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Unlike manuals, they do the lion’s share of the brushing for you.
Oscillating models, such as those in Oral-B’s range, have round heads that rotate to sweep plaque from your teeth and gums, whereas sonic toothbrushes, such as the Philips Sonicare models, have diamond-shaped heads that vibrate rapidly from side to side to drive bacteria out of every nook and cranny. Both can be very effective at cleaning, but sonics tend to be more expensive.
With so many electric toothbrushes on the market, we asked Steven Attwell, associate dentist at Bupa Dental Care, for his tips on how to choose yours.
“I’d recommend looking for a model from a reputable manufacturer, rather than merely plumping for the most expensive option,” he said. “Pricier electric toothbrushes tend to boast fancy features, such as Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app, but these are ‘nice to have’, rather than essential. The important thing is to choose a model that will effectively clean plaque, bacteria and debris from your teeth and gums.”
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That said, there were two features he did recommend, which most electric toothbrushes now offer as standard: pressure sensors and quadrant timers.
“Choose a toothbrush with a pressure sensor, which flashes or buzzes if you’re brushing too vigorously,” he said. “Brushing harder won’t remove more plaque and can, in fact, damage your teeth and irritate your gums.
“To ensure that your cleaning routine is thorough and even, look for a built-in quadrant timer, which flashes every 30 seconds when it’s time to move onto the next quarter of your mouth.”
There’s an electric toothbrush for all needs and budgets in our top nine:
Willing to splash some cash on Oral-B’s best in show? This impressive oscillating toothbrush delivers a huge range of features, including 3D teeth tracking and an interactive colour display, but you’ll have to fork out £250 to enjoy them.
Magnetic technology directs energy to the tip of every bristle for a gentle, quiet and powerfully effective clean.
There’s a choice of seven brushing modes, including intense clean, super sensitive and tongue cleaner, and a jazzed-up pressure sensor that flashes white if you’re brushing too gently, red if you’re being too rough and green if you’re using just the right level of force.
It comes with both a magnetic charger and a charging travel case (expect to recharge it every ten days or so), and is available in white alabaster, black onyx and rose quartz.
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300
If you want to try a sonic toothbrush without paying for the bells and whistles of a smart model, look to this reasonably priced Philips.
It claims to remove up to seven times more plaque than a manual could muster, thanks to densely-packed bristles and a curved tip for tackling hard-to-reach teeth.
It’s a good choice for anyone with sensitive teeth or orthodontics, as there’s a low speed setting and a pressure sensor that vibrates the handle if you’re being too rough. It feels lightweight and comfortable to use, making you more likely to meet your two-minute brushing target, and there’s a quad pacer to guide you.
It comes with a travel case for hygienic portability and should last a fortnight before needing recharging. Choose from baby blue, pastel pink and black.
Electric toothbrushes aren’t known for their style, but this sleek Ordo model will add a touch of class to any bathroom, without the expected A-list price tag.
Substance-wise, it’s a solid buy, with a quad pacer and four brushing modes, including sensitive and whitening.
There’s a silicone element in the brush head for gently polishing away stains, but no pressure sensor. Its battery life is excellent, giving you over three weeks of juice before the recharge indicator flashes, and it comes with a USB charging base for on-the-go convenience.
It’s available in charcoal grey, white/silver and rose gold. If you wish, you can sign up to a handy monthly subscription of replacement brush heads, toothpaste and other oral care products.
Foreo Issa 2
This compact sonic toothbrush from hip Swedish brand Foreo only needs recharging annually, making it unbeatable in the battery life stakes.
It’s slim Scandi design will appeal to minimalists and it’s waterproof for using in the shower, should you wish to! Those with sensitive teeth will welcome its medical-grade silicone bristles, which are tough on plaque but gentle on gums.
They last a year before needing replacing, and there are subtle ridges on the rear of the brush head for cleaning your tongue.
Whether this oh-so-Instagrammable model is worth just shy of £150 is a matter for debate; it offers 16 brushing modes and a quad pacer, but there’s no pressure sensor or compatible app.
There are four colours available: mint, pearl pink, cobalt blue and cool black.
Colgate ProClinical 250R Deep Clean
If you fear finding an electric toothbrush too heavy and unwieldy, consider this slim, lightweight Colgate model that comes at a bargain price.
It’s just as easy to control as a manual, with a compact head that won’t hurt your mouth, and it cleans sonically for excellent plaque reduction. It features a quad pacer, but not a pressure sensor, so go gently.
Its soft, tapered bristles help floss teeth for a deeper clean, without damaging your gums. It comes with a charger and a travel case, with the battery lasting about a week before needing a top-up.
Its basic red and white design won’t win you fashion points, but it does its core job well for under £30.
Spotlight Sonic Toothbrush
If dental pain has been keeping you from trying an electric toothbrush, consider this gentle sonic model, designed by a female dentist duo. It has three speed settings, including ‘sensitive’, and feels refreshingly lightweight and easily manoeuvrable.
It effectively banishes plaque and stains, without making your teeth and gums throb, and shuts off automatically once your two minutes of brushing is complete.
There’s neither a quad pacer nor a pressure sensor, both of which we’d expect at this price point, but it does come with three brush heads, a charger and a travel case.
The long-lasting battery offers a generous 70 days of power before the indicator on the handle signals that it’s time for a recharge.
This innovative sonic toothbrush makes use of a new, patented technology that battles cavity-causing bacteria.
Without getting too science-y, its integrated UV/LED light and titanium dioxide bar react when activated, releasing negative ions that safely coat teeth and neutralise germs.
This is so effective that you don’t need to use toothpaste (but you can if you want to!). Its hyper-modern design is inspired by Japanese culture and it comes with both a standard and a soft brush head.
There are three brushing modes, including sensitive, and a quad pacer. It’s quiet and featherlight, weighing just 90g, and comes with a USB charger, but no carry case.
Its battery lasts for up to three weeks and there’s a choice of three mystical colours: day white, lake blue and moon grey.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart
The DiamondClean is to Philips what the iO9 is to Oral-B, but it’s not quite as pricey and it has an elegant diamond-shaped brush head. It’s a sonic model, with four brushing modes, including whitening and gum health, and three intensities.
It pairs with the Philips Sonicare app to offer real-time brushing advice, using a personalised colour map of your mouth to ensure that you never miss a tooth.
Its pressure sensor tells you when you’re using too much force and there’s a special whitening brush head if you’re concerned about yellowing.
There’s a built-in quad pacer, too, and you get two weeks of battery life from one charge. Overall, it’s impressive.
Oral-B Genius X
This oscillating Bluetooth model will get you into your dentist’s good books thanks to detailed artificial intelligence tracking.
When used with the Oral-B app, you’ll get personalised feedback on your brushing, including an overall score and illustrated suggestions for achieving better coverage. It offers six brushing modes, including sensitive and whitening, and there’s an integrated quad pacer.
There’s no need to worry about brushing too hard, as it will flash and automatically reduce the speed if you’re being too rough.
It offers up to a fortnight of charge and comes with both a plug-in charger and a charging travel case for holidays. Choose from black, rose gold or blush pink.