Best electric toothbrush for 2020: Quip, Colgate, Sonicare and more compared

24 Sep, 2020 John Mendoza No Comments


The American Dental Association finds that electric and manual toothbrushes are pretty much equivalent when it comes to cleaning teeth and removing plaque. An electric toothbrush, however, can make it easier to brush your teeth for longer periods of time than a regular toothbrush and shore up your brushing habit. It can also be better at hitting some of those hard-to-reach spots, helping combat cavities, gum disease, gingival inflammation, gum recession and a host of other oral health issues.

So how do you choose the best electric toothbrush? It partly depends on your personal preference. Do you want to focus on plaque control, oral hygiene or getting whiter teeth? Do you have sensitive gums or teeth? Do you want one that comes with replacement brush heads? How about a rechargeable electric toothbrush? Do you want a toothbrush with more than one brushing mode? The options are pretty much endless.

Then there are the features to consider: Do you want a smart toothbrush? Are you looking for a two-minute timer? (Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with a soft bristle toothbrush head.) Some brushes even have more than one cleaning mode, which also gives them a leg up over a manual brush when it comes to getting spotless chompers and impeccable oral hygiene.

We get it, the choice can be overwhelming. Before you start shopping for the best electric toothbrush for oral care, check out this guide featuring our electric toothbrush reviews, which we update periodically. Our electric toothbrush comparison walks you through nine high-end products for cleaning your teeth, gingivitis, gum health, teeth whitening and more. But regardless of which brush you choose, don’t forget to floss! 

Colgate

Colgate’s millennial-esque branding has been on the up-and-up for a while, and when it released Hum by Colgate in July, it became clear that Colgate is on a mission to make dental hygiene cool, which is an effort I can get behind. The release of Hum by Colgate also felt kind of like a direct jab at the Quip brush (see below), and then Quip’s new smart electric toothbrush (also tested) felt like a “right back atcha” to Colgate. 

Anyway, Hum by Colgate snagged “best overall” in my opinion because it’s smart, but not too smart. As you’ll learn later in this article, I get overwhelmed with electric toothbrushes that have too many features and too many techie integrations — sometimes I just want to brush my teeth and be done with it, you know? 

That’s how Hum by Colgate won me over. This brush has three modes — normal, sensitive and deep clean — and it buzzes every 30 seconds to let you know when to move on to another quadrant of your mouth. The charger is small and easy to travel with, as is the carrying case, which fits two brush heads.

If you want, you can use the guided brushing feature within the app, which tells you how good (or bad) a job you’re doing. It’s kind of disheartening when your app tells you that you missed 20% of your mouth, but it offers encouragement and reminds you that you can earn rewards for brushing better. It might sound silly, but the experience really did make me want to brush better. 

You can also choose to brush offline, which I admit I did often while testing this brush, because like I said, sometimes I just want to brush and move on. You can also save your data to the Apple Health app, which is a bonus for iOS users.

Angela Lang/CNET

I’ve been on the hunt for a simple electric toothbrush for a long time. I’d scour the internet for my ideal toothbrush and end up overwhelmed with all of the high-tech, app-integrated options. Eventually I’d buy one, but I always ended up reverting to a manual toothbrush because I never found an electric toothbrush that did exactly what I need and nothing more: cleaned my teeth better. 

Quip is everything I’ve ever looked for in an electric toothbrush. For one thing — and a big thing to me — the brush head is actually close to the size of a manual toothbrush head. It’s not tiny like most other electric toothbrushes, which I know are designed to clean one tooth at a time like the ADA recommends, but I really like the full-size brush head on the Quip toothbrush. (CNET’s Sarah Mitroff felt the exact opposite about this, so be sure to read her Quip review if you’re considering a Quip brush.)

Quip is super simple in every aspect: It has one speed and a 2-minute timer that buzzes every 30 seconds and turns off after 2 minutes are up. That’s it. There’s no app to fuss with and no chargers or wires to tote or store. Quip is powered by an AAA battery located in the handle of the brush. The charge lasts three months and at that point, you replace the brush head for a fresh brush and a fresh charge.

Since there’s no charger, Quip is super easy to travel with. The toothbrush holder it comes with also doubles as a protective travel case. 

While I gave Quip the title of “best simple electric toothbrush,” I’d also dub it the best travel electric toothbrush and the “best feels-like-a-regular-toothbrush electric toothbrush.”

I will say that the Quip motor isn’t very powerful compared to other brands, such as Sonicare or Oral-B. To me, it felt like a manual clean with a little extra oomph. While I actually liked that, many people will not, plus if you’re looking for a smart electric toothbrush with Bluetooth or an app, Quip isn’t the one.  

Waterpik

Water flossing changed my life. No joke! I’ve always hated flossing — in fact, when I was a kid, my orthodontist wouldn’t let me get braces until I became proficient at flossing. Now I have a permanent retainer on top and bottom and I still hate flossing. 

Waterpik makes flossing incredibly easy and efficient. With hardly any effort and in about 5 minutes, the Waterpik water flosser removed food debris from in between my teeth (which are tightly packed) and from underneath my permanent metal retainer, which is something that could take me up to 20 minutes to execute by myself. 

This was like an otherworldly revelation for me: “Flossing can be this easy?! Why did I never know?” My dental hygienist is going to be so proud of how clean my retainer looks when I go back for my next appointment.

Plus, the Waterpik Complete Care 5.0 is a bargain compared to buying an electric brush and a Waterpik separately: This two-in-one includes five water flosser tips, two Triple Sonic brush heads, 10 pressure settings, three brush modes and a two-minute timer with quadrant pacing.

The Waterpik does take some getting used to — when I first started using it, I was no match for the water dribble coming from my mouth. Eventually I learned to bend slightly so my mouth hovered above the sink and now it’s one of my favorite dental health products I’ve ever used.

Be warned, though: If you have sensitive gums, start with your water flosser on a low setting. I made the mistake of arbitrarily setting mine to level seven for the first use and my gums bled. Next time, I dialed it down to level three and I’ve been slowly working my way up to a more powerful setting as my gums become less sensitive. 

Oral-B

The new Oral-B iO electric toothbrush wooed people at CES 2020 with its smart pressure sensor and LED indicator lights, magnetic drive, quiet motor, 3D teeth tracking and mouth quadrant sensors. All that combined with the Oral-B app experience truly levels up the definition of smart brush. 

When using this brush, I didn’t notice much of a difference compared to other Oral-B brushes, except for the fact that the bristles on this brush felt softer than other Oral-B brushes I’ve tried. That’s a big bonus for anyone with sensitive gums, as is the real-time coaching that tells you if you’re brushing too hard. 

For a toothbrush, the display offers an impressive amount of information. Based on color, you can easily tell what mode you’re brushing in and follow coaching cues. The iO has seven brush modes, which puts it above the majority of brushes (the average seems to be three or four modes). You can choose from daily clean, whitening, gum care, sensitive, intense, super sensitive and tongue clean. I think the tongue clean setting is a nice addition; it’s something you don’t see on most electric toothbrushes. 

At $300, this high-end offering from Oral-B probably isn’t in the budget for most people. However, those who want the best of the best — both hygiene-wise and tech-wise — will love the Oral-B iO. That the brush comes with a year’s worth of replacement heads eases the price pain just a bit. 

Philips

I found the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 the most gentle of all brushes on this list across its three settings, yet still felt like my teeth were thoroughly cleaned with each use. Despite having sensitive gums, I sometimes brush too hard, but the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean actually buzzes at you when you press down too hard with the Sonicare brush — a gentle nudge to let you know to lighten the pressure.

The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 has three different modes for different needs: clean, whiten and gum care. I will say that I was disappointed to learn that this toothbrush actually has different brush heads that are optimal for each mode (I thought I’d found the only one that had an all-in-one brush head!), but the modes still feel different even when using the same brush head. 

For example, my ProtectiveClean came with the “W Diamondclean” head (the whitening one), but I fared just fine using that Sonicare Diamondclean brush head on the other settings. Was it ideal or optimal? I don’t know; I’d have to compare each setting with its correct brush head. But what I’m saying is you’ll probably be just fine without the three individual brush heads. 

If you have trouble remembering when to replace your brush heads, you’ll love this: Philips’ BrushSync technology tells you how long you’ve been using your brush head and how hard you’ve been brushing, two key factors in brush replacement. A light on the handle will blink and the brush will beep, letting you know it’s time to order a new one.

Shyn

Shyn (pronounced “shine”) is a newer subscription-based oral health company that currently offers electric toothbrushes, flossers, dental picks and teeth-whitening products. The company’s Ultra Flex 10 Brush Head recently received ADA approval, joining the ranks of the other electric toothbrushes on this list.

You can choose from multiple brush heads to customize your Shyn electric toothbrush, including whitening, anti-plaque or gum care. I tested the Ultra Flex 10 Brush Head and was thoroughly impressed. 

The brush head is slightly larger than most electric toothbrush heads but still smaller than a manual toothbrush. The bristles are soft and flexible and the brush head has a thin, squishy rubber coating that makes it gentle on your gums. 

I thought the Shyn electric toothbrush with the Ultra Flex 10 Brush Head produced a deep, thorough clean without making my teeth or gums feel sensitive (which is a big deal for me; more on that below). 

Similar to Quip, you can opt to join a subscription plan that sends new brush heads every three months. Shyn’s subscription costs $6 every three months for the Ultra Flex 10 Brush Head. 

Also tested

The electric toothbrushes in this section weren’t my favorites, but these toothbrush options do have some great qualities worth mentioning. One of these might be the right choice for you so I felt it worthwhile to include them here. 

Quip

Not too long after testing out the Quip brush, Quip came out with a new smart toothbrush. Like I mentioned earlier, the Quip smart electric toothbrush feels very similar to Colgate’s Hum toothbrush. This is essentially Quip with Bluetooth. It connects to an app, which tracks your brushing and tells you where and how to improve. The Bluetooth “Smart Motor” senses your brushing routine and sends data to the app.

The feel of the Quip smart brush seems exactly the same as the regular Quip brush, which was good news to me, but might not thrill people who were expecting big changes to the actual brush. I still like that the vibrations are gentle and the brush head is larger than average. 

As for the app, it was easy to use. I didn’t feel that the app experience was any better or worse than other Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes I tried out — I felt pretty neutral towards it. All in all, this new release from Quip can be a fun add-on for people who already love the Quip brush, but those who prefer a more traditional brush may want to look into Hum by Colgate, a Philips Sonicare or Oral-B brush.

Colgate

Several electric toothbrushes have Bluetooth functionality and app integration these days, but Colgate’s app powered toothbrush is one of the only ones that didn’t give me a headache. Its simple interface gives you easy-to-understand visuals about the duration, frequency and surface coverage of your brushing. 

I thought this was silly at first, because how hard is brushing your teeth, right? Well, I quickly went into denial when the app told me I only hit 68% of surface coverage during my first session with the E1 toothbrush. I no longer thought the toothbrush-app combo was silly when I found my percentage creeping up with each brushing session! The coaching really does work.

Aside from that, the brush itself is nice. It’s sleek, comfortable to hold and not as bulky as some other electric toothbrushes. When I first received the package, I thought, “Huh, this feels like Apple branding.” Call me a branding expert, because I later learned that the Colgate E1 is actually sold in the Apple Store as an Apple accessory

With just 10 days of battery life, the E1 isn’t the longest-lasting rechargeable toothbrush on the market, but that shouldn’t be an end-all. Just don’t forget your charging base when you go on a trip.

Oral-B

The Oral-B Pro 3000 is a good brush. It really is. It’s just way too powerful for me. The brush head both vibrates and oscillates, whereas most electric toothbrushes do just one or the other. Theoretically, that would produce a deeper clean, but even if that’s true, I don’t think it would be worth it for me. 

My gums and teeth felt sensitive after every use with the Oral-B Pro 3000, but I do tend to experience dental sensitivity more than most. If you have sensitive gums, note that Oral-B has a variety of brush heads that might help. There’s definitely a chance that I wouldn’t have experienced as much sensitivity if I used these sensitive gum care brush heads.

There’s some good in this, though: I feel like the Oral-B Pro 3000 cleared away morning mouth sliminess better than every other brush on this list, plus it did a great job of knocking food debris out of the hard-to-reach back molars. 

Because the brush head is small (which I typically don’t like) and oscillates, the Oral-B Pro 3000 actually did a wondrous job of cleaning my permanent retainers — something that no other toothbrush has ever managed. Depending on what I’d eaten, I sometimes felt like I didn’t even need to floss after using the Oral-B Pro 3000.

Waterpik

You already know how much I love the Waterpik, so you can safely assume that I was extremely excited to learn that there is such a product as an electric toothbrush that is also a water flosser. I don’t mean a water flosser that comes with an electric toothbrush —  I mean a water flosser that is an electric toothbrush.

My excitement quickly turned into exasperation when I ended up first spraying myself in the eye and then proceeded to spray water all over my bathroom mirror as I, in a frenzy, tried to turn the dang thing off. Don’t make my mistake, folks. Just put the toothbrush in your mouth before turning the Waterpik feature on. 

Aside from the initial downturn, I enjoyed my experience with the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion Toothbrush. It’s a bit awkward to use the Waterpik feature at first, as the brush must be connected to the tube through which water flows. Once you find the sweet spot on your bathroom counter, though, it won’t be an issue. 

In terms of the cleaning power, I liked the Sonic-Fusion just as well as the Waterpik Complete Care, but in terms of design, the Complete Care is easier to use than the Sonic-Fusion. If you have enough space on your bathroom counter, I’d recommend the Complete Care over the Sonic-Fusion. But if you’re in tight quarters or want to travel with a water flosser and electric toothbrush, the Sonic-Fusion is a great option. 

Brightline

While there are many inexpensive electric toothbrushes out there, my experience with the Hamilton Beach Brands Brightline Brush (compared to some others in the same price range) decidedly dictated this brush as one of the best value electric toothbrushes.  

The Brightline suite of products is a new brand from Hamilton Beach Brands that launched in December 2019, and is the company’s first foray into personal care. As a brand known for kitchenware and appliances, I’d say it didn’t do too badly.

The motor on the Brightline brush is powerful — I was actually a bit taken aback by the sound at first — but it’s not so powerful that it hurts. The brush head features contoured bristles that are rather soft and flexible. This particular brush only has one speed (with “adjustable intensity” per the user manual, although I never figured that out), but Brightline offers another brush with five modes for about $10 more. 

How to choose the best electric toothbrush

When looking for the best electric toothbrush, you’ll want to consider a few factors.

Cost: First things first: What’s your toothbrush budget? On the lower end, you can get a cheap electric toothbrush for $20 to $50, but the cons are that they won’t have certain features such as a lithium-ion battery, a water flosser or a sensor.

Many people won’t want to spend more than $40 or so on a toothbrush, but if you’ve got extra money to spend on your pearly whites, investing in a higher-ticket toothbrush in the $100 to $200 range with more features may be worth it in the long run, especially if it fights receding gums, helps you have fewer cavities and minimizes dentist visits.

Capabilities: What do you need the toothbrush to do? Maybe you just need one mode for cleaning a little deeper than you can with a manual toothbrush.

If you need help brushing for the dentist-recommended two minutes, it’s a good idea to select one with a built-in smart timer. If you want to easily track your oral hygiene habits, go for a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush with an app.

If you have sensitive teeth or sensitive gums, consider looking at the types of brush heads that you can get for your electric toothbrush. Some models, like those from Oral-B or Sonicare, offer many different types of brush heads for different needs, such as brush heads for whitening, gum care and cleaning around braces. Some toothbrush heads have silicone bristles. It’s all about your preference for your pearly whites.

Convenience: Are you going to remember to replace your brush heads when it’s time? If not, maybe a subscription-based electric toothbrush is right for you. And don’t forget to look into how long a toothbrush holds its charge, because the last thing you want is for your toothbrush to be dead when you’re trying to get ready for bed. At that point, you’ll be yearning for a regular toothbrush.

More and health and wellness recommendations 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.



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