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
YULIA’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.
The brush comes with several different brush heads specialized for cleaning or whitening, and it can be charged from any USB port. 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.
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. Gloridea Sonic Toothbrush
Looking for a sonic toothbrush that doesn’t break the bank? Gloridea Sonic Toothbrush is a good choice. It’s got all the standard features, but just doesn’t offer anything new or advantageous compared to the best products in its category.
It’s fully waterproof, USB chargeable, 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.
Who should buy an electric toothbrush?
If you have trouble sticking to tooth brushing recommendations, or if you have a difficult time getting your teeth clean with a normal manual brush, an electric toothbrush is an easy investment to make that can improve your oral hygiene.
While an electric toothbrush is not superior to a manual toothbrush in all situations, it’s a clear advantage for children and older adults, who may not have the dexterity to brush with good technique.
Electric toothbrushes have also been proven to be more effective than a manual toothbrush for people who have braces—the nooks and crannies formed by orthodontic devices make it very tough to dislodge bits of food and bacteria, but the power of an electric toothbrush can help keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy when you have orthodontics.
Finally, people who are too easily distracted to set a timer or a stopwatch when brushing their teeth can benefit from an electric toothbrush: since the best models incorporate internal timers, often with cues to move the brush around your mouth, you can make sure you are always meeting the tooth brushing recommendations made by dental professionals.
How we ranked
To formulate our rankings of the best electric toothbrushes on the market, we aggregated data on all electric toothbrushes available right now from reputable manufacturers, then started investigating the features offered by each toothbrush.
One of the most important and simplest features that we evaluated was the presence of a timer. For people who are impatient or easily distracted, one of the most important features in an electric toothbrush is a timer that will ensure that you brush for a full two minutes.
We gave a higher score to products that had integrated timer intervals which remind you to move the brush around to different quadrants or areas of your mouth.
Next up, we evaluated which products had been certified by the American Dental Association. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs issues approvals to specific toothbrush models that meet rigorous criteria for safety and efficacy. Needless to say, ADA-certified toothbrushes ended up at the top of our rankings.
After having covered the basics of quality and efficacy, we looked to see what other perks were offered by the products remaining on our list.
Products that offered specialized brushes for people with orthodontics or braces garnered better scores, thanks to scientific research supporting the use of specially-shaped brushes to more effectively clean out food debris and bacteria from underneath orthodontic supports and archwires.
When it came to sonic and ultrasonic toothbrushes versus regular toothbrushes, we had a slight preference for the more advanced versions, because of their fewer moving parts and at least some theoretical justification for their benefits.
After sorting the remaining products by their overall quality, we had our final list—the best, most effective electric toothbrushes available right now.
Using an electric toothbrush is easier 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.
An electric toothbrush is an effective way to reduce gingivitis as well as plaque. Much of the early research on the efficacy of electric toothbrushes compared to manual toothbrushes were focused on their ability to fight plaque, which contains bacteria that can degrade the quality of your teeth.
However, other studies have been conducted comparing the ability of electric versus manual toothbrushes on fighting gingivitis, an inflammation of your gum tissue that can lead to more serious gum disease further on down the road.
A study published by a team of oral health specialists in Italy randomly assigned 20 adolescents to either a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush with a rotating head (5).
All of the participants in this study had been fitted with braces, which make normal brushing particularly difficult. During the follow-up period, the authors of the study checked up on the progression of gum bleeding, a key sign of gingivitis.
They found that the subjects who were using the electric toothbrush had greater improvements than the ones who were using the regular toothbrush. These findings suggest that an electric toothbrush might be a good solution if you’ve been told by your dentist that you have gingivitis.
Specialized brush heads made for braces and orthodontics can increase the efficacy of an electric toothbrush if you have braces. If you are shopping for an electric toothbrush, you might notice that some electric toothbrushes have heads that are specialized for braces.
The intent behind these specially-shaped brushes is to dislodge food stuck under the archwires on braces. But do they actually work better than a regular brush?
A study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics in 2013 directly tested electric and manual toothbrushes, both with and without a specialized brush head intended for braces (6).
The study involved 45 people who were randomly assigned to one of the three groups: a standard manual toothbrush, a standard electric toothbrush, or an electric toothbrush with a brush head specially made for braces. The participants in the study were followed for several weeks, with all of the participants “crossing over” and using the other products at some point during the study.
Plaque buildup was studied using a digital imaging technique, which was a marked improvement from previous research on manual versus electric toothbrushes.
The results revealed two important findings. First off, both of the electric toothbrushes outperformed manual brushing when it came to plaque. Second, the specialized brush head was more effective than the standard brush head.
That means that electric toothbrushes are a great choice if you have braces, no matter what kind of heads, but if you can, try to get a specialized head that is intended for braces and orthodontics for best results.
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 (7).
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.
Even with an electric toothbrush, the same recommendations for brushing your teeth still stand: according to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth for a full two minutes, twice per day (8).
You’ll want to make sure you’re using a soft-bristled brush head, and not pushing or brushing too hard—a common mistake that many people make when using manual toothbrushes.
Pushing too hard or brushing too vigorously, especially with a harder-bristled brush, can lead to gum injury, which is counterproductive for oral health.
Fortunately, an electric toothbrush makes it easier to avoid, since the brushing intensity is automatically controlled. As with a standard toothbrush, you’ll want to replace the brush head of your electric toothbrush at least every three to four months, and more often if the bristles look frayed or worn down.
Q: How does an electric toothbrush work?
A: Electric toothbrushes fall into one of two categories: traditional mechanical toothbrushes and newer ultrasonic toothbrushes.
Mechanical toothbrushes have been around for a long time, and have a lot of evidence supporting their use, particularly among people who have a hard time brushing effectively with a normal toothbrush, like children, older adults, and people with braces.
Mechanical electric toothbrushes use a motor to drive the brush head, which usually rotates back and forth or up and down to clean out food debris, plaque, and bacteria from your teeth. In contrast, ultrasonic toothbrushes don’t use the same kind of reciprocation motion in the brush.
Instead, they generate ultra-high frequency sound waves, which travel up the brush and move the bristles. Moreover, these ultrasonic waves are designed to mechanically dislodge food debris and plaque that might be too hard for the actual brush bristles to reach.
Q: What kind of electric toothbrushes do dentists recommend?
A: When it comes to electric toothbrushes, dentists recommend two primary features in an electric toothbrush: the first is a seal of approval from the American Dental Association, or ADA.
Getting this seal of approval means a product has passed rigorous standards for quality, efficacy, and safety. Second, to keep you brushing the recommended amount, dentists will recommend electric toothbrushes that have a two minute timer built into the device.
For special populations, like people with braces, a dentist might look for a specific kind of brush head for an electric toothbrush, but broadly, the kind of electric toothbrush that dentists recommend are the kind you’ll find at the top of our rankings: ADA-approved electric toothbrushes with integrated timers that make brushing easy.
Q: Is Sonicare better than Oral B?
A: Both Sonicare and Oral B make excellent electric toothbrushes. In fact, they both share the top two spots in our rankings. The primary advantage of the Sonicare brush is its use of ultrasonic technology.
Some theoretical and experimental evidence suggests that ultrasound could break down plaque deposits in ways that a normal mechanical toothbrush cannot. However, no studies have put an ultrasonic toothbrush to head against a normal electric toothbrush and definitively demonstrated that ultrasound is more effective than a high-powered mechanical brush like the Oral B.
If anything, Oral B actually has more research backing its efficacy, as its parent company has funded a tremendous amount of oral health research into the efficacy of its products.
The current top-of-the-line Oral B brush represents the culmination of all of this research. Either way, you can’t go wrong—Sonicare and Oral B are both excellent products.
Q: How do you use an electric toothbrush properly?
A: Electric toothbrushes make it pretty easy to brush your teeth the right way. First, put an appropriate amount of toothpaste on the bristles, then turn the brush on.
The American Dental Association recommends holding the toothbrush at about a 45 degree angle to your teeth, making sure to brush your gum line as well as all surfaces of your teeth (9).
Don’t push too hard—let the mechanical or ultrasonic action of your toothbrush do the work for you. Make sure you follow the timer on your electric toothbrush; you should brush your teeth for a full two minutes twice per day.
Q: How do you clean an electric toothbrush?
A: Cleaning an electric toothbrush usually only takes a light wash with warm water. If your electric toothbrush has built up a lot of gunk on it, or has gotten dirty from travel, you can clean it with a mild solution of chlorine bleach and water to kill bacteria, but you’ll need to rinse it with a lot of water afterwards to make sure all of the bleach gets removed before you brush again.
Often, it’s easier to just use a new brush head—you should be replacing them every three or four months anyways. Incidentally, manufacturers recommend keeping your brush head covered while you are traveling, but not when you are at home.
While you want to keep dust and dirt off the head of your toothbrush, you don’t want to trap moist air around your brush for long periods of time, as that can encourage bacterial growth.
Q: Are electric toothbrushes better than regular toothbrushes?
A: While systematic reviews of all research on electric versus regular toothbrushes has been equivocal, there does seem to be an advantage of electric toothbrushes among some people who can’t brush effectively with a normal toothbrush.
Children and older adults might not have the manual dexterity to brush with good technique, and for people with braces, an electric toothbrush can be more effective at cleaning around and underneath orthodontic wiring and mounting, especially if the electric toothbrush has a brush head that is specially designed for braces.
Q: Is an ultrasonic brush better than a mechanical toothbrush?
A: Ultrasonic toothbrushes are a pretty recent innovation when it comes to electric toothbrushes, so the evidence is not yet in on whether they are truly superior to a traditional mechanical electric toothbrush.
In theory, the ultrasonic waves of an ultrasonic toothbrush like the Sonicare could help dislodge plaque and food debris that are in hard-to-reach places, like between your teeth or underneath your gum line.
Research to date has demonstrated that ultrasonic toothbrushes work better in some situations than manual toothbrushes, but in terms of head to head comparisons, the evidence is not yet in on mechanical versus ultrasonic
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.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 electric toothbrush recommendation, click here.