The Best Electric Toothbrush, According to Top Dentists
We asked top dentists to reveal their favorite electric toothbrush—and turns out 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed don't agree! Here are their chosen tools of the trade.
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Top dentists agree on only one thing
Besides never forgetting to brush your teeth, the second rule dentists agree on could easily be: The best toothbrush you can use is an electric one. “Research studies have shown that powered toothbrushes reduce plaque and gingivitis more than manual tooth brushing,” says Ronald W. Konig, DDS, of the Konig Center for Cosmetic and Comprehensive Dentistry in Houston, Texas, “and clinically speaking, in our own office we’ve truly seen improvements with electric brushes. Patients who make the switch routinely come back in 6 months with cleaner mouths.”
As an added bonus, electric toothbrushing enables a larger population to effectively clean their teeth, according to Anastasia Turchetta, who has been practicing as a registered dental hygienist for the past 29 years. “Some people have trouble with dexterity,” Turchetta explains. Certain medical conditions or simply the effects of aging could make it difficult “not only to grasp the handle but maneuver the brush to reach all the surfaces of all the teeth.” Failure to do so isn’t just a matter of dental health, she points out. Improper dental hygiene can lead to bone loss and other health problems. In fact, the state of your teeth can even reveal certain diseases.
So, when the question became which the best electric toothbrush, here are the names we heard.
Philips Sonicare Toothbrush
“Without hesitation, I’ll say that the best is the Philips Sonicare Toothbrush,” says Edward Alvarez, DDS, a dentist in New York City. To Dr. Alvarez, the specific version isn’t important. What is important? With any Sonicare toothbrush, you’re getting 31,000 brush strokes per minute (compare that with 200 by a manual toothbrush!), which is the same frequency as the professional ultrasonic instruments he uses in the office. And that sonic energy pushes between the teeth and under the gumline in a way that no other brush can. “What the sonic effect does also is to disrupt cell membranes of the bacteria found on the teeth and gums. And that goes a long way toward destroying the bacteria,” adds Lance Loveless, DDS, of Austin, Texas-based BridgeView Dental.
Another fan of the Philips Sonicare brand is Steven Lin, DDS, author of The Dental Diet. “After trying one a few years ago, I feel it gives my enamel its cleanest feel. Beyond just conventional tooth scrubbing, Sonicare brushes are said to create a secondary fluid dynamic that helps to disrupt dental plaque beyond where the tips of its bristles actually touch.” In addition, throughout the various brushes in the Sonicare collection, you can find such features as:
- Two-minute timer with 30-second intervals, which is a must since you should be brushing for a two minutes
- Long-term durability; the heads have to be replaced every three months and do end up lasting that long
- Excellent battery durability (up to a two-week charge)
- Easy and comfortable grip
- Easy to use controls
- Comfortable brush size
- Massage modes
- Sensitivity modes
- Whitening settings (speaking of teeth-whitening, here are some awesome tips from dental professionals).
All of that being said, some of the dentists we spoke to did have their own particular favorites from the Sonicare line.
Philips Sonicare Essence
If pressed to choose between the various Philips toothbrushes, Gregg Lituchy, DDS, of New York City’s Lowenberg Lituchy & Kantor dental practice, would have to go with the Philips Sonicare Essence. “I love that it has an oval–headed brush attachment, which works really well in hard to reach places in the back of the mouth.” He also loves its timer-feature, which buzzes when two minutes have passed, ensuring the proper amount of time was spent brushing. Of course, all electric brushes are great, he concedes, “especially if you’re someone who’s not good with keeping up with the brushing twice-daily routine because the technology helps assure that all spots are reached and plaque is removed before turning into tartar.”
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Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
“We love Philips Sonicare here at Dr. Patty’s Dental Boutique and Spa in Ft. Lauderdale,” says owner April Patterson, DDS. “Sonicare offers lots of options, but the one line that we always recommend is the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart. “The best feature is that it’s actually, well, smart!” she says. “Sure, people might say that smart toothbrushes are a gimmick, but the truth is, when used correctly, they can become life-changing tools.”
As an example, she says the DiamondClean Smart can actually push suggestions to your smartphone “so that your oral health is always at the top of your mind.” And that’s great for people trying to regain control of their oral hygiene. “It’s so smart that it can even make recommendations as specific as which quadrant of the mouth you should be focusing on,” she says.
Dr. Konig also prefers the DiamondClean Smart brushes for his own use because the sonic technology, coupled with sweeping motions, drives fluid into the tight spaces between the teeth and gum line, resulting in a greater cleaning efficiency. “But it’s actually a very personal choice,” he stresses. “The sonic vibrations in the Philips brushes aren’t for everyone. And if you’re someone who finds them bothersome, then you’ll do just fine with Crest’s Oral-B.” If you’re into drugstore gems, checkout these beauty products you don’t need to splurge on.
“Although many of our patients like Sonicare, and it’s great, I enjoy using Crest’s Oral-B due to its smaller oscillating head,” says Alan McDavid, DDS, who practices with Magnolia Family Dental in McKinney, Texas. “It helps reach the narrow areas in my mouth where traditional heads would be too large.”
“Personally, I love the Oral-B because it lets you know the areas where you’re brushing too hard, which can lead to toothbrush abrasion,” adds Mobile, Alabama’s Valerie Musial, DMD. “It’s timed in 30-second increments for each quadrant of the mouth for a total of two minutes. I also love it for the different interchangeable heads that it comes with. I like the one that’s round and similar to what the dental hygienist uses when you come for your biannual cleaning. There is one that is the perfect shape for getting around orthodontic brackets and appliances and another one that is pointed to get in between the teeth for those that don’t floss as well as they should.”
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Oral B Genius Pro 8000
The Oral B Genius is truly a genius toothbrush, according to Jeremy Kay, DMD, of The Dental Spa in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In particular, Dr. Kay raves about the Oral B Genius Pro 8000, which is his personal favorite and which he recommends to all his patients.
“Overall, Oral-B’s products are excellent,” he says, “but this newest model is a truly smart brush that will not only provide a superior feeling of clean but also astound the user with its relevant technological advancements. Pressure sensors prevent users from over brushing. Timers ensure adequate, but not overzealous, attention is given to the teeth and gums. An assortment of LED colors allow for personalization, and Bluetooth technology provides you with customized real-time feedback about your brushing habits (delivered right to your smartphone).”
And here is the brushing-habit question we know you’re dying to ask: How bad is it to brush your teeth only once per day?
Oral B Professional Care SmartSeries 5000
Of all the Oral B electric brushes, Gary Glassman, DDS, a partner at Endodontic Specialists in downtown Yorkville, Toronto, prefers the Professional CareSmartSeries 5000, which boasts an onboard computer and 8,800 oscillations per minute. “This power cleaner has recently been upgraded with a few new features. It has Bluetooth technology, that synchronizes your toothbrush to the LED Smart Guide timer that tracks brushing progress by quadrant and tells the user when it is time to replace their toothbrush head,” he explains. “It also now includes a light sensor on the neck of the brush and on the Smart Guide that illuminates when too much pressure is being used, as well as a series of stars across the bottom of the Smart Guide to show the charge level. In addition, there are five speeds, two clean modes (two and three minute brushing cycles), sensitive-mode for gentle cleaning, massage mode, and a polishing mode for stain removal.
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Oral-B Pro 1000 Electric Rechargeable
Endodontist Rajan Sharma, DDS, founder of the Eon Clinics, prefers the Oral-B Pro 1000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush, which removes 300 percent more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush. “My favorite features are the rotating head, the bristle softness, pressure sensor, and in-handle pulse timer.”When looking for a suitable electric toothbrush, Dr. Sharma advises considering the size of the head, whether the head is replaceable, and the speed of the brush.”
Sonicare vs. Oral-B
“It’s worth noting that approximately 95 percent of what we see our patients using are Sonicare or Oral-B products,” says Dr. Konig. And Williamsburg, Virginia-based Timothy K. Johnston, DDS, thinks that you can’t lose choosing either one: “They each have research showing that their brand is better than the other. So in reality, either one works great.”
Although Dr. Musial likes using the Oral-B brushes, she says that one of her hygienists swears by Sonicare, and another loves the Rotadent (which we’ll get to in a moment). “When looking at dental products I suggest looking for any that have the ADA seal of approval,” she advises. “But then personal preference should be the big decider. In my 17 years of practice I have found that the best toothbrush is whichever one a patient will use consistently.
Likewise, Dr. McDavid recommends trusting your instincts. “Choose the brush you think you’ll enjoy using most. If you have any questions regarding the different options, bring them up at your next cleaning with your local hygienist. Most are extremely knowledgeable about home care and products available.”
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The Rotadent Procare is the top choice of Ira J. Handschuh, DDS, a general and cosmetic dentist at The Dental Design Center in White Plains, New York and New York City. “The Rotadent, fabricated by Dentsply, is a high-quality brush due to its wonderful bristle texture and fantastic brush head size and shape,” Dr. Handschuh says. “Patients can choose from a long or short tip, as well as both flat brush heads and pointy brush heads. All brush head diameters are small enough to accommodate patients with small mouths too. These options allow patients with all types of needs, such as those who have braces or lots of gum recession, to utilize the brush. The pointy brush head allows the bristles to get into spaces that are often difficult to reach with other brushes. Another nice feature is that the brush will shut down automatically if patients push too hard on the gums or teeth. Without this feature, patients can actually do harm to the architecture that support the teeth.”
Rotary brushes are not for everyone, but Dr. Handschuh sees them as particularly helpful for patients who may not have the dexterity to clean all locations on their teeth with a manual brush, such as the young or the elderly, or people who’ve had a stroke. That said, it’s important to remember that good oral health habits such as daily brushing and flossing, good nutrition and regularly scheduled dental visits can help prevent strokes, as well as other circulatory problems, diabetes, and cancer.
“If you want whiter teeth, you need to try the GO SMILE Sonic Blue,” says Maryann Lehmann, DDS, a dentist practicing in Darien, Connecticut. “The bristles are strategically designed for maximum plaque removal and the sonic action works far better than manual brushing alone. But it’s most amazing feature is that it has these LED lights in the head, which add to the whitening power when used with the special whitening gel,” she explains. “I saw the amazing results myself in a study I conducted.”
The GO SMILE Sonic Blue is part of the GO SMILE Sonic Pro Teeth Whitening System. According to Dr. Lehmann, it provides fast-acting light-powered whitening, built right into a sonic toothbrush, to improve the health and appearance of your smile. “It’s been proven to whiten four times faster than comparable ‘brush to whiten’ systems, and 90 percent of users saw whiter teeth in 2 days, dramatic results in 1 month, and a healthier, whiter smile every day!”
In addition, Dr. Lehmann adds that the sonic cleaning comes in both regular and gentle modes. We can’t help but notice how cool those blue lights look, but Dr. Lehmann explains that they’re that color for a reason: “They’re tuned to wavelengths shown to kill bacteria for greater oral health and accelerate whitening for visible results, fast! The patented oversized design of the brush head allows for greater distribution of the blue light from the brush to your teeth.”
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Best toothbrush for kids
These days, it seems that no discussion of toothbrushes would be complete without seeking the expert opinion of Blippi, whose Toothbrush Song has been viewed literally millions of times. Here is a sample of the lyrics that are driving kids between the ages of two and seven to beg their parents for toothbrush time:
“Nobody wants a toothache, so wet your toothbrush and get your toothpaste. Put on a dab about the size of a pea. Now get your toothbrush ready and follow me!”
Luckily, Blippi—Stevin John—had time to talk to Reader’s Digest about dental care for kids. (Don’t forget: Medically trained experts agree dental care for kids is best begun with a simple, appropriately sized manual toothbrush.)
“I like toothbrushes that have bristles that tickle my gums and gently clean my teeth,” Blippi informed us, “but since my favorite colors are orange and blue, if you can find an orange and blue toothbrush, you should definitely get that one. If you can’t find one that’s orange and blue, then I guess you can get one that’s either orange or blue. And don’t forget to brush your tongue!”
Parents: Don’t borrow your kids’ toothpaste—there’s a hidden danger.
- Ronald W. Konig, DDS, Konig Center for Cosmetic and Comprehensive Dentistry, Houston, TX
- Anastasia Turchetta, registered dental hygienist, St. Petersburg, FL
- Edward Alvarez, DDS, in New York, NY
- Lance Loveless, DDS, BridgeView Dental, Austin, TX
- Steven Lin, DDS, author of The Dental Diet, New South Wales, Australia
- Gregg Lituchy, DDS, Lowenberg Lituchy & Kantor, New York, NY
- April Patterson, DDS. Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Alan McDavid, DDS, at Magnolia Family Dental, McKinney, TX
- Valerie Musial, DMD, Mobile, AL
- Jeremy Kay, DMD, The Dental Spa, Philadelphia
- Gary Glassman, DDS, a partner at Endodontic Specialists, Toronto
- Rajan Sharma, DDS, endodontist, Chicago
- Timothy K. Johnston, DDS, Williamsburg, VA
- Ira J. Handschuh, DDS, general and cosmetic dentist, The Dental Design Center, White Plains, NY, and New York City
- Maryann Lehmann, DDS, Darien, CT
- Stevin John, creator of Blippi, Los Vegas, NV