What's the best electric toothbrush for you? It really depends. Are you looking for a cheap electric toothbrush, or the latest high-tech model with bluetooth and AI? Do you have a specific problem like sensitive teeth or gum disease? Or are you simply looking for a good electric toothbrush to help you maintain a healthy mouth?
One thing's for sure: whatever your needs, there's probably an electric toothbrush out there to suit you. The only problem is trying to work out which one! There are so many different features and options to choose from, it can be confusing.
Well, we're here to help. In this review we are going to compare the best electric toothbrushes in the UK for 2020. You will find out more about the benefits of rechargeable toothbrushes as we provide you with accurate information about some of the top UK brands like Oral-B and Philips Sonicare, as well as some you may not have heard of.
We'll also explain how to use an electric toothbrush properly – because technology can only help if you've got your oral hygiene basics right. And we have some general advice for maintaining your toothbrush and getting the most out of it.
Note that this article focuses on the best electric toothbrushes in the UK for adults and teens. We have a separate guide to electric toothbrushes for kids if you're interested.
|Best Electric Toothbrushes|
|Oral B Genius X|
|Uses AI to track brushing|
Speed: 40,000 oscillations per minute
Charge lasts: 14 days
|Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart||Check the latest price|
|Bluetooth connected with app|
Speed: 62,000 pulses per minute
Charge lasts: 21 days
Speed: 40,000 brushes per minute
Charge lasts: 30 days
|Oclean X smart brush|
|Modes: 4, and 32 speed settings |
Speed: 42,000 strokes per minute
Charge lasts: 40 days
Smart technology and touchscreen
|Best Electric Toothbrushes|
|Oral B Genius X|
|Check the latest price|
|Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart|
Bluetooth connected with app
|Check the latest price|
|Check the latest price|
Oclean X smart brush
Modes: 4, and 32 speed settings
|Check the latest price|
Table of contents
- 1 Why use an electric toothbrush?
- 2 Parts of an electric toothbrush
- 3 How to choose an electric toothbrush
- 4 Best electric toothbrush reviews 2020
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQs
- 6.1 How do you use an electric toothbrush?
- 6.2 How do you clean an electric toothbrush?
- 6.3 Can you use an electric toothbrush with braces?
- 6.4 What's the best electric toothbrush for receding gums?
- 6.5 What's the best electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth?
- 6.6 Can you take an electric toothbrush in hand luggage?
Why use an electric toothbrush?
Let's be clear on this from the outset: if you can't be bothered to brush your teeth properly, it doesn't matter how much you spend on a fancy toothbrush. You're still likely to end up with dental problems like tooth decay or gingivitis (gum disease).
Common issues that affect oral hygiene
- Not brushing twice a day
- Not brushing for long enough (2 minutes is recommended)
- Limited dexterity which affects brushing movement
- Not focusing on cleaning each area properly
- Brushing too hard (which damages gums)
- Using toothpaste that doesn't contain enamel-protecting fluoride
- Rinsing after brushing (which washes away the fluoride in your toothpaste)
- Not replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head often enough
- Not cleaning between teeth with floss or an interdental brush
Electric powered brushes can help with some – but not all – of these problems.
If you have arthritis or some other condition that limits your movement, you will almost certainly benefit from a toothbrush that does most of the hard work while you just hold it against each tooth. But there are other features which can help anyone brush their teeth better.
For instance, most models come with a timer that tells you when your two minutes is up. A quadpacer signals every 30 seconds so you can brush each quadrant of your mouth evenly. Pressure sensors will alert you if you're brushing too hard and need to ease off a little. You can even get an app for your toothbrush which reminds you to brush and guides you round your mouth.
The best electric toothbrushes on the market now are bluetooth-connected to track your brushing habits, and some even use AI to show you exactly which bits you're missing. But even the cheapest electric toothbrush can help you improve on manual brushing, so there's no need to spend a fortune if you don't have a big budget.
Electric vs. manual
Electric or manual toothbrush? Although the quality of your oral hygiene is largely down to how you brush, not what you brush with, it seems that electric brushes do offer certain benefits.
But how is an electric toothbrush better? A study published in 2014 by health researcher Cochrane found that patients who used a powered brush experienced a 21% reduction in plaque after three months, compared with those who continued to use a manual brush. There was also an 11% reduction in gum inflammation (gingivitis) after this time.
More recently, a 2019 study from the Oral Health Foundation which gathered data over an 11-year period found that people who use powered toothbrushes:
- Have less tooth decay
- Have healthier gums
- Keep their natural teeth for longer
Almost half (49%) of British adults already use an electric toothbrush, the main reason being for more effective cleaning. For those who haven't made the switch, it's often the cost that's putting them off. But with the cheapest electric toothbrushes costing around £20, it's getting more and more affordable to own one.
The advice from the NHS is that it doesn't matter what type of brush you use as long as you brush twice a day, clean every surface of each tooth, and use fluoride toothpaste. However, they also note that if you do choose an electric brush, one with a rotating or oscillating head may be more effective.
Our guide to manual toothbrushes for adults has our top picks for manual brushes, if you want to know more about those as well.
Benefits of electric toothbrushes
To summarise, any of these electric toothbrush features may help you maintain better oral health:
- Easier access to hard-to-reach teeth
- Better brushing motion for people with limited dexterity
- A timer and quadpacer to make sure you're brushing for long enough
- A pressure sensor to alert you when brushing too hard
- An app to track your progress and motivate you
- A smart toothbrush with technology to show exactly where you're missing
- Different brush heads for cleaning braces, sensitive teeth, etc.
Parts of an electric toothbrush
Before we get into the details of choosing the best toothbrush for you, let's take a quick look at some of the parts of an electric toothbrush that you need to know about.
Electric toothbrush charger
A very important part of the electric toothbrush is the charger – that's what gives it power! There are two main ways to charge a toothbrush: either with a charging cable that plugs directly into the unit (like a USB charger) or with a inductive charging base that the toothbrush connects with.
Charging time varies between models, as does the duration of the charge. Your toothbrush should feature a charging light to show when it's fully charged.
If you lose or damage your electric toothbrush charger, it's easy to buy a replacement online. Just be sure to buy one that fits your brand of toothbrush – they all look similar but are slightly different shapes.
You can also buy a battery-powered toothbrush like the Colgate 360. These take AA or AAA batteries and don't need to be charged like an electric toothbrush. But, as we explain in more detail further down, battery toothbrushes are neither economical nor eco-friendly.
Electric toothbrush plug adaptor
It's common for electric toothbrush chargers in the UK to come with a two-pin plug. This is fine if you have a two-pin shaver socket in your bathroom, but if not you'll need to use a plug adaptor that converts to a standard three-pin socket. Fortunately, this type of electric toothbrush adaptor is widely available.
Alternatively, you can buy a charger that's already fitted with a three-pin plug to avoid needing that extra bit of hardware.
If you choose a USB charging toothbrush, you won't need to worry about buying an adaptor.
Electric toothbrush heads
Electric toothbrush heads – the parts that contain the bristles – get worn out just like regular toothbrush heads. With the exception of some battery-powered brushes, the head can easily be removed and replaced. They often have some kind of wear indicator so you can see when it's time to replace them, and some advanced brush models will tell you when it's time to switch to a new one.
One benefit of changeable heads is that you don't need to buy a different brush for each member of your family; you can simply swap the heads around depending on who is using it. Some manufacturers make different types of electric toothbrush head which suit different purposes such as cleaning with braces, brushing sensitive teeth, or teeth whitening.
Further down you will find more information about the different types of toothbrush head, including oscillating and ultrasonic.
Electric toothbrush holder
In most cases, the charger functions as a holder for the toothbrush itself. However, if you don't keep your charger in the bathroom you may want to buy a separate electric toothbrush holder. If several family members use different heads on the same toothbrush handle, it can be especially useful to have a holder to keep all the parts clean and organised.
This Corneria toothbrush holder has enough space for a couple of tubes of toothpaste, an electric toothbrush, and up to four toothbrush heads or manual brushes. If you're short on space, you can also buy holders that attach directly to your bathroom mirror.
How to choose an electric toothbrush
Don't assume that a cheap electric toothbrush will do a worse job of cleaning your teeth than an expensive one. Some technology may help achieve a deeper clean, but other features are only worth paying for if you'll actually benefit from them.
It's important you take the time to work out which features you really need and which are just nice to have – otherwise you could end up paying well over the odds for your electric brush.
Battery-powered vs. rechargeable
The cheapest electric toothbrush you'll find is probably a battery-powered one that takes regular AA or AAA batteries. These are essentially the same as manual brushes, but with a vibrating or rotating head. Although these may still offer some benefits over manual brushes, they don't compare to rechargeable models in terms of the power and features they offer.
A popular battery-operated toothbrush is the Colgate 360, which claims to remove four times more bacteria than the leading battery toothbrush (e.g. the Oral-B Pulsar). It looks more like an electric toothbrush than a manual one, but with one big downside: the heads are not replaceable. If you're changing to a new toothbrush every 3 months as dentists recommend, and paying £8-9 each time, the cost will soon add up to more than a budget electric toothbrush. From a sustainability point of view, it's also better to buy a rechargeable brush rather than throwing away the whole unit – including batteries – every few months.
In contrast, the Oral-B Pro Expert battery toothbrush uses the same replacement heads as other Oral-B electric brushes, so it's a better choice if you prefer battery-operated over rechargeable for some reason.
Battery-powered brushes might be a good option for kids who need some extra motivation to brush. However, if you're looking for an electric powered toothbrush to take your oral hygiene to the next level, it's worth investing in a rechargeable model which should last a good few years.
Know your oscillating from your ultrasonic
When you start to research rechargeable electric toothbrushes, one of the first things you'll notice is the variety of different heads available. Different manufacturers use different technologies in their brushes, each one promising a better clean than the next. Independent research on this matter is limited, but tends to favour rotating-oscillating types. In the end, it may just come down to choosing the one that you find most comfortable.
Here is a quick explanation of some different terms you might come across regarding toothbrush heads:
- Rotating: The bristles turn, either as one whole circle or in individual clusters. Brush heads are usually quite small and are designed to clean one tooth at a time.
- Rotating-oscillating: Rather than spinning round and round in one direction, oscillating brushes rotate one way and then back again very quickly – as many as 8,000 times a minute.
- Counter-rotating: The head contains 6-10 tufts of bristles, each one spinning in the opposite direction to its neighbour. This style was considered revolutionary in the 90s but has since been overtaken by newer technology.
- Pulsing: The head moves back and forth against teeth to help dislodge plaque, even between teeth where the bristles can't reach. This is often paired with rotating-oscillating heads to deliver a more thorough clean.
- Side-to-side vibrating: Rather than rotating, the head moves from side to side very quickly to vibrate against teeth with an ultra-fast brushing motion. These are usually shaped like ‘normal' toothbrush heads.
- Dual-head: The head has two parts; one which oscillates and one which vibrates from side to side.
- Sonic: The brush moves at such a speed that the movements are audible. Most mainstream electric toothbrushes use sonic technology in some way, producing anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 movements per minute. The high-speed vibrations can also push fluid between teeth to achieve interdental cleaning – this is known as a “non-contact brushing effect”.
- Ultrasonic: Ultrasonic waves, rather than physical vibrations, break down plaque. These brushes have around 1.5 million movements per second but are not widely available to purchase in the UK. Most which are advertised as ‘ultrasonic' are falsely labelled, with the exception of a few like Emmi-Dent and Megasonex. Check the vibration speed to be sure.
Two of the biggest brands on the market are the Braun Oral-B and Philips Sonicare toothbrushes. Most Oral-B brushes have a rotating-oscillating head (like the one pictured above), while most Sonicare brushes look more like a regular manual toothbrush. This is one of the biggest things that sets the two brands apart, and also one of the things that makes many people stick to one brand or the other.
Other features – useful or gimmicks?
As we mentioned above, a timer and pressure sensor will both help with proper brushing. Some brushes signal half way through the two minutes while others signal four times. They might automatically shut off after two or three minutes so you don't brush for too long.
You'll also find brushes which feature:
- Different cleaning modes and vibration speeds
- Different brush head attachments (for whitening, flossing, etc.)
- Bluetooth connectivity (to connect to a mobile app)
- AI (artificial intelligence) technology
- Phone holder
- Lock button
- LED display
- An all-in-one unit with a water flosser and toothbrush
It's really up to you to decide whether these features are useful additions to your tooth brushing routine.
In the short video below, a dental hygienist explains why she recommends an electric toothbrush, and the features she herself finds useful:
Best electric toothbrush reviews 2020
Now we've explained all the parts of a toothbrush and the features you might find useful, we're going to review and compare some of the best electric toothbrushes available in the UK. You'll find reviews of all the top brands including Oral-B, Philips and Colgate, as well as some you may not be so familiar with. We'll cover a range of brushes to suit different budgets and needs, so whether you're after a cheaper electric toothbrush or one with more advanced features, you'll find a good match here.
First of all, here's a table to let you quickly compare a few electric toothbrushes according to the features you might want. But below this you'll find detailed descriptions and reviews of these brushes and more, so do keep reading if you want more details to help you decide on the
|Oral-B SmartSeries 6500||Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart||Fairywill P11||Oclean X||FOREO ISSA Hybrid|
|Replacement head cost||£2 - £2.50||£5 - £13||£2.50||£4||£17|
|Head type/technology||Rotating-oscillating with pluse||Side-to-side sonic vibration||Side-to-side sonic vibration||Side-to-side sonic vibration||Sonic pulse|
|Pressure sensor||Yes - and slows brushing speed||Yes||No||No||No|
|Battery life (one charge)||2+ weeks||3 weeks||30 days||40 days||Up to 365 uses (6 months)|
|Settings||5 cleaning modes||5 modes and 3 intensities||5 cleaning modes||4 modes and 32 intensities||8 vibration speeds|
|Travel features||USB charging case||USB charging case||Travel case||No charging dock, infrequent charging||No charging dock, infrequent charging|
|Unique features||Different heads available; Bluetooth connection to app||Different heads available; Bluetooth connection to tracking app||Lightweight, waterproof, charges in 2 hours||Touchscreen, waterproof, charges in 2 hours||Silicone bristles ideal for sensitive gums and resist bacteria buildup|
Braun Oral-B electric toothbrushes have heads are small and either circular or oval in shape. This is the leading brand that uses rotating-oscillating technology, and some models also offer pulsing heads for deeper cleaning. Oral-B is widely recommended by dentists in the UK, so whichever of their brushes you choose you can be quite confident it is doing a good job.
Different types of brush head are designed for whitening, sensitive gums, and use with braces. There is even a compatible brush head made with recyclable plastic and charcoal fibre. Oral-B toothbrush heads are some of the most affordable when it comes to replacing them. This is an important consideration when you think about the long-term cost of owning an electric toothbrush.
Oral-B offers a wide range of brushes, with basic models like the Vitality Plus often available for under £20 on Amazon. Mid-range models like the SmartSeries 6500 come with Bluetooth connectivity, and the most advanced is the AI-equipped Genius X brush which can precisely track how well you are brushing each tooth.
By connecting to the Oral-B App you can receive real-time brushing guidance to ensure you're reaching every part of your mouth. Your dentist can even adjust your brushing plan if there are certain teeth or areas you need to focus on.
The cheapest Oral-B electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor is the Pro 2000. Part of the brush lights up if you are putting too much pressure on your teeth. Oral-B's more premium models don't just light up but actually slow down the brushing speed if you are brushing too hard. You also get a handy travel case from which you can charge your smartphone as well as your toothbrush.
All in all, whether you want a budget electric toothbrush or a more premium one loaded with features, Oral-B probably has one to suit you. We have a separate article dedicated to the best Oral-B toothbrushes in the UK, which has a lot more detail about each one. For now, here's a summary of our top electric toothbrushes from Oral-B:
- Best high-tech brush: Genius X
- Best on a budget: Vitality Plus or Pro 2000 (with pressure sensor)
- Best for families: SmartSeries 6500 Double Pack (2 handles, storage for 4 heads)
- Best travel toothbrush: Pro 2 2500 (standard case) or Genius range (USB charging case)
- Best for sensitive teeth: Smart 5 5000
- Best for forming good habits: SmartSeries 6500
Now onto the other name that dominates the UK market. The Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush range also offers a large number of options. All Sonicare toothbrushes use patented sonic technology with a side-to-side brushing motion.
At the basic end of the scale you can pick up a no-frills Sonicare EasyClean which has one brushing mode, a timer, and not much else.
At the other end of the scale you can fork out for a DiamondClean Smart (not to be confused with plain old DiamondClean). This top-of-the-range toothbrush with three built-in sensors and Bluetooth connectivity tracks every movement of your brushing and tells you if you've missed a bit or you're using the wrong technique – a bit like a personal oral hygienist.
It also comes with four different brush heads which you can use for plaque removal, whitening your teeth, gum care and tongue care. Each head has a microchip so the brush automatically knows which settings to use for each one (this does add to the cost of replacements, though). To charge the toothbrush, you place it in a stylish glass rather than a traditional holder. It also comes with a travel case that allows USB charging.
Many reviews of the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart state that the app has helped the user learn how to brush their teeth properly. However, some users experienced technical problems with the app or found it gimmicky – and without that, it's really no different to much cheaper models.
In between these two models there are numerous options with varying levels of smart technology and other features. The ProtectiveClean 6100 range, for example, comes with three different cleaning modes, three intensities, a case, and a range of colours, including pink. It's not a bluetooth toothbrush, although it does have an alert which tells you when it's time to switch to a new brush head. Overall, when you compare Oral-B vs Sonicare, you'll find better value from Oral-B.
Read our Sonicare toothbrush guide for a more in-depth review of these electric toothbrushes and some similar alternatives.
Fairywill (best electric toothbrush under £20)
The best value electric toothbrush may not be one that you've heard of before… Fairywill sonic toothbrushes cost around the same as the cheapest models from Oral-B and Philips, yet they pack a load of features which make them arguably much better value.
On the basic model, the Fairywill FW-507, you get a powerful clean with 40,000 micro-brushes per minute, and five cleaning modes to choose from. It's really lightweight at 55g, less than half the weight of many standard electric brushes.
The P11 model has a futuristic design and a stronger motor but only three cleaning modes. It does come with a travel case though.
Fairywill electric toothbrushes seem to deal with a lot of the little annoyances you might have experienced from others you've used:
- They are designed to be quiet
- They use a USB charging cable and take around 2 hours to charge
- A full charge should last about a month
So if you're wary of forking out for an expensive toothbrush, you could always try one of these first and see what you think. They come with a 1-year warranty and 180-day returns policy.
Oclean X (best electric toothbrush under £50)
If you like the idea of a smart electric toothbrush but don't like the price tag of the Genius X or DiamondClean Smart, the good news is there is another option. The Oclean X smart toothbrush not only has an app, but also a touchscreen display which immediately shows how well you've brushed. Its built-in gyroscope tracks the angle and motion of the brush so it can tell you which areas need more attention.
And the cool features don't stop there. You get to set your brushing intensity on a scale of 1-32, so you really have a lot of control over the strength. In addition, there are four brushing modes: Standard, Sensitive, Whitening and Massage. On the app, you can follow one of the 20 brushing plans to help you achieve your goals (better gum health, whiter teeth, etc.).
A 2-hour charge gives 40 days of battery life, and while you're not using it as a charger, the base can be wall-mounted to keep your brush out of the way. All in all, it's a pretty cool toothbrush at a very reasonable price. If you're willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar brand, you might be pleasantly surprised with the Oclean X.
Colgate electric toothbrushes come in a range of price points with different features. All use a side-to-side style head for sonic cleaning.
Their most advanced brush, the ProClinical A1500, uses smart sensors to know where the brush is being held in the mouth and adjust the brushing speed and cleaning action accordingly. These settings can also be adjusted manually depending on your cleaning goals. One common gripe mentioned in user reviews is that it doesn't have an indicator to show when the battery is running low, which you might expect for this price.
At a lower price point is the Colgate ProClinical 250 toothbrush, which comes in black, white or pink. It has only one power level which delivers 25,500 sonic strokes per minute.
The 2-minute timer and 30-second pacer help you brush well, and the travel cap is handy for keeping it clean on the go. If you're after a simple, lightweight brush then this could be a good choice. Colgate also offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you're not happy with the product for any reason.
Swedish company FOREO is a relatively new player to the market, having been founded in 2013. The company launched its ISSA sonic toothbrush in 2014 as a revolutionary alternative to the technology that had been around for decades.
The ISSA combines soft silicone bristles with sonic pulse technology to create a clean that is effective on plaque but soft on gums. The original brush consists of 100% silicone bristles, while the newer ISSA2 hybrid version (pictured) incorporates a core of PBT polymer bristles that scrub the surface of the teeth.
The materials used in this toothbrush head are resistant to bacteria, making it a more hygienic alternative to traditional nylon heads.
Other useful features of the FOREO ISSA include:
- Waterproof design
- Built-in timer
- 8 vibration speeds
- Optional tongue cleaner attachment
- USB chargeable (no charging dock)
- 1 charge lasts up to 365 uses
- 4 vibrant colour options
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty and 10-year quality guarantee
Reviews of this product are polarised. One the one hand, many people claim it is the best electric toothbrush for sensitive gums since the silicone material makes it almost impossible to exert too much pressure. This also helps protect tooth enamel from erosion due to over-enthusiastic brushing.
On the other hand, several people report having had reliability issues – either with the brush losing its charge or the bristles falling apart. Some people also comment that the large brush head is hard to get used to, especially if you have a small mouth.
FOREO's range of toothbrushes are certainly not the cheapest you'll find. However, if other toothbrushes make your gums hurt, you're worried about bacteria building up on your toothbrush, or you just want to try something completely different, it might be worth the investment. It comes with a 2-year warranty and 10-year quality guarantee, which should cover any problems with reliability.
The following ISSA electric toothbrush review compares it to two other styles of brush. The reviewer's conclusion is that the head is a little too large to effectively clean all her teeth. Perhaps she should try the ISSA Play, which is a smaller version of the Hybrid that's powered by AAA batteries.
Quip has disrupted the electric toothbrush market by suggesting that simple is best, and by making it easier to follow good brushing habits.
The battery-powered brush comes with replaceable heads, and if you opt for their subscription plan, you receive a new head every three months. This ensures you're never using an old toothbrush head that's frayed and covered in nasty bacteria.
The brush itself has one power mode which gently vibrates the bristles. However, it still requires manual brushing action to actually clean the teeth (unlike some of the models above which just need to be held against each tooth).
Quip's electric toothbrush is definitely one of the best-looking and cleverly designed out there; it's slim and lightweight and the cover doubles up as a stand or wall mount.
If this all sounds quite appealing, check out our full Quip toothbrush review to see how much it costs and what other people think of it.
Travel electric toothbrushes
If you travel frequently you may appreciate a brush with special features that make it easy to carry and use wherever you go.
Decide which of the following features you'd find useful for your travel electric toothbrush:
- A lid to cover the head to keep it clean
- A compact design
- A travel case to protect the whole brush (and prevent your toothbrush from accidentally switching on in your luggage)
- A longer-lasting battery so you don't need to carry a charger while away
- A USB charger which is less bulky than an induction charger
- A USB charging case – a travel toothbrush case which doubles up as a charging dock
Many mid- to high-end electric toothbrushes come with a travel case as standard, so you don't necessarily need to buy a separate travel electric toothbrush. Just keep in mind the above features when making a decision.
And by the way, if you're wondering whether it's alright to take an electric toothbrush in your hand luggage when you fly, the answer is yes. Although each country and airline has slightly differing rules on what's allowed, an electric toothbrush should be fine to carry on. The only cause for concern may be if it starts vibrating in your bag – but investing in a simple travel case will prevent this.
Remember, you don't need to spend a fortune to get cleaner teeth. Even with a manual toothbrush and good brushing techniques, you can keep your teeth clean and help prevent future dental problems.
However, there are many affordable electric brushes, available both online and in high street shops like Boots, for people who want that bit more motivation to brush well. Oral-B arguably offers the best overall value in terms of price and functionality, with a wide range of brushes to suit most budgets and needs. However, if you're looking for a cheap electric toothbrush that still gives a powerful clean and has some user-friendly features, the Fairywill FW-507 might surprise you. The Oclean X smart toothbrush also gives great value for money.
The ISSA toothbrush range from FOREO brings a completely different approach with more hygienic materials, but some people have been disappointed by reliability issues.
If you have a big budget and you love technology, the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart and Oral-B Genius X are both worth considering, but the Genius X seems to have the edge in terms of how well it uses the technology.
Failure to look after your teeth now may mean you need expensive dental care later in life – dentures or tooth implants, for instance. So, even a pricier toothbrush could be worth the investment if it helps you improve your oral hygiene.
How do you use an electric toothbrush?
Don't feel silly for wondering how to brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush. If it's the first time you're using one, it can feel strange. The main difference is that when you use a powered toothbrush, it does most of the brushing work for you. There is no need for a scrubbing motion; simply hold the brush gently to each tooth for a few seconds before moving along.
Here are some other tips for using an electric toothbrush effectively:
- Use the same amount of toothpaste as you would with a manual brush.
- Don't turn the toothbrush on until it's in your mouth – otherwise it can scatter toothpaste everywhere!
- Angle the brush at 45 degrees to the gum line so the bristles are in contact with the gum and tooth surface.
- Spend two minutes brushing, and make sure you cover every surface of each tooth (inner, outer, and biting surface) in this time. Take a little longer on the inner surface of your bottom front teeth as plaque is more likely to build up there. If your brush has a timer, it will help you spend 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth.
- Don't press too hard as this may damage your gums (some brushes come with a pressure sensor to help with this).
- To complete your oral hygiene routine, floss between your teeth (see our flossing guide if you're not sure how).
The video below shows how to brush with an Oral-B oscillating toothbrush. You can view a different video for a Philips Sonicare here, although the process is much the same. If you're still in doubt, ask your dentist at your next checkup or read our tooth brushing guide.
Remember to brush twice a day for optimum oral health.
How do you clean an electric toothbrush?
You might run your toothbrush head under water when you've finished brushing, but this alone isn't enough to keep it clean. Over time, you'll notice an off-white or beige deposit building up around the handle and base. This gunk can be a combination of old toothpaste, minerals from your water, and bacteria that feed off the dirt. Yuk!
So how can you keep your electric toothbrush clean? You can begin by rinsing and wiping down the whole unit every 2-3 days. Leading brands like FOREO, Oral-B and Philips make their toothbrushes water resistant, so it's fine to hold them under running water.
To give your brush a more thorough clean, use a cotton bud, toothpick, or even an old toothbrush to remove all the visible dirt around the base and handle. You can use a mild cleaning solution if you like.
To deep clean the head, you may soak it in a sterilising solution or use a UV sanitising unit. Some advanced models, like the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected, come with a UV sanitiser that kills up to 99% of bacteria on the toothbrush head.
Can you use an electric toothbrush with braces?
Yes, absolutely! Braces create lots of extra places for food to get stuck, and an electric toothbrush can make cleaning much easier. You'll just need to take extra care to avoid the hard part of the head damaging your braces.
Oral-B makes special ortho brush heads designed for use with braces, as well as interspace brush heads for getting into smaller spaces. You don't necessarily need to buy these special brush heads, though. Ask your orthodontist if you can keep using your regular toothbrush when you get your braces fitted.
To get your teeth as clean as possible while wearing braces, you can also use a water flosser. View our guide to flossing with braces for more information.
What's the best electric toothbrush for receding gums?
Receding gums are often a result of over-aggressive brushing with a manual toothbrush. Using an electric toothbrush, especially one with soft bristles and a special gum care brushing mode, will help train you to brush in a way that's gentler, but still effective.
Oral-B has several brushes with a gum care mode, designed to stimulate and massage gums. The most basic model is the Pro 3 3000, but if you go for the Genius 9000 you get a Gum Guard feature on the app which shows you exactly where you're brushing too hard.
From Philips, the Sonicare DiamondClean has a similar gum care mode.
If you haven't yet seen your dentist about your receding gums, especially if they are bleeding too, it's a good idea to do so. They will check for any underlying health problems and you may need a tooth scaling or root planing treatment to help the gums grow back healthily.
What's the best electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth?
Sensitive teeth are often caused by receding gums, so the question above may apply to you as well.
If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you'll probably benefit from a toothbrush that has multiple speed modes. If you find the ‘full power' mode too much, you can turn it down a notch. You can also buy sensitive brush heads for all the major toothbrush brands (and some premium models include one to get you started). These feature softer bristles and are specially shaped to be gentle on teeth and gums.
So when it comes to the best electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth, it's not so much about the brush itself but about the brushing mode and toothbrush head you choose.
Can you take an electric toothbrush in hand luggage?
Although very few airlines publish specific guidelines on this, the short answer is ‘yes'. You shouldn't have any trouble at all taking your powered brush in your carry-on luggage.
It is a good idea to carry it in a travel case, though; otherwise it may accidentally switch on and make your luggage start vibrating. That is far more likely to arouse suspicion!