Tests by a leading consumer magazine found that the Philips Sonicare FlexCare's (*Est. $120) ability to remove plaque is neck-and-neck with Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision toothbrushes. Although the two brands perform about the same and each features a two-minute timer with 30-second intervals, their brushes are different.
For one, the Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision toothbrushes (formerly ProfessionalCare) employ three kinds of brushing motion: pulsation, rotation and oscillation. By comparison, Sonicare toothbrushes use super fast side-to-side vibrations to clean teeth.
The biggest differences between Oral-B and Sonicare are the features and durability. Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision toothbrushes feature a built-in pressure sensor that stops bristle movement when it detects that you're brushing too hard, something not found in many competitors' models. The toothbrushes also have several brushing modes that vary in power.
The FlexCare electric toothbrush has an easy-start feature that gently increases the power of the brush over 14 uses, which can help new users adjust to a powered brush. However, editors at the aforementioned consumer magazine say that, because of its heavy vibration, the FlexCare can be a bit uncomfortable for beginners to use. A smaller brush head is also available, and users say that it's especially helpful for those with small mouths. The Philips Sonicare FlexCare with UV Sanitizer (*Est. $120) is very similar to the FlexCare but includes a built-in ultraviolet cleaning feature that sanitizes brush heads. If you're concerned about germs, this may be worth the investment, reviewers say, but we didn't find any clinical testing to back up this assertion.
On the other hand, users say the FlexCare isn't very durable -- the other point of difference. Several say that Sonicare has excellent customer service, however, and promptly replaces defective brushes. Users give the Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision 4000 (*Est. $100) high ratings because it lasts for years without breaking and has a long battery life, going up to two weeks between charges. It also performs well in professional testing, where it excels at plaque removal.
The step-up model, the Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision 5000 (*Est. $120), has the same oscillating-rotating function but also features a separate, wireless LCD that monitors brushing time, signals when you're brushing too hard and indicates when it is time to change brush heads. Because the Professional Healthy Clean Precision 4000 is functionally the same and costs less, we've chosen to name it as a Best Reviewed pick among electric toothbrushes.