Best Electric Toothbrush of 2020
Best Overall Electric Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100
The Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 delivered impressive all-around performance. Aided by its simple interface, this electric toothbrush did well in our cleaning tests and is easy and convenient to use. The 4100 is also compatible with a much wider variety of brush heads, giving you more options to match your personal preference perfectly.
However, a few of our judges found the 4100 to be a little more uncomfortable to brush with compared to some of the other products we have tested. It also didn't do as well as some of the more aggressive oscillation-rotation toothbrushes in our test, but still did quite well overall. It's one of our all-time favorite electric toothbrushes, and we would happily recommend it to anyone looking for the best of the best.
Read Full Review: Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100
A Great Travel Option
Brio SmartClean Sonic
Scoring slightly lower than the ProtectiveClean 4100, the Brio SmartClean Sonic is another excellent all-around toothbrush. It has a gentle brushing motion that is great for those with sensitive gums and is overall one of the more comfortable toothbrushes to use. It's also easy to use and easy to clean. However, it's the Brio's battery life that sets this product apart from the competition. When used twice a day for a full cleaning cycle, this toothbrush lasted for an astonishing 70 days on a single charge.
The SmartClean didn't do quite as well in our cleaning assessment as some of the products with a more aggressive brushing action. It usually got most of the plaque from our judges' teeth in our tests but would miss a few spots in the hard-to-reach areas. Overall, the Brio isn't the best. However, for those who want to stash the charger to reduce bathroom clutter or anyone traveling that would like to leave the charger behind entirely, it is still one of our favorites.
Read Full Review: Brio SmartClean Sonic
Best Bang for the Buck
Oral-B Pro 1000
Want to keep your teeth white while keeping your budget in the black? The Oral-B Pro 1000 perfectly balanced performance and price. Although the list price on this brush is comparable to our other award winners, it can usually be found for a steep discount from most major retailers. The Pro 1000 delivered some of the best performances in our cleaning tests, all while being one of the most convenient and easy to use brushes that we have tested to date.
Unfortunately, this brush's bulkier rotation-oscillation brush head and more aggressive cleaning style aggravated some of our testers, rendering it practically unusable for those with sensitive gums. In terms of comfort, it's not our favorite, even for those without sensitive gums, and doesn't impress with its battery life either. However, it's inexpensive and should keep your pearly whites perfectly happy and healthy when used properly — everything you want in a value toothbrush.
Read Full Review: Oral-B Pro 1000
Best Smart Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9500
Right off the bat, we should acknowledge that the DiamondClean Smart is not our top recommendation for most people. Nonetheless, this premium toothbrush did score close to the top of the group overall, impressing us with its cleaning performance and comfort. The DiamondClean looks great and would make an attractive addition to most bathrooms. Additionally, it has an interesting series of connected features, allowing you to track your brushing progress, improve your technique, and automatically reorder brush heads.
However, this toothbrush is significantly more expensive than almost any other product, costing three or four times as much as some of our other award winners. It's an excellent toothbrush, but we feel it's a bit more than most people need to spend. It could be a good option if its price tag doesn't phase you, or if you have consulted with your dentist and can use these smart features for a specific reason — brushing in a certain way or something similar. Still, for most people, we generally would suggest pursuing other options.
Read Full Review: Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9500
Why You Should Trust Us
For the past three years, Austin Palmer and David Wise have been leading our electric toothbrush program at TechGearLab. Together, they have extensively researched over 100 different models, and comprehensively tested the best of the best side-by-side to pick our winners. We bought all of the toothbrushes we have reviewed and will never accept any sample or evaluation items, to ensure that you receive the most unbiased and trustworthy review around. Along the way, we consulted dentists and dental hygienists about the design of our testing plans and our interpretations of the results. We also had a large sample of people test each toothbrush, aggregating their opinions when it came to how comfortable each brush is and using this wide sample of diverse sets of teeth to see how well each toothbrush cleaned. However, the most important thing to remember is that you brush for the American Dental Association's prescribed two minutes twice a day, regardless of what toothbrush you end up using.
In total, we have collectively brushed our teeth hundreds of times with these different products. We have also spent months and months conducting battery tests according to our regular use schedule to see exactly how long you can expect these toothbrushes to last when taking their standby power draw into account. All in all, we are confident that our award winners are the best brushes you can get.
Related: How We Tested Electric Toothbrushs
Analysis and Test Results
We've spent the past few years researching the features of these products and ranking and scoring their performance head-to-head to determine awards and overall scores. We have updated the review each time we've gotten our hands on a promising new product, rating its performance against its peers.
We broke our testing process up into four weighted metrics: Cleaning, Comfort, Ease of Use, and Battery Life. We conducted over a dozen individual tests spread across these metrics.
While you can't put a price on your periodontal health, you might balk at spending hundreds of dollars on a toothbrush, regardless of its smart features. Luckily, plenty of the lower-cost toothbrushes that we tried deliver excellent performance. The Pro 1000 by Oral-B is our top recommendation when shopping on a budget, matching the best of the best when it comes to cleaning. However, it isn't the most comfortable, especially if you have sensitive gums. All of these brushes should be more than capable of keeping your teeth cavity-free if appropriately used, so don't fret if you want the best, but don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a toothbrush. That said, even the top-scoring toothbrush, the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100, doesn't cost that much more than the Oral-B.
An electric brush is something you most likely will be using regularly, arguably making the comfort of the brush its most crucial aspect. This rating metric comprised 40% of our overall score because it makes it significantly more difficult to establish good brushing habits if the toothbrush is uncomfortable to use. The best toothbrush for you is one that will make it as easy as possible to maintain good habits. Any model that is awkward to hold, annoyingly loud, or feels uncomfortable to use while brushing has the potential to impact these habits negatively.
For this first series of tests, we scored and compared how comfortable it is to use each of these dental cleaning products and if they have a pressure sensor that will alert you when you are brushing too hard, avoiding all of the detrimental gum and dental problems that could result. Additionally, we measured and judged each brush's sound output — both how loud it is and how annoying it is in terms of pitch. To score brushing comfort, we had our testers rate it throughout the cleaning test, followed up with sequential, side-by-side comparisons with each brush.
A large group of brushes all tied for the top spot in this metric, with the Brio SmartClean, Sonicare DiamondClean Smart, Sonicare Series 2, HealthyWhite+, ProtectiveClean 4100, ProtectiveClean 6100and Waterpik Complete Care 9.5 all earning 6 out of 10.
The Series 2 and the HealthyWhite+ felt about the same to brush with, while the Brio SmartClean received no major complaints from our judges, with all 3 measuring quieter than the DiamondClean Smart.
The 4100 and the 6100 didn't receive comfort ratings as high as the other Sonicare models, but they weren't that far behind. Opinions were split, with some finding the intensity or frequency of the vibrations to be a bit vexing, but none found it too rough — even those with sensitive gums. Both of these brushes have pressure sensors and are much quieter than the HealthyWhite+ or Series 2, but both are louder than the Waterpik Complete Care 9.5.
The Brio and Sonicare models are more comfortable to brush with than the Waterpik Complete Care 9.5. In terms of comfort, the Waterpik is more comparable to the ProtectiveClean models. However, what impressed us about the Waterpik is that it is almost silent to operate and easily one of the quietest toothbrushes our testers have ever gotten their hands on. Unfortunately, with the exception of the DiamondClean Smart, none of these brushes feature a pressure sensor to alert you that you're brushing too hard.
For their middle-of-the-road comfort levels, the Colgate E1, the Oral-B Pro 5000, the Quip, and the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 all earned a 5 out of 10. The Colgate E1 and the Quip are both a bit more comfortable to use than the Pro 5000 and the Pro 8000. Both the E1 and the Quip uses a side-to-side brushing motion, which is much less intense than the rotation-oscillation brushing of the Oral-B models.
The Colgate E1 and the Quip are exceptionally quiet but lack a pressure sensor to alert you if you are brushing too hard. Additionally, some of our judges weren't the biggest fans of the rubber bristles on the Quip's brush head. They weren't necessarily uncomfortable to brush with, but the squeakiness can feel slightly disconcerting.
The Pro 5000 and the Pro 8000 are rotation-oscillation toothbrushes, so the brush heads are a bit larger, and the brushing intensity is a bit more aggressive. All of the Oral-B models have a brush head measuring about 0.75" deep, which is 0.25" deeper than the side-to-side models. This contributes to the fact that they were the least liked when it came to brushing comfort. Consequently, our testers found these to be slightly below par in terms of brushing comfort. Additionally, they are noticeably louder, with a more mechanical noise, compared with the buzzing of the other models. However, they both have a pressure sensor that slows the brush down and alerts you with a red light.
Unfortunately, some of our judges weren't fans of the larger brush heads on the Oral-B models, particularly those with more petite mouths. The brush head's depth made it hard for them to reach their back molars and also, much to their chagrin, caused them to drool quite a bit more while brushing their teeth.
Rounding out the bottom of the group, the Sonicare Essence and the Oral-B Pro 1000, each earned a 4 out of 10 for comfort. In terms of comfort, the Sonicare Essence is average to brush with but is a little on the loud side. Meanwhile, the Pro 1000 is less comfortable to brush with than the Essence but is slightly quieter. The Pro 1000, however, has a pressure sensor and will slow the brush down if triggered, while the Essence does not.
In terms of overall weight, our cleaning metric is next, accounting for 30% of each brush's final score. While your initial impression might be that cleaning should be the most important metric — as that is the entire point of a toothbrush — when used correctly, all of the products in this review should clean more than well enough to maintain proper dental health. Hence, we place comfort over cleaning because a comfortable toothbrush will help you maintain a regular brushing regimen. Most of us have had a twice-daily tooth brushing ingrained into us from an early age to promote good dental hygiene, prevent tooth or gum decay, get that nice, clean feeling on your teeth, and keep your pearly whites — well — white. We started by doing extensive research, talking to dental hygienists, dentists, and toothbrush experts to figure out what is necessary to get the most out of your toothbrush and to find out what features and functions are essential to have in an electric toothbrush.
Each tester would refrain from brushing for 12-16 hours, eating as much sugary food and soft drinks as possible in that period, and then use a Butler GUM Red Cote Dental Disclosing Tablet, following the manufacturer's instructions. These tablets will turn any plaque on the surface of your teeth red and are usually used by dentists to teach patients which parts of their teeth they miss when they brush. Documenting the entire process with before and after photos — as well as in-the-mouth photos taken with a 360° camera — we compared the performance of each toothbrush across the board to determine our scores.
All earning an 8 out of 10, the top performers in our cleaning test were the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000, Pro 5000, Pro 1000, DiamondClean Smart, and Sonicare HealthyWhite+. The Pro 1000 and the Pro 8000 both come standard with a CrossAction head. For most of our testers, these brushes completely removed or removed the vast majority of the visible plaque in our test. As you can see in the photos below, there is a noticeable difference between the visible plaque, before and after brushing with the Pro 5000
The Pro 8000 also removed practically all visible plaque, as shown in the photo below.
We got similar results with the Pro 1000. Most of the top-scoring brushes in our cleaning tests use a rotation-oscillation method of cleaning, and while our test was not a clinical trial, we did find some studies that aligned with our results. In 2005, the Cochrane Library published a review of manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health . This review found that: "Brushes with a rotation oscillation action removed plaque and reduced gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes in the short term and reduced gingivitis scores in studies over 3 months."
The trial states that it was too short to determine if this would cause a reduction in destructive periodontal disease. However, we did find that a duo of side-to-side electric toothbrushes, the HealthyWhite+ and DiamondClean Smart held their own against the Oral-B models, removing a comparable amount of plaque.
The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100, ProtectiveClean 6100, and Brio SmartClean Sonic all followed, each earning a 7 out of 10 for their cleaning results. All of these brushes easily removed the bulk of plaque from all of our judges, but each of them would routinely miss a spot or two compared to top products — usually by their back molars or on the inside surfaces of a tooth.
Next, Philips Sonicare Essence, Colgate E1, and the Series 2 — all scored a 6 out of 10. These electric toothbrushes all use a side-to-side motion as their primary cleaning mechanism, substantially more similar to a manual brush than the oscillation-rotation style. These brushes all tended to miss plaque in harder to reach places, and there was noticeably more plaque remaining than when we used the rotation-oscillation toothbrushes. The manual toothbrush also easily matched, and even exceeded, this group's performance for a handful of our testers.
These results surprised us, as we initially thought the manual toothbrush would score much lower, but upon consulting the Cochrane Library review again, we found an interesting comparison: "There was no statistically significant difference between powered toothbrushes whose action was side-to-side and manual brushes with regard to the removal of plaque or reduction of gingivitis for both time periods."
Meriting a 5 out of 10, the Waterpik 9.5 and the Quip scored the worst in our cleaning tests. We found it very easy to miss spots when using the Waterpik, with almost none of our testers succeeding in removing the stained plaque entirely.
The Quip feels exceptionally similar to using a manual toothbrush with very mild vibrations. It missed tons of spots when we used it more like an electric toothbrush (moving slowly in small circles and letting the brush vibrations do the work) but cleaned reasonably well in our test when we used it similar to a manual toothbrush.
One key thing to remember is that every toothbrush tested scored at least a 5 when it came to cleaning. As we previously mentioned, when used correctly, all of these toothbrushes can do an adequate job of maintaining good oral hygiene. As stated by the Cochrane Library: "Individuals who prefer to use a powered toothbrush can be assured that powered toothbrushing is at least as effective as manual brushing and that there is no evidence that it will cause any more injuries to the gums than manual brushing."
Ease of Use
Next, we moved on to assessing and scoring how convenient and easy to use each electric toothbrush is — another important trait, as a product that is a hassle to use makes it much less likely that you will use it correctly and dissuade you from making brushing your teeth a routine. Accounting for 20% of the total score, we checked if the toothbrush has a 2-minute timer for this metric and gave bonus points for indicators every 30 seconds for quadrant brushing. We also looked for storage for additional toothbrush heads on the charging base, how difficult it is to swap between brushing modes, and how easy it is to clean away the toothpaste and water residue that will inevitably accumulate.
Earning a 9 out of 10 for their stellar performance, the Oral-B Pro 1000 and the Quip claimed the top spot in this set of tests. Neither of these brushes have any additional cleaning modes, so the entire interface is composed of a single button that turns on the toothbrush and starts the timer. This timer will alert you when it is time to move the brush to a different zone of your mouth, as well as when two minutes have elapsed. These toothbrushes are both waterproof enough to use in the shower, making them super convenient to clean. However, neither of them have an easy way to store additional brush heads, on the charging base for the Pro-1000 or in the included travel case with the Quip.
The Philips Sonicare Series 2, ProtectiveClean 4100, and Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush E1 came next, each earning an 8 out of 10. Again, these brushes only have a single cleaning mode, giving them a straightforward and easy to use interface. Each of these three brushes also has a two-minute timer that will notify you every 30 seconds so you can evenly rotate your brushing. Unfortunately, neither has storage for additional brush heads on their charging base or included travel case. However, we did like that the Series 2 and the 4100 are waterproof enough to use in the shower or rinse off quickly, whereas the Colgate is not, making the pair of Sonicare brushes much easier to clean.
Each receiving a 7 out of 10, the Sonicare Essence, Brio SmartClean, and Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 came next for their performance. These brushes all have an integrated 2-minute timer, but the Essence doesn't have any indicators for quadrant spacing, leaving it up to you to regulate your pace.
These brushes are all relatively easy to clean, with the SmartClean Sonic being just a bit less likely to accumulate toothpaste residue than the other. The Essence has a small gap around the power button that takes a little more effort to clean but still isn't too much extra work. All three of these brushes are water-resistant and can be used in the shower.
The Genius Pro 8000 has 6 distinct cleaning modes and a mode select button that makes it easy to switch between them — especially with the light-up indicators. It also has storage for up to 4 brush heads on the charging base and 2 more in the travel case.
Because it is limited to only a single operating mode, the Sonicare Essence has one of the easiest interfaces of the entire group. However, we did find the lack of storage for additional brush heads to be a bit of a pain. The SmartClean by Brio has 5 different brushing modes, but the interface is intuitive enough that we didn't find it to be problematic to select the desired cleaning mode. This toothbrush does lack an option for storing extra brush heads on its charging station.
Both earning a 6 out of 10, the Waterpik Complete Care 9.5, and the DiamondClean Smart came next. The Waterpik has 3 separate cleaning modes, while the DiamondClean Smart has 5 modes along with the option to switch between 3 different intensities for each mode. The DiamondClean and the Waterpik have a secondary mode select button and indicators to show you what mode you are brushing with.
These brushes are rated for use in the shower and have a built-in two-minute timer with quadrant pacing.
Finishing at the back of the group, the Oral-B Pro 5000, ProtectiveClean 6100, and HealthyWhite+ all earned a 5 out of 10 for their results. The HealthyWhite+ is quite average to use when switching between modes, but it's a bit confusing with the Pro 5000 due to its lack of indicator lights.
The 6100 has three cleaning modes with three selectable intensities, which makes using the interface a little confusing. You use the secondary button to select the mode before hitting the power button and then use it to adjust the intensity once the brush has started, but it at least has indicators to let you know what settings you have picked.
This group of toothbrushes are all rated water-resistant enough to be used in the shower or washed in the sink, which we found quite handy. We did notice toothpaste residue or other gunk tended to accumulate in the cracks and crevices around the buttons on the ProtectiveClean 6100 and HealthyWhite+. This can be difficult to remove without fully dowsing and scrubbing them.
None of the Sonicare models have space for extra brush heads on their base, but their included travel cases can store up to two.
The Pro 5000's travel case can also store two brush heads, and its charging stand can store up to four more. All four of these brushes have a timer with 30-second quadrant pacing.
To test the battery life, we ran each toothbrush for two minutes on a standard mode, both in the morning and in the evening, scoring each one on how many days it lasted. As more and more include smart features or other functions that cause some power draw even when the toothbrush isn't in use, we had to revamp our test from running each brush repeatedly until it died, to running them twice a day until the battery ran out.
Earning the top scores of the entire group, both the Brio SmartClean and the Quip earned a 10 out of 10. The Brio SmartClean lasted for 70 days on a single charge — more than long enough to allow you to go on most vacations without bringing the charger. The Quip is a bit unique compared to the other toothbrushes when it comes to battery life since it runs on a traditional AAA battery rather than a rechargeable lithium model. This should last for around 90 days according to Quip, and our testing process gives us no reason to doubt this claim, earning it top marks as well.
These were followed by the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100, Essence, and Waterpik Complete Care, which all earned a 7 out of 10 for lasting for 28, 29, and 30 days, respectively.
Most of the other toothbrushes have a battery life between 16 and 26 days when used twice a day, except for the Oral-B Pro 1000. This toothbrush earned the lowest score of 3 out of 10 because it only lasted for 11 days.
We hope that you have found this to be a useful review in your hunt for a new electric toothbrush and that we have provided enough info for you to select the perfect product for your dental hygiene needs and budget.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise