As the two longest-running and best-selling brands in electric toothbrushes, it's only natural to ask: Oral-B vs. Sonicare—who wins? At Dentaly.org we've taken on this question so that anyone in the market for a new electric toothbrush can feel confident that they are getting the best brush for their needs.
We're going to approach the Sonicare vs. Oral-B debate with a few simple questions:
- Which is better for removing plaque?
- What other differences should I consider?
- What options does each brand offer?
We hope that by answering these questions we can address the concerns of anyone considering buying an Oral-B or Sonicare toothbrush.
We've picked out some of the best Oral-B and Sonicare and alternative options to help you take your oral hygiene to the next level. Look to see what you think in the table below, and read more about the best electric toothbrushes as well!
Best Oral-B and Sonicare Electric Toothbrushes
Best top-of-the-range brush:
Sonicare 9900 Prestige with SensIQ
Best on a budget:
Philips One Battery
Best mid-range brush:
Oral-B Pro 7000
Best mid-range alternative:
Table of contents
- 1 Advantage of electric brushes over manual
- 2 Oral-B versus Sonicare: The difference is in the brush head
- 3 So which is better at removing plaque, Oral-B or Sonicare?
- 4 How else can I decide if either Sonicare or Oral-B is better than the other?
- 5 Oral-B vs. Sonicare at different price points
- 6 Top tier
- 7 Mid-range
- 8 Budget
- 9 Other best electric toothbrush options
- 10 Conclusion
- 11 FAQs
Advantage of electric brushes over manual
If the effectiveness of electric toothbrushes was the same as that of manual brushing, it would certainly be difficult to justify spending hundreds of dollars on an electric toothbrush. That's why there have been various studies carried out to find out the difference, and the consensus is in: electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning your teeth than manual ones.
A recent study from the International Journal of Dental Hygiene has found that there is “high certainty” that an electric toothbrush is more effective than a manual toothbrush at removing plaque, supporting the use of a powered toothbrush.
Another study from 2013 found that “when compared with a manual toothbrush, a powered toothbrush has the potential to improve oral hygiene by achieving plaque reduction.” This is not the only study to produce such findings, but the reason that electric toothbrushes are more effective may not be what you think.
According to the ADA, powered toothbrushes are most helpful to people with limited dexterity because of age or disability, or people who have dental appliances. This is because the movement of the brush head provides good brushing technique everywhere that it reaches, while manual brushing can be suboptimal in hard-to-reach areas, or difficult for some people.
The advantage of electric toothbrushes isn't that they do what manual brushes cannot. Rather, they make it much easier and more efficient for users to properly clean every part of the mouth.
Oral-B versus Sonicare: The difference is in the brush head
Although Philips Sonicare has several advantages versus Oral-B (and vice versa), the most important part of the brush from our point of view is probably obvious: the brush head. It is the part that actually has contact with your mouth and therefore the place where we have to start our comparison, taking into account not just the shape but also the way it moves.
How does Sonicare work?
Philips Sonicare toothbrushes have a more or less traditional brush shape. All of them are elongated and slightly smaller than that of a standard manual brush. There are different models with designs for various functions like gum care or whitening, but every head has a pattern with at least two types of bristles. All their brush heads share that the bristles come perpendicular out of the head.
The motion of a Sonicare toothbrush is known as ‘sonic vibration,' which is created by a high-powered motor in the handle. This motor emits a frequency that causes the bristles of the brush to move from side to side about 31,000 times per minute.
The high-frequency vibration is meant to loosen dental plaque and tartar from your teeth through contact and also indirectly through fluid dynamics. Depending on who you ask, this may remove anywhere from three to ten times as much plaque as a manual brush.
For more information, you can check out our Philips Sonicare toothbrush review or watch this video for a look at one of the top-tier brushes from Sonicare and a visualization of how its indirect cleaning works.
How does Oral-B work?
There are a few similarities that Oral-B's brush heads have with Philips Sonicare. They are both slightly smaller than traditional brushes and they offer a variety of bristle patterns for different purposes. However, the bristles on Oral-B electric toothbrush heads are sometimes placed at angles. They claim this is better for the small areas between teeth.
Beyond that, they differ significantly from each other in both shape and motion. Oral-B heads are completely round, unlike any other toothbrush, and they move in a spinning motion. Though the speed varies from model to model, Oral-B clocks its top tier brushes at 8,800 oscillations per minute.
3D versus 2D cleaning action
Oral-B likes to refer to its brush head oscillation as “2D cleaning action.” Many of their brushes (though not all) currently employ “3D action,” which combines the rotation of the head with a back-and-forth pulsing motion. Though it isn't exactly the same as sonic vibration, it supposedly does some of the same fluid-dynamics-based indirect cleaning.
Here's a video from Oral-B featuring a demonstration of 3D action in their latest line of electric toothbrushes.
So which is better at removing plaque, Oral-B or Sonicare?
There have been lots of studies specifically focused on the Braun Oral-B vs. Philips Sonicare question. After looking through them we've come to the conclusion—the jury is still out. This is not to say that all the studies have been inconclusive. On the contrary, many have found at least a small advantage in one brand or the other.
The problem is that in some studies Oral-B is the better brush, and in others, Sonicare is the winner. Below we've put together a few excerpts from several of these studies to give you an idea of what researchers are saying regarding this debate:
The study from the International Journal of Dental Hygiene mentioned above also found a significant difference between the efficacy of an oscillating toothbrush vs a sonic toothbrush head — the oscillating toothbrush coming out on top.
But yet another study found that while both brushes were helpful in improving subjects' oral hygiene, Philips Sonicare had a clear advantage over Oral-B:
“Overall, this study demonstrates that long-term use of these two electric toothbrushes improves periodontal health in adult periodontitis patients, and that the Sonicare brush is superior to the Braun brush in reducing gingival inflammation and probing depth. Moreover, 6 months' use of Sonicare led to actual improvement in probing attachment levels of periodontal pockets.”-Robinson, Madalozzo, and Breslin
Meanwhile, these researchers concluded that the Oral-B's rotational toothbrush head motion was more effective versus Sonicare's sonic vibration:
“Based on the findings of this single-use clinical evaluation, the action of the oscillating/pulsating power toothbrush is more effective at plaque removal than a high-frequency power toothbrush.”-Strate et al.
Another study observed that the Philips Sonicare brush was significantly better versus Oral-B:
“In this randomized single-use clinical study, both the Philips Sonicare FlexCare and the Oral-B Triumph Professional Care9000 power toothbrushes were safe and effective. FlexCare reduced plaque scores significantly better than Triumph.”-Putt et al.
Finally, this analysis found that there was no significant difference at all in the performance of the two brushes. Interestingly enough, the Oral-B electric toothbrush users in this study were more likely to continue to use the brush in the future versus the Sonicare users, despite equal cleaning results.
After 8 weeks use, there was found to be no statistically significant difference in either plaque removal or gingival index between the two groups. Both devices were found to be safe, but whereas 100% of volunteers in the Braun Oral-B Plaque Remover group expressed a wish to continue using the toothbrush, approximately 25% of the Sonicare group did not like the device…-Grossman, Debling, and Proskin
What does it all mean?
As far as plaque removal goes, science hasn't yet given us a straight answer whether Oral-B or Sonicare is better. It's worth mentioning that the studies used different models of electric toothbrushes from each brand, and therefore there could be other factors influencing the results.
That said, we focus our comparison on the Oral-B oscillating/pulsating motion vs. sonic vibration from Sonicare. Although the model of brush may have varied, each brand's mechanism was constant across the studies. So, generally speaking, we can't point to a clearly superior system.
So is that it? There's no sure difference in cleaning power so Oral-B and Sonicare are the same? Do I even need to read on?
Well…that's not all. There are other factors to consider.
How else can I decide if either Sonicare or Oral-B is better than the other?
Even though there is no clear leader in plaque removal when you look at Oral-B vs Sonicare, there are several other factors to consider when deciding which electric toothbrush to buy. Let's have a quick look at those factors that give one brush an edge over the other:
- Aesthetics: Many people think that Sonicare is a better-looking brush, saying that it has a sleeker design and better color coordination. Oral-B's brush heads often don't match the handle. Some even say that an Oral-B brush looks and feels like a toy.
- Noise: Another advantage for Sonicare is the fact that it is quieter. It's true that both of the brushes make noise. However, some reviewers note that Oral-B's motor is so loud you might want to close the door while you brush.
- Warranty: Both brands offer a two-year warranty on their products. Oral-B also offers a full additional year for free if you register on their website. That is definitely worth considering when shopping for higher-end models. If you are going to spend a couple of hundred bucks on a brush, you want to get a few years out of it, right?
- Price range: Naturally cost is always an important consideration. Once you have decided your budget you may find that one brand has more features than the other in the same price range. By the same token, you may notice that the additional features aren't important and therefore choose the model that is slightly less expensive.
- Replacement head cost: Oral-B replacement brush heads are generally slightly less expensive than Sonicare, a difference that can add up over time. Also worthy of note is that higher-end models from both brands tend to have more expensive smart brush heads as well.
You've probably noticed that some of these factors favor one brand and some favor the other. So, we don't get a clear “winner” after taking these into account. That said, it can be helpful to prioritize your needs in order to decide which brush will best suit you.
Oral-B vs. Sonicare at different price points
With this in mind, let's take a look at some of the different electric brushes offered by the two brands. We can compare and contrast them at different price points, as well as see what features become available as you move between price ranges.
For the sake of efficiency, we can outline a few features that all of these brushes share:
- Rechargeable battery with charging stand
- 2-minute brush timer with 30-second intervals
- Replaceable and interchangeable brush heads
- 2-year warranty
We'll get started with the flagship of each line of electric toothbrushes, the Sonicare 9900 Prestige versus Oral-B's iO Series 9.
Both of these brushes offer the latest in features and connectivity from each brand. They also have a pretty high asking price but promise an unprecedented level of personalized cleaning. So, how do they compare?
Sonicare 9900 Prestige with SensIQ
The Sonicare 9900 Prestige with SensIQ technology is the most advanced Sonicare toothbrush on the market, designed to remove 20x more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
This power brush has all of the amazing components that sets Sonicare brushes apart when it comes to better, safer, and more stylish tooth cleaning, which we’ll have a look at below, but it also has SenseIQ technology.
The highlights of SenseIQ are:
- Pressure sensor: Lets you know when you are brushing too hard
- Position sensor: Lets you know where you are brushing for each brushing session
- Scrubbing sensor: Lets you know when you should reduce scrubbing, which is harmful to enamel
- 3D mouth map: This highlights areas you are missing when brushing
- Adaptive intensity: A feature that automatically adjusts the intensity level while you brush
- Artificial intelligence: Detects and syncs your brushing methods and preferences
The other innovative features of this toothbrush based on technical, aesthetic and performance specifications are as follows:
- Connectivity: Bluetooth wireless technology with app
- Power: 110-220V power supply
- Battery: Rechargeable lithium ION battery that lasts 2+ weeks
- Warranty: 2-year limited warranty
- Compatibility: Android OS 8.0 or above and iPhone iOS 13.0 or above
Look and ease of use:
- Battery indicator: Illuminated icon
- Handle: Sleek and compact
- Operation: Touch control
- Travel case: Vegan leather compact charging case
- Brush head replacement: Icon lights up
- Efficiency: Removes up to 20x more plaque
- Gum health: Up to 15x healthier gums
- Speed: 62,000 brush movements/minute
- Timer: Quad timer and 2-minute timer
- Whitening: 100% fewer stains
- Pressure sensor: Handle vibrates and ring lights up purple
- Scrubbing sensor: Handle vibrates and ring lights up amber
It also has five customizable modes — clean, white+, gum health, deep clean, and sensitive, and three intensity settings.
The brush head is an A3 Premium All-in-One brush head with angled bristles that have triangular tips and longer bristles to reach further.
And it charges standing on a frosted glass charging base.
Oral-B iO Series 9
From Oral-B's latest line we have the iO Series 9. You can order this brush in three colors, though brush heads only come in black or white. The design is updated from previous Oral-B models, with smoother contours and a light-up display screen.
It also has a magnetic charging base and can be fully charged in only three hours, an impressive improvement on almost all other electric brushes.
Oral-B has also replaced its previous drive system with a linear magnetic motor. The main advantage of this change is that it is a more powerful brush. Also noteworthy is the fact that it runs significantly quieter than other Oral-B models, though still slightly louder than sonic toothbrushes.
The iO Series 9 boasts seven different cleaning modes: daily clean, whitening, gum care, sensitive, intense, super sensitive, and tongue clean. It doesn't have a setting for adjusting the intensity.
That said, these modes do seem to cover the bases of offering both more aggressive or gentler cleaning. Its battery life is also around two weeks.
Like its counterpart from Sonicare, this brush has a pressure sensor. However, the iO series' pressure sensor offers a slight bonus.
It won't just tell you when you're brushing too hard. It will actually slow down oscillation if you apply too much pressure and indicate when you are using the correct pressure with a green light. This is meant to optimize each mode's performance.
The app has a real-time interface that will display your progress as you brush. It will also highlight areas that need more attention or that tend to receive too much pressure. After brushing it will also provide you with coaching and even a score. You can work toward increasing that score—a nice incentive to improve your routine.
The iO Series 9 includes:
- Brush handle with light-up display
- Magnetic charging base
- 4 brush heads (one type)
- Charging travel case
All in all, it is very comparable with the DiamondClean Smart with a few key differences. Essentially, the iO Series 9 has a more advanced display but doesn't offer the same variety in brush heads. The app interface and functionality may be another factor in helping you decide which brush is best for you.
Now that we've seen the best in what Sonicare and Oral-B have to offer, let's check out some more standard models that are available at just over $100: Oral-B's Pro 7000 vs. the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100. These brushes are more straightforward in their design, though they do incorporate some of the more recent features available.
Oral-B Pro 7000
Oral-B's Pro 7000 naturally is a scaled-down version of its bigger sibling, offering a slightly shorter battery life of ten days and six different brushing modes instead of seven. These modes include daily clean, deep clean, whitening, massage, sensitive, and tongue cleaning.
There is also a pressure sensor to alert you when you're brushing too hard. Like the iO series, it will automatically decrease the oscillation speed when necessary. However, the sensor does not display when you are brushing with just the right pressure.
This electric toothbrush is also compatible with the Oral-B app. That means real-time feedback and coaching aren't reserved for only the top-of-the-line models. Despite the more basic interface, it performs a lot like an iO, only with slightly fewer goodies.
For example, while the iO comes with four brush heads, the Pro 7000 comes with three. Other aesthetic differences exist like the fact that heads only come in white, and the brush has a slightly chunkier profile overall.
There are some advantages that this brush has over an iO. It comes with a small device called a SmartGuide, which gives basic feedback on your brushing. This is great for someone who doesn't want to download an app.
It's also worth mentioning that the Pro series is compatible with many different types of standard Oral-B brush heads and the iO heads are exclusive to that series.
A Pro 7000 kit includes:
- Brush handle
- Cross-action brush head
- ProWhite brush head
- Sensitive Clean brush head
- Charging station with brush head storage
- Travel case
Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100
The ProtectiveClean 6100 comes in four different color schemes, though replacement heads still only come in black and white. It has two fewer brushing modes than the Prestige (three instead of five) but still offers three different intensity settings to choose from for each mode.
There is a pressure sensor, though it will only alert you with a pulsing sound and not a visual cue.
This electric toothbrush unfortunately does not have the app support available for the DiamondClean series. However, the BrushSync smart head does have a couple of features like recognizing which head is attached and automatically adjusting the brushing mode, as well as reminders to replace your brush head.
Although many of its features are much more basic than Sonicare's top electric brushes, the basic remain the same. The ProtectiveClean 6100 has a sleek design, a two-week battery life, and plenty of brushing modes and intensities to play around with.
A Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 comes with:
- Brush handle
- DiamondClean brush head
- Charging stand
- Travel case
Last, but not least, we are going to look at some of the more affordable models that are on the market: the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 vs. the Oral-B Pro 1000.
In fact, both brands do sell even more economical brushes, but in that category there isn't much to compare. The least expensive models basically offer just one mode, a single head, and a standard charging stand. So, instead let's look at the difference in what you get the next level up.
The new Philips One electric brush makes it easy and affordable to have a brighter smile whenever and wherever.
It’s a no-frills brush with a sleek and minimalist design. 13,000 micro-vibrations per minute and contoured bristles clean your teeth to reveal a whiter smile, while a lightweight travel case allows for convenient storage in your day bag.
No frills doesn’t mean less guidance when you brush — it still has a 2-minute timer that lets you know how long to brush, and a buzz every 30 seconds to let you know when to switch quadrants.
The most affordable version is just $17.46 and has an AAA battery lasts for a whole 90 days, so you can change your battery when you change your brush head — which by the way, comes in various colors including Miami orange, mango yellow, midnight and mint blue.
Or, if you prefer a rechargeable brush, you can pay a bit more ($25.96) for the Philips One rechargeable which has a USB charger and lasts 30 days on a single charge.
Oral-B Pro 1000
Finally we have Oral-B's Pro 1000. It offers a single brushing mode like its Sonicare rival and not much in the way of additional features. There is a pressure sensor, but while higher-end Oral-B models have a visual alert, the Pro 1000's sensor simply slows or stops its oscillation when you are pressing too hard.
Its battery lasts about seven days between charges, which isn't exactly bad but isn't impressive either compared to other electric toothbrushes, and it has no built-in head replacement reminder.
Make no mistake; all things considered, this is a good and functional toothbrush. It doesn't go far beyond the basics, but there are plenty of people who are happy to save the money and leave the apps and displays behind.
An Oral-B Pro 1000 includes:
- Brush handle
- Single head
- Charging base
We know it's a lot to go through, so for the sake of convenience we've compiled a table that gives you a quick look at the electric toothbrush models we've just gone over:
Number of Modes
Smart Brush Head
Sonicare Prestige 9900
14 days / 24-hour charge
5 modes w/ 3 intensities
App connectivity & replacement reminder
Oral-B iO Series 9
14 days / 3-hour charge
Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100
14 days / 24-hour charge
3 modes w/ 3 intensities
Head recognition & replacement reminder
Oral-B Pro 7000
10 days / 22-hour charge
AAA Battery 30-day charge
Oral-B Pro 1000
7 days / 22-hour charge
Other best electric toothbrush options
If you're not convinced by Oral-b or Sonicare, you may want to consider giving the CariPRO Ultrasonic a try. When it comes to maximizing the health of your smile, it doesn't really get better than this. Plus, the mid-range price of $119 makes it much more accessible than some of the top range models of other electric brushes.
Just some of the features of this brush include:
- 40,000 vibrations/minute
- 5 brush modes—clean, white massage, gum care, and sensitive
- 30-day battery life on a single charge
- Ergonomic slim design
- Smart timer
- Wireless charging dock
What's more, there's a 60-day trial period so if you don't love it by the end of the 60 days, you can get a full refund! Try it out by clicking the button below. You can also find out more about the CariPRO in our separate CariPRO review.
To sum up, Oral-B and Sonicare both have pros and cons at all price ranges and neither one has a clear overall advantage over the other. Studies do show that either will be more effective than a manual brush. In a “Sonicare vs. Oral-B” scenario there is less agreement.
That said, anyone trying to decide between the two simply has to ask which features and characteristics are most important in order to find the best choice for them.
For example, someone who likes the idea of both oscillating and pulsating motion in their brush will definitely prefer Oral-B's 3D cleaning action. On the other hand, someone who is interested in a quieter motor and modern design should probably shop for a Sonicare.
And if after reading this review, you feel like you want to go in the other direction — an electric toothbrush that brushes effectively but has a minimalist design without all of the frills, you can read our Mode toothbrush review, or have a look at another oscillating brush in our Goby Toothbrush review.
In the end, the best thing you can do for your oral hygiene is to maintain a regular brushing and flossing schedule, regardless of which type of toothbrush you use.
Are electric toothbrushes really better than manual ones?
Yes. People have relied on manual toothbrushes for hundreds of years and in that time they have performed adequately. However, recent studies have shown that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque. This not just due to the improved ability to clean hard-to-reach areas but also the fact that electric brushes now have features that encourage users to maintain better habits.
If you're interested in trying an electric toothbrush consider a midrange option like the Brüush which you can read more about here.
Which is better vs. plaque, Oral-B or Sonicare?
There have been many studies observing the difference in cleaning ability between Oral-B and Sonicare brushes, but there is still no scientific consensus on the whole. Some studies favor one and some favor the other, while some find that they are more or less equal. However, there are other factors that can help you choose your preferred brand.
Are all Oral-B brush heads interchangeable?
Almost. Standard Oral-B brush heads come in many different styles that serve different purposes like gum care or whitening and can be interchanged freely among most Oral-B electric brushes. The iO series is an exception.
The latest series from Oral-B, iO brushes have specialized heads that cannot be attached to other models outside the iO line.
How often should I replace my electric toothbrush head?
Many electric toothbrush heads will be able to alert you when it is time to replace them, but in general the conventional wisdom is to replace your toothbrush head every three months.
If you are an irregular brusher your brush head may last a bit longer, but it's better to brush twice a day and pay for the new head once in a while rather than wait until you need treatment for gum disease.
National Center for Biotechnology Information: A comparison of the efficacy of powered and manual toothbrushes in controlling plaque and gingivitis: A clinical study.  Consulted September 16, 2020
ADA: Toothbrushes. Consulted September 16, 2020
National Center for Biotechnology Information: A six-month clinical comparison of the efficacy of the Sonicare and the Braun Oral-B electric toothbrushes on improving periodontal health in adult periodontitis patients. Consulted 16th September 2020
ResearchGate: A comparison of the plaque removal efficacy of two power toothbrushes: Oral‐B Professional Care Series versus Sonicare Elite. Consulted September 16, 2020
ResearchGate: A randomized, crossover-design study to investigate the plaque removal efficacy of two power toothbrushes: Philips Sonicare FlexCare and Oral-B Triumph. Consulted September 16, 2020
National Center for Biotechnology Information: A comparative clinical investigation of the safety and efficacy of an oscillating/rotating electric toothbrush and a sonic toothbrush. Consulted September 16, 2020
International Journal of Dental Hygiene: The efficacy of powered toothbrushes :-A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis-. Consulted 12th December 2021.