A number of studies have confirmed the benefits of using an electric toothbrush over manual brushing. Using an electric toothbrush will help you to remove more plaque and offer greater protection from gum disease. And if it prevents expensive dental work, it'll more than pay for itself in the long term.
No one has ever regretted investing in looking after their teeth. But there are so many electric toothbrush options available that finding the brush that works best for you can be a complicated task. Some features will make a real difference, others you'll quite happily live without.
There are key features that'll be useful to most people. Some brushes have a timer to let you know that you've brushed a section of your teeth for long enough and that it's time to move on, as well as a sensor that lets you know if you're pressing down too hard and could damage your tooth enamel or gums.
Others will give you a number of brushing modes and optimised heads for polishing, tongue brushing or gentle cleaning.
Do you need a brush with an app? If you want to overhaul the way you brush your teeth, app-connected brushes will monitor your technique and feed back tips.
We test out and write full reviews of products, so you know what each brush has to offer and buy the right brush for you. We've tried out electric toothbrushes from the market leaders Oral-B and Philips Sonicare, as well as smaller and independent brands.
We'll also provide information on battery life, charging times and methods (some brushes will charge via USB), as well as accessories and the price of replacement heads.
If you want more information on features, read our buying advice after our best-of list. You may also want to have a look at our round-up of the best electric toothbrush deals for the latest offers. All deals we find will reflect the actual prices that brushes are sold at, rather than the (often inflated) RRPs that retailers like to quote.
1. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 - Best cleaning performance
This is one of the best brushes around for cleaning performance. It's extremely powerful and provides a number of different brushing options and intensities.
In terms of features, it has a pressure sensor on the handle, as well as a timer to let you know when to move between sections of your mouth and when you've reached the end of the recommended brushing period.
Accessories-wise, it comes with a charging puck for a two-pin bathroom plug and a sleek travel case with a concealed USB lead.
It's app-connected and, while the app can help you to keep your brushing schedule organised (keeping track of your brushing routine, scheduling dental appointments and re-ordering brush heads), it won't offer advice on improving your technique.
Read our full Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 review
2. Oral-B iO9 - Best features
The iO Series 9 is Oral-B's best brush yet for performance, using micro-vibrations to remove plaque and polish teeth. It has seven brushing settings, a countdown timer and a pressure sensor, which makes it the most comprehensive brush for measuring your brushing performance.
It's also app-connected, and you can get real-time feedback on how much coverage you're achieving as you brush. The rest of the app's features are much less useful, amounting to a series of different ways of logging your brushing sessions.
Of course, with the iO, it's all about the full-colour OLED screen, which is both useful and somewhat ridiculous. But what you gain in display information, you lose in battery, with battery life lasting less than two weeks.
Read our full Oral B iO Series 9 review
3. Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 - Best non-connected brush
The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 is a toothbrush built and designed for people who want to spend a decent chunk of money on a top-of-the-line brush, but aren't sold on the new fad for connected features and app support.
So yes, it won't connect to your phone, but it'll do just about everything else, with three brushing modes and another three intensity settings, which pair with the new BrushSync tech so that the brush will automatically adjust to the optimum setting for any given brush head. It'll also use the same microchip tech to give an accurate assessment of when it's time to swap to a new brush head that's based on your actual usage.
Beyond that, the design is slick and modern, there's a good choice of colours and brush heads available, and it comes with a sturdy travel case. Plus the battery life actually exceeds Philips' claim of 14 days - ours ran for over three weeks before it ran out of juice.
Read our full Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 review
4. Oral-B Genius X - Best smart features
Smart toothbrushes tend to over-promise and under-deliver, and to some extent the same is true with the Genius X. To bill this as AI-driven is really pushing it, especially since it doesn't learn as it goes.
Still, tracking is more accurate than any other smart brush I've tested so far, with feedback at the end that really is useful - all in the sort of premium package you’d expect from a brush at this level. We just wish that syncing the brush to the app was easier, and that there was better support for couples or families sharing the same brush handle.
The average user will probably stop bothering with the smart features eventually anyway - but even if you do, at least you're still getting a top quality electric brush with a range of options and modes.
Read our full Oral-B Genius X review
5. PomaBrush - Best battery life
This light, all-silicone, sonic brush has been designed with style and simplicity in mind. There's no app, no screen, no sensors or lights and no way to change brushing modes.
The silicone bristles are gentler on gums and tooth enamel than standard nylon and make a real difference to the brushing experience.
It's also waterproof and, in conjunction with its sleek charging case, claims to give you an incredible four months of battery life, so it would be a good buy for frequent travellers.
However, the very fact that it's so light on features means that it won't be right for everyone. The brush pauses every thirty seconds to let you know you should move on to the next section of your mouth and it switches off automatically after two minutes. But that's all the feedback you'll get.
Read our full PomaBrush review
6. Oral-B Genius 9000/8000 - Best value mid-price brush
We were impressed with the Oral-B Genius 8000 and 9000 for many reasons: excellent plaque cleaning, comfortable brush and handle, brush-head options, travel case, and long battery life.
However, we found the app’s functionality didn’t live up to its promise. The Position Detection is a great idea, but we found it tricky to get right. When used just to advise and monitor mouth-quadrant brushing it was more successful but not as sophisticated as it thinks it is.
But as a premium electric toothbrush both the Genius 8000 and 9000 certainly live up to the hype. Neither is cheap but compared to the cost of a visit to the dentist, using a quality toothbrush is a wise financial decision as well as a healthy one.
Read our full Oral-B Genius 9000/8000 review
7. Sanyei ION-Sei - Ionic technology
A combination of Japanese technology and German design, the ION-Sei certainly looks good. Of the two colours, go for Lake Blue as it should make a stylish addition to your bathroom.
Fashion is, of course, secondary to actual teeth cleaning and it's here that the tech lies. Unlike other sonic toothbrushes - or any other electric toothbrush we've seen - this one generates a stream of ions and a weak electric charge which actively stops bacteria growing in your mouth. When combined with the sonic mechanism, it makes your teeth feel exceptionally clean even if that's partly psychological since you can't feel the bacteria in the first place.
You pay a steep price for the tech: not only is the ION-Sei expensive but it doesn't come with a travel case or have some expected features such as pressure detection or a head-replacement indication.
It is rechargeable via USB though, which is handy.
Read our full Sanyei ION-Sei review
8. Oral-B Pro 2 2000 - Best budget brush
The Oral-B Pro 2 2000 is a straightforward brush.
Its features are simple: there are only two brushing modes and a pressure sensor, with no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth features, and no app support. However it works well, is comfortable to use, and boasts a two-week battery life - not bad for the price.
A spare brush head or two in the pack would have been welcome, along with a more detailed battery indicator, but these are small complaints about a brush that does a very good job for a very low price.
Read our full Oral-B Pro 2 2000 review
9. Oral-B Pro 6000 SmartSeries - Best value smart brush
The Oral-B Pro 6000 and Pro 6500 SmartSeries electric toothbrushes use wireless technology to sync with a neat smartphone app. The most important thing is to brush each section of your mouth without too much pressure and for the right length of time.
The brushes are top quality, and now that the price has come down they represent good value.
We'd also love to see the app get a bit smarter about brushing techniques, as opposed to just duration and frequency of brushing.
Read our full Oral-B Pro 6000 SmartSeries review
10. Colgate E1 - Best children's smart brush
The Colgate E1 is a rebadge of the Kolibree Ara, which in 2017 was the first toothbrush to use smart technology to feed back to the user and correct their brushing techniques.
Three years on, the E1's app is still first-class, which is presumably why it's being sold in collaboration with Apple, from the Apple store.
The E1 is let down by its toothbrush functionality – which amounts to switching off and on – and the brush design, which is a bit lightweight and basic.
Nonetheless, its price point is attractive and it would make a good toothbrush for a child learning brushing techniques or an adult in trouble with their dentist.
Read our full Colgate E1 review
Electric and smart toothbrush buying advice
If you're buying an electric toothbrush, there are certain features you should look out for.
It's all too easy to forget how long you've been brushing, which is why the best electric toothbrushes will have a brushing timer. Dentists recommend two minutes, which feels much longer than it sounds. These brushes will do the hard work for you by letting you know when you can (finally) stop.
They'll also alert you to move onto a new section of your mouth every 30 seconds. Most people spend longer on certain parts of their mouth and neglect other areas. Typically, they'll focus on the front of their teeth and the easier-to-reach sections of their mouths. This can lead to gum disease and tooth decay in other areas.
A timer may be the most important feature on your electric toothbrush, except perhaps for a pressure sensor.
A good electric toothbrush should also feature a pressure sensor to prevent you pushing too hard against your teeth. This bad brushing habit can damage teeth and gums.
Over-brushing is often a substitute for brushing well. It can wear down the enamel on the teeth, and lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums.
If you check your toothbrush and find that the bristles part in the middle, palm tree-style, it's a sign that you're brushing too hard. To protect your teeth, buy a brush with a pressure sensor.
You might also find that being able to switch between cleaning modes makes you more aware of your brushing technique.
More sophisticated electric toothbrushes feature different modes. They'll have a button on the handle that'll allow you to toggle between deep cleaning, whitening, tongue care, polishing and gum care.
Some may have a setting for sensitive teeth, while others may have a range of intensity levels that can be used in the same way.
If you suffer from sensitive teeth or bleeding gums, a brush with different options could make a real difference to how comfortable and effective your brushing is.
Brush head replacement
How often do you change your toothbrush head? The answer is probably: not often enough. Both the Oral-B and Philips Sonicare smart brushes will alert you when you need to switch to a new brush head.
Some app-connected brushes, including the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000, will go one stage further, giving you the option to automatically reorder via the website when the handle detects that the head is wearing out.
Being able to charge your brush easily is really important, particularly if you travel often. Some brushes, including the PomaBrush and the Sonicare DiamondClean 9000, will include a USB charger as well as (or in the case of the PomaBrush, instead of) a standard two-pin bathroom plug connector. Both of these brushes combine USB charging with a travel case, which is ideal.
An average battery life is one to two weeks, so bear that in mind when you read our reviews. The longest battery life we've found, by a wide margin, is the PomaBrush, which should only need charging 3-4 times a year.
Most brushes feature standard nylon bristles but a few are coming on to the market with silicone brushing heads. Silicone is naturally bacteria-resistant and is much gentler on gums than nylon, so it could be a good option for people with gum sensitivity.
There have been promising studies on the virtues of silicone bristles but it's really too early to say. Some dentists have cautioned that as the bristles are wider, they won't have the same reach as nylon bristles.
Sonic, oscillating or ionic?
Different electric toothbrush brands opt for different cleaning techniques. Sonic brushes work by producing vibrations to remove plaque, while oscillating brushes rotate to produce the same effect. Ionic toothbrushes (we have one in our top ten: the Sanyei ION-Sei) make your teeth temporarily repel, rather than attract, plaque.
While it's an easy matter to find studies indicating that electric toothbrushes are superior to manual brushes in plaque removal, it's hard to find conclusive evidence that one type of electric brush technique is better than the rest.
What's more important is that you find one you're comfortable with and use a good brushing technique.
Smart brushes connect with a smartphone app to collect data on each brushing session. Depending on the app, they may also discover and flag errors in your technique and help to change your brushing habits.
The best app we've found for overhauling your brushing technique is the one used in conjunction with the Colgate E1, which is easy to use and effective. The Oral-B app is slightly harder to use and gives less detailed feedback. Meanwhile, the Philips Sonicare app is really focused on monitoring your brushing schedule and ensuring you brush for long enough.
Apps are improving all the time and new functionality is being added. But for now, the majority of apps are best used to help you to sort out your routine, remind you to change your brush head and re-order dental products.