While manual toothbrushes can be very effective with good technique, there are plenty of reasons to choose an electric toothbrush instead. Firstly, they have been found to be slightly more effective overall at removing plaque and preventing gum disease over time. They also product less waste, as you only replace the head rather than the entire brush when it wears out, they usually feature a timer to encourage you to brush for a full two minutes, and they often give warnings if you're using too much pressure (which can gum recession).
From sonic toothbrushes to oscillating handhelds, there are plenty of electric options to pick from with prices that suit any budget. So which type of electric toothbrush should you choose?
There are lots of factors to take into account, aside from your choice between a vibrating sonic toothbrush with up to 62,000 movements per minute, and oscillating round headed brushes for a more manual feel. Timers, rechargeable batteries and even brushing pressure sensitivity notifications are all available these days. Lots have even got smart apps that sit on your phone and connect via Bluetooth. Of course budgets vary massively so that could be the deciding factor.
Whatever your needs, there will be something in this list that's right for you, with five of the best listed below. It's also worth bearing in mind that electric toothbrushes are often available for a steep discount on Black Friday. Last year we saw particularly big price drops on Philips Sonicare DiamondClean models, so if you decide that's the best brush for you then it might be a good idea to wait a little before splashing out.
The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 is an excellent all-rounder, and we believe it's the best electric toothbrush around for most people. It's reasonably priced, and includes a carefully chosen set of genuinely useful features without extra bells and whistles that you're unlikely to need.
Like all of Philips' Sonicare toothbrushes, the ProtectiveClean 5100 pulses water between your teeth as you brush to help break up plaque and sweep it away. There's also an automatic timer that not only ensures you're brushing for a full two minutes, but also helps you spend equal time on each quadrant (left and right, top and bottom), pulsing when it's time to change. A pressure sensor warns you if you're using too much force when you brush (a common problem that can cause gums to recede)
An LED on the handle will remind you when it's time to change the brush head, based not only on when you last replaced it, but also your usage and brushing pressure. A great all-rounder.
The sheer number of features offered by the Oral-B Genius 9000 might seem daunting, but having used one ourselves, we can safely say that it's easy to get to grips with, and you can use as many or as few of the extras as you like.
It comes with a selection of heads so you can experiment and decide which you like most (personally we tended to favor the 'cross-action' head). These are presented in a neat display stand, but if that takes up too much space on your bathroom counter you can remove the charging puck to minimize clutter.
It also comes with a phone holder because, yes, this is a toothbrush with Bluetooth. The Oral-B app uses the brush's position and pressure to guide you around your mouth, ensuring you brush each surface well. It's completely optional, but is particularly handy for helping kids develop good technique.
Brush too hard and not only will a red pressure sensor illuminate, but the brush will slow down as well. Once you're done, you'll receive feedback through the app so you can do an even better job next time.
A great electric toothbrush doesn't have to be expensive, as the simple but effective Oral-B Vitality Plus (also known as the Oral-B Pro 500) proves. There's no Bluetooth connectivity or AI guidance here, but this budget brush takes exactly the same small, well-designed brush heads as the far pricier Genius 9000 above, and includes a quadrant timer so you can be certain you're cleaning each part of your mouth for the recommended time.
You're not getting the pressure sensor you'll find in more expensive electric toothbrushes, so you'll have to be careful not to press too hard. There's also no battery level indicator on the handle, so it's a good idea to leave it on its charging puck when not in use to avoid running out of power mid-brush.
If you travel regularly, you'll know that taking an electric toothbrush with you can be a hassle. They don't have neat cases like manual toothbrushes, so you end up with brush heads floating around loose in your wash bag, and its battery might run flat if you can't find the right kind of plug adapter.
Not so with the Philips DiamondClean, a premium electric toothbrush that comes equipped with a carry case, a hygienic cap to keep your brush head clean, and a USB charger so you'll never need to worry about it running out of power.
The DiamondClean is also a good choice for anyone who likes a really thorough clean, with an optional three-minute timed mode rather than the usual two minutes, plus a head designed to follow the contour of your teeth. Just don't press too hard; there's no pressure sensor to warn you if you need to ease off.
Many modern electric toothbrushes can coach you in better brushing technique, but the Bluetooth-enabled Colgate Connect E1 takes things one step further with a selection of apps that make oral hygiene into a game, encouraging kids to work on their brushing habits for higher scores.
Although the Connect E1 works with both iOS and Android devices, it's best suited to the Apple ecosystem due to its connectivity with the Apple Watch and Apple Health. Over time, it builds up a 3D model of your mouth and lets you see where you tend to miss, and whether you're improving.
Even if you don't have time to link the Colgate Connect E1 to your phone in the morning, the handle will store data from your brushing session so it can be synced later. You can even choose to share that info with oral health researchers to help develop better brushes in the future.
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