10 Best Electric Toothbrushes | The Strategist

Photo: Marcus McDonald

As the Strategist’s personal-hygiene writer, I find brushing my teeth is much more enjoyable with an electric toothbrush. Plus, it’s nice knowing I’m always getting a thorough brush thanks to quadrant timers and pressure sensors. Buying an electric toothbrush doesn’t have to be expensive, either: There are plenty of budget-friendly options out there as well as souped-up models for anyone obsessed with tracking their health stats.

Many dentists think electric toothbrushes have a slight edge over manual ones because they can be better at reducing plaque, gingivitis, and the risk of gum recession since they lessen the force we put into cleaning our teeth and gums. When shopping for an electric toothbrush, start with a model that has an ADA Seal of Acceptance to make sure it’s safe and effective when used as directed. After that, you shouldn’t really stress — at least not when it comes to picking among the dentist-approved electric options. Sonya Krasilnikov, a dentist and co-founder of Dental House, says, “Choosing between Sonicare and Oral-B is like picking between a Mercedes and a BMW. It’s mostly personal preference.” Since the differences between them can be so subtle, to put together this guide, I brushed my own teeth with some of the dentist-recommended picks below and tested features like pressure sensors, two-minute quadrant timers, and more.

Electric toothbrushes tend to fall into three camps: rotating, oscillating, and sonic. “Rotating or rotary toothbrushes have small circular heads that rotate back and forth to clean each tooth, and there’s sonic toothbrushes that have vibrating brush heads that move the bristles side to side at really high speeds, sometimes up to frequencies of 50,000 movements per minute,” says Dr.Cooper. Sometimes you will hear oscillating and rotating used interchangeably because they both refer to the actual movement of the bristles — unlike sonic which refers to the vibration of bristles — but rotating indicates movement in a circle while oscillating refers to a side to side motion. Some dentists say that one isn’t necessarily better than the other, while others appreciate the power of sonic slightly more. Dentist Sharon Huang of Les Belles NYC explains that sonic toothbrushes use a sonic wave to dislodge debris all on its own, which she likes because it requires less force to get the job done. “The rotation mechanism, you actually have to touch the tooth and it’s rotating and it’s helping you clean it,” she says. “The sonic toothbrush has a sonic wave. So if you’re in the vicinity, and you’re not even touching your tooth, it’s supposed to be dislodging bacteria.” The sweet spot is a toothbrush that does it all, but orthodontist Janet Stoess-Allen, says that because teeth are curved, “rotating heads are more effective in getting to all sides of them.”

“Hard-bristled toothbrushes are wonderful if you’re going to clean the grout from your bathroom tile, but they’re not for use in the mouth,” says Messina, who explains that harder bristles can damage gums and enamel. Every expert we spoke with said a soft-bristle brush was the way to go in all cases, but especially if you have sensitive teeth and gums.

Brushing too hard can be just as damaging as brushing with too hard of bristles, which is why dentist Inna Chern likes brushes with pressure sensors that beep or stop moving when you’re being too aggressive to “eliminate the possibility of overzealous brushing.” A pressure sensor shouldn’t make or break your decision when deciding on what brush to go with, but Huang does think it’s a good idea for people switching from a manual brushes to an electric one for the first time who might be used to be putting some extra umph behind their strokes, which electric toothbrushes don’t require.

Built-in timers are more standard than pressure sensors and a little more essential. Leonard Umanoff of Brooklyn-based LuxDen, recommends toothbrushes that have a built-in timer, as this helps make sure you’re brushing long enough to adequately get rid of plaque. Some will just run for the recommended two minutes, while others have a quadrant timer that will alert every 30 seconds when it’s time to move to the next quadrant of your mouth.

The consensus is that the smaller the brush head the better. Chern says it’s a good pick “if your mouth is on the smaller side or you have gagging issues.” It also makes it easier to reach your molars, a hard to clean area that people often miss, according to Dentist Hemita Klose of West Village Dental Studio. There are a few cases where a larger head might be better. Orthodontist Heather Kunen reminds us that a toothbrush is only as good as it’s operator, so for brushers who are less meticulous about moving a small brush around every corner of each tooth, they’ll benefit from a broader head.

Toothbrush bristles become worn and frayed over time, making them less effective at cleaning your teeth. It’s recommended that they’re replaced every three months. Here, I’ve linked to replacement toothbrush heads made by the brand and broken down the cost per head.

Oral-B White Pro 1000 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Very Good Deal

Brush movement: Rotating, oscillating, and sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: Yes | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Small | Replacement heads: Four for $20 ($5 each)

While the Oral-B Pro 1000 is a pretty basic and affordable entry-level electric toothbrush (high-end models could run you upwards of $300), it has all the main features dentists recommend. That’s why I bought this toothbrush myself back in 2020 when I first upgraded from a manual one. I have since upgraded again — more on that below — but revisited the Pro 1000 for testing. In the past three months, my teeth feel as squeaky clean as they do with my souped-up toothbrush. While I miss the tracking capabilities of my current model, all of the features that make brushing with an electric toothbrush easier and more effective are here: The built-in two-minute quadrant timer vibrates every 30 seconds, and the pressure sensor stops the pulsation if I’m brushing too hard. Oral-B brushes are known for their small round heads, which allow me to brush around each tooth.

Cosmetic dentist Lana Rozenberg likes that Oral-B brushes generally “have more features” and are “more advanced than the others.” They have a slight edge over competing popular electric toothbrushes because they rotate, oscillate, and pulsate (or vibrate), combining all three technologies. This brush can rotate 44,000 times per minute, which dentist Jonathan Levine says causes “a lot of disruption of plaque.” According to the Oral-B website, all of its round toothbrush heads rotate 45 degrees to the right and back to 45 degrees to the left, as well as oscillate back and forth.

Brushing with the Oral-B Pro 1000.
Photo: Arielle Ava

Arm & Hammer Spinbrush PRO+ Deep Clean Powered Toothbrush

Brush movement: Rotating and oscillating | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: No | Timer: No | Brush-head size: Large

If you want to try out an electric toothbrush without dropping a lot of cash, this is one of the few ADA-approved models you’ll find in the drugstore. Unlike the Oral-B Pro 1000, it doesn’t have a timer or pressure sensor, but Levine says it’s “a good starting point, good for travel, and better than manual.” The brush head moves in two directions: The top part rotates in a circle while the bottom bristles oscillate up and down. The bristles are soft and conveniently change color when it’s time for a new head. This brush is battery-operated, which certainly has its cons, but, as opposed to others on this list that will just be dead when their internal battery dies, this toothbrush’s AA batteries are at least replaceable. That might be the only thing you can fix though. Low-cost brushes tend to be “disposable in the sense that you’ve got plastic mechanical parts … and those will wear out,” Messina says.

Oral-B iO Series 8 Toothbrush

Brush movement: Rotating, oscillating, and sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: Yes | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Small| Replacement heads: Two for $22 ($11 each)

I upgraded from my Oral-B Pro 1000 to its newer iO Series toothbrush about a year ago. Off the bat, it’s a much sleeker model, with its OLED display on the brush handle and magnetic charging stand, but its souped-up features stand out most. Like the Pro 1000, it combines rotating, oscillating, and sonic technology, plus a two-minute quadrant timer to make sure you’re brushing the right amount of time. Rather than one mode, it comes with seven: daily clean, gum care, sensitive, super-sensitive, whitening, intense, and tongue clean. I personally use the two-minute daily-clean setting twice a day, which leaves my teeth feeling squeaky clean. And the less-intense 30-second tongue-clean mode got me in the habit of brushing my tongue more regularly (I try to use it at least every other day). I now have fresher breath than when I was brushing my teeth and swishing around mouthwash. The toothbrush’s pressure sensor is more advanced, too. A light at the top of the brush turns red if you’re brushing too hard, white if you’re not brushing hard enough, and green if you’re brushing just right. What I found most helpful, however, is the app it uses to track brushing habits. The toothbrush uses an AI technology called 3D Tracking to show real-time feedback on the app: a rendering of your teeth progressively gets whiter until it tells you that section is fully cleaned. Over time, you can see your progress on the app too. It tells you which spots you frequently miss, so you can easily change bad brushing habits. While it is pricey, I think it’s worth a splurge if you’re wanting a high-tech option.

Oral-B 8000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity

Brush movement: Rotating, oscillating, and sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: Yes | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Small | Replacement heads: Four for $20 ($5 each)

For $70 less, Strategist associate editor Jenna Milliner-Waddell recommends the slightly older Oral-B 8000. It also features a light-up pressure sensor that turns red if you’re brushing too hard and Bluetooth technology for real-time feedback on your brushing habits. Rather than an AI technology that the iO uses, the 8000 relies on using your phone’s front-facing camera. You can easily see the diagnostic report using the included phone holder that suctions onto the mirror. This brush also comes with a charging case, and has six different cleaning modes. And it has a charging dock that has room for additional brush heads. All of these features made this toothbrush a standout to Pia Lieb, founder of Cosmetic Dentistry Center NYC. She’s particularly a fan of the app. “Having the app really does work because it makes you self-conscious of really brushing for two full minutes,” says Lieb, who says that most people don’t come close to the recommended time on their own.

Philips Sonicare 4100 Power Toothbrush

Brush movement: Oscillating and sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: Yes | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Large | Replacement heads: Three for $27 ($9 each)

Our best-overall pick is an Oral-B, but for those who want to go with the other major player in the space, Sonicare, this is your best option. Sonicare brushes are distinguishable from Oral-B brushes mainly by the brush head. Sonicare’s heads are large and flat compared to Oral-B’s small round brushes, and they’re long-lasting, according to Wellspring Dental dentist Mandy Nebel, who prefers Sonicare over other brands. This specific model — one of two from the brand accepted by the ADA — is a more entry-level Sonicare. When I tested it out for myself, I found it a lot less noisy than the Oral-B best-overall option. I think this is because of how the brush head moves. It doesn’t rotate and instead moves side to side and uses more of an ultrasonic vibrational energy to disrupt plaque and tartar, aiding in the removal of gingivitis-causing, bacteria-holding compounds. Even though it moves differently, I found my teeth feeling just as clean as when I brushed with the Oral-B Pro 1000. Similarly, this Sonicare has a quadrant timer, pressure sensor, and soft bristles. A couple of bonuses: It has a light that tells you when to replace the head and a protective brush cap. The main reason that it’s not the best overall is the larger brush head, which may not work for most people, but other than that, it’s an excellent option for about $50.

Pro-Sys VarioSonic Electric Toothbrush

Brush movement: Sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: No | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Large | Replacement heads: Three for $19 ($6 each)

This toothbrush has a large, long head similar to Sonicare brushes. It doesn’t have the name recognition of some of the bigger brands, but the Pro-Sys sonic brush is marketed to dentists, and many sell it directly to patients in their offices, Levine says. Its soft bristles and oval brush head easily reach back into the mouth. It comes with five different brush heads, all variations of soft, making it safe for even the most sensitive teeth and dental implants; there are also five levels of cleaning power, meaning there are 25 potential settings on this toothbrush. The biggest standout is the battery life: While most toothbrushes on this list will last about two weeks on one charge, this one can go for about a month. If you travel often or just forget to plug yours in, you’ll rarely have to worry about traveling with your charger or about the Pro-Sys dying on you.

Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0 Professional Flossing Toothbrush

Brush movement: Sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: Yes | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Large | Replacement heads: Two for $24 ($12 each)

If you’re shopping for an electric toothbrush and a water flosser, consider this two-in-one model that combines the best of both devices. It has three functions — brushing, flossing, and both — and two brush speeds. Compared to regular flossing, water flossing can be easier for those with limited mobility or certain dental work, like braces or implants. And it even “removes the harmful bacteria and debris deep between teeth and below the gumline that traditional brushing and dental floss can’t reach,” says Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, an orthodontist at New York’s Dr. Smiles. But while it shouldn’t replace traditional flossing, it’s the next best thing, says Rabinovich, who uses one herself and recommends it to patients. She even says that after using it, her mouth feels like “I just had my hygienist go at it.”

Waterpik Complete Care 5.0 Flosser + Sonic Toothbrush System

Photo: retailer

Brush movement: Sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: Yes | Timer: Yes | Brush-head size: Large | Replacement heads: Three for $24 ($8 each)

This two-in-one flosser and toothbrush system recommended by Dr. Elisa Mello, owner of NYC Smile Design, is about $50 cheaper than the Fusion Professional model above. You won’t get the same convenience of water flossing and brushing at the same time, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one device where you have options to do both, this is a great affordable model. The brush has three sonic modes (clean, whiten, and massage for gum stimulation) and three speeds, so it actually has more brushing options than the Fusion. The flosser itself has ten different pressure settings, ranging from 10 to 100 psi, and the 22-ounce tank holds enough water to run for 90 seconds. And while the toothbrush has a two-minute quadrant timer, the flosser does not.

Oral-B Kids Electric Toothbrush Featuring Disney's Frozen

Brush movement: Rotating and oscillating | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: No | Timer: Yes | Brush head size: Small | Replacement heads: Two for $17 ($8 each)

Generally, you’ll want to wait to introduce kids to electric toothbrushes since toddlers’ gums may be too tender for bristles, Rabinovich tells us. Usually, kids’ electric toothbrushes are marketed for ages 3 and up, but Rabinovich recommends them for those older than 5. If you’re having trouble acclimating your kid to an electric toothbrush, Dr. Rashmi Ambewadikar of Astoria Smiles Pediatric Dentistry recommends starting with front teeth and moving toward the back to avoid gagging and the feeling of vibration on the tongue, and brushing small sections at a time to give them breaks. Steven C. Cohen of Livingston Smiles and Rabinovich both advise going with a brush with their favorite character or cartoons. “Are they in a Disney Princess or PAW Patrol stage? Kids are more likely to use a toothbrush with their favorite characters on it,” Rabinovich says. Cohen approves of Oral-B’s collection of kids’ brushes. This one is rechargeable and has a sensitive brush head with soft bristles and a built-in timer.

Quip Kids Electric Toothbrush

Brush movement: Sonic | Soft bristles: Yes | Pressure sensor: No | Timer: Yes | Brush head size: Small | Replacement heads: Three for $37 ($12 each)

Quip, a start-up toothbrush company, is known for making sleek-looking, minimalist toothbrushes at an affordable price. Rabinovich’s kids use the brand’s kids’ toothbrush, which “does offer some ultrasonic vibration, but it’s not overwhelming” for teeth that are still growing. I’ve tried the brand’s regular toothbrush in the past and can say it’s much gentler than the other ones I’ve tried on this list, but my teeth always felt clean after using it. Rabinovich says that’s because its soft bristles are surrounded by rubber massagers, which are gentler on tender gums with loose and erupting teeth. “And the subscription service for replacement heads and batteries means one less thing for me to remember to do as a parent,” Rabinovich adds. Dr. Ambewadikar also recommends Quip’s brushes for kids because its smaller handle is easier to grip. Another major benefit I found is that it doesn’t require a charging base and frees up counter space — something families sharing a bathroom might appreciate. Bonus: It comes in four bright, kid-friendly colors: blue, pink, purple, and green.

• Inna Chern, dentist and founder of New York General Dentistry
• Steven C. Cohen, dentist at Livingston Smiles
• Ada Cooper, dentist and ADA spokesperson
• Stephanie Dumanian, owner of Park Lex 60 Dental
• Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, orthodontist at Dr. Smiles
• Sharon Huang, dentist and founder of Les Belles NYC
• Hemita Klose, dentist at West Village Dental Studio
• Sonya Krasilnikov, dentist and co-founder of Dental House
• Heather Kunen, orthodontist at Linhart Dentistry
• Jill Lasky, dentist at Lasky Pediatric Dental
• Jonathan Levine, dentist and CEO of JBL New York City
• Pia Lieb, founder of Cosmetic Dentistry Center NYC
• Matt Messina, dentist and ADA consumer adviser
• Jenna Milliner-Waddell, Strategist associate editor
• Mandy Nebel, dentist at Wellspring Dental
• Yuliya Rabinovich, owner of Dental Muse
• Lana Rozenberg, cosmetic dentist and founder of Rozenberg Dental NYC
• Marc Schlenoff, dentist and vice-president of clinical development at Tend
• Janet Stoess-Allen, orthodontist and owner of Park Avenue Orthodntics
• Leonard Umanoff, dentist and founder of LuxDen

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