8 best electric toothbrushes for clean teeth and healthy gums in 2018

A powered toothbrush is far more effective than a manual but which is the best?

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Electric toothbrushes are an essential not a luxury, in my opinion. Like moving from doing the washing up to owning a dishwasher, once you switch, you never wanna go back. 

I'm not amazingly judicious about cleaning my teeth, I hardly ever go to the dentist, nor is my diet exemplary, yet I've had no cavities or other dental issues since starting to use electric brushes 10 years ago. That must prove something, right?

Electric toothbrushes: what you need to know

Rule one: Unless you are feeling poor, never buy a really cheap electric toothbrush. The adage, 'Pay half, pay twice – or indeed, three to four times – applies here.

Rule two: never pay full price for an electric toothbrush. With discounting rampant in the powered oral hygiene market, our general advice is always to shop around, or wait for the brush you want to inevitably plunge to half its RRP or less.

The best advice here is look at our price widgets and see what's cheapest on any given day. Oral-B in particular has models called Smart Series 4000 to Smart Series 7000 that are all incredibly similar - they just come with different accessories, and the cheapest ones lack certain modes like 'Deep Clean' and 'Tongue Clean', but if you don't need your tongue cleaned or a mode that's blatantly aimed at people who only brush once every few days, ie: skanks. 

I 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. These are all top or near-top of the range model in most cases. As a result, most of them aren't cheap, but then I refer you back to THE RULES at the top of this guide.

Testing was done via general use over a period of weeks and months. I ate food, drank coffee, even had the occasional social cigarette. I didn't deliberately subject my teeth to anything unusual, I just, you know, lived normally and brushed my teeth once or twice per day.

I 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, I found Philips' brushes and Oral-B's Genius 9000 SmartSeries performed best, with the Emmi Dental giving very similar results 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 excellent 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 gob, hold it in place and manipulate gently, then move on to your next tooth.

Most of these brushes 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.

Although replacement brush heads may seem overpriced, in fact, 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, if you're a skank.

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 these eight 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' slightly older range topper.

The newer 'smart' brushes from Philips and Oral B claim to track your brushing, suing sensors or the camera on your phone, but I found they didn't deliver on this promise. However, if you ignore the tracking and smart functions entirely they are still hugely effective at cleaning teeth. 

The very kid-friendly Oral-B Pro 7000 is best if you have children (although not toddlers; keep them on a manual brush).

The best electric toothbrushes you can buy today

1. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic

Narrowly pips Oral-B to be crowned King of the Electric Toothbrushes

Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning+Quite sexy for a toothbrush
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Cumbersome glass charger

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!

This has a handy travel case with USB power, and a quite attractive round, wireless charger made of glass, for your bathroom. 

Newer models ditch that charging thing that actually resembled a glass, probably because they kept getting knocked off precarious bathroom surfaces and smashed into a million pieces. 

With five cleaning modes and the power of sonic waves, it feels great and gives really superb results.

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

Read the full review: Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic

2. Oral B Genius 9000

The app isn't much good but the toothbrush is excellent

Reasons to buy
+Excellent cleaning+Comes with four brush heads
Reasons to avoid
-The 'smart' app is all but useless

Due to the eccentric way toothbrushes are discounted, this can now frequently be had for the same price or lower than Oral B's last flagship brush the 7000 Series (in at #3). No, we don't understand it either.

This offers cleaning performance comparable to the DiamondClean, but with a rotary motion rather than the Philips' sonic buzzing. We prefer the mouth feel 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 our 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 makes us 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 oral experience.

Battery life is noticeably poorer than the Philips brushes here, so keep the charger to hand.

3. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Sonic

The best money-no-object brush you can get

Reasons to buy
+Great cleaning+Sexy styling+Easy power control
Reasons to avoid
-Crazily expensive-Iffy 'smart' features

The short version of this review is that this is the best brush you can buy. However the DiamondClean Smart Sonic is 2-3 times more expensive than the other DiamondClean brush in this list, and Oral B's similarly impressive rivals.

So the question is whether you want to pay a lot more for something that's only slightly better.

Part of the reason for the higher price is the inclusion, as with the Genius 9000 above, of smartphone app support, but again we just don't feel like this is accurate 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 matter, as you can just ignore the app entirely and use the old-fashioned approach – it'll still buzz if you're pressing too hard, and lets you know when to move on to the next 'quadrant' of your mouth.

The Smart Sonic has 3 power/speed levels and five cleaning settings and does a really fantastic job of plaque removal. Perhaps its greatest masterstroke is that it divides your mouth into six areas instead of four; because you spend less time on each, doing the regulation two minutes does feel less tedious overall. 

As neat a psychological trick as that is, however, it's questionable whether you should shell out an extra £200 compared to the almost-as-good rivals in this list from Oral B and Philips itself.

On the other hand, if money is no object for you (or you do see it discounted, via our handy price widgets), we suggest you snap a Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Sonic up – if you buy it online, you won't even need to say its entire name out loud.

4. Oral-B Pro 7000 Black SmartSeries

Excellent, top-of-the-range electric toothbrush cleans brilliantly and has Bluetooth for dental tracking

Reasons to buy
+Great cleaning+Handy timer and visual guide
Reasons to avoid
-App could be more useful-Gets mucky too easily

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.

The little timer that comes with the 7000 is, ironically, more useful than the high-tech phone app that the 9000 (above) employs. Not only does it tell you when you've done each quadrant of your mouth, it also smiles and winks at you when you brush for the full two minutes that dentists recommend.

Bluetooth means you can use a more primitive version of the Oral B app as well, letting you track your brushing history. I have literally no idea why you'd want to look back and see how long you cleaned your teeth for on any given day, but hey, it's a free country.

Read the full review: Oral-B Pro 7000 Black SmartSeries

5. Oral B Pro 6500 SmartSeries

Very slightly downscaled version of Oral B Pro 7000

Reasons to buy
+Same excellent cleaning as the Pro 7000
Reasons to avoid
-No pressure sensor, though

This shares most of the attributes of the excellent Pro 7000, above. As such it gives an excellent clean for several years, comes with 4 brush heads – which is very reasonable indeed given the cost of replacement ones – and has a number of modes which you may or may not find useful. 

I just use the 'clean' and occasionally the handy 'tongue clean' mode, to be honest. I've not detected much whitening effect from the 'whitening' mode, though some users may find the 'sensitive' one handy.

As with the 7000, you get a little screen with a timer, a four-part schematic of your mouth and a cartoon face, which becomes increasingly smiley, the longer you brush. You can also see your 'brushing stats' via a smartphone app and Bluetooth, although I do feel like something's probably gone wrong with your life if you want to spend time doing that.

All this seems to lack from the 7000 is the 'deep clean' mode – which is not a problem. And, despite what the promo photograph above suggests, no, you do not get two toothbrushes for your money here.

My only issue is that, like all rotary toothbrushes, this one does tend to get a bit mucky over time. A mixture of saliva and toothpaste runs down the side of the brush head and forms what I can only 'clag'.

6. Panasonic Sonic Vibration EW-DL82-W

A compact, effective and well made, affordable electric toothbrush

Reasons to buy
+Compact and smart+Excellent value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Cleaning requires more effort

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.

Read the full review: Panasonic Sonic Vibration EW-DL82

7. Emmi Dental

Admittedly hideous German electric toothbrush cleans up a treat

Reasons to buy
+Good cleaning performance+Interesting interdental head
Reasons to avoid
-Requires 'special' toothpaste-Ugly and cheap looking

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 claims to require special toothpaste do count against it a tad, however.

Presumably, you can use any toothpaste with the Emmi Dental really, but they insist in their literature that you must use Emmi Dental own-brand paste, so that is worth bearing in mind. 

Read the full review: Emmi Dental

8. Colgate ProClinical A1500

Now way cheaper than at launch, this electric toothbrush is over complicated but worth considering.

Reasons to buy
+Good quality at a discount+Decent cleaning
Reasons to avoid
-Mega noise and vibration-Variable speed seems pointless

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.

Read the full review: Colgate ProClinical A1500

What is the best electric toothbrush

Assuming you want a really good clean and are willing to pay a little more for it, what brush should you choose?

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic electric toothbrush is the best electric toothbrush at the moment on a scientific scale of cost-to-effectiveness. 

If money is no object, the same brand's newer Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Sonic is outrageously good, but also rather expensive – the RRP is a buttock-clenching £360, and it doesn't get discounted as frequently as most electric brushes.