Best electric toothbrush 2021: for clean teeth and healthy gums

Find the best electric toothbrush for whitening, clean teeth and healthy gums

A woman looking in the mirror, brushing her teeth with the best electric toothbrush
(Image credit: Philips)

The best electric toothbrush is more effective when it comes to reducing plaque, freshening breath and keeping gums healthy. For those with more serious matters in mind, they're way better for whitening than manual brushing. Owning an electric toothbrush you can buy is an essential, not a luxury, in our opinion, and like moving from doing the washing up to owning a dishwasher, once you switch, you never want to go back. 

I'm borderline obsessive about cleaning my teeth, I regularly go to the dentist and get truly excited about trying the latest teeth-cleaning gadgets, so you can really trust me when it comes to recommending electric toothbrushes.

Those seeking some background may want to leap to the bottom of this page to read how we tested the best electric toothbrushes, as well as the short Q&A below.

If you're really looking to upgrade your oral health game then you'll want to pair one of these toothbrushes with one of the best water flossers, which shoot a powerful stream of water between your teeth and gums in an attempt to reach areas your toothbrush can't.

Of course, if you want to fully upgrade your grooming routine, you'll also want to check out our buying guide to the best electric shaver and best beard trimmer to keep your facial hair in order.

For the hair on top of your head, we also have guides to the best hair dryer, to make sure your locks are dry, shiny and frizz-free, as well as the best hair straighteners, for enviable straight, sleek hair.

Are electric toothbrushes really better than manual brushing?

Yes! According to a recent study conducted over 11 years by the Oral Health Foundation, people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay and also keep their teeth for longer, compared with those who use a manual toothbrush. For more information read electric toothbrush vs manual brushing.

Which are better, oscillating or sonic electric toothbrushes?

Many studies have proven that electric toothbrushes are more effective than manual brushing, but there is no clear leader when it comes to the type of technology. Rotating-oscillating electric toothbrushes use a back-and-forth rotating motion at speeds of between 2500 to 7500 rotations per minute to clean each tooth. Meanwhile, sonic brushes vibrate at a much higher frequency, between 24,000 to 40,000 actions per minute, and use ‘fluid dynamics’ to reach in between the tiny gaps in your teeth. At T3 we feel, perhaps anecdotally, that sonic brushes have the edge when it comes to cleaning, but if you much prefer oscillating brushes then opt for one of those instead.

How much should you spend on an electric toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush can cost anywhere between £20 and £300. Spending more money doesn't necessarily mean cleaner teeth, it means more features and a more attractive design. The top three electric toothbrushes below offer the perfect recommendation at every price point, but rule one of electric toothbrush buying club, however, is never pay full price for an electric toothbrush. The best advice here is to look at our price widgets and see what's cheapest on any given day or read our best cheap electric toothbrush deals page. 

What electric toothbrush features should I look out for?

There are two features we rate when it comes to electric toothbrushes: brushing timers and pressure sensors. Brushes with a timer will signal after every 30 seconds of brushing; the idea being that you spend 30 seconds on each quarter of your mouth, giving a dentist-recommended two minutes in total. A pressure sensor will alert you when you're pressing too hard on the brush, which could damage your gums and enamel. Many premium electric toothbrushes now come with a 'smart' connection to your phone, we have yet to be impressed by these features and think it can be ignored.

How much do electric toothbrush heads cost?

Both Philips and Oral-B toothbrush heads are widely available at supermarkets and online priced between £10 and £30. We'd recommend waiting for a deal on your brush head then buying in bulk. Although replacement brush heads may seem overpriced, in fact, they do last a long time. A pack of four should last nine months or so. The newer 'smart' brushes from Philips and Oral-B claim to track your brushing and even send a message to your phone when they need to be replaced. They're more expensive, but, anecdotally, they do feel like they're more effective at cleaning.

The best electric toothbrush you can buy today:

The best electric toothbrush: Philips Sonicare Prestige 9900T3 Awards 2021 winner badge

(Image credit: Philips)

1. Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige

The best premium electric toothbrush you can buy today

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Cleaning modes: 5
Reasons to buy
+New 'all-in-one' brush head+Automatic intensity settings+Luxe travel case+Easy to keep clean+USB charging base
Reasons to avoid
-Premium price tag-Premium brush heads are pricey (but worth it)

The Sonicare 9900 Prestige is Philips' most advanced electric toothbrush yet. It features the brand's SenseIQ technology for a personalised brushing experience, and, as you brush, the SenseIQ technology senses pressure, motion, and coverage up to 100 times per second, adapting the intensity if you push too hard, providing effortless care and better brushing over time. It really simplifies the brushing experience and means you don't need to select different settings every time you want to brush your teeth.

Want an example of how it works? If you apply too much pressure then the feedback light at the base of the toothbrush will flash purple – if ignore it and continue applying too much pressure then the toothbrush will automatically reduce the intensity of vibrations. It's really smart.

Actually, arguably the greatest innovation here is that the timer on this Sonicare divides your mouth into six 'zones' rather than four. That is a big improvement if your attention span is as short as mine.

The brush pairs perfectly with the Philips Sonicare app, powered by artificial intelligence for real-time guidance and recommendations. It's great, but in all reality, you probably won't continue to use this feature after the first week or two. 

Perhaps best of all, this toothbrush is a truly premium device, with a gorgeous, seamless design, which stops the build-up of gunk, and a luxury leather travel case.

The Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige also comes with a new premium all-in-one brush head. Philips claims it removes up to 20x more plaque and 100% fewer stains in just two days vs manual brushing. This new brush head comes at a premium price, but we've compared it to more affordable heads and certainly feel like it is worth the extra investment.

Oral-B Pro 2 2500T3 Award

(Image credit: Oral-B)

2. Oral-B Pro 2 2500

Best cheap electric toothbrush money can buy

Specifications
Type: Rotary
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Affordable but well made+Has all the really important features+Comes with a travel case
Reasons to avoid
-Only 2 cleaning modes

At the other end of the price scale – although not the quality scale, if we're talking core functionality – is the affordable Oral-B Pro 2 2500. This only has 2 cleaning modes and no 'smart' functionality to speak of, but ask yourself… do you really care? 

What this excellent and widely-recommended brush does have is a timer that reminds you to move to the next quarter of your mouth every 30 seconds, a buzzer that goes off if you are pressing too hard on your delicate gums and excellent 'cross-action rotary cleaning that is not noticeably any worse than the Philips brush at #1.

Clearly, the Pro 2 2500 feels somewhat less plush than the Sonicare brushes here – and the more expensive Oral-B ones, come to that. The battery life is also shorter – and I suspect the battery may not have as long an overall life, either. However, it comes with a nice compact charger that you can put it on after every use if you want to, so it's not like it's ever going to run out of juice mid-clean.

Philips Sonicare 6100 ProtectiveCleanT3 Award

3. Philips Sonicare 6100 ProtectiveClean

The ultimate mid-range electric toothrbush

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 3
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning+Quite sexy for a toothbrush+Travel case
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive 'smart' heads are recommended 

By all accounts, Oral-B's rotary brushes outsell Philips' vibrating, 'sonic' ones quite comfortably, but I prefer the Sonicare range as the brushes tend to feel better in the hand, and look better. There's also something about the design that means they need less cleaning – Oral-B brushes always seem to rapidly form a layer of dried toothpaste around the base of the brush head that is decidedly uncool.

Cleaning performance is excellent on both systems, however. I have no quibble with Oral-B on that front.

This Philips brush offers the current best blend of features and price in the Sonicare range. It doesn't pile on too many pointless cleaning modes – just the self-explanatory 'clean' and 'white' plus a 'gum care' mode that might be useful if you have problems in that area (I never use it, admittedly).

There's also a choice of three intensity settings, a timer that buzzes after you have spent long enough on each quarter of your mouth.

Like all these brushes this one will reduce the intensity if it senses you are pressing too hard – this can damage gums and even, supposedly, your teeth. 

A new feature is BrushSync. This has one slightly dubious function: it modifies the intensity and mode used according to the type of 'smart' brush head attached (Philips makes a number of options). This supposedly optimises brushing. Now, I'm sure this is very clever but it's hard to say whether it improves cleaning at all. You can use this brush with older, non-'smart' Sonicare brush heads, if you wish. More handily, BrushSync also lets you know when to replace the head. Although given how pricey the heads can be, perhaps you'd rather not know.

For everything from cleaning performance to style to mouth-feel, this is a great electric toothbrush, and finally knowing when you should change your head – as opposed to just leaving it on until it's gone green and moulted – is the icing on the cake. Even if it does mean you end up spending more on heads, your mouth will thank you for it.

Oral-B iO Series 9T3 Award

(Image credit: Oral-B)

4. Oral-B iO9

The best premium rotary electric toothbrush you can buy

Specifications
Type: Rotary
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Cleaning modes: 7
Reasons to buy
+Cleans very well+Easily the best looking Oral-B brush+Multiple cleaning modes+Colour display is futuristic
Reasons to avoid
-Tooth tracking is still a fail-Insane RRP-Hard to keep clean

Okay, this might be one of the most expensive electric toothbrushes ever released, with the RRP for the iO Series 9 set an entirely ridiculous £500. Needless to say, it is not worth that, and the good news is that discounting has now kicked in, and you can often get the iO9 for half that. Of course, it's still not exactly cheap, clearly, but it's a bargain compared to the original price. 

The Series 9 has one very major thing going for it: it is brilliant at actually cleaning your teeth, and it's also very stylish and well made for an Oral-B brush. They are usually the poor relation to Philips' best Sonicare brushes when it comes to slick styling, but this is a match for any Philips brush when it comes to slimline design, nice materials and quiet operation.

Using a magnetic motor gives the Oral-B an interesting new twist: it is still a rotary head, but it now has a vibrating mouth feel, more like a Philips brush. Cleaning results are excellent and there are some great sensitive, whitening and deep cleaning programmes for those who like to stray away from the Daily Clean setting.

There are, however a few problems with the iO that are hard to ignore in a product that is meant to cost £500. In order to justify that price, Oral-B has packed the brush with superfluous features. So there's a colour touchscreen on the handle. Who is going to use that for anything other than turning the brush on and off? You can't watch a tiny screen while brushing your teeth.

Then there's '3D Teeth Trackcing with A.I. to monitor brushing'. This has been tried by Oral-B and Philips before and it didn't work. And guess what? It still doesn't! Brush your upper left teeth and the Oral-B mobile app shows you beavering away on your lower right teeth. Result: you end up having no idea what parts of your mouth you have or have not cleaned 'correctly'.

Another long-term flaw in Oral-B brushes is also still present. Namely that the rotary action causes a mixture of toothpaste and saliva to collect in the brush head, then drip down the side when you stand it upright after brushing. This, I feel, reduces the stylish and premium feel of the dental cleaning experience.

Finally, the iO9 uses a new type of brush head. So if you are an existing Oral-B customer with some leftover brushes, that is tough luck. With an RRP of £500, you'd expect to get a good quantity of additional brush heads in the box though, right? Wrong. You get one.

On the upside, battery life is very good – although some people on Amazon seem to have units with faulty batteries, judging by the complaints – and I like the small, chic and magnetic charging dock supplied.

Foreo Issa 3T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Foreo)

5. Foreo Issa 3

A hygienic silicone sonic toothbrush for teeth, gums, cheeks and tongues

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: No
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 16
Reasons to buy
+Charge lasts 365 uses+Charges via USB+Toothbrush heads last a year+Gentle cleaning
Reasons to avoid
-No pressure sensor

The Issa 3 from Swedish beauty brand Foreo claims to be the world's first silicone sonic toothbrush and the largest oral care advance in 70 years – which is certainly a big claim. It features an all-in-one hybrid brush head that uses soft silicone for a gentle gum massage and sturdier PBT polymer bristles to break down plaque on your teeth. This is perfect for those with receding gums and tooth sensitivity, as it's more gentle on gums and non-abrasive on tooth enamel.

The tongue and cheek cleaner keeps your whole mouth significantly cleaner for longer, so this is definitely the brush for you if you prefer a 360-degree oral clean. 

Perhaps what's more impressive than that is the fact that the Issa 3 lasts a staggering 365 uses in between charges, meaning, depending on the frequency you brush, you'll only need to change two or three times a year. When it does come to charging, then it's done via a USB port, which is very convenient.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000T3 Awards 2020

(Image credit: Philips)

6. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000

A premium electric that packs a cleaning punch

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 4
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning+Looks and feels very premium+Has the best whitening mode
Reasons to avoid
-Only 2 cleaning modes

If you're the kind of person who must have the best of everything, behold the DiamondClean 9000: your search is over. A refinement even over the very classy DiamondClean, the 9000 adds an app that is actually quite useful – it'll let you know if you're not brushing frequently enough, and tells you when the brush head needs changing. So long as you use compatible 'smart' brush heads anyway. If you just want to chuck the head out every 3 months or so, as most people who aren't total skanks do, you can use cheaper, non-smart brush heads.

The good thing about the 9000 Series app is that it doesn't get bogged down in trying to detect where in your mouth you're cleaning – a highly frustrating feature that some other recent 'smart' brushes have tried, unsuccessfully, to implement.

Everything about the Series 9000 feels high-end, from the slim and tactile design to the softly glowing display and the minimal button clutter. Your programme options here include deep clean and an excellent whitening mode, and there are three intensity settings to suit your mouth just so.

Call me impressed by small things if you will but my favourite feature is that, unlike older Philips brushes and all Oral-B ones, the Series 9000 divides you mouth up into six sections, with a little buzz telling you when to move on to the next. I don't know why, but this makes brushing feel like 25% less of a chore.

Oral-B iO7T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Oral-B)

7. Oral-B iO7

The most affordable model in Oral-B's iO range

Specifications
Type: Rotary
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Cleaning modes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Oral-B iO cleaning performance+Sleek design+Clear display
Reasons to avoid
-You're not getting the full iO experience-Expensive heads

The Oral-B iO7 is the most affordable model in the iO range but still delivers the same cleaning performance as its much more expensive siblings. That means you still get the new frictionless magnetic drive motor which combines rotary and micro-vibrations to clean your teeth.

What do you miss out on? Well, for a start, the iO7 only has five modes, whereas the iO9 features seven, the A.I. tracking is limited to six zones in comparison to 16 zones on the iO9, and, finally, it only features a black and white display rather than the full-colour display found on the more expensive models. 

In all reality, you're not missing out on much at all, and the fact that the iO9 can often be picked up at around half the price of the iO9 makes it an absolute steal.

Oral-B Smart 8T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Oral-B)

8. Oral-B Smart 6 6000N

Smart features at an affordable(ish) price

Specifications
Type: Rotary
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Cleaning modes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning performance+Smart Bluetooth modes+Good selection of brush heads
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life-Loud-App could use some work

This is another excellent Oral-B brush but unless it's on sale at a really good price, there's no particular reason to buy it, over the Oral-B models above. Luckily it seems you can now pick up this brush with hefty discounts on the RRP. 

Part of the reason it was originally quite pricey is, I assume, the inclusion of Bluetooth, a smartphone app and 'smart' features that supposedly analyse your brushing. 

As with the Genius 9000 and the Oral-B iO, I just don't feel like the 'brushing analysis' is reliable enough to be worth bothering with. It often doesn't register you're doing any brushing at all, when you are, and can also fail to correctly detect which part of your mouth you're currently cleaning. 

That doesn't necessarily matter, as you can just ignore the app entirely and use the old-fashioned approach of just brushing your teeth. As with all these, it buzzes if you're pressing too hard, and lets you know when to move on to the next 'quadrant' of your mouth. 

Ordo Sonic+ Toothbrush Charcoal GreyT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Ordo)

9. Ordo Sonic+ Electric Toothbrush

One of the most stylish electric toothbrushes around

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: No
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 4
Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+Affordable price+Good value subscription packs+USB charger
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't come with a travel case-Can get a little claggy-USB charging option only-Not as strong as Philps Sonicare

The Ordo Sonic+ is one of the new players in the electric toothbrush game. It works in the same way as a Philips Sonicare electric brush, but offers a more gentle approach to brushing with softer bristles and just 40,000 vibrations per second. This should help you avoid gum and enamel damage.

The small brush head is quite small, which is perfect for smaller mouths. You can get Ordo with a subscription package, which sends you toothpaste, floss, mouthwash and interdental brushes every month.

The Ordo has a long, three-week battery life and, when the time comes to charge, is plugged into a USB connector rather than a standard shaver socket. Personally, I like that feature, but some may find it annoying.

Oclean Flow Sonic Electric ToothbrushT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Oclean)

10. Oclean Flow Sonic Electric Toothbrush

Cool design for this budget electric toothbrush

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: No
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Backed by Xiaomi+Unique design and solid build+Quiet brushing+Affordable price+Charges via USB-C+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No smart features or pressure sensor

Oclean is another new brand on the electric toothbrush scene – this one is backed by the tech giant Xiaomi. This snazzy design is built on with some impressive features. The first of which is a really solid build quality that is far greater than you'd expect at this price point.

It's also whisper-quiet and features a built-in timer that lets you know when it's time to stop brushing – one of the most useful features out there. It doesn't include a pressure sensor, though, and there are no connected features, which is kind of expected at this price.

One unique feature is that the Oclean Flow is charged by plugging a USB-C directly into the bottom of the handle. That's great for travel, as it means you don't need to take multiple chargers with you. Once charged, the Flow should last 180 days.

Oral-B Pro 9000T3 Award

(Image credit: Oral-B)

11. Oral-B Genius 9000

Looking for a premium Oral-B rotary electric toothbrush?

Specifications
Type: Rotary
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Cleaning modes: 6
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Sleek design+Smart Bluetooth cleaning+Good selection of brush heads
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Very loud-Head-tracking accuracy could be better

This offers cleaning performance comparable to the Sonicare ProtectiveClean and DiamondClean brushes, but with a rotary motion rather than the Philips' sonic buzzing. We prefer the mouthfeel of the Philips, and find the Oral B is more prone to getting clagged up with a delightful mixture of saliva and toothpaste than its rival, but the choice is yours.

The USP of this at launch was that it uses an advanced smartphone app that actually watches you brush via the phone's camera, and tells you when you've cleaned each quarter of your mouth, and where you're going wrong – pressing too hard and such.

This is a complete waste of time in my opinion – you have to stick your phone to the bathroom mirror, then stand still in exactly the right spot… and still it frequently thinks you're brushing the top row of teeth when you're actually on the bottom, which ultimately makes you severely question its 'smartness'.

However, with a generous four brush heads included, all for different types of cleaning and whitening, multiple cleaning modes including a tongue cleaner and generally excellent performance, you can safely ignore the 'smart' stuff and still have a superb, if you will, 'oral experience'.

Battery life is noticeably poorer than the premium Philips brushes though, so keep that charger to hand…

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean SonicT3 Approved badge

12. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic

A great electric toothbrush for most users – if it's discounted

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: No
Bluetooth: No
Cleaning modes: 5
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning+Quite sexy for a toothbrush
Reasons to avoid
-Cumbersome glass charger-Newer Sonicare brushes available

This slightly older, still excellent Sonicare lacks any of those largely pointless 'smart' elements found in some newer brushes but still cleans (literally) brilliantly. Having now been using the same one for nearly three years, I can also vouch for its longevity. 

This was always an excellent electric toothbrush, which justified its premium price thanks to the quality of its cleaning and the elegance of its design. It's still not 'cheap' as such but far more affordable than when at launch, and way cheaper than the T3 Award-winning 9000 Series.

This particular model sometimes comes with a wireless charger in the shape of a drinking glass, for your bathroom. I personally prefer the more traditional stand chargers, but the glass is quite attractive. There's also the option of a USB travel case for on-the-move storage and charging.

With five cleaning modes and the power of sonic waves, it feels great and gives really superb results. The DiamondClean also has a better battery life than any other brush I've tried and seems to continue to hold charge well after years of use.

This DiamondClean is perhaps not quite as good overall as the more recent, more expensive DiamondClean Smart, but it doesn't muddy the waters with a pointless app, and its lower price makes it a better bet for all but the truly minted. 

Philips Sonicare for Kids Electric ToothbrushT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Philips)

13. Philips Sonicare for Kids Electric Toothbrush

The best electric toothbrush for children

Specifications
Type: Sonic
Timer: Yes
Pressure Control: No
Bluetooth: Yes
Cleaning modes: 2
Reasons to buy
+Cure design+Encourages brushing from an early age+Reliable brand+Allows adults to track brushing
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for a kid's brush-Brush heads are very soft

It's a good idea to encourage your child to start brushing from an early age, and the Philips Sonicare for Kids is a great way to do that. The customizable brush works with a new interactive app that aims to develop effective brushing techniques and to achieve better oral hygiene.

The Sonicare for Kids works just like a regular Sonicare brush, with a dynamic action that gently and effectively reaches deep between teeth and along the gum line. The head is capable of over 500 strokes per second, which helps compensate for your child’s developing techniques.

In the app, you can monitor your child's brushing habits to make sure they're cleaning their teeth when they're supposed to. You can even save the details of up to 20 brushing sessions when you're not using the app thanks to an integrated memory and time stamp on the toothbrush handle. The details of those sessions are synched to the app's calendar.

How we tested the best electric toothbrushes

We've tested brushes from Philips and Oral-B – the two top brands by miles – then added a few token selections from other brands just for politeness.

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, 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' brushes and the premium Oral-B brushes performed best and the Panasonic and Colgate ones (perhaps not coincidentally the cheapest brushes) being the worst. That's not to say either of them was bad, however. They're decent value for money.

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 tooth, hold it in place and manipulate gently, then move on to your next tooth.

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Spencer Hart
Spencer Hart

As the Style and Travel Editor at T3, Spencer covers everything from clothes to cars and watches to hotels. Everything that's cool, stylish, and interesting, basically. He's been a part of T3 for over six years, and in that time covered every industry event known to man, from CES and MWC to the Geneva Motorshow and Baselworld. When he's not decorating his new home, he can be found messing around on an electric scooter, playing with luxury watches, or making sure his Instagram account looks perfect.