Best Toothbrush Heads of 2020
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 earns a Best Buy award for its excellent performance at an affordable price. It fits on at least 13 different Sonicare toothbrush handles. It comes with a set of concave bristles that are meant to conform around curved tooth surfaces. 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 our Editors' Choice winner. 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 also worthy of a Best Buy Award. 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.
The caveat is that it doesn't get in between teeth quite as well, leaving some noticeable plaque behind. 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. Despite the claim, we also didn't find that these bristles were particularly 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.
The Oral-B Cross Action EB50 is our top toothbrush head for the Oral-B brand. What originally 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. The circular, oscillating head covers an entire molar with just a slight wrist rotation, and the bristles effectively find their way between teeth at the gumline. It is also compatible with most Oral-B handles.
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. The thicker stem also 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. 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 slides onto a variety of brush handles quite easily.
The drawbacks of this model are relative. The brush head itself is relatively 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, or a small mouth, or both, the comfort and cleaning capability that this model offers are near the top of the pack.
The Waterpik SFRB-2EB for the Waterpik Sonic Fusion toothbrushes is certainly unique among the models that we tested. It offers a compact bristle configuration and a moderate stem that we think most people will find comfortable. The big differentiator is that it is compatible with Waterpik brushes, meaning that you can turn on the floss function of the toothbrush, and a jet of water will pulse through the toothbrush head.
The biggest drawback to this model is that its cleaning capability just doesn't stack up to the competition. During testing, it left behind some of the most plaque 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. If you already own a Waterpik brush or are fascinated by the novelty of a brush/floss combo, it's not our favorite, but 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 it is time to replace it. It feels relatively similar to the rounded attachment dentists use to polish teeth during a cleaning.
As with other Oral-B models, the bristles are labeled as soft, but in practice, we found that they feel firmer than other brands. This model 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. We think that this is a perfectly adequate option that is 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. It also 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 were able to 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. Its small round head feels very much like the tooth polisher attachment at a dentist's office. During testing, it removed more visible plaque than the generic Oral-B compatible brush heads. This one comes with standard replacement indicator bristles and fits on the same handles as the other Oral-B brushes in this review.
This brush is sort of caught in the middle. Though it does do a marginally better job at cleaning than its nearly-identical off-brand counterpart, it is significantly more expensive. In the same vein, it is generally less expensive than other name-brand models, but also doesn't clean between teeth quite as well. 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 get deep into the weeds to research and purchase 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.
The models in this review have been through it all. Our testers brushed and brushed with each one, noting how much plaque each one removed under varied conditions as well as how comfortable they are to use.
Analysis and Test Results
We rigorously test 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 each rank in cleaning capability and comfort.
Cleaning capability is defined as the degree to which a toothbrush head can remove plaque on and 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 consistently took our mouths from dirty to clean in two minutes flat. The unique diamond bristle pattern and fine-tip point 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, also 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, 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 be to 'forget' a session. We pay attention to things like bristle softness and shape, brush head size, and also note any tooth or gum irritation.
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. Also sneaking into the top tier is the Waterpik SFRB-2EB. 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.
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