You’re probably here because your dentist told you to go home and google "best electric toothbrush." And though we have some reasons to be suspicious of dentistry, there is a lot of (peer reviewed!) evidence showing that electric toothbrushes are more effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis than their manual counterparts.
Actually taking your dentist's advice and purchasing an electric toothbrush used to be fairly simple—there were only a few reputable brands making them, so you didn’t have a lot of choice. But, as you know if you’ve listened to a podcast in the last three years, the electric toothbrushes market has been disrupted. If you want to buy an electric toothbrush today, you have more options than ever.
These toothbrushes have features that range from the useful (like pausing every 30-seconds so that you know to move to a different area of your mouth) to the confounding (does anyone actually want a toothbrush with an app?). After consulting the work of roundups from roundups from Wirecutter, The Strategist, BuzzFeed, and Business Insider and reading through reader reviews on Amazon and Walmart, I decided to only test models that offered the quadrant pauses, a 20-second timer, easily replaceable brush heads, that cost less than $100.
I ended up spending a few days with five different brushes from five different companies. While brushing each morning and evening, I paid close attention to how the brushes felt against my teeth, whether the brush was heavy or uncomfortable to hold, and whether the brush was too loud for my pre-coffee brain to handle. And I’ll admit, I tried to assess whether anyone who saw the brush in my bathroom would think it was corny.
I considered all additional features, like extra brushing modes, a nice bonus, but made sure not to test anything with Bluetooth connectivity. Seriously, who wants to pair their toothbrush with their phone? After all that, I found three electric toothbrushes I’d actually want to use everyday.
The Best All-Around Electric Toothbrush
The Burst toothbrush is the rare product clogging up the promoted posts and stories of your Instagram feed that is actually good. The rechargeable brush, which the company has spared no expense to inform you is sponsored by CHRISSY TIEGEN, has a tapered handle that’s very comfortable to hold. Like those from the Sonicare ads of old, the Burst’s bristles vibrate back and forth, supposedly tens of thousands of times per minute. Luckily, this doesn’t mean the Burst feels like it’s attacking your teeth—the brush has a really gentle action that was pleasant to wake up to in the mornings. And because the bristles aren’t that long and the brush head isn’t that thick, the brush head fit in my mouth comfortably. I could use it without spraying spit and toothpaste all over my bathroom mirror.
Once the brush’s two-minute timer has elapsed and it turns itself off, you can just leave the Burst on your counter or in your medicine cabinet. The battery life should last for a few weeks of normal use between chargers. When you’re ready to charge it, you just set the toothbrush in its stand and plug the stand’s USB cord into the wall with the included adapter. I suppose you could also plug it into your computer, assuming it still has USB-A ports. I have trouble finding legitimate issue with this. You’ll certainly turn heads in your coworking space.
The Burst is a bit pricier than some of the other subscription-based toothbrushes we considered. A white or black brush will cost you $70 and the subscription for new brush heads costs $6 every 90 days. If you want the brush in rose gold, you’ll pay $100 for the brush and $7 for the subscription to new brush heads. One more reason to get the subscription, it gives you access to a lifetime warranty on your brush. But if you don’t subscribe you still get two years.
One thing about the Burst does give us slight pause: it’s “charcoal infused” bristles. Burst and many companies that make charcoal infused toothpaste claim that charcoal gives the toothbrush additional whitening capabilities. As dentists quoted in a report in Scienceline pointed out “there’s simply not enough evidence to back the promises made for using charcoal for oral hygiene.” This isn’t because all dentists are convinced brushing with charcoal is bad, it’s rather that there hasn’t been enough research done into the topic. The few studies conducted mostly conclude that more studies need to be done. For now, the Burst’s advantages outweigh any of our minor concerns about charcoal, particularly since we’ve been using charcoal grooming products with no issue for the last few years.
The Best Electric Toothbrush for Travel
We’ve really liked the Quip electric toothbrush since we first tested it back in 2017. As with the Burst, the Quip is basically foolproof. Both brushes have the two minute timer and pulse every 30 seconds, so that you know exactly how long to spend in each quadrant of your mouth. Both brush heads also vibrate back and forth, rather than rotate, but the Quip features a tongue scraper on the back of its brush head. You might not really use it, but it’s nice to know its there.
The main differentiating factor, immediately evident when first see the brush, is its striking design. The Quip has a sleek, metal handle—more the shape of a manual toothbrush than the thick electric toothbrush design you’re probably familiar with. The company can achieve this because the Quip uses a removable battery, which is meant to be replaced every three months rather than recharged. If you subscribe to the brush head and battery subscription, you get a lifetime warranty on your brush. Without the subscription, you get the warranty for a year.
Perhaps it’s to ensure that battery actually lasts for the three months in between when you get that new one and brush head, but I always found that the quiet Quip felt a little gentle on my teeth. But, for what it's worth, I tend to prefer a vigorous brush and a "squeaky" clean. The American Dental Association has said the product is “safe and has shown efficacy in removing plaque and helping to prevent and reduce gingivitis, when used as directed” with its Seal of Acceptance. But after the two-minute Quip cycle, I always felt myself furrowing my brow, wondering whether I should just brush again. The weaker vibrations might be good for someone who is a chronic over=brusher or hard-brusher (both real problems), but I think most people will feel like our other two picks clean their teeth more thoroughly.
That said, the Quip brush is the best electric toothbrush for travel that we tried in this round of testing. This is primarily because it’s so small, but also because of Quip’s multi-use cover. That cover fits over the brush head, to keep it clean while you travel. When you’ve reached your destination, you invert it and can stick it to any flat, glossy surface—like a mirror or tiled wall—and drop your toothbrush in. It’s a trick, kind of like fully unpacking your suitcase, that will make whatever hotel, AirBnb, or guest room you’re staying in feel a bit more like home.
And further, if you want to save some money, you can also get a plastic version of the Quip for $30. It works just as well as the metal one, but it looks a bit more juvenile. We think the metal one is worth the extra $15 up front.
The Best Electric Toothbrush for Saving on Brush Heads
If the idea of ordering a toothbrush from a startup company seems fishy, or you don’t want to deal with a subscription service, the rechargable Philips Sonicare 4100 is the best electric toothbrush we tested made by a company with a long track record making electric toothbrushes. The Sonicare’s brush head vibration felt just as effective at cleaning as our top pick—and it has the same two minute timer (offering reminder pulses every 30-seconds).The brush is quite powerful, which makes it a little loud. When you’re not quite awake, it can be jarring, but it’s not so bad that it feels unpleasant to use.
The big advantage of using a brush from a long-standing manufacturer is that you can easily find cheap replacement brush heads for it. While replacement brush heads with the Sonicare logo can cost about $7 each, you can find counterfeit brush heads, which work just as well, for about $2 each. In the long-term, that would make the Sonicare brush much cheaper than the Burst and the Quip, though you’ll have to actually remember to restock when you run out. The Philips Sonicare also comes with a two year warranty.
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Originally Appeared on GQ