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

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush rests in its charging station.
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

A woman holds up the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean electric toothbrush near a sink
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

The Philips Sonicare for Kids electric toothbrush sits next to a display that features the brushing app
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!

The New York Times's Latest Book on Travel Will Help You Plan the Perfect Weekend Getaway

TASCHEN
TASCHEN

Getting a full sense of a new city while traveling can be tough—especially if you only have a weekend to explore it. But since 2002, The New York Times’s "36 Hours" column has been breaking down destinations all over the world into bite-size pieces, allowing travelers to see the big attractions while still experiencing the city like a local. Now, you can get the best of the column's North American destinations with the fully updated and revised edition of 36 Hours: USA & Canada for $40 at TASCHEN or on Amazon.

Even if you have the original, it’s worth purchasing this updated copy, as this version features 33 new itineraries from Anchorage, Alaska; the Berkshires in Massachusetts; Boulder, Colorado; Miami; Oakland, California; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and many more.

36 Hours: USA & Canda from the New York Times
TASCHEN

The 752-page book also offers more than 5400 hours of travel itineraries, 600 restaurants to dine at, and 450 hotel options. Each city featured includes a brief history, a list of popular destinations, and tips on how to experience it all like a local. For example, the New Orleans guide encourages travelers to start at the French 75 Bar for happy hour and order a Sazerac, a cocktail close to an Old-Fashioned that's a local favorite. Whereas the Miami guide takes you to the Buena Vista Deli, a bistro known for its take on classic French dishes. The travel book also features detailed city maps that pinpoint all the stops, and it's accompanied by nearly 1000 photographs.

Once you've picked your destination, check out some tips on how to craft the perfect itinerary.

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!

9 Brilliant Gifts for the Gardener in Your Life

AeroGarden/Amazon
AeroGarden/Amazon

A proven method of relaxation, gardening can ease the stresses of daily life and provide a rich resource for giving homes a unique and colorful identity. If you know someone with a green thumb, consider these nine gift ideas sure to plant a seed of gratitude.

1. Succulent Gardens Living Picture DIY Kit; $105

Succulent planter DIY kit
Amazon

Vertical gardening is a conversation-starter, and you can help a friend ignite one with this do-it-yourself kit. The redwood frame uses a thin layer of mesh to keep succulent plants—included in the kit—hanging in there.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Burgon & Ball Coated Galvanized Steel Long Reach Indoor Watering Can; $46

Watering can
Uncommon Goods

Sure, your loved ones could use an empty jug to water their plants—if they enjoy drowning the greenery. But this watering can has a slender spout that prevents the needless mess that cans with wider openings can make. Plus, that longer spout makes it easy to get water to those hard-to-reach plants you may have hanging indoors.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller; $115

If you know someone looking to seize more control over their sprinkler system to help conserve water, the Rachio system is the one to beat. The module can replace virtually any existing central command center, connecting to the Rachio app and allowing for on-the-go control of the timer. Rachio will even sync the system to weather forecasts, easing up when it’s expected to rain.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Gardener’s Tool Seat; $36

Foldable for storage, this seat cures two of gardening’s most annoying demands: not having a place to sit and not having the right tool within reach. A small stool saves wear on the knees, while 21 pockets and a large pouch under the seat offer room for any implement you need.

Buy It: UncommonGoods

5. "The Taxonomy of Fruits & Vegetables" Poster; $40

This sprawling 24-inch-by-36-inch guide, detailing more than 300 varieties of produce, can be hung on a kitchen wall for easy reference. Your giftee will never again have to guess how a cantaloupe or mangosteen is related to other fruits and vegetables.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Aerogarden Harvest Elite 360; $130

the indoor AeroGarden
AeroGarden / Amazon

If you know someone who wants to keep a supply of fresh herbs for the kitchen but gets lost in the details, AeroGarden's indoor growing system is a perfect solution. The soil-free bed can grow basil, parsley, dill, and other seasonings using a fool-proof on-board display that offers care instructions in real time.

Buy It: Amazon

7. Hanging Terrariums; $13

This set includes two glass plant homes plus rustic jute rope for hanging them from the ceiling or window frame. And the flat bottom also allows them to sit on desk. Your giftee will need to supply the plants and other decor—may we suggest a couple of Tillandsia, a.k.a. air plants? They can thrive with almost no water or soil, making them ideal for these petite orbs.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Bokashi Kitchen Composter; $55

If making compost from food scraps sounds unappealing, it’s probably because you haven’t come across the right tool for the job yet. This Bokashi-style composter fits neatly under a kitchen sink and accepts food waste to mix with an all natural accelerator to create topsoil for gardens. The airproof lid guarantees no funky smell; the included spigot can also produce liquid fertilizer for houseplants.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

9. Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Work And Gardening Gloves; $10

The biggest inconvenience of gardening: trying to scrub the dirt off your hands. The second-biggest: dealing with the sweat produced by rubber-coated gloves. Solution: bamboo, which allows the gloves to breathe, is naturally antibacterial, and ensures a snug fit.

Buy It: Amazon

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!

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