Best Toothbrush Heads of 2021
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean HX6062/95 is a high-quality cleaning machine. As its name suggests, this model has a diamond-shaped bristle pattern that effectively navigates between teeth better than any other brush that we tested. It has indicator bristles that fade when it is time to replace it. Though it is marked as a medium firmness, full-sized head, we actually found that the bristles are comparatively soft, and the stem is slender, which makes it a solid option for folks with smaller mouths. It also fits all Sonicare click-on handle electric toothbrushes.
There aren't a ton of downsides here. It is a brand name replacement head, so it is generally more expensive than others. Though it didn't perform quite as well on molar chewing surfaces as it did between teeth, its performance is still excellent. If you are a Philips Sonicare user (or would like to be), this brush head is our top recommendation for most people.
The Brushmo Replacement Toothbrush Head for Phillips Sonicare models has excellent performance at an affordable price. It comes with a set of concave bristles that are meant to conform around curved tooth surfaces. It fits on at least 13 different Sonicare toothbrush handles, and its cleaning performance is decent. During testing, it did better than a couple of name-brand models.
Though it performed admirably, we noticed that it was not as effective at getting plaque between teeth as some other models. It does have high compatibility with Sonicare brushes, but the head just doesn't fit as snuggly as name brand versions — there is a larger gap between the head and handle. All in all, if the cost of a name-brand brush head is prohibitive, this model will do the job at a fraction of the price.
The Voguish Replacement Toothbrush Heads for Oral-B models is a top contender. Its round head oscillates around teeth to clean surfaces just as well as name-brand versions. It has excellent versatility and is compatible with over 16 different toothbrush models. We also like that it comes with different color-coded rings at the base so that you can tell multiple brushes apart if family members have the same handle.
The caveat is that it doesn't get in between teeth quite as well, leaving some noticeable plaque behind. Despite the claim, we didn't find that these bristles were particularly soft. During testing, the comparatively thick stem was also noteworthy — it's just more substantial than brushes meant for the Sonicare line, so this is not an excellent option for people with smaller mouths. However, if you are a committed Oral-B user and want a solid alternative to pricey name-brand brush heads, this is your best bet.
The Oral-B Cross Action EB50 is our top toothbrush head for the Oral-B brand. What initially seemed like a gimmick turned out to be a practical innovation to the bristle pattern. Namely, rather than sticking out of the brush at a 90-degree angle, most of the bristles are oriented, well, differently. It is compatible with most Oral-B handles, and the circular, oscillating head covers an entire molar. With just a slight wrist rotation, the bristles effectively find their way between teeth at the gumline.
Though it is an effective cleaner, we did note that the bristles are slightly firmer than those of the other award winners. This isn't inherently bad; it's just worth noting if you have sensitive gums. Testers also reported that the thicker stem of this brush left a wider opening in our mouths for toothpaste to drip out during brushing. All in all, if you are an Oral-B enthusiast and you want the most effective brush for your handle, this is the one to try.
The Philips Sonicare HX9023/65 C2 is a slender, compact brush head that is great for small mouths. It slides onto a variety of brush handles quite easily. We like the tightly clustered, soft bristles, which do an excellent job of navigating both broad tooth surfaces as well as between teeth at the gumline. This model comes with blue indicator bristles that fade when it is time to change the brush.
The drawbacks of this brush are relative. The head itself is comparatively small, so if you have large teeth, it's not going to cover all of that real estate very efficiently. During testing, we found that our two-minute timer wasn't always quite enough to get through a complete and thorough cleaning. However, if you have small teeth, a small mouth, or both, this model's comfort and cleaning capability are near the top of the pack.
The Arm & Hammer Spinbrush Pro Clean covers a lot of tooth area with every stroke. The toothbrush head itself is large relative to other models in this review. We found the bristles to be soft and non-irritating. As with most other brushes, it also had indicator bristles that fade when it is time to replace it. Its dual-action motion of rotating and sliding is at least a psychological boost that it is getting the job done well and provides options for brushing teeth effectively at different angles.
If you have especially 'groovy' teeth, we would recommend looking elsewhere. The size of the head means that it is not especially adept at getting in between teeth or at back molars. It failed to brush away more visible plaque than most other models. The bristles also fray outward and don't stay as tightly clustered as the award winners. Having said that, for people with large teeth that want to brush efficiently, this could be one head that is worth checking out.
The Phillips Sonicare HX9044/45 takes some getting used to, but it does have the capacity to clean well. Relative to other toothbrush heads, this one feels like a medium firmness. We like the soft 'gel' head and flexible bristles, which makes it easier for bristles to slide into crevices even if you aren't paying particularly close attention as you brush. The individual bristle clusters get between teeth in a way that other models do not.
Our biggest issue with this model is the overall shape of the bristle profile. It feels somewhat convex against teeth, so though individual bristle clusters can get into crevices, our testers found that it was difficult to maximize bristle-to-tooth contact. However, if you are a Philips Sonicare user and you are still looking for that just-right toothbrush head, this one could fit the bill.
The Waterpik SFRB-2EB for the Waterpik Sonic Fusion toothbrushes is certainly unique among the models that we tested. The big differentiator is that it is compatible with Waterpik brushes, meaning that you can turn on the toothbrush's floss function, and a jet of water will pulse through the toothbrush head. It offers a compact bristle configuration and a moderate stem that we think most people will find comfortable.
The biggest drawback to this model is that its cleaning capability just doesn't stack up to the competition. It left behind some of the most plaque during testing and required multiple passes with the water jet to make up for the stuff left behind in between our teeth. It is also a comparatively expensive model based on what you get for your money. Though not our favorite, if you already own a Waterpik brush or are fascinated by the novelty of a brush/floss combo, it could be worth trying out.
The Oral-B Sensitive Gum Care is a reliable brand-name brush head. It fits a wide variety of Oral-B handles and adeptly removes plaque. During testing, we found that it was more effective than generic brush heads at cleaning, especially when it comes to reaching in between teeth. As with most other models, it has blue indicator bristles that let you know when to replace it. It feels relatively similar to the rounded attachment dentists use to polish teeth during a dentist's visit cleaning.
This product also has the unusual combination of a small head combined with a thicker stem, making it best-suited for folks with a larger mouth but smaller teeth. As with other Oral-B models, the bristles are labeled as soft, but in practice, we found that they feel firmer than other brands. We think this is a perfectly adequate option worth exploring if you can find it for less money than one of the other Oral-B brand name award winners.
The Aoremon (for Philips Sonicare E-Series HX7022/66) is a good budget option if you have a screw-on Philips Sonicare handle. It comes with the same angled stem as brand-name models for the same handle type. This design makes it easier and more comfortable to hold while brushing. It does a good job of cleaning tooth surfaces and has a somewhat unique bristle shape with a 'peak' in the middle that nestles between teeth.
The bottom line is that this model cleans well, but it isn't excellent. In our brushing tests, we found that it left behind a noticeable amount of plaque that some other brush heads could remove. This was especially true on the insides of molars, where it is more challenging to get the right angle to align the bristles properly between teeth. If you have a Sonicare E-Series and are tired of spending top dollar for brand-name replacement heads, this model would be an adequate substitute.
The Oral-B Precision Clean is a case where the brand-name does indeed outperform the off-brand equivalent in terms of cleaning. During testing, it removed more visible plaque than the generic Oral-B compatible brush heads. Its small round head feels very much like the tooth polisher attachment at a dentist's office. This one comes with standard replacement indicator bristles and fits the same handles as the other Oral-B brushes in this review.
This brush is sort of caught in the middle. It is generally less expensive than other name-brand models but also doesn't clean between teeth quite as well. In that same vein, it does a marginally better job at cleaning than its nearly-identical off-brand counterpart, but it is significantly more expensive. If you want to split the difference between cleaning quality and price, this is potentially a model worth checking out.
Why You Should Trust Us
We go straight into the teeth of the market to research the products that we test. Our lead reviewer, Ben Applebaum-Bauch, has been testing and writing for GearLab for over three years, testing dozens of home products and electronics. In that time, he has expanded his expertise from outdoor items like tents and altimeter watches to housewares like electric razors and toothbrush heads.
We purchase the products that we test at retail price, and the models in this review have been through it all. We use a rigorous side-by-side process, and our testers brushed and brushed with each one, noting how much plaque each one removed under varied conditions and how comfortable they are to use.
Analysis and Test Results
We assess the toothbrush heads in this review in a couple of primary metrics. Each model has gone through the same hands-on, real-world testing to determine how they rank in cleaning capability and comfort for the brusher.
Cleaning capability is defined as the degree to which a toothbrush head can remove plaque between teeth and at the gumline. After three meals and 12 hours of not brushing, for each model, testers chewed a plaque indicator tablet, then brushed and compared before and after photos.
Top performers in this metric thoroughly removed visible plaque. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean HX6062/95 leverages a unique diamond bristle pattern and fine-tip point that did indeed make a difference and resulted in the least visible plaque after use. It was especially effective in hard-to-reach areas at the back of the mouth and between teeth at the gumline.
In the second tier, the Philips Sonicare HX9023/65 C2 and the Oral-B Cross Action EB50 also knocked it out of the park. The former has soft bristles and uses a similar bristle cluster style as the DiamondClean. It performed very well but just didn't quite hit all of the same nooks and crannies. The Cross Action was a pleasant surprise, removing almost all of the visible plaque with its firmer bristles and efficient circular head, which did a thorough job of surrounding each tooth.
Remaining models like the Oral-B Sensitive Gum Care, Arm & Hammer Spin Brush Pro, Voguish Replacement Heads for Oral-B, and Oral-B Precision Clean all take a similar approach to the Cross Action and to each other. They have circular oscillating heads that cover teeth well, just not quite as thoroughly. The Waterpik SFRB-2EB falls to the back of the pack in cleaning performance. It has a standard bristle pattern and small head, leaving us with final results that were noticeably less complete than any other model.
Comfort is the other primary factor when evaluating toothbrush heads. After all, the more comfortable a brushing experience is, the less likely you will 'forget' to do it. We pay attention to things like bristle softness and shape, brush head size, and also note any tooth or gum irritation. Another factor that came up a few different times was the thickness (or thinness) of the brush stem, which could impact some testers' ability to keep the toothpaste in their mouths.
When testing was all said and done, we noticed that brand strongly correlated with comfort. Our testers found that the Philips Sonicare HX9023/65 C2 and Philips Sonicare DiamondClean HX6062/95 are the most comfortable to use. We were pleasantly surprised by the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush Pro, and the Waterpik SFRB-2EB also snuck into the mix. All of these models have soft bristles that didn't leave us with any gum irritation. They also each have relatively narrow and compact heads, with the Philips Sonicare models also offering especially slender stems that make it easier for someone with a small mouth to brush without dripping toothpaste everywhere (though the Philips Sonicare HX9044/45 has somewhat firmer bristles, not ideal for sensitive gums).
The Oral-B Cross Action EB50 and Brushmo Replacement Head for Phillips Sonicare are in the second tier with the Oral-B Sensitive Gum Care, Voguish Precision Clean Replacement Head for Oral-B, Aoremon (for Philips Sonicare E-Series HX7022/66), and Oral-B Precision Clean following closely behind.
Even once you have the electric toothbrush of your dreams, you still have options for which toothbrush head you use once you need to replace the original. We hope that this review from our experts leaves you more confident than ever to select the replacement head that is right for your smile.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch