Power (Electric) Toothbrushes

Monday, 29 September 2008

For a healthy smile, brushing regularly and thoroughly is critical. With new and improved choices in electric toothbrushes, we find out what to look for in these handy tools in the ongoing battle against plaque.


The Basics

  • No matter what toothbrush you’re using, the more and longer you brush, the better your chances at maintaining healthier teeth. At least a minute each for uppers and lowers is a reasonable guideline to follow.

  • Power toothbrushes are found in battery-operated models and rechargeable models, which are more expensive.

  • Some power toothbrushes have a timer to let you know if you’ve brushed long enough.

  • Removable or interchangeable heads allow for sharing the power but not the brush.

  • The brush heads need to be changed every 3-4 months, so factor in the cost of replacements when considering your purchase.

  • Be sure to check that the batteries and the brush head are replaceable, otherwise you’ll be tossing the whole thing and replacing it in four months.

  • Power toothbrushes can be noisy. If sound is a concern, test out the brush in-store.

  • Some brush heads have a spinning or oscillating motion which many dental experts think produces better results than straight, linear brushing.

  • Others pulsate using sonic or even ultrasonic waves that help to dislodge plaque.

  • While the brush should be powerful, it shouldn’t be painful or harsh on your gums.

  • Some models have more than one speed offering more of a massage feel or a less intense brush speed.

Other Considerations

  • For kids, a power toothbrush may encourage frequent brushing, but keep in mind they are heavier than regular brushes. And very young children may find them a too big and uncomfortable to use. Look for children-sized models and consult with your dentist.


We  tested these different brands of power toothbrushes:

Noise Test

We tested each in an effort to find a quiet option:

  • The Crest Spin Brush was the loudest

  • The rest weren’t as loud, but still had a frequency that frankly couldn't be ignored.

Brush Effectiveness Test

For an accurate comparison each tester's teeth were assessed by a dentist that measured plaque levels. Then we sectioned our mouths into quadrants and brushed each section with a different brush for a week.

  • The Oral-B and the Crest brushes did the best at plaque removal.

  • The Oral-B also turned out to be the favourite of a few testers with its smaller head, which allows you to give each individual tooth the attention it deserves.

  • The Sonicare’s tickly speed took some getting used to.

  • The Waterpik had a gentler feel.


The Crest Spin Brush and the Oral-B seemed to do the best job at plaque removal. If you don’t want to be bothered with batteries, choose the Oral-B. However, using a manual brush is just as effective as long as you brush regularly and for at least two minutes. And always remember to floss!





top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter