There is a long and a short answer to the question, "What is the best electric toothbrush?"
The long answer involves how much you have to spend, certain specfic requirements you may have, and the observation that with cost-cutting going on across the board, it could even come down to "what's cheaper on my online shopping portal of choice this week?" - never, ever pay full RRP for an electric toothbrush is our advice.
However there is also a short answer, and it's the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic electric toothbrush.
How we chose the best electric toothbrush
We tested five brushes from the five biggest brands, going for the top of the range model in most cases. As a result, most of these aren't cheap, but in our experience, you're better off paying more for a brush that gives better results - and a quality electric toothbrush really will give GREAT results compared to manual brushing. We are not amazingly judicious about cleaning our teeth or going to the dentist, nor are our diets or personal habits exemplary, yet we've had no cavities or other dental issues since we started using electric brushes. We believe that must prove something.
Testing was done via general use over a period of weeks and months. We ate food, drank coffee, even had the occasional social cigarette. We didn't deliberately subject our teeth to anything unusual, for us, we just, you know, lived normally and brushed our teeth once or twice per day.
We also did some testing with disclosing tablets to try to get a slightly more scientific view of how well each brush cleaned.
In that particular test, we found Philips' brush and Oral-B's Pro 7000 SmartSeries performed best, with the Emmi Dental and Colgate ones giving very similar results and the Panasonic (perhaps not coincidentally the cheapest brush) being the worst. That's not to say the Panasonic was bad, however.
With electric brushes, you don't scrub at your teeth and gums. In fact that can be bad news, dentally speaking. All you need to do is press the brush lightly to your gob, hold it in place and manipulate gently, then move on to your next tooth.
All of these brushes except the Emmi Dental signal when you've been brushing for 30 seconds; the idea being that you spend 30 seconds on each quarter of your mouth, giving a dentist-recommended two minutes in total.
As a result, although replacement brush heads may seem horrifically expensive, they do last a long time. A pack of four should last most people for nine months or so, and you could probably eke it out to a year, although we wouldn't necessarily recommend that.
What's arguably more an issue is the availability of said brush heads and Philips and Oral-B win out here as well. We've only ever seen Panasonic and Emmi Dental heads online, and please note that the latter brand also requires you to buy a specific brand of premium-priced toothpaste for it to work properly. Which seems a bit cheeky, to be honest.
We found things to like about all of thes five electric toothbrushes and depending on your requirements. There can only be one winner though, and by a the breadth of dental floss, it's Philips' range topper.
Please note, however that Philips' arch rival Oral-B has its new Genius range out this year (launches in the electric toothbrush world are rare, and none of these products is new by any means). We'll add our verdict on that once we have one. The Panasonic and Colgate are solid lower-cost options, while the Emmi Dental is best if you want very gentle cleaning.
The very kid-friendly Oral-B is best if you have a family with children (although not toddlers; keep them on a manual brush).
The 5 best electric toothbrushes you can buy today
These are the best electric toothbrushes to buy, in order. None of them will let you down.
1. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic
Narrowly pips Oral-B to be crowned King of the Electric Toothbrushes.
An excellent electric toothbrush that justifies its premium price thanks to the quality of its cleaning and the elegance of its design. At least part of the reason for that is that it's frequently on offer at half its RRP; never pay full price for it!
2. Oral B Pro 7000 SmartSeries
Excellent, top-of-the-range electric toothbrush cleans brilliantly but has Bluetooth for no particular reason
Another very fine electric toothbrush that's worth its high price - although obviously, NEVER pay RRP for it when you can usually get it for less than half that. The Oral-B Pro 7000 Black SmartSeries is not a sexy bit of design, but your mouth will still thank you for buying it.
3. Emmi Dental
It's hideous, and compatible with only one brand of toothpaste… but this electric toothbrush does clean up a treat.
A curious product that looks cheap and awful, but makes some big claims about its tooth and gum cleaning prowess. We can't necessarily verify those claims, but it does seem to work well. Its looks and fact that it requires special toothpaste do count against it a tad, however.
4. Panasonic Sonic Vibration EW-DL82-W
A compact, effective and well made electric toothbrush for under £40.
For its price the Panasonic Sonic Vibration EW-DL82-W is a very good electric toothbrush. It doesn't clean quite as effortlessly as top-of-the-range rivals, but its effective once you know how to use it. Given the cost, it's also very well made and also brilliantly compact, making it perfect as a travel option. Great VFM.
5. Colgate ProClinical A1500
Now way cheaper than at launch, this electric toothbrush is over complicated but worth considering.
The Colgate ProClinical A1500 is scarily noisy and, with its different speeds depending on which way up you hold it, arguably over-complicated. On the other hand, for around £60 it's not a bad electric toothbrush and its cleaning performance is good, once you get used to its quirks.
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