Looking for the best way to clean your pearly whites? After looking at over 80 different models of electric toothbrushes, we bought the top 10 products available on the market today for our side-by-side toothbrush showdown. We rated and compared the cleaning and whitening abilities of each brush, as well as rating the comfort, features and functions, and the battery life of each product. While it can be extremely hard to pick the best brush due to all of the marketing claims, we help you cut through all the adds to find the perfect model to match your need. Take a look at the complete review below to see which brush beats them all, which is the most comfortable for those with sensitive gums, and which one gives you the best bang for the buck.
The Best Electric Toothbrushes of 2018
Analysis and Award Winners
Intrigued by the claims of the first toothbrush to use artificial intelligence to help you better clean your teeth, we have added the Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush E1 to our review. While this toothbrush may be in contention for the smartest brush around, it certainly isn't the best. We found this model to deliver a relatively lackluster performance on the whole, though it does have a surprisingly good battery life. However, it still failed to clinch an award and our top toothbrushes below remain untouched. We'll keep an eye out for any other toothbrushes that look particularly noteworthy and add them as they come along. For now, take a look below to see how the E1 performed and which products remain at the top.
Best for Cleaning Performance
Oral-B Genius Pro 8000
Taking home an Editors' Choice award with the best score of the entire bunch, the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 is a fantastic product that we highly recommend. This top-of-the-line toothbrush delivered a phenomenal performance in our cleaning tests, tying for the top score and absolutely demolishing plaque in our tests. Unfortunately, this product isn't the most comfortable to brush with its rigorous cleaning action and can be a bit much for those with sensitive gums. However, this is a fantastic, all-around product if that doesn't deter you, completely loaded with tons of smart features and functions. This brush can even connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and monitor its position to ensure you don't skip any spots while brushing and track your progress to aid in establishing healthy habits, all while remaining very easy to use. This is a great choice for someone who wants a premium product and the best of the best, though this model is a bit pricey compared to some of the others.
Read review: Oral-B Genius Pro 8000
Best for Comfort
Brio SmartClean Sonic
Just narrowly edged out of the top spot, the Brio SmartClean is the overall runner-up in our test, but still deserved an Editors' Choice award for its fantastic performance. This model is much more economically priced than other top models, making it a great value option. In addition to its attractive price, this electric toothbrush is amazingly comfortable to brush with, making it a superb choice for those that have sensitive gums. This brush performed well across the board, delivering a particularly noteworthy showing in our battery life test, with an unmatched performance that no other model even came close to. For those looking for a great toothbrush that is substantially more comfortable and petite than a rotation-oscillation model, the Brio is your best bet.
Read review: Brio SmartClean
Best Value Pick for Sensitive Gums
Philips Sonicare Series 2
For those with sensitive gums and are shopping on a budget, then the Sonicare Series 2 is a fantastic choice. This model delivered a solid cleaning performance utilizing a side-to-side motion with a smaller brush head that is significantly more comfortable for those with sensitive gums or more petite mouths. The Series 2 also has a decent battery life and is very easy to use, including necessary features like a 2-minute timer and pacing intervals for quadrant brushing. While it does only have a single brushing mode, the Series 2 packs in a ton of features and functionality at a great price and is the perfect option if you want a comfortable toothbrush for sensitive gums without breaking the bank.
Read review: Philips Sonicare Series 2
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 earned our Best Buy award for being the best value, perfectly balancing performance and price. This model has one of the lowest list prices of the entire group and was the runner-up in our cleaning performance test. The Pro 1000 uses the same style brush head as our top choice — the Pro 8000 — so it might not be the best for those with smaller mouths or sensitive gums. It's not our favorite in terms of comfort and doesn't really impress with its battery life. 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 review: Oral-B Pro 1000
Analysis and Test Results
We spent almost 3 months researching the features of these products, directly analyzing performance relative to each other, and comparing results to determine awards and overall scores.
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, with each toothbrush receiving a subscore for each metric. Our results are detailed in the sections below.
While you can't put a price on your periodontal health, you might balk at spending over $200 on a toothbrush, regardless of what smart features it has. Luckily, plenty of lower cost toothbrushes delivered excellent performance, as shown by our Price vs. Value chart above. Both the Oral-B Pro 1000 and the Sonicare Series 2 scored quite well, appearing high up on the performance axis, all while remaining on the lower portion of the price axis. The Pro 1000 even finished towards the top of the pack in our cleaning test, with the Series 2 not far behind. This pair both retail for less than $50 and should be more than capable at keeping your teeth cavity-free — if used properly.
Cleaning is arguably the most important aspect of these products — manual or electric — and is really the entire point of brushing your teeth. Most of us have had a twice-daily tooth brushing ingrained into us from as far back as we can remember, to promote good dental hygiene, prevent tooth decay and gum disease, to get that nice, clean feeling on your teeth, and to keep your pearly whites — well — white. We started off by doing extensive research, talking to dental hygienists, dentists and toothbrush experts to figure out what is really necessary to get the most out of your toothbrush and to find out what features and functions are important to have in an electric toothbrush.
Each tester would refrain from brushing for a period of 12-16 hours, eating as much sugary food and soft drinks as possible in that time period, and would 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 show what parts of the teeth they are missing when you brush. Documenting the entire process with before and after photos, we compared the performance of each toothbrush across the board to determine our scores. You can see how each brush scored in the chart below.
The top performers in our cleaning test were the Oral-B Genius Pro 8000 and the Oral-B Pro 5000, both earning a score of 9 out of 10. The Pro 5000 comes standard with the Oral-B CrossAction head and is marketed as having up to 48,800 movements per minute. As you can see, there is a noticeable difference between the visible plaque, before and after brushing.
The Pro 8000 also removed practically all of the visible plaque, as shown in the photo below.
Following these two top scorers, the Oral-B Pro 1000 scored an 8 out of 10. This model removed almost as much plaque as the previous two but our testers were a little more prone to missing spots with this model. All three of the top scoring models in our test have a rotation-oscillation brush head, with the bristles actually rotating back and forth in a scrubbing motion, rather than just vibrating in a side by side motion.
Brushes with a rotation-oscillation method of cleaning scored the best throughout our test, and while our test was not a clinical trial, we did find some that aligned with our results. In 2009, the Cochrane Library published a review of Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health . This review found that:
The trial states that it was too short to determine if this would cause a reduction in destructive periodontal disease.
The Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite+ and the Sonicare Series 2 tied for the third-highest score in our cleaning test, with a 7 out of 10. These were the highest scoring brushes that utilized a side to side cleaning motion. These both are listed as having up to 31,000 movements per minute. These both removed plaque equally effectively, with both brushes removing the majority of the plaque and only missing a few spots.
However, the HealthyWhite+ had a slight edge in our whitening test, doing a little bit better at removing the coffee stains from the eggshells.
The remaining electric toothbrushes — the Brio SmartClean, Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean, Phillips Sonicare Essence, Colgate E1 and the Waterpik Complete Care 5.0 — all scored a 6 out of 10, as well as — to our surprise-- the manual toothbrush. These electric toothbrushes all use a side to side motion as their main 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.
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:
One key thing to remember is that every toothbrush that we tested scored at least a 6 when it came to cleaning, and as we previously mentioned, all of these toothbrushes, when used correctly, can do an adequate job of maintaining good oral hygiene. As stated by the Cochrane Library:
While cleaning performance is one of the most important aspects of purchasing an electric toothbrush (earning the highest weighting of our rating metrics), there are other aspects that should be considered. For example, an extremely uncomfortable toothbrush may not be used, and an unused electric toothbrush can't clean anything. Keep reading to see how each of the brushes stacked up when it came to comfort, as well our analysis of ease of use and battery life.
An electric brush is something you most likely will be using on a very regular basis, making the comfort and ergonomics of the brush important components. This rating metric comprised 30% of our overall score, second only to the cleaning test. Comfort is so important, as you really want to look for a toothbrush that will make it as easy as possible to maintain good habits and a model that is awkward to hold, annoyingly loud, or feels uncomfortable to use while brushing will definitely discourage them.
We split this rating into three categories: holding, brushing, and comfort. Our toothbrush testers, a mixed group of ages and genders, (coincidentally matching the ages and genders of the TechGearLab Review team) were blindfolded and handed pairs of toothbrushes. The testers had not seen any of the toothbrushes previously and selected which of the pair was the more comfortable to hold. This was then repeated for each tester until a definitive order had been established. Each tester also commented on what specific attributes stood out to them that influenced their ranking of the comfort of each brush. The brushing comfort, as well as how loud the toothbrush felt while brushing was rated throughout the cleaning test, as well as with sequential, side by side comparisons with each brush. You can see the results of our tests below.
The Brio SmartClean and the Waterpik Complete Care 5.0 tied for the top score when it came to comfort, both earning a 7 out of 10 in the overall rating. We especially liked that both of these brushes felt very quiet while brushing, and were easily maneuverable to reach all of your teeth, even for people with smaller mouths. When it came to comfort while brushing, the Brio and the Waterpik were our favorites, helping them earn the top scores in this category overall. These models come standard with soft and extra soft bristles, respectively, and both clocking in at 31,000 movements per minute, and solely relied on vibrating bristles for cleaning action and had a brush head that measured about 0.5" deep. Following the top scorers, the Sonicare DiamondClean, Sonicare Series 2, and the Sonicare HealthyWhite+ all earned a 6 out of 10 overall. When it came to just the comfort of holding the toothbrush, the Sonicare DiamondClean, came out on top, with the unanimous approval of our panel of the slim, matte finish and feel of this brush.
This model is by far the most expensive of all the models, and it is clear that a significant part of the increased cost is due to the additional thought and design put into the look and feel of the brush. However, the DiamondClean was a little louder and a little less comfortable to brush with than the top scoring models.
The Series 2 is a little less comfortable to hold than the DiamondClean, but feels about the same to brush with.
The HealthyWhite+ wasn't quite as comfortable to hold as the DiamondClean or Series 2, but was much more comfortable to brush with — just barely being beat by the Brio and the Waterpik.
The Colgate E1 is about the same level of comfort to hold as the Oral-B Pro 1000, though it is far more comfortable to brush with, similar to the DiamondClean or Sonicare Series 2.
Rounding out the bottom of the group, the Sonicare Essence, Oral-B Genius Pro 8000, Oral-B Pro 1000, and the Oral-B Pro 8000 all earned a 4 out of 10 for comfort. The Sonicare Essence was average to brush with in terms of comfort but was a little on the loud side. The Pro 5000 felt nice to hold — better than both the Pro 5000 and the Pro 1000 — but all three of these models ranked below average in terms of brushing comfort. All of the Oral-B models have a brush head measuring about 0.75" deep — about 0.25" deeper than the side-to-side models — contributing to the fact that they were the least liked when it came to brushing comfort.
This is an important aspect to consider if you have a mouth on the smaller side, or have a limited range of jaw motion, as the deeper brush head can make it more difficult to reach the back molars. We also found that the deeper brush head made drooling much more likely, something to keep in mind if you will have an audience while brushing. All three of the Oral-B models, being of the rotation oscillation type, were substantially louder with a more mechanical noise, compared with the buzzing of the other models. Below is a chart of the sound level taken at 2" away from the mouth while brushing.
These values don't necessarily correlate to which models feel loudest for whoever is brushing but would show what another person would hear. This would be an important factor to consider if you are worried about irritating or waking someone else while brushing your teeth.
Ease of Use
This metric is closely connected with comfort, as both of these scoring categories help to encourage good brushing habits. This category encompasses many different aspects of electric toothbrushes, from the visual appeal of each model to the ease of cleaning and replacing a brush head. Most of the models that we reviewed feature a one-button interface, and all of the products we looked at scored well in this category, but there were a few differences that stood out. You can see how these toothbrushes ranked for ease of use in the chart below.
The first thing we looked at, was, the look of the toothbrush, essentially judging how these products would look on the bathroom counter. Each tester ordered the brushes in terms of visual appeal, and then these scores were combined to reach the final for this section of this metric. This is a very subjective opinion, and some people may explicitly disagree with us on the visual aesthetic of each brush, but the members of our panel independently came to very similar conclusions. Next, we assessed the standing stability of each brush, both on and off the docking base. We set each toothbrush up on a table, and bumped it, increasing the magnitude of each impact until we could determine the last brush standing. We also looked at ease of maintenance, such as cleaning the handle and replacing the brush head. Finally, we looked at the interface of each toothbrush, as well as the number of brushing modes each model had and the ease of switching between them.
After the culmination of all of that testing, and the aggregation of the subscores, the Sonicare DiamondClean and the Pro 8000 received the highest score in this metric, both earning a 7 out of 10 on our tests. The DiamondClean scored highest across the board when it came to visual appeal, its sleek, matte finish and recessed button having the most polished appearance of all the models that we looked at. This would be a model to consider if you have a strong emphasis on the decor of the bathroom, especially as it has the most color options of all the models that we reviewed. It is also clear that this model's charging base has the most emphasis on design but definitely comes at a cost (MSRP of $220).
The Pro 8000 was a close second in terms of visual appeal but had the most brushing modes of any models and a very easy to use interface. We liked the app that pairs with this model, except for the position sensing feature, which we found to not be the most accurate.
Next were the Colgate Smart, Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite+, Sonicare Series 2,Brio SmartClean, Oral-B Pro 1000, and the Waterpik, all earning a 6 out of 10. All of these models were pretty standard in terms of visual appeal, with the Colgate, HealthyWhite+, Series 2, and the Waterpik scoring slightly higher than the Brio and the Pro 1000. The Series 2 also earned some bonus points with the wide range of colors that it is available in. The same trend continued for brushing modes, with the Brio having fewer than the HealthyWhite+ and the Pro 1000 having even fewer than the Brio. The Series 2 and the Colgate both only have a single cleaning mode.
The Brio, Colgate, DiamondClean did very well when it came to on-base stability, though they were eclipsed by the unparalleled stability of the Waterpik Complete Care 5.0. This was somewhat obvious, as the Waterpik has an integrated water flosser in the base, and is substantially larger, and the DiamondClean has a heavy, glass that it charges in.
The Brio and Colgate both wobbled in our shake test, but never toppled off of their bases. Next, the Series 2 is a little wobbly on the base comparatively, but it is quite stable off the base and isn't prone to being knocked over inadvertently.
Finishing out the back of the pack were the Sonicare Essence and the Oral-B Pro 5000, both meriting a 5 out of 10.
The Sonicare Essence was the most stable off of the base, being substantially larger than the other models. This model is also the only model that requires you to screw on a replacement brush head, with the other models simply snapping on. This model is limited to 1 brushing mode, as well as lacking the quad timer. This is in comparison to the 5 cleaning modes of the Oral-B Pro 5000 and the DiamondClean, or even the 6 of the Waterpik. While the Pro 5000 did have plenty of brushing modes, it was a little wobbly both on and off the charging base and a little harder to clean, dropping its score.
None of these electric toothbrushes are terribly difficult to use, with the lowest score in our test being a 5 out of 10, but there are some small distinctions that can make the difference between your daily brushing routine being nondescript to mildly irritating.
Technology in electric power has come an extremely long way over the past half-century, and the development of electric toothbrush definitely highlights this. One of the first powered toothbrushes, the Broxodent actually plugged directly into the wall, running on line voltage of either 120 or 240 volts.
For most of us (and the FDA), that many electrons in our mouth is a little unsettling, and modern-day toothbrushes run on much, much lower voltages. Each model of toothbrush we tested now has an internal, not replaceable, rechargeable battery. These are all sealed, and charged through an inductive, or wireless charger. The main benefit of having a long battery life is the ability to travel without the charging base, or for some people, leaving the charging base stored and only charging the toothbrush when necessary.
To test the battery life, we repeatedly ran each toothbrush on standard mode until the battery died. We also noted if there was a low battery indicator, and when it turned on. We were pleasantly surprised, as each toothbrush we tested ran a significant amount of time. You can see how long each brush ran in the chart below.
The top performer in this category was the Brio, earning a 10 out of 10 and lasting for an astonishing 340 minutes. This would translate to 85 days or about 3 months with the typical brushing regimen. However, this model was the only one that did not have a low battery indicator. The model that had the shortest life was the Oral-B Pro 1000, lasting for 44 minutes, or 11 days. These day estimates do NOT take into account the power draw when the toothbrush is on standby, so these will be reduced in actual practice. All in all, these toothbrushes will all make it on a short trip without needing to be recharged, but the extensive travelers should make a particular note of the top scorers in this category: the Brio, scoring a 10 out of 10, the Colgate with a 9, and most of the Sonicare models, all scoring 7 out of 10, with the exception of the Series 2, which earned a 6 out of 10. The Oral-B models, with their rotation-oscillation brushes all, had a shorter battery life.
All of the toothbrushes we tested (as well as any ADA-approved manual ones) are more than capable of keeping your pearly whites nice and shiny. It's much more important that you brush regularly and consistently for the recommended amount. These products make it easier to maintain this in our opinion, and we would recommend getting one that is comfortable for you and fits your budget.
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.