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An electric toothbrush can be better than a manual toothbrush because of its ability to easily remove biofilm that can later turn to plaque, according to our experts. Not only that, but an electric toothbrush often alerts you when you’ve finished brushing, simplifying a way to achieve the American Dental Association’s recommended two minutes of brushing with toothpaste.
SKIP AHEAD Best electric toothbrushes
In a world full of electric toothbrushes from Oral-B, Philips and Colgate, how do you know which is the best electric toothbrush for you? To help guide your shopping, we consulted dentists about the benefits and limitations of electric toothbrushes, how they’re different from manual toothbrushes and how to pick the best electric toothbrush for you. We also recommend some toothbrushes dentists highlighted to us, as well as a few highly rated options that align with their guidance.
The benefits of electric toothbrushes
Although using an electric toothbrush instead of a manual toothbrush doesn’t always mean cleaner or better oral health, according to Illinois-based dentist Dr. Sheri Doniger, there are certainly ways an electric toothbrush beats out a manual toothbrush in improving your cleaning regimen.
Dr. Lawrence Fung of Silicon Beach Dental in Southern California told us that electric toothbrushes are great at removing bacteria. “The brushes are much better than manual brushing, since they either have a spinning head or utilize sonic vibrations,” Fung explained. This movement creates microbubbles that gently remove bacteria biofilm, a cause of bad breath, staining, gum disease and bleeding gums.
Because of its ability to remove biofilm (which can later accumulate to plaque), Doniger added an electric toothbrush may be helpful for tackling gingivitis, an inflammation caused by plaque on the tooth. “The plaque buildup may cause bad breath and [encourage] larger buildup in hard to reach places,” she said, adding that an electric toothbrush can help as long as it’s used according to its instructions.
She also recommended electric toothbrushes for patients with periodontal disease, bacterial plaque or a history of dental decay because they ease the path to effective brushing across your entire mouth, requiring significantly less effort than manual toothbrushes. "Angling the brush into the gumline and slowly moving from one tooth to the other — while the power brush is actually doing the movement to break up the biofilm — is so simple,” she said.
The limitations of electronic toothbrushes
Using an electric toothbrush the same way that you use a manual toothbrush — brushing as fast or as hard — can potentially lead to issues like gum recession, said Dr. Joseph Field of the California-based Peninsula Center of Cosmetic Dentistry. And Doniger noted that doing this can also cause your gingival tissue to prematurely wear away, impacting the underlying tooth structure.
It’s pretty simple: Most electric toothbrushes are designed to do the scrubbing for you, Field explained, so let it do the work.
Best electric toothbrushes in 2022
Below are the best, expert-recommended electric toothbrushes on the market at various price points, as well as electric toothbrushes for kids and those designed for travel.
Best all-around electric toothbrushes
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean comes with three brush heads, each designed to tackle hard-to-reach areas; a brush body; and a traveling case for convenient packing. Pair the brush with the app on your tablet or phone and it will show you an automated progress report and real-time feedback on your brushing.
"This brush gives you personalized coaching to show you not only how to brush properly but what surfaces of the teeth you are missing,” Doniger said. “It has sensors in the brush head to let you know if you are brushing too hard and potentially causing damage to your teeth."
Fung recommended using the Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries brush. Through app pairing, the brush tracks your habits over time, provides you with helpful oral care tips and helps you to focus on the most important areas in your mouth. It includes six modes (daily clean, gum care, sensitive, whitening, deep clean and tongue cleaner) so that you can brush your teeth to meet your oral health goals. This top-rated model is available in three colors: Black, Rose Gold and White.
Experts told us that the Rotadent electric toothbrush has a 360-degree rotating head for efficient cleaning that gets under the gumline. Beyond the two-minute timer, you can customize your brushing experience with various brush heads, like the hollow tip for veneers and crowns, short tip for general everyday use and long-tip bristles for wider spaces between teeth.
Best electric toothbrush for travel
The Oral-B 9600 brush is Doniger's recommendation for the best travel toothbrush. She noted that it comes with a convenient travel case and that the body of the brush isn't bulky. It comes with "position detection technology," which uses Bluetooth and facial recognition to help you improve your daily brushing habits. The brush also includes a built-in pressure sensor that warns you if you're brushing too hard, helping you minimize the chances of damaging your gums.
Best affordable electric toothbrushes
Fung said the Oral-B Pro 1000 is the best affordable electric toothbrush. It has pressure sensors that let you know if you're brushing too hard and an oscillating brush head that breaks up plaque. The Oral-B Pro 1000 is also highly rated and sports a timer that buzzes every 30 seconds to let you know when it’s time to brush a different section of your mouth.
"I recommend [the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush] to my patients who want to try power before they commit to a higher-priced brush," Doniger said. This brush features dual-action technology that combines a side-to-side bristle movement with a spinning movement.
"For patients who want to make a larger investment in affordable power brushes, the Oral-B 500 or Oral-B 1000 are great," Doniger said. "All these brushes have timers. Also, they have the ability to replace their brush heads after 3 months."
Best electric toothbrush subscription
Doniger recommended using Quip if you're looking for the convenience of an electric toothbrush subscription service. She liked that the company provides multiple brush options and that they also provide options to add floss and toothpaste to orders. The company offers a bundle kit that includes an electric brush, a mint anticavity toothpaste, a refillable gum dispenser and floss pick. You can opt into a quarterly delivery of brush heads, batteries and toothpaste for $25, as well.
"This is definitely a good idea to keep us all on track to replace that head every three months," Doniger said.
Best electric toothbrushes for kids
The experts we spoke to also recommended the Oral-B electric brush for kids, with Fung saying it’s ideal for smaller mouths. "They come with fun colors and with a spinning head — it's very similar to the [brushes] that dentists and hygienists use to clean their teeth in the office," he said.
The Colgate Magik Smart Toothbrush is app-enabled and specifically designed to make brushing fun. By navigating fun games and tasks on the smartphone app, kids can learn to more effectively brush their teeth. This pack comes with a toothbrush holder, a phone holder and a kid-sized toothbrush with extra-soft bristles.