“Research shows that even with the best manual toothbrushing habits, electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque, whitening teeth, stimulating and improving gum health, and a person’s overall oral hygiene," says Jonathan B. Levine, DMD, founder of JBL Dentistry in New York City, who recommends electric toothbrushes for a number of reasons. "The little micro movements of the toothbrush head allow for you to brush more with each pass, and new technology also allows the toothbrush to assist and even improve brushing habits." An electric toothbrush tells you when you’re done with each part of your mouth, and if you are brushing too hard or for too long. Plus, while they pack a lot of power, their bristles tend to be on the gentler side for those who prefer a soft toothbrush.
What to look for in an electric toothbrush
- Timers: "I usually recommend electric toothbrushes that have built-in timers that buzz when the two minutes are up, which ensures that the proper amount of time was spent brushing," says cosmetic dentist Dr. Brian Kantor of Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor in NYC.
- Range of settings: Look for toothbrushes that have multiple modes or intensities so you can personalize your brushing for your needs, says Dr. Tina Saw, a general dentist and founder of Oral Genome, a D2C dental wellness testing kit that measures your oral health.
- American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance: One way to pick an electric toothbrush is to look for the ADA seal of acceptance. It's an accolade a dental product has received based on scientific evidence demonstrating safety and efficacy for removal of plaque and reduction of gingivitis (gum disease), says Dr. Saw
- Motor power: Most electric toothbrushes deliver between 25k-75k rotational movements per minute at various pressure. However, "more is not always better," says Dr. Sharon Huang, DDS, MICOI of Les Belles NYC. "Some of the high power motors are too aggressive for the gum and will cause gum recession and increase teeth sensitivity. "
- Brush Mechanism: The two main types of electric toothbrushes are oscillating and sonic. "Oscillating electric toothbrushes spin and move similar to the way your dentist and/or dental hygienist would polish your teeth. Sonic electric toothbrushes vibrate and shake off plaque and tartar. They disrupt the plaque layer on the teeth in order to remove bacteria," says Dr. Saw. While there isn't concrete evidence on which option is more effective. Dr. Huang says she recommends sonic toothbrushes at a medium power (30k range) with a compact head (cleans hard to reach surfaces) and two level bristle technology (more gentle and more efficient cleaning).
Investing in an electric toothbrush doesn't have to mean breaking the bank on a pricey speciality item. While it certainly can, there are also plenty of effective options on the market that won't leave quite so big of an impact on your next credit card statement. Here, dentists share their picks for the best electric toothbrush for every budget, so you don't have to sacrifice any extra green for the sake of a white smile. In general, any toothbrush that people are excited to use is beneficial because they will be more inclined to use it, says Dr. Kantor. But remember: You can't replace good brushing habits no matter how fancy your toothbrush is.
Best Electric Toothbrushes Under $100
For something no-frills that you can get at the drugstore, Dr. Levine says this is the best you can get—it’s been a recommendation of his for a long, long time. “Without all the bells and whistles that newer models come with, this one stands the test of time and is still being used widely,” he says. “With regular use, this brush may help whiten your teeth, promote oral health, and is infinitely more effective than just a standard brush.”
Subscription services have made everything in millennials’ lives easier, and thanks to Burst, that convenience extends to brushing teeth, too. The service delivers a new brush head every 90 days, plus a lifetime guarantee for subscribers. According to dentists, the device itself is great, too. “Burst bristles are very soft, which allows for very gentle yet effective brushing, and the toothbrush is especially good for anyone prone to gum recession,” says San Francisco-based dentist Christina Kenerson, DMD. Plus, it comes in the most beautiful rose gold color, which can up the luxury factor in your bathroom in a big way for a an extra $20. Burst is also a favorite of Dr. Huang, who says the bristle is compact, charcoal-infused, and has both short and long bristles, which helps the brush clean hard to reach areas more efficiently. “This brush has the longest battery life I’ve seen (1 month per charge),” she says.
Consider this the Toyota Camry of toothbrushes. It’s a good, solid choice that hits right at the middle of the market price-wise. It has five different brush heads, 25 different settings, and a two-minute timer so that you can know when you’re done brushing without having to sing through the alphabet twice. “It feels good in your hand and caters to brushers with sensitivity,” says Dr. Levine. “And with so many add-ons, there’s a brush head for everyone.” The charging station and plug are not waterproof, so you’ll want to keep them somewhere other than on your sink, but since the battery stays charged for over a month you won’t need to dig them out of the cabinet all that often, anyway.
Quip toothbrushes are slim, affordable, and American Dental Association-accepted. They have 30-second pulses, a two-minute timer, and can sync with an app to track your bushing habits. Dr. Kantor says they’re simple to use and effectively clean teeth. And if you tend to forget to replace your brush heads, you can sign up for subscription service where a new head is sent every few weeks, making it easier to keep up with a healthy oral care routine.
Best Electric Toothbrushes Over $100
If you’ve got sensitive teeth and gums, this is the best of the best to keep them healthy and happy. “The bristles are soft, so they won’t irritate most patients’ gums, and it has five settings for everything from gentle brushing to a deep clean,” says Dr. Levine. The only downside to this brush is that it’s most effective when it’s fully charged, so be sure to keep the battery juiced up. “This Sonicare leaves your teeth feeling very clean,” she says. Dr. Huang is also a fan of this toothbrush, which she says has powerful sonic energy, plus an app that tracks sensory coverage so you are able to see exactly where you are bushing, what is missed, and get feedback on brushing techniques.
If you’re not a particularly good brusher, this toothbrush may help you get better. It’s a pick from Dr. Kantor because not only does it have Sonicare technology, which can remove up to four times more plaque than a manual toothbrush, but it also shows a 3D map of your mouth so you can see which teeth you’re brushing and if you’re brushing too much or too little. The app shows you any spots you’ve missed, progress reports, and when you need to replace your brush heads. You can even send reports to your dentist if you want.
Dr. Saw says her favorite electric toothbrush is the Oral-B iO electric toothbrush. “I love how it vibrates and oscillates similar to what we utilize in my dental practice to clean teeth. It also has a pressure sensor that displays a red light if I brush too hard, as brushing aggressively can cause gum tissue recession,” she says. It has five modes, a two-minute timer, and a travel case. “I was definitely wowed away when I first used it as my teeth felt squeaky clean like I had just got them professionally cleaned,” says Dr. Saw.
Dr. Saw says she would recommend this high-tech toothbrush to anybody. It’s sleek and has one-touch control, as well as technology that monitors pressure, motion, and coverage. “It senses how you brush and adapts automatically, changing intensity if you are brushing too hard,” says Dr. Saw.
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