Brushing your teeth regularly is essential. It keeps your breath fresh and helps maintain your oral health: Brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes is one of the most important things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
And while just remembering to brush makes a big difference, some toothbrushes can help make sure you do it right, which is essential to get the most benefit from regular brushing. Good, consistent tooth brushing can help eliminate the sticky, germy film that builds up on teeth (known as plaque), which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Severe gum disease has been linked to larger health issues, including heart problems and diabetes.
But most people don’t brush their teeth for long enough, averaging about 45 seconds a session—less than half the recommended 2 minutes. And many people press the brush against their teeth too hard while they brush, which can cause damage to gums and tooth enamel in the long run.
Depending on what toothbrush you select, an electric toothbrush can help you brush long enough and correctly. Many models come with a timer, and some also include features like pressure sensors to prevent overaggressive brushing.
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You don’t necessarily need to switch from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush if your dentist says you’re doing a fine job with your current setup. But there is some research indicating that electric toothbrushes might be slightly better at clearing away plaque and reducing gingivitis (early gum disease).
Some other studies indicate that people may wear away the tissue below tooth enamel with a powered brush faster than they might with a manual brush, though research suggests that manual brushing can do the same. Dental and periodontal experts say you can avoid this problem by using a gentle touch, no matter which toothbrush you use.
Prices for electric toothbrushes vary widely, ranging from less than $10 for a model with replaceable AA batteries to more than $200 for some models with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, multiple brushing modes, smartphone integrations, and other features. And while more manufacturers have been making electric toothbrushes these days, the brands Oral-B and Philips Sonicare remain mostly untouchable in terms of quality, according to our testers. But a couple of the other brushes we’ve tested, including models made by Brightline and Bruush, can clean as well as some of the models made by the top brands.
Newer on the scene are U-shaped electric toothbrushes that fit over all your teeth at once, like a mouthguard. We haven’t tested these yet, but some small, early studies suggest they may not be an improvement.
So what’s the best electric toothbrush for you? Consumer Reports can help you figure out which brushes have the most important features, do the best job cleaning, and are easy to use.
How We Tested Toothbrushes
CR evaluated the performance of powered toothbrushes using a panel of people between ages 18 and 65, all users of an electric toothbrush and in good dental health.
Cleaning performance: To see how well each brush cleaned, a dental hygienist measured plaque levels in volunteers after having them skip brushing and using other dental products for 24 hours. Each then brushed using one of the electric toothbrushes for 2 minutes. Before-and-after differences in plaque levels made up the cleaning performance score. If a toothbrush came with multiple brushing modes or brush heads, we scored it based on the mode and head combination that scored highest. This is the most important factor in the Overall Score of a toothbrush.
Ease of use: Testers told us about how easy it was to attach the brush head, how easy it was to recharge the device, and how comfortable the device felt to hold and use. We also factor in whether or not brushes have the most useful extra features: a timer and a pressure sensor.
Battery performance: A measure of how long it took for devices to charge (for the rechargeable brushes we tested) and how long it took for all models to run out of battery.
Noise: Testers were asked to evaluate the noise level for each device. Most devices are comparable on this front, so it’s a small factor in the Overall Score.
Below, you’ll find three of the best top-rated electric toothbrushes, in alphabetical order. Members can see our full toothbrush ratings and reviews here.
Bruush Electric Toothbrushes
CR’s take: The Bruush Electric Toothbrushes is part of a new generation of electric toothbrushes from smaller name players in the oral hygiene arena. With a sub-$100 price, the Bruush nabs the coveted "Best Buy" designation, because even at a low cost it still cleans extremely well and has a superb battery life from its rechargeable battery. However, it’s a bit on the loud side and tricky to use. It has five cleaning modes but lacks some of the features we’ve found on higher-end models, like pressure sensors and a low-battery warning.
Oral-B iO 7 Series
CR’s take: The Oral-B iO 7 is currently our highest-rated model, based on grabbing Excellent ratings in cleaning and battery life, and Very Good ratings for both ease of use and noise levels. It has a timer, a pressure sensor, and five cleaning modes, and includes a battery-level indicator and can connect to a smartphone app.
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100
CR’s take: The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 is a top performer in the cleaning and battery categories, and also gets high marks for ease of use and noise. It has three brushing speeds, three brushing modes, a pressure sensor, a timer, and a charge-level indicator. Like the other rated Philips toothbrushes, its easy-start option allows it to gently increase vibration during use.
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