Dentists have long advised people to switch from manual toothbrushes to electric models, which do a far better job of keeping teeth and gums healthy. But with costs ranging from £10 to over £200 and marketing jargon ranging from “rotating-oscillating” to “sonic,” it’s no wonder people get confused about which one to buy.
The cheapest type of electric toothbrush are the “rotating” ones, which have bristles that turn or spin. Slightly more upscale are the “rotating-oscillating” brushes, on which the head rotates one way, then the other, enabling you to focus on scrubbing one tooth at a time. More expensive still are “sonic” brushes, which vibrate at very high speeds and frequencies to buff the tooth surface and force toothpaste between your teeth. Finally, there’s “ultrasonic,” which create millions of sound waves per minute to penetrate special nano bubble toothpaste into teeth and gums, which helps protect gums and enamel while cleaning ultra-efficiently.
Whatever sort you go for, check how long the rechargeable batteries last (this can range from a week’s worth of brushing twice a day up to an impressive six weeks) and how often you’ll need to replace the brush heads, as well as how easily available and expensive they are. Nice-to-have features include brushing timer, pressure sensors to prevent harsh scrubbing and soft grip handles.
1. Oral-B Pro 3000: £44.99, Amazon
This is a great all-rounder. Combining a pulsating and rotating action, with a comfortable handle, it’s particularly good at breaking down plaque, reaching right between teeth, as well as making them whiter. It’s quieter than most brushes, as well as having a brush head that’s easy to change. But you’ll need to charge it every ten days or so.
2. Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean: £124.99, John Lewis
This stylish brush, available in colours as exotic as amethyst and soft pink, has features galore, including 30-second reminders to move onto the next section of teeth, five brushing modes and a snazzy glass charger, which keeps the battery lasting weeks (although we found it took about 18 hours to recharge). It’s incredibly powerful, as well as being ergonomically designed for a good grip, leaving your gnashers gleaming and feeling beautifully polished, even in those nooks and crannies that conventional brushes can’t reach.
3. Colgate ProClinical A1500 Expert White: £137.89, Amazon
With 32,500 strokes per minute and a multi-directional cleaning brush which automatically adjusts to a different speed and cleaning action depending on its position in your mouth, this makes you feel as though you’ve just come back from the hygienist. And while it offers tremendous power and efficiency, it feels gentle even on sensitive teeth and is quiet too. It’s quick to recharge, but we got just 15 brushes before the power ran out.
4. Waterpik Complete Care: £114.86, Amazon
This looks more like something you’d see at the dentist’s than in a home bathroom. But with a high-powered water flosser and strong-performing sonic toothbrush, this one-stop-shop for dental hygiene is a great way to achieve permanent pearly whites – if you’ve got the space for it (it’s about the same size as a kettle). To get the water flosser working, you simply fill the reservoir with water, point the tip at the areas you’d usually floss – the combination of water pressure and pulsations deep cleans between teeth and below the gumline. Particularly good for those with crowns or braces to reach tiny crevices.
5. Sonic Chic: £14.99, Boots
Available in six different funky and colourful designs, ranging from hearts (great for teens) to abstract patterns, this small, lightweight brush is handy for popping in your bag for work, overnight stays or the gym. And with 22,000 strokes per minute – impressive for such a small brush – it’s not a case of style over substance.
6. Colgate ProClinical Pocket Pro: £43.32, Boots
If you travel a lot but find your normal brush too bulky to transport and other compacts too tame, this is excellent. Delivering an impressive 25,500 brush strokes a minute with side-to-side and up-down motion, it also feels nice to hold, even when steering into hard-to-reach areas. It’s a good size, can be charged in its USB charging case and the two-minute timer means you won’t skimp on the recommend time, even if you’re jetlagged.
7. iWhite Tooth Polisher: £39.99, Boots
This plucky little brush is designed to remove not only plaque, but surface stains on the teeth caused by the likes of tobacco, coffee and tea, restoring your teeth’s pearly whiteness. Use it once a week with a special polishing gel after cleaning your teeth gently and do be sure to read the list of instructions and cautions first, which include not using too much pressure and not immersing the device in water afterwards.
8. Oral-B Pro 6500 Smart Series: £98.59, Amazon
It was only ever a matter of time before toothbrushes got in on Bluetooth technology. This one is ideal for those who crave feedback, relaying your brushing habits and advice for improvement to your mobile. The cross-action head rotates, oscillates and pulsates, all of which help remove plaque build-up and there are five modes – daily clean, gum care, sensitive, whitening, deep clean and even tongue cleaner - along with a warning light if you brush too hard. It’s quiet too, although the battery only lasts around 10 days.
9. IBP Sonic Toothbrush with UV Sanitizer: £44, QVC
The charging and storage unit comes with a built-in UV sanitizer that kills bacteria and viruses on brush heads – great for clean freaks. As for the brush itself, it provides a whopping 40,000 movements per minute, providing a lot of bang for your buck. In fact, you’ll need to remember not to switch it on until the brush is in your mouth if you don’t want to be sprayed with toothpaste.
10. BrushBaby Baby Sonic: £9, John Lewis
Babies and toddlers need their teeth cleaned too and this easy-to-grip, battery powered brush has a tiny head that’s just right for small mouths. The vibrations are strong enough to be effective, but not so strong to freak them out. It’s nice and quiet and there’s a 30-second pulse and two-minute timer to teach good habits from an early age.
11. Philips Sonicare for Kids: £56.65, Amazon
Getting kids to clean their teeth well is rarely easy, but a decent electric brush can help and this one will make it fun too. The interactive Bluetooth app puts the character Sparkly, who loves nothing more than cleaning his teeth, at the centre of the action on your device. Not only can kids mimic Sparkly his teeth in real time, focusing on different sections of the mouth, but your kids can gain rewards including food, accessories and new skills for him by cleaning as they should and for the required two minutes. Suitable for those aged three years and over.
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