Best Toothbrush Heads of 2021
$39.95 at Amazon
|Pros||Flexible head, indicator for bristles|
|Cons||Odd bristle contours, doesn't conform to teeth well|
|Bottom Line||If you are a Philips Sonicare user and you are still looking for that just right toothbrush head, this one could fit the bill|
|Rating Categories||Philips Sonicare Ge...|
|Specs||Philips Sonicare Ge...|
|Toothbrush Compatibility||All Philips Sonicare click-on handles|
|Estimated Annual Cost||$48.99|
Best Overall Toothbrush Head
Philips Sonicare Genuine DiamondClean
The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is a top-notch cleaning machine. The DiamondClean has a diamond-shaped bristle pattern, which allows you to effectively navigate between your teeth better than any other brush we tested. Though it is labeled as a medium firmness, full-sized head, we found that the bristles are comparatively soft, and the stem is slender, making it a solid option for folks with smaller mouths. It has indicator bristles that fade when it is time to replace it. It also fits all Sonicare click-on handle electric toothbrushes.
We did not find a ton of downsides with this product. With that in mind, it's a brand name replacement head, which means it is typically going to cost more than off-brand products. Though it didn't perform quite as well on molar chewing surfaces as it did between teeth, its performance is exceptional. One other minor inconvenience is that the heads lack a color ID ring at their base, and look identical; meaning, if you share a brush base with someone else, you'll have to find a different way to tell them apart. However, if you are a Philips Sonicare user (or would like to be), this brush head is our top recommendation for most people.
Best Bang for the Buck
The Brushmo Replacement Toothbrush Head for Philips Sonicare models has excellent performance at an affordable price. It fits on at least 13 different Sonicare toothbrush handles, and its cleaning performance is decent. It comes with a set of concave bristles that conform around curved tooth surfaces, and it models the flat shape of its bristle clusters after the brand name equivalent. It did better during testing than a couple of name-brand models, and the price-per-brush is one of the lowest we have seen.
Though it performed admirably, we noticed that it was not as effective at getting plaque between teeth as some others. 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.
Best Budget Round Heads
Voguish Replacement Heads Compatible with Oral B
The Voguish Replacement Toothbrush Heads for Oral-B models is a top contender. 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. Its round head oscillates around teeth to clean surfaces just as well as name-brand versions, and its price-per-brush is one of the lowest in the category.
The caveat with its cleaning is that it doesn't get in between teeth quite as well, leaving some noticeable plaque behind. The comparatively thick stem was also noteworthy during testing — it's just more substantial than brushes meant for the Sonicare line, so this is not an excellent option for people with smaller mouths. Despite the claim, we didn't find that these bristles were exceptionally soft. 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.
Best Oral-B Option
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.
Testers reported that the thicker stem of this brush left a wider opening in their mouths for toothpaste to drip out during brushing. Also, 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. 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.
Best for Small Mouths
Philips Sonicare Genuine C2
The Philips Sonicare HX9023/65 C2 is a slender, compact brush head that is great for small mouths. 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. It also slides onto a variety of brush handles quite easily.
The drawbacks of this brush are relative. We found that our two-minute timer wasn't always quite enough to get through a complete and thorough cleaning during testing. We also noted that 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. 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.
Why You Should Trust Us
Here, we buy the products that we test at retail prices. Austin Palmer and David Wise have been leading the electric toothbrush program at GearLab, and lead reviewer, Ben Applebaum-Bauch has been testing and writing reviews for almost four years, testing dozens of oral hygiene products and bathroom accessories in that time. For this review, we consulted with dental professionals about our tests and results. We also took an aggregate from a wide range of users for metrics like comfort to get a more accurate and holistic picture of how well each brush head performed. The most important thing to remember, though, is that you should brush for the American Dental Association's recommended two minutes, twice a day, regardless of what toothbrush head you end up using.
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 the brushes are to use. We employed plaque-disclosing tablets that highlight plaque and make it possible to see what a brush has removed.
Analysis and Test Results
We assess the toothbrush heads in this review in a couple of metrics. Each model has gone through the same hands-on, real-world testing to determine how it ranks in cleaning capability as well as comfort for the brusher.
When we talk about value, we are referring to the overall score that a product earns in our testing relative to its cost. When a product scores high and has a lower price, the value is greater. In this case, there are a couple of models that stand out to us. The Brushmo Replacement Toothbrush Head offers excellent cleaning at a bargain price point for an electric toothbrush head, and the Voguish Replacement Toothbrush Heads are not far behind. In terms of brand names, the EB50 is the most cost-effective offering from Oral-B and Philips-Sonicare has the DiamondClean.
Cleaning capability is defined as the degree to which a toothbrush head can remove visible 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 results.
Top performers in this metric thoroughly removed visible plaque. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean HX6062/95 uses 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. The bristle clusters at the top and bottom come to fine points, making it possible to precisely maneuver the brush between teeth.
In the second tier, the Oral-B Cross Action EB50 and the Philips Sonicare HX9023/65 C2 also knocked it out of the park. 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. The unique angle of the bristles also helps cover more surface area efficiently. The HX9023/65 C2 has soft bristles and uses a similar bristle cluster style as the DiamondClean; they are flatter and gently fan out to cover the surface area. Though this model performed very well, it just didn't quite hit all of the same nooks and crannies as the DiamondClean.
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 Spinbrush Pro Clean covers a lot of tooth area with every stroke. The toothbrush head itself is large, and 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. The Sensitive Gum Care proved to be more effective than generic brush heads at cleaning, especially when for reaching in between teeth. It feels relatively similar to the rounded attachment dentists use to polish teeth. The Oral-B Precision Clean removed more visible plaque than the generic Oral-B compatible brush heads, and the Voguish Replacement Toothbrush Heads actually performed even more effectively.
The Waterpik SFRB-2EB falls to the back of the pack in cleaning performance. It is certainly unique among the models that we tested. Its 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 it for targeted cleaning. However, it has a standard bristle pattern and small head, leaving us with results that were noticeably less complete than any other model.
Comfort is the other primary factor we took into consideration when evaluating toothbrush heads. After all, the more comfortable a brush is, the less likely you will forget to do it twice a day. We pay attention to things like bristle softness, shape, and brush head size. Testers also note any tooth or gum irritation that they experience during or after brushing. Another factor that came up a few different times was the thickness (or thinness) of the brush stem; some models made it easier to keep our mouths fully closed so we didn't drip toothpaste everywhere.
When all was 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 yield to pressure, so they didn't leave us with any gum irritation, even when pressing more firmly than we should have. 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 Philips Sonicare are in the second tier. The former covers a lot of real estate quickly and can get between teeth easily. It does, however, have a thicker stem, so some toothpaste may drip out during brushing. 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 follow closely behind. The Sensitive Gum Care 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. The same goes for the Voguish head. The Precision Clean has a small round head that feels very much like the tooth polisher attachment at a dentist's office. The Aoremon comes with the same angled stem as brand-name models for the Philips Sonicare screw-on handle. We found that this design makes it easier and more comfortable to hold while brushing.
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 and budget.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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