Choosing an electric toothbrush can be difficult, and the way that these toothbrushes are marketed certainly does no favours for the first-time or even the habitual buyer. The overactive imaginations of marketing departments can confuse potential buyers by misleading them about what the toothbrush actually does, let alone what it does that others do not.
The market is also heavily saturated, meaning that manufacturers must go the extra mile to ensure that their offers are even seen by customers, let alone chosen and used. The result of this heavy competition for what is ultimately a luxury item is that manufacturers are constantly looking for new ways to tell you that their electric toothbrush is the very best one on the market – this can be a pain if you’re the type of consumer who likes to do their own research on the non-essential products you buy. To help you out, we’ve slogged through all of the hints, passive voice trickery and five syllable marketing words to deliver some fact-based appraisals of electric toothbrushes.
The Best Electric Toothbrushes available to buy in the UK in 2018 are:
At the end of the day (and the beginning, if you’re brushing twice daily as you should), the most important thing about your electric toothbrush purchase is how it’s going to fit into your existing routine or how it will contribute to the changes in your routine that you’re trying to make. If you’re a brush-twice-daily-and-forget-it kind of person, you probably don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on a brush that streams a live animation of your toothbrush to your smartphone and shouts at you to floss more often.
On the contrary, if you’re apprehensive about your oral health and think that you could do better, a device that warns you when you’re applying to much pressure to the teeth and gums could be just the thing you need to feel better about your brushing technique and overall dental health. Avoid being sucked in by elaborate marketing prose and identify your specific needs and desires before you start shopping – your teeth will thank you for it.
The Best Electric Toothbrush
In this article, we will look at 5 popular electric toothbrush offerings and their strengths and weaknesses to help you decide how much you should spend as well as choose an electric toothbrush that is right for your oral hygiene needs.
ORAL B TRIZONE 2000
The Oral B Trizone 2000 electric toothbrush is a popular midrange choice for everyday oral hygiene. It works with a pulsating/oscillating motion, and it has a single speed setting (no varying speeds or actions are available for this model). A single on/off button on the handle controls its operation. It will stop automatically if its internal sensor detects that you’re brushing too hard, and it features a built-in timer to help ensure that you brush for the full two minutes that dentists recommend. It also features a battery indicator on the handle which shows the status of the battery and a charging indicator to show whether the toothbrush is charging when it is mounted on its base.
Unboxing the Trizone 2000, you’ll find that it includes a manual (as if you really needed one with this toothbrush!) a charger, the power handle and a single toothbrush head. Depending on which model you purchase, you may also find a coupon for discounted brush heads. At first glance, it appears to be a sleek and well-designed electric toothbrush. The Trizone 2000 is a well-made unit, manufactured in Germany by Oral B and Braun. The rubber handle offers a good if not very ergonomic grip and its design is both clean and understated. The rubber on the grip is quite soft, so much so that it can attract debris from anything used to clean it, but it is very easy to clean – a quick rinse will remove any toothpaste or lint it might have attracted. It is available with a blue or black-coloured grip.
This toothbrush accepts a variety of Oral B electric brush heads: the CrossAction Head (which comes with the unit), the Sensitive Clean head, the Precision Clean head, the FlossAction head, the White Toothbrush head, and the Deep Sweep head. You can expect to get up to three months from a single head, but depending on your brushing habits you may want to change your heads out more often as they become worn down and ineffective. The included CrossAction Head, featuring clusters of brushes fanning outwards at 16 degrees, is a medium-bristled offering intended to focus on the teeth and gumline – if you typically brush with a soft bristled brush, this may be a little too harsh for your liking. All Oral B brush heads come with coloured rings to help tell which brush head belongs to whom in case you’re ever sharing a toothbrush. Additionally, these brush heads come with “indicator bristles” whose purpose is to indicate the state of the brush head’s wear by fading from blue to white with use.
Charging the Trizone 2000 is very simple – the brush just sits on top of the charger, and a knob on the charging base holds the brush steady while the NiCad battery charges wirelessly. The charger itself is a well-designed piece made of white plastic, making it easy clean and less of an eyesore than some others. The 48” cord is long enough to reach the bathroom counter plug with a little left to spare. Oral B suggests charging weekly if the Trizone 2000 is used daily, but some users may find that this brush lasts longer, particularly if you are brushing twice a day instead of three times. The battery status is indicated by a pink link that illuminates when the charge is low – it is not possible to see the current charge otherwise, which is somewhat inconvenient if you are travelling and access to power (or the right kind of power/power adapter) is uncertain. This is mitigated somewhat by the charger’s charge control functionality – it is impossible to overcharge the battery, even if you store your Trizone 2000 on the charger at all times when you’re not using it.
The Trizone 2000 is very nice to brush with. Its grip and weight are comfortable to use, and its two-minute timer is divided into 30-second segments to indicate how much time has elapsed (this is a standard feature on electric toothbrushes running from the cheapest to the most expensive with few tweaks and changes). When two minutes have passed, the brush will pulse three times and then continue – it does not shut off automatically, so if you’re not quite finished you can continue to brush as it only keeps time for the user. Oral B recommends that at each 30-second interval, you move the brush to another part of your mouth – the manufacturer details a program of oral hygiene that is thorough and available online. As with most electric toothbrushes, the 30-second queue is intended to prompt the user to move the brush and focus on another part of the mouth. Some manufacturers divide the mouth into as many as six distinct areas; this toothbrush only specifies four.
While some higher quality models have moved away from NiCad batteries to NiMH or LiON, the battery life is only one of the features in this device that defies expectations for an electric toothbrush in its price range. In this reviewer’s eyes, at least, slightly older technology is a small price to pay for the lack of dressed-up marketing for marginal improvements that typically accompanies even the slightest improvement to an electric toothbrush’s functionality.
- Movement helps you achieve enhanced results
- Removes up to 100 percent more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush
This electric toothbrush delivers solid performance with few accessories or unnecessary features. Particularly in this price range, manufacturers tend to dress up what are realistically standard features as if they were colossal innovations, making it very difficult to tell if the electric toothbrush you are purchasing is a rugged day-to-day tooth cleaning device or space shuttle joystick. This is said with some bias towards simplicity and truth in advertising, but in general, it is safe to assume that the less that is said about a simple feature the better.
Oral B offers a 60-day money back guarantee, allowing you to try it and return it no questions asked if it doesn’t suit your needs. But at a price point of just under 40 pounds, you risk little by giving it a shot. It brings together economy and a high level of functionality – if you’ve never used an electric toothbrush before or are buying your first “keeper” brush, the Trizone 2000 is a good place to start. You won’t regret purchasing this model, and it will satisfy your oral hygiene needs for years to come.
PHILLIPS SONICARE DIAMONDCLEAN 3rd GENERATION
The Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush is Phillips’ most expensive Sonicare model. It is a stylish, high-end model available in white, black, purple and pink versions.
In the box, the Sonicare DiamondClean includes a wall charger, a USB charger and cord, a wireless charging station, a rinsing glass, two brush heads and a travel case. All of these items are designed to look at home in a modern designer bathroom, and the effect is quite nice after years of clunky white plastic models that look like Fisher-Price toys. The Sonicare DiamondClean looks as though Phillips set out to design the iPhone of electric toothbrushes, and the result is an eye-catching, professional looking oral hygiene appliance.
The minimalism in Phillips’ design is carried through into the operation of the toothbrush – on one side of its seamless, non-slip handle is a single power button. This button controls the on/off functions as well as the cleaning mode. Unlike many lower to mid-range electric toothbrushes, the Sonicare DiamondClean features 5 different cleaning modes, indicated in backlight letters on the handle of the seemingly opaque toothbrush (the effect is quite impressive):
Clean Mode – Two minutes of standard brushing at 31 000 brush strokes per minute.
White Mode – Two minutes and 30 seconds of alternating pulses and vibrations.
Polish Mode – A one minute high-powered clean that removes plaque and buildup from tooth enamel.
Gum Care Mode – The same thing as Clean mode, but with the addition of one extra minute of weak vibrations to massage the gums after brushing.
Sensitive Mode – A two-minute gentle vibration for sensitive gums and teeth.
Cycling through these modes is best done with the toothbrush in your mouth, which means it’s better to figure out which you intend to use before you start brushing. Running the DiamondClean outside of your mouth and without brushing can result in the contents of the brushing head vibrating off the toothbrush and splattering all over your bathroom.
While many reviewers found the Clean mode to be very effective, it’s not clear exactly what the purpose of the other modes actually is – some reviewers question whether they’re effective in the least, and they could easily be taken for novelties built in to the Sonicare to further separate it from the pack in terms of functionality the way they managed to do with style. Another issue that some users have is that unlike many other toothbrushes, the DiamondClean simply shuts off when the cycle is finished rather than indicating to the user that the cycle is finished and continuing on.
That being said, the Sonicare DiamondClean does come with a host of features that help first-time users of electric toothbrushes get used to using them. Many people who pick up electric toothbrushes for the first time find the oscillations or vibrations to be ticklish or even uncomfortable, and it makes the brushing experience rushed and ineffective until they wise up and switch back to a normal brush. The Easy-Start feature helps first-time users adjust to the brushing experience by starting off slowly and speeding up to its 31 000 brush strokes per minute over time. It does this for the first 14 uses and it can be disabled if the vibrations don’t bother you.
This brush is a fairly high-end entry aimed at those who appreciate style and functionality over simple utility. It is an attractive, compact unit that cleans via vibration rather than pulsation and oscillation: “normal” electric toothbrushes have an electric motor driving a cam and gear mechanism, whereas the Phillips vibrates the brush head in place, resulting in considerably higher brush stroke frequencies. It is important to note, however, that this is not true “sonic cleaning” – according to a 2004 study, the mechanism of debris removal is still simple mechanical brushing, even at 31 0000 strokes per minute.
- Philips Sonicare's most elegant electric toothbrush just got better
- NEW AdaptiveClean brush head removes up to 10x more plaque than a manual toothbrush
The DiamondClean is probably the best-designed and most attractive toothbrush in its price range. It is feature-loaded, and although it can be confusing to operate (all of these functions and features are operated by a single button recessed in the handle), it is worth getting familiar with them. Ultimately, your oral hygiene routine is entirely personal, and you’ll find a combination of the brush head and handle setting that makes the brushing experience both enjoyable and highly effective.
ORAL B GENIUS 9000
If you’re the type of person who obsesses over your oral hygiene and loves gadgets, the Oral B Genius 9000 electric toothbrush is the device for you. On top of its top-of-the-line 3D movement system and stylish, minimalist design, the Genius 9000 features – wait for it – Bluetooth connectivity. This initially drew some negative attention, particularly given added cost (Oral B has brought the price down considerably since its initial entry into the market), but it can actually be very helpful for those pride themselves on being particularly diligent in their oral hygiene routine.
Bluetooth? On a toothbrush?
The Genius 9000’s Bluetooth functionality allows it to connect to a proprietary app for Android and IOS devices – why, you ask? Because the device contains a triple pressure sensor which monitors your brushing technique to determine whether you are brushing too hard and reports its findings to the app to give you immediate feedback without waiting for a dentist visit to tell you that your brushing technique needs attention. The app also delivers a host of tracking features and dental hygiene advice – it reminds you to floss, to brush twice daily, to clean your tongue, and other basic oral hygiene duties which will help to keep your mouth clean between dentist visits. It automatically tracks your brushing habits as well as these tasks, and you can generate an oral hygiene report from this tracking data and bring it with you to your next cleaning.
On top of the feedback that it delivers, the Genius 9000 has a robust set of cleaning features. If you were surprised to hear about its Bluetooth functionality, you’ll be shocked to hear about its Position Detector Mode – taking oral hygiene information from the dentists they consulted during its design, the Genius 9000 divides the mouth into six cleaning zones and uses a front-facing camera to ensure that each zone is getting a proper clean. The app generates animated graphics on your device that you can watch in real time to ensure you are getting a good clean each time you use the brush.
Despite its pretensions, however, the Genius 9000 isn’t a medical-grade device – some reviewers have noted that the head-tracking function isn’t always 100% accurate, and it should be noted that all the professional endorsements in the world for a toothbrush are no substitute for a regular checkup and cleaning. The purpose of all its impressive features is to encourage good dental hygiene practices, not to replace the dentist.
The Genius 9000 comes with six cleaning modes (again, it must be noted that some reviewers have only found two or three of these to be effective), exceptionally long battery life, and it is compatible with the full range of Oral B brushing heads. The brushes themselves move in three dimensions, oscillating, pulsating and rotating simultaneously to scrub plaque and buildup from your teeth. The result is a much better clean than a simple 2D rotating motion, and as one of the pioneers of the market, Oral B has earned numerous accolades for the effectiveness of their electric toothbrushes. Four brushes are included in the package, allowing you to choose which one suits your teeth and gums the best.
Also included in the package are a travel case, a brush head holder, a smartphone holder (for sticking your phone to your mirror to use the position tracking system), and a charger for the lithium-ion battery which features an integrated USB port for plugging your phone in while you brush. The battery itself lasts for up to an hour of use, and in the event that you’re out of town or otherwise too preoccupied to make use of all of the Genius 9000’s features for a few days, the handle will last for the duration of your trip and store all the brushing information that it accumulates for up to 30 days in the absence of a Bluetooth sync with your phone.
The design of this electric toothbrush isn’t quite as attractive as that of some of the other Oral B models, but it’s far from ugly. It is available in black, white and rose gold-coloured handles, and the USB charging base organizes the handle and extra brushing heads stylishly and effectively.
- Genius, the toothbrush from Oral-B, the #1 dentist recommended brand Worldwide
- Up to 100% more plaque removal: Round head cleans better for healthier gums
The great thing about the Genius 9000 is its flexibility – you’re paying a lot for a toothbrush, granted, but you needn’t use all of its features every day to make the most of it. The high-tech tracking and monitoring features it includes are good for tracking your habits and encouraging good self-care, but at its core is a highly-effective cleaning mechanism that doesn’t require any accoutrements to deliver top-notch cleaning and dental hygiene. If you’re uncertain about your brushing practices or the quality of your routine and you want to engage a little more in your brushing and flossing habits, the Genius 9000 is an excellent tool to visualize and analyze the ways that you’re taking care of your present (and future) oral health. Even if you only use its more extravagant features on occasion, it is a good step towards taking control of your brushing routine.
PHILLIPS SONICARE EASYCLEAN
On the other end of the spectrum from its higher-functioning counterpart the DiamondClean, the EasyClean is an economy offering that hovers just above the price point of the disposable knockoffs and trades on Phillips’ Sonicare technology to deliver the same cleaning potential all of the extras. While the name and mechanism of cleaning are the same, the EasyClean is pretty far removed from the power, longevity, effectiveness and overall design quality of the DiamondClean. It will no doubt function to clean your teeth with its 31 000 strokes per minute, but as always, you get what you pay for and this is a somewhat spartan offering from an otherwise impressive lineup of electric toothbrushes.
Fit and Finish
Like the DiamondClean, the EasyClean uses Phillips’ sonic vibration technology to scrub plaque debris from the teeth and gumline, but the fit and finish of the EasyClean leave much to be desired. Where the DiamondClean has a sleek, non-slip handle to make sure you’re always in control of the vibrating plastic you’re holding up against your gums, some users of the EasyClean found the handle slippery and some reported difficulty keeping a grip on the handle while brushing.
The handle is also designed so that it tapers towards the brush head, compounding the problem as your hand is naturally inclined to slide up the handle while brushing (other designs get around this with a cylindrical handle or tapering in the other direction). In addition to this, some users found that the power button was easily switched on by accident in their luggage (no travel case is included), causing the battery to drain prematurely.
Despite having the same cleaning mechanism, the EasyClean is also markedly less powerful than more expensive Sonicare brushes (this makes sense, as the marketing materials for these higher-end Phillips models typically refer to their improved cleaning power over models like the EasyClean). Its lithium-ion battery is doubtless capable of more power, delivering over 100 two-minute brushes per charge (in a single day (Phillips advertises a battery life of two weeks), but this evidently comes at the expense of power and therefore cleaning performance. Still, the simplicity of this device is its main appeal, even if it’s not the most powerful. It’s very simple to operate and makes no apologies for its lack of a wide range of speeds and programming. This is evident in the design of the handle itself, which is very simple – it features a single button and no fancy bells and whistles requiring a manual to navigate.
The power button starts the single cleaning mode’s two-minute cycle, interrupted every 30 seconds by a pulsation to let you know when to focus on another part of your mouth. A single light indicates adorns the power button, and the lack of gadgetry was almost refreshing in a market that prizes flashing lights and interactivity. Overall, the brushing experience with the EasyClean is not unpleasant, and doubtless more effective at cleaning your teeth than a manual brush with less effort. This reviewer truly wanted to enjoy this simple, functional and unpretentious electric toothbrush, but there are many issues with it that make this economy offering more expensive than it can justify.
The single largest issue with the EasyClean is an ongoing pattern of quality control issues. Phillips offers a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty on the EasyClean, and many users report having had to make use of it. Reports indicate that Phillips’ customer service has been very helpful to date in honouring the warranty and shipping out new devices, but in the interim users are left in the lurch using normal toothbrushes while they wait for replacements to arrive.
Some users have found that after prolonged use, the detachable brush heads begin to fit loosely and require a little fiddling to get them to attach as securely as when the unit is new. Others have experienced water ingress, contaminating the unit and causing it to malfunction. Still, others report charge failures, mechanism failures and parts breaking off of the charger with normal use. Almost all of these reports are accompanied by very positive feedback about Phillips’ customer service, but the sheer volume of these complaints is cause for concern if you’re purchasing a toothbrush with expectations of durability.
Phillips manufacturers all of its toothbrushes in China, which could account for some of the quality control issues they seem to be facing, but these issues aren’t typical of its higher-end offerings which are also made in China – it’s unclear what Phillips intends to do to remedy these ongoing durability issues.
- Removes up to 2x more plaque than a manual toothbrush
- Easy-start programme eases you into using an electric toothbrush
The EasyClean is a utilitarian unit, coming with one brush head, a cap to protect the brush head while travelling, and charger. While there’s something to be said for the EasyClean’s lack of questionably useful features and heavily-padded marketing jargon, its price point demands more of its performance than it delivers. There are literally hundreds of less expensive electric toothbrushes flooding the market as novelties, and many of them can deliver performance and longevity comparable to the EasyClean for a fraction of the price. The thing about these units, however, is that they’re usually bought knowing full well that they’re borderline disposable – the Phillips name carries with it the weight of expectations that this unit is unable to meet.
ORAL B PRO 2 2500N
Another take on the “keep it simple” approach is delivered by the Oral B Pro 2 2500N. The price point, again just high enough to tell consumers that this electric toothbrush isn’t a novelty or a toy, is very well suited to the functionality of this device. It contains more features than many other handles in its price range and provides, durable, reliable dental care without being loaded down with eye-roll-inducing jargon or flashing lights.
Like many of its more expensive competitors, the Pro 2 2500N has a built-in pressure sensor which tells you when you’re brushing too hard. A light on the back of the brush illuminates when the brush detects that you’re brushing too hard, allowing you to adjust your brushing technique to minimize effort and maximize cleaning effectiveness. It features only two cleaning modes, Daily Clean and Gum Care, so you needn’t experiment with half a dozen different speeds and cycles to determine what will work best for your (or what doesn’t work at all, as is often the case in overly feature-rich electric toothbrushes).
A single button starts the two-minute cleaning cycle, and the handle has a charge indicator as well as a battery warning light near the base. The 2500N is quite light, weighing a scant 130g, and the handle is completely waterproof allowing it to be used in the shower. Battery life is considerably less than some of its counterparts – Oral B advertises two weeks, but in terms of continuous use, it clocks only 56 minutes. This is less than half of some other electric toothbrushes reviewed here, but the recently upgraded lithium-ion battery will last for a greater number of charges than other Oral B models which still us NiMH or NiCad batteries. Some users have reported charge issues, but these are very minimal compared to the volume of issues experienced by users of the EasyClean. Reviewers who have had to return their devices report an excellent customer service experience and prompt replacement.
The box includes a charger, a CrossAction brushing head, and a travel case. The 2500N is compatible with the same seven brush head types that its more expensive cousins are, allowing you to choose from a selection of brushing experiences and settle on what is most comfortable for you.
Another important feature of the 2500N is its warranty – for a device that costs this little, the two-year warranty is pretty impressive. Even better, it can be extended to three years by registering your device online (albeit likely at the expense of receiving boatloads of marketing materials).
The 2500N is manufactured in Germany, and while the location of manufacture isn’t always the best predictor of a device’s quality, many users are more comfortable purchasing an electric toothbrush that bears the weight of Germany’s reputation for manufacturing and quality control standards as opposed to the bad reputation that a small number of unscrupulous manufacturers in China have developed. Overall, you will not be disappointed with the quality of your purchase.
Fit and Finish
The 2500N is what the EasyClean tried and failed to achieve. It is a rugged, durable economy design intended to serve those who want simplicity above all else. The rubberized cylindrical grip resists slipping, allowing complete control of the brush without EasyClean’s combination of taper and sleek plastic to contend with. The simple socket-and-plug wireless charge base is tidy and unobtrusive, and the styling of the handle itself gives it the look of a much more expensive device.
- Up to 100 percent more plaque removal: Round head cleans better for healthier gums in 30 days versus a manual...
- Protect your gums: Pressure control reduces brushing speed and alerts you if you brush too hard
The 2500N is a perfect choice for those of us who know what we want – reliable, predictable, simple, and durable – and what we don’t want. It’s devoid of all of the accessories and snake oil marketing that typifies some higher-end models, and the only distracting feature it possesses is the pressure sensor light which quietly points out when you’re pressing too hard. After reviewing a handful of other toothbrushes, it was a breath of fresh air to find one that not only provides excellent cleaning and a good brushing experience but did so without all of the extra syllables in its marketing write-up. The 2500N is a very good value for the price without all of the quality control issues that plague the EasyClean, and I highly recommend this device as an addition to your established dental hygiene routine.
Apart from the impenetrable marketing jargon that plagues the market for electric toothbrushes, it is very possible to find a device that will work for you. By ignoring the propaganda about the effectiveness of its cleaning power and focusing instead on the features and what they can do for you, you can find a brush that meets your needs (or in the case of some higher-end models, your oral hygiene goals) and cleans more effectively than an ordinary manual toothbrush. After all, that’s the goal, isn’t it?
If you can avoid being sucked in by promises of having the cleanest teeth in the land and focus on what you’re trying to achieve (less effort, more effective cleaning, more feedback on your oral hygiene practices in between dentist visits), you can likely find a brush within your price range that was specifically made to meet those needs. If you just want to mix up your routine a little and have a cleaner mouth, a simple low-end offering like the 2500N will more than meet your needs without a dazzling light show or audible cues in its timed program. If you want to seize your routine by the horns and perhaps even make your routine entertaining, the Genius 9000 will force you to stop and pay close attention to the minutiae of your brushing technique.
Finally, if these reviews seemed critical of the marketing employed by electric toothbrush manufacturers, this is borne of genuine concern for the health of those shopping for them. It is very important that your needs are met by the electric toothbrush you decided to purchase, irrespective of the promises made by the marketing copy. At the end of the day, your mouth can only be made so clean – but your wallet can be made completely empty in short order, and you want to be sure that the electric toothbrush you purchase is worth the hard-earned money you spend on it.
Above all, this reviewer suggests identifying your personal goals before you begin to shop for an electric toothbrush – there are thousands of different choices available, and likely every single one is at least a slight improvement over your old bristle brush.