There's solid evidence that using an electric toothbrush is better for dental health than brushing your teeth manually. A review by Cochrane of existing studies on the benefits of using an electric toothbrush over manual brushing showed a 21% reduction in plaque after three months, as well as an 11% reduction in gingivitis. 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.
At the top end of the scale, you'll find smart toothbrushes that – via a connected app – will monitor the way you brush and give you feedback to help improve your technique. But just how well do these work and will they really make a difference to you? You can find out in our reviews.
High-end electric toothbrushes will also give you a number of brushing modes and a sensor to let you know if you're pressing too hard (a common brushing error).
We've tested a range of products to find the best. Our focus has been on smart toothbrushes, although we've looked at the more straightforward, non-connected electric toothbrushes as well.
We'll also provide you with information on battery life, charging times and methods (some brushes will charge via USB), as well as accessories and the price of replacement heads.
As well as reading the buying advice after our best-of list, you may 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 ProtectiveClean 6100 - Best overall
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
2. 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
3. Oral-B Genius 9000/8000 - Best cleaning performance
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
4. Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum - Best for improving technique
The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum does its job really well, performing its principal task of removing plaque with ease, and also gently teaching you a better oral hygiene regime: less pressure and less scrubbing. Let the toothbrush do the hard work. And it does that work without needing a charge every few days like some electric toothbrushes. This one goes on for weeks. The Sonicare app is intriguing because it looks great but was a little too confusing for us and we weren’t sure the smart sensors were as smart as they thought they were. With a high RRP you should definitely hunt around for the best price online. Find it at a good price and you’ll be happy with spending on such a premium electric toothbrush.
Read our full Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum review
5. 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
6. 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
7. 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
8. 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
9. Denvio Sonic Plus Toothbrush - Four-week battery life
The Denvio Sonic Plus is a stylish electric toothbrush that offers a four-week battery life, five different cleaning modes and wireless charging, but you won't find AI, Bluetooth or any of the other smart features utilised by other toothbrushes in our chart. It's not as expensive as other options on the market, but as replacement brush heads are relatively expensive, the cost will add up over time.
Read our full Denvio Sonic Plus Toothbrush review
Electric and smart toothbrush buying advice
The best electric toothbrushes have a brushing timer. This will help you to ensure that you brush for the dentist-recommended two minutes. It'll also alert you every 30 seconds to move on to the next quadrant of your mouth (upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right), so that you spend an equal amount of time on each area.
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.
Next time you brush your teeth, be aware of your brushing and see if you tend to spend most of your brushing time focused on a specific area. If so, then a toothbrush with a timer will help you to change your brushing habits.
More sophisticated electric toothbrushes feature different modes for specific pats of the mouth or for polishing. Most will have a standard clean setting and a deep-clean mode. Some will have a special setting for brushing the tongue (see below) or for sensitive teeth, while others have a range of speed or intensity settings that can be used in a similar way.
If you buy a brush of this kind, you can experiment with settings to find what works best for you. If you suffer from bleeding gums or sensitive teeth, finding a comfortable setting could make a big difference to your dental health.
A good electric toothbrush is also likely to feature a pressure sensor to prevent you pushing too hard against your teeth. This can actually damage both the tooth and the gums.
Vigorous over-brushing is often a substitute for brushing effectively. It can wear down the enamel on the teeth, and lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums, exposing the sensitive root area.
If you're falling back on scrubbing your teeth, the answer could well be a new toothbrush and a change in brushing habits.
Many of us neglect to clean our tongue as part of our dental regime. This is an oversight that can affect your sense of taste and contribute to bad breath. As much as half the bacteria in your mouth reside on your tongue. Look for white areas or desquamation (skin peeling) for signs that your tongue could be healthier.
The Oral-B Genius 9000 has a special tongue-cleaning mode, which is gentler than its tooth-brushing mode. This will eliminate the need for a separate tongue scraper.
Brush head replacement
It's likely that most of us don’t change our toothbrush heads often enough. Both the Oral-B and Philips smart brushes will alert you when you need to switch to a new brush head. We suspect this is calculated by time since the previous replacement rather than wear.
Almost all the products we reviewed charge via a standard two-pin charger. We'd love to see more toothbrushes charge via USB like regular devices (and there are a couple in this list).
Disappointingly, most manufacturers, despite their apps, still only think in terms of bathroom charging points.
Judging by battery life, the clear winner is the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum, which can keep going for up to three weeks between charges (on a twice-daily, two-minute regime). Others typically give you between one and two weeks of battery life.
The smart brushes we tested connect with a smartphone app to collect data on each brushing session, discover and flag errors in your technique and help to change your brushing habits.
In practice, we found that these apps promised more than they delivered. But there was still a benefit: using an app for a few weeks really focused the reviewer on improving their dental hygiene regime. In other words, if you need help to get out of bad brushing habits, this could be very useful.
We expect these apps will get smarter and more accurate but for now you should use them to perfect your routine rather than expect a surrogate dental hygienist.