Many people are turning to electric toothbrushes because they’re more effective than regular toothbrushes for deeper cleaning and preventing cavities.
Our researchers looked into this exact problem and ranked the most effective electric toothbrushes according to their performance.
1. Philips Sonicare 3 Series Sonic Toothbrush
Ultrasonic toothbrushes, like the Philips Sonicare 3 Series, borrow a technology originally developed to clean out the nooks and crannies in delicate pieces of jewelry and laboratory glass.
The ultrasonic waves dislodge microscopic particles of plaque that are attached to your teeth that a standard toothbrush–even an electric one–might miss.
These ultrasonic toothbrushes are fairly well-researched, and scientific evidence supports their superiority to manual brushing. Among the ultrasonic toothbrushes available, the Philips Sonicare 3 Series is clearly the best thanks to its smart timer, long battery life, and high brushing power.
2. Oral-B Black Pro 1000
The Oral B electric toothbrush has been a category leader for years, and this isn’t just because of slick marketing.
The Oral-B / Braun partnership has powered the most heavily-researched electric toothbrush series on the market, and this series of models has been around long enough for independent researchers to conclude that it is “clearly superior” to manual brushing.
Given how common it is, you can find replacement heads nearly anywhere. There might be higher tech options, but none are more strongly supported by scientific research than the Oral B Black Pro 1000.
3. Fairywill Electric Toothbrush
Fairywill has several features you’d expect on a quality electric toothbrush, like a two minutes timer, ultrasonic cleaning assistance, and a long battery life.
One additional benefit of the Fairywill toothbrush is that it has several different modes for whitening, polishing, and even one for sensitive teeth.
This makes it a particularly good option for people with sensitive teeth who have found that popular models tend to have too much power, irritating their teeth.
4. YASI Travel Electric Toothbrush
YASI’s electric toothbrush might not be the fanciest or most technologically advanced, but one place it’s got pretty much everyone else beat is versatility while traveling.
The YASI brush can be charged from a USB port, so if you are in a pinch, you don’t even need an electrical outlet. This means you can charge it off your laptop, your portable power pack, or any device that’s got a USB port. Many other electric toothbrushes won’t even work off the mains voltage outside North America.
The YASI electric toothbrush also comes with two replacement heads and a tongue brush, which just underscores its commitment to versatility.
5. Waterpik Complete Care
The advantage of the Waterpik Complete Care set isn’t so much the electric toothbrush, but the water pick it comes with, which is intended to supplement or even replace your flossing.
The electric toothbrush alone is solid, but nothing special. It’s got ultrasonic technology and the standard two minute timer you’d expect, but it’s a little less versatile.
The real benefit of the Waterpik Complete Care is that you can combine electric flossing (i.e. the water pick) and a pretty solid electric toothbrush in one unit–indeed, it takes up just one electrical outlet.
6. Oral-B 3D White
The 3D white from Oral-B is an electric toothbrush that’s designed in part to function with Oral-B’s whitening toothpaste to polish your teeth to a lighter shade.
It has a high brush rate, and it is self-contained, meaning it has no charger to lug along with you when you travel. The downside of this is that it is powered by a regular AA battery, so you’ll be going through those over time.
Additionally, one drawback of the AA battery is that it just can’t supply as much power as the kind of batteries used in top of the line products (including Oral-B’s own Pro 1000) so it may not be as effective at actually cleaning your teeth and improving your dental health.
It’s a good travel electric toothbrush, though, especially if you invest in an expensive electric toothbrush as your main brush and you’d rather not risk losing it when you travel.
7. KIPOZI Sonic Electric Toothbrush
There are plenty of competitors to the mainstay electric toothbrushes like Oral-B and Philips Sonicare. For these alternatives to make sense, they have to offer something that their main competitor doesn’t. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case with the KIPOZI Sonic Electric Toothbrush.
It does a fine job as a sonic toothbrush, but it’s dead even or slightly behind the best in class for its category, and it doesn’t compensate by offering something of value that’s not available elsewhere.
8. Dr. Jim Ellis Sonic Toothbrush
Yes, it’s designed by someone billed as a celebrity dentist, but what are the actual benefits? Dr. Jim Ellis’ Sonic Toothbrush is a pretty boilerplate design, with ultrasonic cleaning technology, waterproofing, and a two minute timer.
These are what you’d expect, but the design doesn’t really push beyond that. The charging base is a little flimsy, so it’ll have the tendency to tip over in small bathrooms with limited counter space.
9. ElecForU Sonic Toothbrush
ElecForU is another brand that offers a solid sonic toothbrush that’s got all the standard features you’d expect, but just doesn’t offer anything new or advantageous compared to the best products in its category.
It’s fully waterproof and has a great battery life, but at this point, that’s the case with just about every other sonic toothbrush too.
10. Colgate Total Advanced Floss Tip
The battery-powered electric toothbrush from Colgate seems designed to be a travel toothbrush, but it just comes across as woefully underpowered. With the electrical output of just two AAA batteries, there isn’t going to be enough power to effectively clean your teeth, much less replace flossing them.
It might work as a travel toothbrush, but given that there are so many better options out there for travel electric toothbrushes, it’s hard to recommend the Colgate Total Advanced Floss Tip as a top pick, despite its popularity.
Electric toothbrush benefits and side effects
Using an electric toothbrush is, in short, just more effective than manual brushing. People are, generally speaking, not very effective at brushing their teeth.
Either they spend too little time in certain areas, don’t apply enough pressure, or press too hard and damage their gums.
Using an electric toothbrush is the easiest way to assure you are brushing your teeth for the right amount of time and with the right amount of tooth agitation.
Pretty much everyone knows the toothbrushing guidelines recommended by the American Dental Association. For optimal tooth health, you should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session, covering your whole mouth and using short, regular strokes (1).
The problem, as you surely know, is that these simple steps are not always easy to follow. This is where an electric toothbrush comes in.
A quality electric toothbrush will apply the appropriate amount of mechanical agitation to clean and polish your teeth, while automatically altering you when to shift through the different quadrants of your mouth (upper and lower left and right sides).
The benefits of electric toothbrushes have been known since the 1960s. Pioneering research from the Tufts University Medical Center used a cohort of 50 patients to prove that a reciprocating (meaning back and forth) electric toothbrush was far superior in terms of cleaning power and ease of use when compared to manual brushing (2).
The scientific paper specifically looked at heavy plaque buildup, which is exactly the kind of problem that can result from not brushing as often and as effectively as you should.
Later research published in the American Journal of Dentistry quantified these findings further (3). The study looked at the long-term effects of using an electric versus a manual toothbrush.
The study took place over an eight month period and involved 77 subjects with poor dental health. The researchers found that the electric toothbrush used in the study (an Oral-B Braun model) was substantially more effective compared to the manual toothbrush.
Not only that, but the differences between the groups continued to increase over the course of two, five, and eight month follow ups.
The researchers hypothesized that the toothbrush was more effective at cleaning in between spaces in teeth that are difficult for the slower moving bristles of a manual toothbrush to effectively agitate and brush clean.
A later innovation in electric toothbrush design was the adoption of ultrasonic cleaning technology now used in sonic toothbrushes.
This technique, only possible with more advanced electronics developed in the 1980s, uses super-high frequency sound waves to dislodge microscopic particles of food, plaque, and bacteria that get stuck in small places that a standard toothbrush cannot reach.
As a result, ultrasonic toothbrushes appear particularly effective at reducing gingivitis (an inflammation of the gums that often results from poor teeth cleaning habits).
This was demonstrated in a 1995 study in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry (4). In the study, the researchers compared a manual toothbrush to an ultrasonic toothbrush in terms of plaque removal power and gingivitis reduction.
As with a standard electric toothbrush, the sonic toothbrush was more effective at removing plaque, but it was also more effective than manual brushing at reducing gingivitis.
This also suggests, but does not prove, that a sonic toothbrush might be useful for people who are less diligent with their flossing than they should be–if you aren’t always up on flossing, an ultrasonic toothbrush may be able to take up some of the slack.
However, if you already have a pretty good dental health and hygiene routine, you might not need a sonic toothbrush. Instead, an electric toothbrush might do the trick for you. A sonic toothbrush may not be as effective at secondary dental goals, like whitening teeth with a whitening toothpaste.
This is because the brush strokes are so tiny that the polishing compound might not be distributed as effectively as it would be by a standard reciprocating electric toothbrush.
Using an electric or a sonic toothbrush is almost strictly without downside, though there are a few exceptions. For sonic toothbrushes in particular, some people find that the ultrasonic waves cause irritation in their teeth if they have especially sensitive teeth or gums.
In this case, a regular electric toothbrush may be better. Some other research also indicates that people who already have heavy erosion or demineralization of their tooth enamel should steer clear of an electric or sonic toothbrush.
A scientific paper published by researchers in Germany in the journal Caries Research found that electric and sonic toothbrushes both resulted in faster mineral erosion from teeth when compared to a manual toothbrush (5).
It’s important to note, however, that this study was conducted on individual teeth outside of the body–inside the body, teeth are able to remineralize and strengthen.
It’s still worth noting that people who have lower levels of mineralization in their teeth (like people who have recently used teeth whitening systems) and have sensitive teeth as a result should stick to a manual toothbrush until their sensitivity subsides.
Some of these downsides can be mitigated by choosing an electric toothbrush model that offers lower-power settings especially designed for sensitive teeth.
For virtually everyone, using an electric toothbrush is going to be a step up when it comes to your dental health. Your brushing will be more consistent, more effective, and less likely to inadvertently cause damage to your gums.
If you just need to clean your teeth on a regular basis for the proper amount of time, a standard electric toothbrush is the way to go. If you need extra cleaning power, or if your flossing habits aren’t very good, a sonic toothbrush might be a better choice.
The only people who should avoid electric toothbrushes are those who have highly sensitive teeth as a result of demineralization of their tooth enamel.
For teeth whitening and a brighter smile, consider a teeth whitening kit or treatment.