The Best Electric Toothbrushes for Every User, According to Two Dentists

Philips
Philips

If you listen to electric toothbrush manufacturers, picking up a manual toothbrush is as antiquated a practice as using a horse and carriage to get around town. Battery-powered toothbrushes promise to remove more plaque than their analog counterparts thanks to their high-speed scrubbing—and the gentle nudge that encourages users to brush for the correct amount of time.

While using proper technique with a manual toothbrush will do a fine job of maintaining your dental health, many people prefer to leave the nuances to a gadget. The problem is one of choice: With literally hundreds of models available, deciding which electric toothbrush is the best fit for your mouth can be as agonizing as an extraction.

To help you decide, Mental Floss asked two practicing dentists which electric toothbrushes they recommend to their patients, as well as which models they actually use themselves. Since their answers varied depending on a person’s individual cleaning needs and preferences, we’ve narrowed it down to a few options. Check out the best electric toothbrushes that could earn you compliments the next time you see your hygienist, including the best options for adults, kids, those with sensitive teeth, and people who never remember to swap out their brush heads.

1. Best All-Around Brush for Most Users // Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

Philips Sonicare, Amazon

Philips Sonicare has emerged as one of the most dominant brands in the electric toothbrush industry, for good reason. Both dentists we spoke to voiced their preference for Sonicare toothbrushes, both for their own personal home use and as the brand they recommend most often to patients in their practice.

“For me, the Sonicare is much gentler and not as aggressive as the Oral-B,” explains Gabija Revis, a dentist who practices in Frisco, Colorado. While Oral-B’s small brush head uses an oscillating action—similar to the tooth polisher used during cleaning appointments—the Sonicare’s up/down vibrating motion tackles more teeth at one time. The DiamondClean model also sports many of the features of power brushes that dentists favor most, including a timer that notifies users that they’ve brushed for the recommended two minutes.

“I find [the DiamondClean] is tailored to all dental needs,” says Sheri Doniger, who operates a general dentistry practice in Lincolnwood, Illinois. “It has several settings, from Clean, White, Polish, Gum Care, and Sensitive. I switch between Clean, which is a two-minute set timer, to White, which is a three-minute timer." The toothbrush notifies users when they've spent the recommended 30 seconds for each quadrant, making sure that they spend an equal amount of time on all of their teeth.

(Note: Sonicare also sells much cheaper toothbrush models than the DiamondClean that offer the same basic two-minute timer and up/down vibrating motion dentists recommend, albeit with fewer settings and slightly different brush heads. The Sonicare Essence retails for just $20 on Amazon.)

Revis also approves of the Sonicare’s DiamondClean brush heads, which are slightly smaller than most power brushes and can make positioning the toothbrush along the gum line easier.

Buy it on Amazon for $153.

2. Best for Sensitive Teeth // Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean

Philips Sonicare, Amazon

One of the biggest mistakes users make while brushing manually is attacking their teeth with an overzealous scrubbing technique, which can damage enamel and contribute to gum recession. If you notice your brush bristles are splayed out, you might be an offender. “It’s crazy to think you can brush too well and cause damage, but I see it frequently in my practice,” Revis says.

To combat this, some powered brushes come with a pressure sensor that alerts users when they’re pressing the brush against their teeth too hard. The Sonicare ProtectiveClean goes a step further, offering three intensity settings that reduce the vibrations for people with sensitive teeth. (If you have gum recession or are prone to over-brushing, make sure to ask your dentist if an electric brush is suitable for you.)

And remember that an electric brush is doing the work for you, so there's no need to do anything other than hold it against your teeth and toward your gum line. One option to reduce aggressive cleaning habits, Revis says, is to hold the powered brush in your non-dominant hand.

Buy it on Amazon for $100.

3. Best for Kids // Philips Sonicare for Kids

Philips Sonicare, Amazon

There’s more to a toothbrush meant for kids than brush or handle size. Doniger says the Sonicare for Kids incorporates a number of high-tech features that can prove useful for children who are reluctant to brush or do a poor job. “My grandkids use the Sonicare for Kids,” she says. “I recommend that to all my families with children. The brush has fun stickers, two cleaning modes, and is connected to an interactive app that helps to motivate the kids to brush longer. Since it is Bluetooth-enabled, parents or guardians are able to keep track of brushing time even when the brush isn't connected to the app. This is a great feature. When the little ones say they brushed, this app will let them see if they did and for how long.”

The Sonicare for Kids is also designed so that parents can manually assist in brushing if necessary, and comes with a timer that urges kids to keep going.

Buy it on Amazon for $40.

4. Best for the Absent-Minded User // quip

Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, dentists recommend changing the brush heads every two to three months. When your brush heads are beginning to wear out, they’re not doing as good a job of cleaning your teeth.

Quip is a subscription service that automates this process, sending you new brush heads every two months for their proprietary toothbrush handle, which opts for a simple design free of the bells and whistles of other brushes. “It’s really popular among younger adults,” Revis says. “I’ve found that patients really like the [brush service]. It’s also gentle on teeth.”

Buy it from quip for $25, plus $5 every three months for brush head refills.

5. Best for Germaphobes // Philips Sonicare FlexCare with UV Sanitizer

Philips/Amazon

While not all the features offered by high-end electric toothbrushes are useful, UV sanitizing functions (which sterilize brushes between uses) can come in handy, especially if you have a small bathroom. Doniger says you might want to consider one if your bathroom set-up makes it more likely germs will collect near your sink, or if your toilet is less than 6 feet away from where you keep your toothbrushes. “Since [6 feet] is geographically impossible in some bathrooms, the UV sanitizing feature is nice,” Doniger says. “I have a separate UV sanitizer for my brushes.”

For a toothbrush with sanitizing features, we recommend the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum that comes with a UV sanitizer.

Buy it on Amazon for $220.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Creative Ways to Spend Your FSA Money Before the Deadline

stockfour/iStock via Getty Images
stockfour/iStock via Getty Images

If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), chances are, time is running out for you to use that cash. Depending on your employer’s rules, if you don’t spend your FSA money by the end of the grace period, you potentially lose some of it. Lost cash is never a good thing.

For those unfamiliar, an FSA is an employer-sponsored spending account. You deposit pre-tax dollars into the account, and you can spend that money on a number of health care expenses. It’s kind of like a Health Savings Account (HSA), but with a few big differences—namely, your HSA funds roll over from year to year, so there’s no deadline to spend it all. With an FSA, though, most of your funds expire at the end of the year. Bummer.

The good news is: The law allows employers to roll $500 over into the new year and also offer a grace period of up to two and a half months to use that cash (March 15). Depending on your employer, you might not even have that long, though. The deadline is fast approaching for many account holders, so if you have to use your FSA money soon, here are a handful of creative ways to spend it.

1. Buy some new shades.

Head to the optometrist, get an eye prescription, then use your FSA funds to buy some new specs or shades. Contact lenses and solution are also covered.

You can also buy reading glasses with your FSA money, and you don’t even need a prescription.

2. Try acupuncture.

Scientists are divided on the efficacy of acupuncture, but some studies show it’s useful for treating chronic pain, arthritis, and even depression. If you’ve been curious about the treatment, now's a good time to try it: Your FSA money will cover acupuncture sessions in some cases. You can even buy an acupressure mat without a prescription.

If you’d rather go to a chiropractor, your FSA funds cover those visits, too.

3. Stock up on staples.

If you’re running low on standard over-the-counter meds, good news: Most of them are FSA-eligible. This includes headache medicine, pain relievers, antacids, heartburn meds, and anything else your heart (or other parts of your body) desires.

There’s one big caveat, though: Most of these require a prescription in order to be eligible, so you may have to make an appointment with your doctor first. The FSA store tells you which over-the-counter items require a prescription.

4. Treat your feet.

Give your feet a break with a pair of massaging gel shoe inserts. They’re FSA-eligible, along with a few other foot care products, including arch braces, toe cushions, and callus trimmers.

In some cases, foot massagers or circulators may be covered, too. For example, here’s one that’s available via the FSA store, no prescription necessary.

5. Get clear skin.

Yep—acne treatments, toner, and other skin care products are all eligible for FSA spending. Again, most of these require a prescription for reimbursement, but don’t let that deter you. Your doctor is familiar with the rules and you shouldn’t have trouble getting a prescription. And, as WageWorks points out, your prescription also lasts for a year. Check the rules of your FSA plan to see if you need a separate prescription for each item, or if you can include multiple products or drug categories on a single prescription.

While we’re on the topic of faces, lip balm is another great way to spend your FSA funds—and you don’t need a prescription for that. There’s also no prescription necessary for this vibrating face massager.

6. Fill your medicine cabinet.

If your medicine cabinet is getting bare, or you don’t have one to begin with, stock it with a handful of FSA-eligible items. Here are some items that don’t require a prescription:

You can also stock up on first aid kits. You don’t need a prescription to buy those, and many of them come with pain relievers and other medicine.

7. Make sure you’re covered in the bedroom.

Condoms are FSA-eligible, and so are pregnancy tests, monitors, and fertility kits. Female contraceptives are also covered when you have a prescription.

8. Prepare for your upcoming vacation.

If you have a vacation planned this year, use your FSA money to stock up on trip essentials. For example:

9. Get a better night’s sleep.

If you have trouble sleeping, sleep aids are eligible, though you’ll need a prescription. If you want to try a sleep mask, many of them are eligible without a prescription. For example, there’s this relaxing sleep mask and this thermal eye mask.

For those nights you’re sleeping off a cold or flu, a vaporizer can make a big difference, and those are eligible, too (no prescription required). Bed warmers like this one are often covered, too.

Your FSA funds likely cover more than you realize, so if you have to use them up by the deadline, get creative. This list should help you get started, and many drugstores will tell you which items are FSA-eligible when you shop online.

10. Go to the dentist.

While basics like toothpaste and cosmetic procedures like whitening treatments aren’t FSA eligible, most of the expenses you incur at your dentist’s office are. That includes co-pays and deductibles as well as fees for cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and even the cost of braces. There are also some products you can buy over-the-counter without ever visiting the dentist. Some mouthguards that prevent you from grinding your teeth at night are eligible, as are cleaning solutions for retainers and dentures.

11. Try some new gadgets.

If you still have some extra cash to burn, it’s a great time to try some expensive high-tech devices that you’ve been curious about but might not otherwise want to splurge on. The list includes light therapy treatments for acne, vibrating nausea relief bands, electrical stimulation devices for chronic pain, cloud-connected stethoscopes, and smart thermometers.

12. Head to Amazon.

There are plenty of FSA-eligible items available on Amazon, including items for foot health, cold and allergy medication, eye care, and first-aid kits. Find out more details on how to spend your FSA money on Amazon here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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