The Philips Sonicare Essence does a good job of cleaning teeth and is easy to use and durable. It doesn't have all of the bells and whistles found on more expensive models, but the only feature reviewers miss is an interval timer -- this unit doesn't have one. Users also say the screw-on brush heads make the unit difficult to keep clean. Reviewers choose the Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision 4000 (*Est. $100) more often in reviews, which is why we chose to highlight the latter as a Best Reviewed product.
Cleans well. Most users at Amazon.com, Drugstore.com and Target.com are pleased with how well the Sonicare Essence cleans. Like all Sonicare power toothbrushes, the Philips Sonicare Essence relies on rapid side-to-side vibrations to clean teeth. It has a two-minute standard timer and an easy start feature that gradually increases power during the first 12 uses.
One owner at Target.com says, "This toothbrush really gets my teeth clean and I thought I was doing a good job with my manual toothbrush." Many say it seems to do a better job than a manual toothbrush, but we didn't find any comparisons to higher-end models like the FlexCare and FlexCare+. It does, however, work on the same sonic technology and produces the same amount of brush movements: up to 31,000 per minute.
Above-average lifespan. Owners say the Essence is durable and has a decent lifespan. One user at Amazon.com -- who has gone through three of these toothbrushes -- says, "They seem to last me about three years a piece." Another owner at Target.com says the previous model lasted for 13 years before needing to be replaced. The toothbrush has a two-year warranty.
Screw-on brush heads are hard to clean. Reviewers say the Sonicare Essence is easy to use and fits comfortably in the hand. It doesn't have an interval timer, however, to alert users when it's time to move to another area of the mouth. Some users think the two-minute standard timer does a good enough job.
Users biggest complaints revolve around the screw-on brush heads. Reviewers say they don't seal very well, which allows water, toothpaste and gunk to seep into the handle. One user at Drugstore.com says, "After a couple weeks of use I opened the inside to find black mold spots had grown in there." Reviewers say the design flaw creates the need for extra clean-up on a regular basis - something many say is a chore in itself.
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Review Credibility: Good The Sonicare Essence earns 4.3 out of 5 stars overall based on more than 50 reviews at Amazon.com. Owners say the toothbrush has a long battery life and is comfortable to hold, but the brush head doesn't seal properly and allows water, toothpaste and gunk to seep into the handle.
Review: Philips Sonicare HX5610/01 Essence 5600 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, White, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Good More than 230 reviewers at Drugstore.com give the Sonicare Essence an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most of the reviews here aren't very detailed, however. Several say their teeth feel clean after brushing with the Essence. Some say that the screw-on brush head doesn't seal very well, allowing gunk and water to seep in and, in some cases, mold.
Review: Sonicare Essence Sonic Toothbrush, Model HX5351, Contributors to Drugstore.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Fair About 40 reviewers at Target.com give the Sonicare Essence an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Owners say their teeth feel cleaner, but some wish that it had an interval timer.
Review: Philips Sonicare HX5610/01 Essence 5300 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, Contributors to Target.com, As of November 2012