Australian consumers have chosen Oral-B as the top brand for electric toothbrushes, with 99% of surveyed customers recommending the brand. Oral-B electric toothbrushes received not only the highest overall score but also the highest scores across all brands for cleaning performance, comfort and ease of use.
There are a couple of options to consider when choosing an electric toothbrush. First, you'll need to choose between battery-powered and rechargeable models.
Battery-powered toothbrushes are cheap to buy up-front, but more expensive in the long run thanks to the cost of replacement batteries (usually AA). Many battery-powered models are designed to encourage kids to do a better job of brushing their teeth, and will often feature colourful designs and artwork.
Rechargeable toothbrushes feature a built-in battery and can be recharged simply by plugging them into a wall socket. They're more expensive but are better suited to long-term use.
You can also differentiate between electric toothbrushes by the cleaning action they use. Options include rotating-oscillating brushes, vibrating or pulsating brushes, and sonic and ultrasonic brushes. However, there's no conclusive proof that any one of these cleaning methods is clearly more effective than the others, so this won't be a major factor in deciding which electric toothbrush to buy.
How to compare electric toothbrushes
Consider the following important factors when comparing electric toothbrushes:
Check whether replacement heads for your toothbrush are readily available. You'll need to not only consider how much they cost but also whether there's a range of brushes available to suit the teeth cleaning needs of all members of the family. For example, some models come with heads designed for whitening, cleaning sensitive teeth and performing a flossing action.
You can pick up an entry-level electric toothbrush for as little as $30, while high-end models top out around the $500 mark. Battery-powered models can be purchased for less than $10, but don't forget to consider the cost of replacement batteries if you go this route.
Check whether the electric toothbrush has a built-in timer so you can work out exactly how long to brush your teeth for – at least two minutes in the morning and then again at night is the recommended minimum. The timer on some models can also be used to separate your mouth into four quadrants to ensure that you brush each section for the correct amount of time.
Ease of use
Make sure the electric toothbrush you choose is comfortable to hold and allows you to maintain a firm grip at all times. Also check whether brush heads are easy to replace and that the brush (and any stand it may come with) are easy to keep clean.
Check the fine print to find out how long the toothbrush takes to fully charge and how much brushing time you can get from one charge.
Before you buy, check the length of the manufacturer's warranty and exactly what it will cover if your electric toothbrush stops working.
Some electric toothbrushes come with a wide range of additional features, so it's up to you to work out whether you need them or not. A few examples include:
A pressure sensor that lets you know when you're applying too much pressure on your teeth
USB charging when you're on the go
Bristles that fade so you know when it's time to replace the brush head
Different speed settings
A linked smartphone app that provides real-time feedback based on the brushing angle you're using
A storage container where you can put brush heads for each member of the family
UV sanitisers to kill germs and bacteria on your brush
Do I actually need an electric toothbrush?
Not necessarily. Provided you use the correct brushing technique and brush for the recommended minimum amount each day, you can ensure good dental hygiene simply by using an ordinary toothbrush.
They're worth considering if you don't brush your teeth evenly, if you need a little extra help ensuring that you brush for the full two minutes each time, or if you think manual brushing is too much hard work. And because they allow you to control the amount of pressure you apply, they can also be a good choice for people with sensitive teeth and gums.
Three things to consider
Make sure you consider the following factors before you buy an electric toothbrush:
Check with your dentist. Not sure whether you need an electric toothbrush or can't decide which model to choose? Ask your dentist. He or she will be able to offer expert advice on the best electric toothbrush for your needs.
Know when to replace your toothbrush head. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends changing your toothbrush either after three months or when you start to notice any wear and tear – whichever comes first. You can use this as a guide to calculate the annual cost of purchasing replacement brush heads for your electric toothbrush. It's also a good idea to change your brush after you've had a cold or stomach bug to eliminate any residual germs.
Don't apply too much pressure. Regardless of whether you choose a manual or electric toothbrush, take care not to apply too much pressure when brushing. Doing so can actually damage your teeth and potentially lead to more time spent in the dentist's chair – which nobody wants.
Tim Falk is a writer for Finder, writing across a diverse range of topics. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, Tim has reported on everything from travel and personal finance to pets and TV soap operas. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors.
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