Electric toothbrushes can help you brush properly
Think about it: How long do you brush your
teeth? Thirty seconds? Maybe a minute? And how many times a day? Also, are you
absolutely certain whether or not all parts of your mouth are getting equal
time and attention?
So what does a good brushing routine entail?
Dental experts say you should be brushing for two minutes at least twice a day,
flossing and visiting your dentist regularly. Manual and electric toothbrushes
are equally effective -- it's how you brush that is important, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), not necessarily what you brush
But, while experts agree that there is
nothing wrong with standard toothbrushes, their downside is that people tend to
lack discipline when brushing. A number of reports say most Americans brush for
only 30 to 60 seconds, rather than the two minutes recommended by dentists, and
that's not nearly long enough to enable the fluoride in toothpaste to do its
job. Reviewers say the best electric toothbrushes come with a two-minute timer
and are able to reach hard-to-clean areas better than most of us can manage
with a manual brush. Many brushes also utilize lights or sounds to notify you
to move to the next quadrant of the mouth (upper left, upper right, lower left,
and lower right) every 30 seconds.
One differentiator amongst electric
toothbrushes is the type of movement the brush head makes. Rotating brush heads spin 360 degrees around while rotating-oscillating heads oscillate
from side to side, not making a full circle. Sonic toothbrushes vibrate from side to side at a very rapid speed.
While there are studies -- mostly sponsored by electric toothbrush
manufacturers -- that claim one type or another is most effective, experts say
that they all are effective, and the best one is ultimately a matter of
personal preference. In other words, if you'll use the electric toothbrush to
its full potential and it's comfortable for you to use, that's the type you
Types of Electric Toothbrushes
These are expensive compared to standard toothbrushes, but the payoff is more attractive designs and useful features like multiple cleaning modes or pressure sensors. You can expect to pay upward of $50 for a good power toothbrush and up to $200 for a top-of-the-line rechargeable toothbrush. Brush heads need to be replaced as often as you would replace a manual toothbrush, and generally cost around $10 each.Replaceable Batteries
This type of power toothbrush is the least expensive. We found several good choices for less than $10. However, reviewers say they tend to be noisier and rougher than more expensive, rechargeable models. You also have to factor in the cost of replacing the batteries every four to six weeks.For Kids
In addition to electric toothbrushes for adults, we look at electric toothbrushes for kids. Kids' toothbrushes are essentially mini versions of ones designed for adults (to better fit kids' mouths), with similar brush movements and timers, but with the addition of bright colors and sometimes characters or music to make brushing more fun. Our Best Reviewed pick even comes with an app so kids (and their parents) can track their brushing habits.Electric Flossers
The name Waterpik has become nearly synonymous with electric water flossers, but several toothbrush manufacturers have also entered this product category in recent years. For those who don't like regular flossing, or who have braces, water flossers can be extremely useful.
Finding The Best Electric Toothbrushes
There aren't a lot of expert reviews or
professional tests of electric toothbrushes, TheSweethome.com being a notable
exception. We found some great choices, though, based upon their
recommendations, a few tests by writers at various other sites and publications,
and by evaluating thousands of owner reviews. From there, we narrowed down our
top picks based upon the brushes' effectiveness at cleaning teeth, ease of use,
features, durability and the cost of ownership.
The best rechargeable
In the world of electric toothbrushes two
manufacturers absolutely stand out: Oral-B and Sonicare. Each utilizes a very
distinct brush movement: Oral-B's brushes use rotating-oscillating strokes,
while Sonicare models use high-velocity lateral vibrations.
However, while Sonicare is undoubtedly a popular maker,
its comparable models are pricier, and the reality of the research says that a
higher price does not a better electric toothbrush make. As a result, the Oral-B Pro 1000 (Est. $50) is a logical choice as our Best Reviewed rechargeable power
toothbrush in this category. The Pro 1000 is the top pick of experts, and
owners give it high ratings across hundreds of reviews. It's a very basic
manual toothbrush -- pretty much just off and on -- but most experts agree that
that's all you need.
The Oral-B Pro does have one great feature though: a
built-in pressure sensor that stops bristle movement when it detects that
you're brushing too hard, something that's usually not found in power toothbrushes
at this price point. The in-handle timer pulses every 30 seconds to remind you
to switch to cleaning another area of the mouth; however, it does not shut off
after two minutes as most other electric toothbrushes do. Most owners love this
feature, saying it allows them to brush longer if they choose to do so, or to
move to other areas of the mouth, like the tongue, without having to turn the
toothbrush back on. Others say they lose track of how long they brushed and
would prefer a two minute shut-off time.
If you prefer that two minute limit, we suggest you
take a look at the Philips Sonicare 2 Series (Est. $50).
The Sonicare was a runner up in TheSweethome.com's testing, coming in second to
the Oral-B Pro, but it has a couple of popular features that the Oral-B lacks.
One, of course, is that two-minute shut off time. The other is an easy start
mode that gradually increases the brushing power over the first 14 uses,
helping you to ease into using an electric toothbrush -- a transition that some
do find jarring. However, one feature that the Sonicare lacks is the 30-second
pulse that reminds you to move to a new quadrant -- something that keeps the
Series 2 out of our top spot. The quad timer is available on the Philips Sonicare 3 Series (Est. $90), but at a premium price compared
to the Oral-B.
Both the Oral-B and the Sonicare include a charging
base and one brush head. Sonicare says the charge on the 2 Series lasts for 14
days. Oral-B says the charge on the Clean Sweep lasts for seven days, but, in
testing, TheSweetHome.com found that both of these power toothbrushes held
their charges longer -- the Oral-B 1000 for 11.5 days, the Sonicare 2 Series
for 16 days.
If money is no object and you're all about total
hygiene, we highly recommend the Philips Sonicare Flexcare (Est. $190).
Users love the five modes -- gum care, daily clean, refresh, massage and
sensitive. It can be a bit tricky to figure out which mode you're in at first,
you have to learn to "read" the lights, but if you like a variety of brushing
options, this is a great choice. It also includes two handles, two brush heads,
a travel case and a travel charger.
However, the major selling point with the Flexcare
is a UV sanitizer that kills the germs on your toothbrush between uses. A lot
of owners say they don't even use it, but others say that the sanitizer offers
them peace of mind, especially if they're recovering from a cold or another
virus; they don't have to worry about re-infecting themselves and don't have to
replace the brush head before its time. Keep in mind, the sanitizing claims
have not been backed up by any independent, scientific studies.
electric toothbrushes are a good introduction to power brushing
If you're skeptical about how well you'll like an
electric toothbrush, or are leery of spending even $50, much less upwards of
$150, we highly recommend picking up a Spinbrush Truly Radiant Toothbrush (Est. $12) and giving it a spin. Obvious puns aside, this basic toothbrush gets hundreds
of owner reviews that match or exceed those of the much more expensive Oral-B
and Sonicare rechargeable toothbrushes.
Spinbrush Truly Radiant Toothbrushes (there are
several different models with different purposes, such as deep cleaning,
whitening, etc.) are not rechargeable; rather, they are power toothbrushes that
operate on alkaline batteries, in this case two AA batteries. Otherwise, they
work much the same as a rechargeable toothbrush.
The Spinbrush Truly Radiant is a fairly simple
power toothbrush with a dual-action brush head. Like a rechargeable electric
toothbrush, the brush heads are replaceable and should be replaced every three
months. Replacement brush heads run about $6.00 each. Many owners say this
electric toothbrush works just as well or better as much pricier models, and is
outstanding among competing battery-operated power toothbrushes. A few note
that this toothbrush is louder and seems to have a much rougher motion than the
more expensive rechargeable toothbrushes, but most say they feel like it's a
great value compared to rechargeable toothbrushes.