The Best Electric Toothbrush

The Oral-B Professional Care 1000 is our pick for best electric toothbrush because it removes more plaque than sonic brushes and doesn't have too many bells and whistles.

Last Updated: April 22, 2014
Our main pick is currently unavailable at Amazon, but if you need a new toothbrush now we recommend the Oral-B Deep Sweep Triaction 1000 as the best alternative.
Expand Previous Updates
March 4, 2014: We did a couple hours of research to see if there was any other toothbrush that could unseat our pick, but we found the Oral-B 1000 is still the best. We do understand that not everyone likes the feeling of Oral-B's oscillating brush, however, so we added an alternate choice, Oral-B's Deep Sweep Triaction 1000, which feels closer to a manual brush.
February 6, 2014: This toothbrush is getting harder to find. It appears to have been replaced by a variant of the same thing, but we're putting this on Wait status until we can get a reporter to look into it.
August 25, 2012: Added in more personal testing notes and what's in the box. Replaced the mysterious, disappearing "Best Sources" section.  

It’s been 52 years since the first electric toothbrush debuted and there’s still no conclusive evidence that they’re really any better than your standard manual one. What dentists and the ADA do agree on is that maintaining overall oral health and hygiene is ultimately about diet, flossing regularly and how you brush, not what you brush with. That said, some newer electric toothbrushes do offer distinct advantages over your standard bristle stick–advantages that, depending on what you’re looking for, can justify the higher price you’ll inevitably pay.

For instance, some (the oscillating kind) have been shown to remove slightly more plaque (7 percent) than regular toothbrushes. Other studies have concluded that people tend to brush longer when they use an electric toothbrush, as the experience is generally easier and more enjoyable. Because of their smaller heads, many electric toothbrushes can also access harder-to-reach areas in your mouth, a good thing if your manual brushing skills are lacking.

What to Look for in an Electric Toothbrush

The trick these days is figuring out what features are actually useful and what’s needless filler. If you just want a solid electric brush, but don’t care about things like built-in and UV sanitizers (which are total BS, according to the ADA), smiley face icons, and LCD screens, the Oral-B Professional Care 1000 is a fantastic choice.

The 1000 is on the cheaper end of the seven-brush Oral-B lineup, but that’s mostly a result of eschewing the frivolous features everyone seems to be cramming into their higher-end electric brushes these days. Going up in the Oral-B lineup gets you largely needless bells and whistles, like a separate wireless smart guide that communicates with your toothbrush and tells you how to brush or a bulky extra head storage unit built into the charger base, which is very annoying when it comes to traveling, and extra vibrations, which don’t do much for cleaning. Going down any further, however takes away legitimately important features like a vibrating brush head.

Our Pick

The Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that the Oral-B Professional Care Series, removes more plaque from the whole mouth (including tongue, etc) than the Sonicare Elite electric toothbrush.
In clinical trials, The Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that the Oral-B Professional Care Series, removes more plaque from the whole mouth (including tongue, etc) than the Sonicare Elite electric toothbrush. This mirrors a recent amendment of the famous Cochrane report, which also concludes that the only type of powered toothbrush that removes more plaque than a manual toothbrush is one with rotational oscillation movement.

To reach the optimal two-minute brush time goal, the 1000 sends out a vibrating pulse every 30 seconds with a longer pulse at two minutes. Ideally, you can use these intervals to clean each of the four quadrants of your mouth. There’s even a pressure indicator that stops the brush when you’re brushing too hard.

As far as reviews go, the 1000 gets a recommendation from Consumer Reports (subscription required). They tested 10 electric toothbrushes, rating each on comfort, convenience, ease of use and plaque removal. The 1000 finished with a respectable 3rd place score of 71/100. It was bested only by a Phillips Sonicare brush that costs twice as much, and it’s older (more expensive) brother, the 4000, which garnered the highest ratings of any electric brush (82). Their tests showed that the 4000 removed more plaque than the 1000 with the former receiving an “excellent” rating and the latter a “very good”. One possible explanation for this could be the difference in pulsation rate between the two models. While both the 1000 and 4000 oscillate at 8800 RPM, the 4000 pulsates at a much faster 40,000 pulses per minute compared to the 1000′s 20,000. When we tested both models side by side, there was definitely a noticeable difference in the amount of vibrations, the end result was the same in our tests. It is also worth noting that both of these tests were based off of the previous Triumph Professional series models so the results might not be directly analogous.

Another feature you lose by going with the 1000 is multiple cleaning modes. The 1000 has only one mode of operation (daily clean) whereas both the 4000 and the slightly cheaper 3000 have three: daily clean, a slow and gentle “sensitive” mode, and a “whitening” mode, which supposedly polishes your teeth by varying the bristle speed. Our tests showed the multiple modes to be more annoying than helpful. That’s because the button on the 3000 does not click like it does on the 1000. A simple slip of the finger can cause it to change modes, requiring you to reset the toothbrush and mess up your brushing timer. On the other hand, the 1000 has only one mode, and its power button has a satisfying click that keeps you from accidentally activating it.

It is also worth mentioning that many Amazon reviews of the 1000 complain that the pressure sensor did not stop the spinning when they felt it should have, we also found this to be the case so hamfisted users beware. When testing the 3000, we were unable to locate, let alone activate any type of visual pressure warning either. Moral of the story: try to brush more gently, not too difficult.

How We Tested

“it doesn’t matter if you have a $30 brush or a $130 brush. The only factor that actually makes a difference in cleanliness is how long you brush, how small the head is—so it can better fit in tight spots, and how thorough you are.”
I tested the 1000 and the 3000 by brushing the left side of my mouth with one and the right side with the other for one minute on each side, twice a day for a whole month. At the end, I consulted my local dentist who told me that there was no difference in cleanliness whatsoever between the two sides. They went on to say that they had actually tried the same experiment for themselves and arrived at the same results. This dentist added, “it doesn’t matter if you have a $30 brush or a $130 brush. The only factor that actually makes a difference in cleanliness is how long you brush, how small the head is—so it can better fit in tight spots, and how thorough you are.”

The Competition

Which brings us to Oral-B’s main competitor: Philips’ line of Sonicare brushes. While many of these brushes also garner high ratings, almost all of them have vibrating heads. Unlike the Oral-B’s triple-action brushes, Sonicare’s heads simply vibrate back and forth at a high rate of speed. Some users claim this is gentler on the gums, but the evidence also seems to show it’s not quite as effective at cleaning. Another bonus? Oral-B replacement brushes tend to be cheaper (not cheap though), on average about $5 less for a four pack than Sonicare replacement brushes.

Also Great
This relatively inexpensive model combines the superior cleaning power of an electric toothbrush with the feel of a manual toothbrush.
Not everybody likes the feeling of the Oral-B’s oscillating-rotating (O-R) brush. If you want your electric toothbrush to feel a little bit more like a manual, Oral-B’s new Deep Sweep line is what you should get. The best is the Oral-B Professional Deep Sweep Triaction 1000, which costs about $40 and eschews all the unnecessary features of the pricier Deep Sweep 5000.

No one has yet tested O-R brushes against the new Deep Sweep style, so without evidence that it’s superior, we won’t recommend this as the main pick. As we mentioned above, Oral-B’s O-R line of brushes have consistently been lab-proven to be superior to Sonicare and other sonic brushes (not to mention vastly better than manual brushing). Same goes for the Triaction: the American Journal of Dentistry (PDF link) found it far better than your ordinary toothbrush, and, in another study, found it reduced plaque and gingivitis more than a sonic brush. That’s all very promising, but without a study directly comparing it to O-R brushes, we can’t make it our primary pick.

If you don’t like the way the Oral-B 1000′s rotating brush feels and want the feel of a manual toothbrush—but with far superior cleaning power—the Triaction is a great pick. It’s also good if you’re on a tight budget or if you can find it on significant discount. For everyone else, however, we recommend the Oral-B 1000.

Must get
*At the time of publishing, the price was $28.
If you get this toothbrush, you should also get these replacement heads. They work better than the original standard kind.
For those who want a deeper clean, spend the money you saved by going with the 1000 to upgrade to a set of the aforementioned Floss Action brush heads. However, those with sensitive teeth or gums might want to stay away because many user reviews report that although these heads clean better, they’re also significantly harder on the teeth and gums. It’s also worth noting that these are larger than the usual Precision Clean heads and thus may not be able to fit as well into tiny spaces. Your mileage may vary. Finally, a word of warning when buying replacements online, make sure that you are buying from a reputable retailer (if you’re getting them from Amazon, make sure that under “In Stock” it says “Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available”). There have been reports of some vendors selling knock-off heads that are of poor quality and fall apart easily.

Wrapping it Up

One thing is certain: You’re going to pay more to use an electric toothbrush. Once you buy the brush itself, you’ll be replacing the brush heads every month or two. But, hey, if buying one helps prevent a couple of cavities and extra trips to the dentist’s chair, going electric can certainly be  justified.

Additional research and reporting by Bryan Gardiner and Jamie Wiebe. This post was originally published on The Wirecutter. 

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  1. Oral-B Professional Care 1000, Consumer Reports (Subscription Required)
    Rated: 71/100, "Very Good"
  2. Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 4000, Consumer Reports (Subscription Required)
    Rated: 82/100, "Excellent"
  3. Strate J, Cugini MA, Warren PR, Qaqish JG, Galustians HJ, Sharma NC, A comparison of the plaque removal efficacy of two power toothbrushes: Oral-b Professional Care Series versus Sonicare Elite., US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, June 2005
  4. Peter G. Robinson, Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health (Review), Cochrane Report (PDF), 2009
  • jimothyGator

    You say that you’ll buy replacement heads every month or two. Why so frequently? The ADA recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months. Do these heads really need to replaced that much more frequently?

    • SickSix

      I replace mine when I buy a new tube of toothpaste, which is about the same amount of time (1-2 months).


    Have you tried the Sonicare DiamondClean?

    • roundthings

      I have one. I actually prefer the older Sonicare in that it seems to remove more food between the teeth (you need to floss anyway). It also came with the standard diamondhead brush and I actually prefer the compact heads so I will try attaching a Prohead Compact brush to it and see if I like it better.
      The new model at least doesn’t get grunge and mold inside the base of the brushhead since it’s a simpler design.

  • arbus

    Picked up this unit a few weeks after a dental cleaning. After 5 1/2 months of using it the tartar that would normally be on the back of my lower incisors was virtually nonexistent. The dental hygienist probably spent half the time she normally does scraping and picking. She noticed a big difference.

  • roundthings

    So the report rates the 2 Sonicare brushes the highest but you say the Oral B is the best even though it finished 3rd?

    • Muse

      They’re taking price into consideration. Oral B is pretty much the same quality, but a third of the price.

      • tony kaye

        Exactly. Thanks!

  • rmmlt

    What about battery life? When I was researching options, all Oral-B brushes had NiCd batteries. Only the Philips had a Li-ion battery. For me, this was crucial in deciding to go with the Philips.

    • Rocky

      I have had my Oral B Triumph for over 7 years and never had an issue with the battery. My roommate has had his for over 10 and same with him.

      • speed

        I find this very interesting. I have never had an electric toothbrush last more than a couple of years before the battery dies out (slowly at first, then completely). I am actually on this discussion board because the battery on the Oral B, bought approx. 2-3 years ago, now needs an every-other-day charge.

        • Rocky

          I thought the point was to leave it on the charging dock. “Every other day”? I leave mine charging, the battery is great. When I need to travel for a weekend the battery more than accomplishes the task.. I have no expectations greater than that with a brand new toothbrush.

    • speed

      How do NiCd batteries differ from Li-ion ones?

      • ctchrisf

        Weight and power

      • Robert Fisher

        NiCd batteries have an attribute called ‘memory’, which quickly eats away the battery life if you don’t fully discharge the battery before charging it again. Since the voltage fall-off curve is fairly soft, that means the toothbrush or whatever it is that you’re using will lose effectiveness long before you fully discharge the battery as well. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that I believe some Sonicare models use NiMH batteries (most modern rechargables probably should, if not Li-ion…)

        • tony kaye

          Thank you for this explainer!

  • jim goldstein

    So, I needed a new electric toothbrush and decided to order this one. I just ordered through the link to Amazon. Better price than posted from May. Now $33.99 and then an instant $7.00 coupon so I paid $26.99. Seems hard to beat that! Thanks wirecutter.

  • jryding

    Looks like as of 2/6/14, this toothbrush is currently unavailable at Amazon.

    • hisnameisjimmy

      It appears you can get the deep sweep for the same price, and then just swap out the brush head that it comes with. It’s essentially the same brush.

      • sygyzy

        is it really? The 1000 is a rotating head. What sort of head is the Deep Sweep? It seems like it doesn’t rotate. Without seeing the underlying motor/link connection, it’s hard to tell if you can simply change the head and have them work. In the same way you can’t put an Oral-B rotating head on a Sonicare (which uses magnets to create vibrations) and have it work.

        I have not seen either Oral B brush so this really is a question, not a challenge.

        • Michael Zhao

          It’s the same.

        • hisnameisjimmy

          I actually ended up buying it because my previous 1000 had died, and I can confirm it is exactly the same (except for a color change). It works with all the normal rotating brush heads. They actually have a brush-head compatibility chart on their site that shows you what it’s compatible with.

          • sygyzy

            Thanks Jimmy. I went ahead and ordered the Deep Sweep and the floss heads.

  • rbk78

    If you are lucky, your Philips Sonicare will fail while still under guarantee, and they will replace it. Our experience was it failed just after the guarantee expired. Knowing we liked it, someone bought us another one. Guess, what, it too failed (just within guarantee).

    • ctchrisf

      I’ve had two sonicares. first one was still working fine after 6 years. Second one is flawless after 2+ years. Dunno what you are on about.

      I just wanted get another, but not even a mention of the model that bested the Oral B’s ?

      I much prefer the vibrating head.

      looks like another fail here. or Paid Promotion

      • rbk78

        There is no mention of any competing brush in my comment, precisely because nothing is being “promoted”. And why could the same allegation not be made against you in favour of Oral B?

        You have a factual account of our experience with Sonicare.

        Give me your address and send me the money to cover the postage and I will send the faulty specimens to you.

        • ctchrisf

          Sorry to hear about your experience, Just Wanted to offer another point of view that I have had extreme reliability with my Sonicare.
          A magnetic operator verses a mechanical gear to move the brush head should be Much more reliable.

          I have no interest in your old toothbrush thanks.

          My promotion comment was meant towards the writers of the article who fail to mention model names of the two brushes that were rated higher then the recommended brush.

          Maybe you are tougher on toothbrushes then We are i dunno.

  • changabanga

    In doing this review, did you come across the Ultreo line of toothbrushes? I used to use them back in 2007 or so, but the company went out of business in 2009. I recently came across it again, so it looks like it may have been revived. May be worth looking into it.

  • Paul Massari

    Well, it’s definitely a good toothbrush but not the best. There’s the new oral b 7000 and the sonicare diamondclean that are way more advanced and boast a wide set of useful features. This one is great for the low price, but not for the features, which are basic. If you want to take a closer look at my reviews you can read them at , just in case you want to update this article.

  • disqus_Kn52PTnRrj
    • tony kaye

      I believe this is a waterpik type device, not a toothbrush.

  • Marius Piedallu van Wyk

    These are the brushes I had before I upgraded to the Sonicare ones. So much better.

    • tony kaye

      You mean the Sonicare is better? Or the Oral-B?

      • Marius Piedallu van Wyk

        I personally preferred the Sonicare. Perhaps my Oral-B was told tech (likely), but I much preferred the vibrations to the rotating head. Also the batter life was abysmal… currently I go about 2 months on a charge on the Sonicare.
        Once again, YMMV but for me it was a great switch.

  • Vindicated

    I agree with a lot of was reviewed here like bang for the buck and how the oscillating brush does remove more plague (7%). Have you guys considered that study has shown that the oral-b oscillating brush did not improve gum health over a 6 month study while the sonicare showed vast improvement for gum health in 6 months compared to oral b.

    Newer oral b brushes do both sonic and oscillating now which I’m curious for a review for compared to the sonicare diamond.

    Also I’m not sure how true this is but I heard that oral b oscillating brush can promote receding gum lines.

    But overall I hope you guys consider gum health in your next review. This is important to me because well they all do well at removing plague.

    • tony kaye

      Thanks for the feedback! Our editors are now discussing gum health!

  • AndrewLloyd

    Target has this on sale for $39.99 – $7 online coupon for a total of only $32.99. I picked one up.

    • tony kaye

      Thanks for the heads up!

  • Luigi Proud DemoCat!

    Just as an FYI: I took your advice on the Oral-B and bought one when our Sonicare went out – nothing wrong, but a dead and non-replaceable battery.

    I gave the Oral-B my best try, but even on the gentle mode (I bought the 3000), it was still unpleasant to use. The Sonicare is definitely gentler.

    However, after spending $10 on a double edge safety razor instead of replacing my dead electric shaver, I decided to splurge and bought an Emmi-Dent Pro toothbrush. It actually is ultrasonic – you don’t brush! It’s by far the best electric toothbrush we’ve ever owned.

    Admittedly, at $180, it’s expensive, but when you consider the cost of dentistry, it doesn’t look so bad. Check out the Emmi-Dent. I’m curious as to your response.

  • Guest

    Have you ever tried to replace a battery in one of these? You will need to do some electrical work.

    • tony kaye

      If the battery dies prematurely, contact customer service about it. I’m sure they’ll be happy to send out a new one. However, if it’s lasted a few years and the battery is no longer charging, it’s probably best to replace the entire unit itself.

  • BenGleck

    Sounds like the author is on the take from Oral B. The tone of this article is “no matter what, buy from Oral B.” If he admits the Sonicare is better, he says “but the Oral B is cheaper.” If he acknowledges that the Sonicare brush has better coverage, he says “the Oral B gets into tighter spaces.”

    I used to use a rotating brush and graduated to a Sonicare. No comparison. The small brush simply didn’t clean as well. Could you paint as effectively with a small brush as you could with a big one? The smaller brush simply doesn’t have the same amount of coverage in the same amount of time. I’ve had no problem getting into tight areas with my larger brush. It’s the same as with a manual brush.

    The author glosses over the fact that the Sonicare operates at a much higher oscillation rate in addition to having sonic pulverization. Try getting that out of a glorified mini-floor polisher.

    Is it worth taking chances with your teeth to save a few bucks? If the difference in price is so important to you, why bother paying a dentist?