The best electric toothbrushes 2021: get the best possible clean

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The best electric toothbrushes 2021: get the best possible clean

We’ve tested and ranked the best electric toothbrushes available today, so you can be confident you’re choosing the right brush to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy.

Oral health is hugely important – not just for keeping your teeth and gums in good condition avoiding the need for fillings, root canals and extractions, but for your whole body. Gum disease (periodontitis) has been linked with diseases throughout the body, including heart failure, due to systemic inflammation that begins in the mouth and spreads through the blood.

You can get a good, thorough clean without an electric toothbrush, but electric brushes have been found to be more effective at removing sticky plaque and preventing gum disease, which makes them well worth considering.

Whichever toothbrush you choose, your brushing technique is also hugely important for making sure you remove plaque from all tooth surfaces. Many of the electric toothbrushes in this guide offer real-time guidance to help you brush more effectively, applying the right amount of pressure and not missing any areas.

Budget is an important consideration too, and electric toothbrushes vary hugely in price, with premium models costing several hundred dollars or pounds. It’s worth bearing in mind that prices drop dramatically a few months after launch though, and electric toothbrushes are often steeply discounted (particularly during sales events like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday) so there’s a good chance of picking up a top-end brush for a bargain price.

Oral-B iO Series 9 electric toothbrush

The Oral-B iO Series 9 takes our award for the best electric toothbrush of 2021 thanks to its effective cleaning and smart real-time feedback (Image credit: Oral-B)

1. Oral-B iO Series 9

The best electric toothbrush, if your budget allows

Specifications

Modes: 7
Sensors: Pressure, direction
Alerts: Brush timer, brush head replacement
Heads: 1
Extras: Travel case, charger, brush head case

Reasons to buy

+Thorough cleaning+Quiet, smooth action+Real-time feedback+Detailed brushing reports

Reasons to avoid

Brush and heads are expensive

The Oral-B iO Series 9 takes our award for the best electric toothbrush of 2021, thanks to its smooth action that effectively removes sticky plaque while gliding from one tooth to the next, and its valuable real-time feedback that encourages you to improve your brushing technique, whether you use the Oral-B Bluetooth app on your smartphone or not.

The brush is very quiet (much more so than a typical oscillating brush) and feels smooth as you work your way around your mouth. The in-built pressure sensor not only warns you if you’re pressing too hard, but also if you’re not applying enough pressure to get a good clean, helping you achieve an optimum result.

Once you finish brushing (the timer will alert you), the iO Series 9’s bright color display will rate your brushing with an appropriate emoji. It’s a quick way to get feedback on your technique, and surprisingly motivating, but for more in-depth guidance you can turn to the Oral-B app.

This will detect which section of your mouth you’re currently brushing, with graphics that update in real time to show when you’ve thoroughly cleaned each surface. When you’re done, you’ll get a report on your performance, and you can earn badges and awards along the way.

The downside of the Oral-B iO Series 9 is that it’s one of the most expensive electric toothbrushes around. It cost $300 / £500 at launch, though its price has dropped significantly in the months since its release and you can now pick it up far more cheaply. Additional brush heads are also pricey, and the iO Series 9 isn’t compatible with heads from older models, so you won’t be able to use your spares if you’re upgrading from a different Oral-B brush.

If your budget can stand it, though, this is an extremely well designed electric toothbrush that will have a real impact on how you clean your teeth, and will help set you up with better habits that can have a long term effect on your oral health.

Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige

The Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige has a sleek, minimalist design and relies on its smartphone app for customization (Image credit: Philips)

2. Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige

The best electric toothbrush for regular travellers

Specifications

Modes: 5
Sensor: Pressure, direction
Alerts: Timer, pressure, scrubbing
Heads: 1
Extras: Travel case, charger, cable, brush head cap

Reasons to buy

+Highly customizable+Real-time brushing guidance+Extremely quiet

Reasons to avoid

ExpensiveHeavily reliant on mobile app

The Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige is another very impressive electric toothbrush designed to improve your technique long-term by monitoring your brushing and giving real-time feedback. If you make too much of a scrubbing action, the app will display an alert advising you to reduce your movements, and the handle will buzz gently. Press too hard, and the handle will pause, then resume with a lower intensity in reaction to your technique.

The Sonicare app monitors the brush’s position in your mouth, helping ensure you clean every surface thoroughly, with on-screen graphics and timers to ensure you don’t miss a spot. The app is less kid-friendly than the Oral-B equivalent, and won’t shower you with emojis and awards for a job well done, but it will give you personalized tips, track your brushing technique and allow you to monitor it over time.

It’s a seriously stylish electric toothbrush too, with a sleek, minimalist design and chic carry case to keep it charged on the go. It’s also the quietest electric toothbrush we’ve tested to date, emitting only a subtle hum.

The only downside is that there are no controls for adjusting modes or choosing an intensity setting on the brush itself. Instead, all the customization is done through the mobile app. That’s not an issue once you’ve set it to your exact preferences though, and provided you don’t like to switch modes on the fly, it’s a superb brush.

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 is a versatile electric toothbrush that combines premium looks with practicality  (Image credit: Philips)

3. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000

A versatile, stylish electric toothbrush that nails the basics

Specifications

Modes: 4, with 3 intensity settings each
Sensor: Pressure
Alerts: Brush timer
Heads: 1
Extras: Charger, travel case, brush head cap

Reasons to buy

+Plenty of cleaning modes+Very simple to use+Well built and stylish

Reasons to avoid

No real-time brushing guidanceNo pressure warning light

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9000 is an extremely versatile electric toothbrush, with four brushing modes and three intensity settings for each one. All the essential controls are right on the sleek brush handle, and our tests with disclosing tablets showed that it did an excellent job at removing plaque, even at a lower intensity.

Like the Sonicare 9900 Prestige above, it connects to the Sonicare mobile app on your phone via Bluetooth, but there are far fewer options available. The DiamondClean 9000 doesn’t have directional sensors to track your brushing, so you won’t get real-time guidance as you work your way around your mouth.

The app will offer you handy brushing tips though, will alert you if you’re applying too much pressure, and will switch the brush off once you’ve been cleaning for two minutes. It can also track the condition of your brush head and order a replacement automatically from Amazon, if you want to be truly organized.

Not the smartest brush around, but a dependable all-rounder – particularly if you spot a good deal on the price.

Oral-B Vitality Plus

(Image credit: Oral-B)

4. Oral-B Vitality Plus

The best affordable electric toothbrush

Specifications

Modes: 1
Sensor: None
Alerts: Timer
Heads: 2
Extras: None

Reasons to buy

+Takes any Oral-B head+Quadrant timer

Reasons to avoid

No pressure sensorNo battery life indicator

A great electric toothbrush doesn’t have to be expensive, as the simple but effective Oral-B Vitality Plus (also known as the Oral-B Pro 500) proves. There’s no Bluetooth connectivity or AI guidance here, but this budget brush takes exactly the same small, well-designed brush heads as the far pricier Genius 9000 above, and includes a quadrant timer so you can be certain you’re cleaning each part of your mouth for the recommended time.

You’re not getting the pressure sensor you’ll find in more expensive electric toothbrushes, so you’ll have to be careful not to press too hard. There’s also no battery level indicator on the handle, so it’s a good idea to leave it on its charging puck when not in use to avoid running out of power mid-brush.

Colgate Connect E1

(Image credit: Colgate)

5. Colgate Connect E1

The best electric toothbrush for stubborn kids

Specifications

Modes: 1
Sensor: Pressure, direction
Alerts: Timer
Heads: 1
Extras: App support, interactive games

Reasons to buy

+Interactive brushing games for kids+3D brushing guides

Reasons to avoid

Rather expensiveOnly one brush head supplied

Many modern electric toothbrushes can coach you in better brushing technique, but the Bluetooth-enabled Colgate Connect E1 takes things one step further with a selection of apps that make oral hygiene into a game, encouraging kids to work on their brushing habits for higher scores.

Although the Connect E1 works with both iOS and Android devices, it’s best suited to the Apple ecosystem due to its connectivity with the Apple Watch and Apple Health. Over time, it builds up a 3D model of your mouth and lets you see where you tend to miss, and whether you’re improving.

Even if you don’t have time to link the Colgate Connect E1 to your phone in the morning, the handle will store data from your brushing session so it can be synced later. You can even choose to share that info with oral health researchers to help develop better brushes in the future.

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