care 1000. If you can afford to spend only a bit extra, the 1000 is a much better option vs the Vitality. It includes a pressure sensor which is a highly recommended extra.
Mid-Range. There are two excellent toothbrushes in this category, and it’s hard to separate them.
- The first is the Oral-B 5000 range, which is really superb. It has a separate display to tell you how well you are brushing and lots of feedback features to help guide you as you clean. Award winning and dentist recommended. Note it was previously called the Oral B Triumph in the States, and still is in the UK. Read our Oral-B 5000 review.
- The Flex Plus Sonicare model is similarly priced and again is full of extras. UV sterilizer, great battery life, several modes and lots of feedback make this a great choice. We review this Flexcare Plus here.
High End. If you are after the most expensive, the best choice is possibly the Sonicare DiamondClean. It is undoubtedly a super toothbrush, but you not be convinced it is worth the extra spend over the above two models.
Another, relatively new, type of higher end Ultrasonic toothbrush from Emmi-dent (click link for my review)
Best Electric Toothbrush Summary
There is so much choice, it can be hard to know what the best electric toothbrush is. As mentioned above, it is not the brush that you choose, but how you use it and how often that is most important. There are lots of great products on the market.
But if I had to recommend one, based on value for money and features, it would currently be the Oral-B professional care 5000 range.