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The 5 best electric toothbrushes: Effortlessly clean teeth

What is the best electric toothbrush? The Oral-B Pro 1000 is ZDNet's top choice. We compared features like pricing, moving type, and brush heads to determine the best electric toothbrush as well as some other honorable mentions. But finding the right electric toothbrush for you means considering how you want a toothbrush to fit into your busy life.
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Written by Laura Leavitt on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Choosing the best electric toothbrush for your needs is somewhat subjective, but there are some factors that benefit nearly everyone. A toothbrush that is easy to use, charges well or has a long-lasting battery, and is equipped with convenient features like variable speeds can help you to get the best possible cleaning of your teeth without discomfort. 

What's more, for those of us who want to see our oral hygiene improve, new smart toothbrushes aim to help you target brushing more thoroughly and for the right amount of time using guidance from a smartphone application that is tied to your brush.

Oral-B Pro 1000
Amazon

Features:

  • The brush that delivers no particularly glitzy features but all of the features we're looking for
  • Received the New York Times' Wirecutter "Best Electric Toothbrush" designation
  • Simple interface has a timer but no other bells and whistles
  • Small, convenient recharging station means no battery replacing and easy travel
  • Price: $50

While we'll definitely mention some smart brushes and cool designs, our top winner wins because, well, it's a toothbrush. We wanted to pick the most affordable option that has everything you need to get a clean, healthy smile according to the American Dental Association. Their main points about an electric toothbrush, ironically, are that it may be more comfortable or easier to use, and the Pro 1000 scores there: with mountains of reviews, it's seen as an easy to use brush that has only one button that turns on and off. However, the ADA also recommends getting the full two minutes of brushing in per twice-daily session, so the Oral-B Pro 1000's simple 2-minute timer allows you to brush till it cuts off, reminding you that you've fully brushed your teeth. 

One underrated issue with some sleek and trendy brushes is that they are newer and thus there are fewer off-brand options for brush heads. The Pro 1000 isn't a new model, and many grocery stores will have a cheaper brush head available, helping you to change the brush head the recommended once every 3 months. For sheer practicality, price, and consistency, the Pro 1000 took our top spot. 

Pros:

  • Easy to find replacement brush heads, branded and off-brand
  • Has a timer on it
  • Gets teeth clean
  • Small, convenient-to-transport charging dock

Cons:

  • People with sensitive gums may not prefer this brush
  • Same for people with smaller mouths
  • Will need your charging dock with you -- not exceptionally long battery life
Colgate Hum
Amazon

Features:

  • Sleek, appealing design and carry-case
  • App-enabled helps you target every part of your teeth
  • Sonic technology keeps the brush quiet and effective
  • Price: $70

Colgate is a respected brand name in the industry and brings a lot to the table with its smart toothbrush. The Hum is small and beautiful to appeal to a wide variety of brushers, and instead of the slower oscillating technology used in older toothbrushes, this sonic toothbrush uses a higher-frequency pulse that is purported to get toothpaste and water deeper into the areas around your teeth, making for a better clean without the same loud buzzing that came with the rotating-oscillating toothbrushes. 

What's more is that the toothbrush documents the areas in your mouth where you've brushed and gives you a read-out on your phone, showcasing where you brushed well and where you glossed over and should spend more time and attention. It can be effective for those who are always a little helter-skelter with their teeth and makes brushing a pleasure, rather than a chore.

Pros:

  • Lightweight design makes it an appealing travel brush
  • Makes brushing gamified and therefore may help people persist
  • Useful 30-seconds-per-quarter timers keep you focused during brushing

Cons:

  • Smart brush is a bit more expensive than other brushes
  • Some people feel that the lower intensity Hum doesn't get their teeth as clean as oscillating/rotating brushes
Quip Electric Toothbrush
Amazon

Features:

  • Tidy design makes it the slimmest, easiest to transport
  • Simple, widely available AAA battery and 3-month battery life
  • Large, manual-brush-style toothbrush head, with replacements mailed on a schedule
  • Price: $25

While you can now buy Quip brushes in stores, the original direct-to-consumer concept was a smart one: most of us don't intend to let our brush heads get old but we forget to buy a new one every three months. Quip's simple brush design combined with sending a brush head to your doorstep right on schedule made it a game-changer in the battery-powered toothbrush market. 

It includes the 30 second pulses that remind you to move your brush around your mouth at those intervals, and it comes at a price point lower than many of the rechargeable types. The travel cover is slim but secretly lets you mount the brush to your mirror, giving it a place to stay and making it easy to remember to brush.

Pros:

  • One of the most inexpensive brushes on our list
  • Great for people who love a subscription service and automation
  • Smart version of the toothbrush comes with an app for tracking habits
  • Design keeps it slim and lightweight

Cons:

  • Not known for its intensity
  • No variability in speed
  • Requires batteries
Phillips Sonicare 4100 ProtectiveClean Electric Toothbrush
Amazon

Features:

  • Tech features like a pressure sensor to keep you from pressing too hard
  • Handle light reminds you to change brush head
  • Brings Sonicare's high-end design to an affordable price point
  • Price: $50

Sonicare's ProtectiveClean brush has a price to rival the mid-range brushes we've considered today while bringing the name and background of the high-end Sonicare systems. We chose this brush because it has many of the best and most teeth-cleaning-related features that Sonicare often boasts, from the timer to the pressure sensor, without some of the newer features like the proprietary IntelliClean liquid toothpaste dispensing brushes. Think of it as the core features without any of the fluff. 

Pros:

  • Strong battery life
  • Indicator lights for battery and brush head replacement are helpful
  • Smart features like pressure sensor help people who tend to brush too hard

Cons:

  • Some find the brush too small
  • Some find the vibration too intense
Brightline Sonic Toothbrush
Amazon

Features:

  • Sonic toothbrush that uses very high-frequency vibrations
  • Multiple modes lets you find your ideal cleaning style
  • Contoured bristles in a typical manual-brush oval shape
  • Price: $40

While not as well known as the other brands we looked at, Brightline's Sonic Toothbrush stands out for its model that has 5 different modes. The modes are called clean, white, polish, massage, and sensitive, making this brush both helpful for those who want a higher-intensity pulse when brushing and those whose sensitive teeth or gums might benefit from a more gentle pulsation. The design is simple and the contoured bristles are effective, all for a low price point.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive for the high-end sonic technology that is both gentle and effective
  • Battery lasts a long time
  • Multiple modes helps you find what's best for you

Cons:

  • Less common brand may make brush heads harder to find
  • Some users found finding their right mode confusing/difficult

What's the best electric toothbrush?

While sonic technology has produced great results, and some people prefer it, there are also very strong signs that you can brush effectively with a thoughtfully designed rotating/oscillating brush. In our case, the best brush award went to an older style Oral-B Pro 1000 with the more intense, slower-frequency rotating, oscillating and pulsating brush head. This was partially due to overall reliability in product reviews and partially due to the widespread availability of both branded and off-brand brush heads, making this an inexpensive brush to use for a very long time. 

That being said, the best electric toothbrush may vary based on your personal preference. Be aware that while both Sonicare and Oral-B have widespread availability for their brush heads, both also have some brush heads that aren't cross-compatible, so make sure that your specific brush is listed on the brush head packaging as compatible. 

Electric toothbrush

Price

Charging Station

Moving Type

Brush Head Availability

Oral-B Pro 1000

$50

Yes

Rotating/Oscillating 

Yes

Colgate Hum

$70

Yes

Sonic

No

Quip

$25

No

Sonic

No

Sonicare 4100 ProtectiveClean

$50

Yes

Sonic

Yes

Brightline Sonic 

$40

Yes

Sonic

No

Which is the right electric toothbrush for you?

If you're looking to choose a mid-price-range electric toothbrush with strong features like a pulse timer that keeps you moving your toothbrush around your mouth and a strong battery life, you can't go wrong with our top five options. However, you may find that you have a better brushing experience if you choose your brand and model based on your priorities based on the chart below. 

Choose this electric toothbrush…

If you want…

Oral-B Pro 1000

Affordability and key features for clean teeth

Colgate Hum

Frequent travel or to gamify your brushing

Quip

Easy use, affordability, and subscription to brush heads

Sonicare 4100 ProtectiveClean

High-end smart features without high-end smart price

Brightline Sonic 

Variable modes alongside reliability in other features

How did we choose these electric toothbrushes?

For each toothbrush we considered, we looked at a combination of product specifications and reviews. For instance, smaller, lighter toothbrushes are more portable and easier for a wide variety of people to hold comfortably, so we took that into account when choosing brushes, and product specifications also helped us learn what kinds of batteries were needed or whether a recharging station or case was included. 

Whether a brush came with multiple types of brush head or was cross-compatible with widely-available brush heads was also considered as a factor in affordability. We also worked to find the best options that were in the most common price range, $25-$75, rather than focusing on brushes that had mountains of features but also cost hundreds of dollars.

We used product reviews from customers to identify products that had a strong reputation for helping people feel they were getting their teeth very clean, were comfortable to use, didn't have annoying lights or excessively loud buzzing sounds, and held a charge as expected. 

What is the difference between a smart toothbrush and other electric toothbrushes?

Generally, an electric toothbrush simply has some type of oscillation, vibration, or movement generated by electricity to remove more plaque from teeth during brushing. A smart toothbrush can have a variety of features, but one of the most common ones in modern brushes is to have the toothbrush integrated with an application on your phone that helps you brush effectively, track your brushing, or otherwise use your brush toward better oral hygiene.

What makes electric toothbrushes more or less expensive?

A stronger battery technology, more durable materials, and integration with a smartphone app that assesses how well your teeth were cleaned all tend to drive the price of a toothbrush up. While we aimed mostly for mid-range or inexpensive toothbrushes, many of the higher-end toothbrushes may have other features, such as a water flosser in the case of the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0

What is the best electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth?

While our best overall pick, the Oral-B Pro 1000, can be used on sensitive teeth, Oral-B also has a product specifically for sensitive teeth, the Oral-B Gum and Sensitive Care Electric Toothbrush. Brushes like the Brightline Sonic also have adjustable intensity, and this feature can be helpful for people who have found single-speed toothbrushes too intense in the past. 

Are there alternative electric toothbrushes worth considering?

There are a variety of other electric toothbrushes from the major Oral-B and Sonicare brands at both lower and higher price points. Goby, Pro-Sys, and Rotadent also have very highly-regarded toothbrushes.

Ultimately, if you have narrowed down your options to only two brushes, choosing one with a money-back guarantee isn't a bad way to get started with an electric toothbrush. 

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