Nothing beats the squeaky clean feeling of a trip to the dental hygienist, but the latest wave of electric toothbrushes comes pretty close, offering a thorough clean, whitening powers and even tongue cleaning. Dentists almost universally recommend using an electric toothbrush, with dentist Hanna Kinsella, founder of oral care brand Icy Bear telling us: “Electric toothbrushes are clinically proven to remove more plaque and bacteria than manual brushes." In fact, research by Foreo, who recently launched the Issa 3 electric toothbrush, reports a 140 per cent increase in oral hygiene using an electric brush over a manual,
Indeed, you can’t achieve the electric toothbrush fresh-mouth feeling from a manual brush, though there are a few downsides to electric brushes. The need to charge them for one, the fact that they’re heavier than a manual brush and they can be noisy.
We put the latest electric toothbrushes through their paces, trying them out for battery life, the different settings and how clean our mouths felt post-brush. Although they didn't all make our edit, the Philips Sonicare Kids deserves a special mention as the best electric toothbrush for children. It's sturdy so good for little hands and has a lower intensity setting making it a good intro to electric toothbrushes for kids. Here are the ones that made our pick of the best.
The spec: Rotating head, 7 settings, 3 hour charge time, comes with 1 head, magnetic charging dock, replacement heads £15 for 2
Six years of research went into creating this ultra-snazzy toothbrush which also comes in rose quartz and black. It has a magnetic drive in the rotating head that distributes energy evenly to the tips of the bristles to create gentle micro-vibrations. The oscillating head combined with the vibrations makes for an ultra-clean feeling.
Pros: The seven settings make this great for a bespoke clean. The settings are daily clean, sensitive, gum care, intense clean, whitening, super sensitive and tongue cleaner. We gave them all a whirl and found that intense clean gave us the closes feeling to a hygienist session (unsurprisingly). Turning it down to daily clean was just as freshening though, with just a little less pressure. It’s easy to toggle through the settings on the screen on the brush, which also says hello and wishes you a goodnight.
You can customise the look of the brush via the screen, changing the light to whichever colour you fancy. We liked pink. If you apply too much pressure while brushing, a little panel lights up to let you know you need to ease off. There’s also an on-screen timer that lets you know how long you’ve been brushing for, with a smiley face that tells you know when it’s been two minutes.
It’s one of the quieter brushes we tried, with a gentle whirring noise for all settings. It sits on a magnetic pad to charge, so there are no crevices to get bunged up with gunk.
Cons: If you find yourself paralysed by choice, this might not be the brush for you as there are lots of options to choose from!
The verdict: This brush is ultralight (good for taking on mini-breaks) and the brushed chrome finish makes it comfortable and non-slippy to hold. The customisable options are a winner in our eyes, plus the on-screen timer is handy. It’s hard to fault this brush!
The spec: Rotating head, 3 settings, comes with 2 heads, £19.99 for 3 replacement heads, 24 hour charge time
This electric toothbrush comes as part of a package with the Waterpik water flosser. It has a high, a low and a massage setting and a two-minute timer that goes off at 30-second intervals so you know when to move onto the next section of your mouth. It lives on the base next to the water flosser. The charge should last a week
Pros: This is ultra-easy to use. It has just two buttons (on/off and one to switch between modes) and a light that indicates which setting you’re using. The bristles are very soft, so our tester’s gums, which can be sensitive, didn’t feel any irritation, and the massage function was a nice bonus feature. Given the price also includes the water flosser, it’s very reasonable.
Cons: It’s a big bit of kit. If you have a small bathroom it will take up a lot of room.
The verdict: If you want to buy a water flosser, this is a good investment because it comes with both. The toothbrush isn’t all singing all dancing, but it’s simple to use and our testers' teeth felt clean. We make this is a great electric toothbrush if you haven’t tried one before.
The spec: Sonic toothbrush, 3 settings, 10 hour charge time, comes with 2 heads, £10.11 for 2 replacement heads
As you’d expect from a Japanese company, this toothbrush looks ultra-high-tech and has some seriously cool science behind it too. There’s a blue UV LED light in the tip which creates an ionic reaction with the titanium dioxide bar in the brush handle (the black strip you can see in the picture) to release negative ions which actually adhere to the teeth to stop bacteria from reproducing for up to 12 hours. It has three different settings (deep cleaning, standard, gentle) and the head is square, like you’d expect from a traditional manual toothbrush, which makes it easy to manoeuvre around your mouth.
Pros: Ion-Sei says that you don’t need toothpaste to get the full cleaning effect of this, just water will have the same cleaning power. It looks chic, sitting in a colour corresponding base with two little podiums to slot replacement heads onto, if the whole family shares one handle. Being sonic, it’s fairly quiet. It charges via USB, which is handy and vibrates after 30 seconds to let you know to move on to cleaning a different area.
Cons: If you don’t like the whirring noise of sonic toothbrushes, this one won’t be for you. It takes ten hours to charge which is quite long, but that does last for 40 uses which is good if you’re taking it on holiday.
The verdict: The prettiest in our edit, this will appeal to anyone who likes to keep their bathroom minimalist. It’s also good on the sustainability front as you won’t be blitzing through toothpaste.
The spec: Sonic toothbrush, 7 modes, 10 hour charge time, comes with 2 heads and one attachment for interdental cleaning, £22 for 2 replacement heads
To switch between the seven modes (including three different intensity settings) you just press and hold the button down until you get to your chosen mode. You can adjust the speed in the same way and the brush remembers this for next time.
Pros: This brush is great for anyone with braces because it has an interdental head to get in all the nooks and crannies. It also comes in a travel-friendly white box which has room for the brush and two heads. It charges via USB port which is handy. Whether it’s at full charge or two per cent battery, it delivers the same intensity. The charge lasts a long time too – up to two weeks.
Cons: There’s no screen to tell you which mode you’re using so you have to gauge it from how it feels. Our tester found that on the highest setting it was a bit too intense and loud too – loud enough to wake people in the next room.
The verdict: Great if you have braces and good for travel thanks to the case it comes with and USB charge function.
The spec: Sonic toothbrush, 3 cleaning modes, 15 hours to full charge, comes with three heads
Created by dentists, this toothbrush has three modes – clean, white and sensitive. It has a 30-second timer so you know when to move on to brushing a new section and it turns off automatically after two minutes. This brush charges via the mains. One charge should last 240 minutes.
Pro: This electric toothbrush is easy to navigate – just press the silver button to switch between the modes. Even on the most powerful setting, this does feel gentle. The head is quite slim, which makes it easy to get into all corners of your mouth.
Cons: It sounds fairly loud inside your mouth when you have it on the most powerful setting (white) and 15 hours is a fairly long charge time.
The verdict: Easy to use and very lightweight however the long charge time is an issue if you want to charge it fully.
Best for battery life: Foreo Issa 3, £149
The spec: Sonic pulse technology, 1 hour charge time, 1 head, replacement head £17
Foreo’s newly revamped toothbrush has silicone bristles and is designed to be used as a manual toothbrush, with the traditional up and down motion. It’s made of the same soft silicone as all Foreo buys, so it easy to hold onto even when wet.
Pros: The head only needs replacing every six months and it lasts 365 days on one charge! It’s very quiet with just a low hum. It’s impossible to apply too much pressure with this, because the neck is bendy. You can use it in the shower if you’re in a rush as it’s totally waterproof and according to Dr Nina Bal, who works with Foreo, the silicone head is “10,000 more hygienic than a nylon brush.” Our tester said they felt their teeth were properly cleaned and polished post-brush.
Cons: The head does take some getting used to and you can be left wondering if you’re doing it right because it’s so silent.
The verdict: With a seriously impressive battery life, wow-worthy hygiene stats and a head that rarely needs replacing, this is quite the game-changer.
The spec: Sonic toothbrush, 2 modes, 12 hour charging time, comes with 2 heads
As a whitening (or should we say stain-removing?) toothbrush this brush was created by cosmetic dentist Hannah Kinsella who runs the Kiln Lane Dental Clinic in St Helen's (she's appeared on the Real Housewives of Cheshire looking after some of the most megawatt smiles). It has two brushing modes – clean and whiten both of which are quite strong, plus a tongue cleaning mode.
Pros: Our tester particularly liked the tongue cleaning setting, used with the back of the brush head. This is often underwhelming, but here works effectively. A great choice at a good price.
Cons: None, unless you have sensitive teeth and are looking for a more gentle clean.
The verdict: The best brush we tried for tongue cleaning and a reasonable price for a dentist-backed buy
Best for a powerful clean: Polished London The Sonic XP Toothbrush, £74.99
The spec: Sonic, 5 modes, comes with 4 heads, 16 hour charge time, £14.99 for 2 replacement heads
Launching later this month, this is the sports car of toothbrushes. It's powered by twin-engine motors and claims to remove ten times more plaque than a manual toothbrush. It charges atop a little black USB stand and has five modes to choose from: clean, whiten, sensitive, gum care and deep clean. It offers three weeks of brushing from a single charge
Pros: It's super easy to switch between modes (just a tap of the button) and the modes are written on the front of the brush, with the one you're using lit up so there's no confusion. It has a two-minute timer with 30-second intervals and is entirely waterproof, even if submerged in water. It has a silicone tongue cleaner on the back of the head which is appealing. Our tester tried it on the deep clean setting and was impressed by how squeaky clean and fresh their mouth felt afterwards
Cons: You need to give this a big rinse every time you use it, otherwise the sleek black matte becomes stained with white toothpaste. Not as glam as intended!
The verdict: Very easy to use and clear which setting you're on, plus it looks cool and can be used for a long time on one charge.
The overall verdict
For price, ease of use, length of charge and the infrequent need to replace heads, the Foreo Issa comes out tops for us. It takes some getting used to the silicone heads but once you're on board, it's a game-changer.
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