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One of the most important things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy is to brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes at a time.
Brushing regularly can help eliminate bacteria that cause plaque, that sticky, germy film that can build up on teeth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Severe gum disease has been linked to illnesses including diabetes and heart problems.
Yet most people don’t brush their teeth for long enough, averaging about 45 seconds a session, and many press too hard while brushing, which can damage gums and tooth enamel over time.
Depending on the model you select, an electric toothbrush can help you brush long enough and correctly. Many models come with a timer, and some also include features like pressure sensors to prevent you from brushing too aggressively.
You don’t necessarily need to switch from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush if your dentist says you’re doing a fine job with your current setup. But there is some research indicating that electric toothbrushes might be slightly better at clearing away plaque and reducing gingivitis, early gum disease.
Some other studies indicate that people may wear away the tissue below tooth enamel with a powered brush faster than they might with a manual brush, though research suggests that manual brushing can do the same. Dental and periodontal experts say you can avoid this problem by using a gentle touch, no matter which toothbrush you use.
Prices for electric toothbrushes vary widely, ranging from less than $10 for a model with replaceable AA batteries to more than $200 for some models with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, multiple brushing modes, and other features. And while more manufacturers have been making electric toothbrushes these days, the brands Oral-B and Philips Sonicare remain untouchable in terms of quality, according to our testers.
So what’s the best electric toothbrush for you? Consumer Reports can help you figure out which brushes have the most important features, do the best job cleaning, and are easy to use.
How We Tested Toothbrushes
CR tested eight powered toothbrushes using a panel of 20 people between ages 18 and 65, all users of an electric toothbrush and in good dental health.
Cleaning performance: To see how well each brush cleaned, a dental hygienist measured plaque levels in volunteers after having them skip brushing and using other dental products for 24 hours. Each then brushed using one of the electric toothbrushes for 2 minutes. Before-and-after differences in plaque levels made up the cleaning performance score. If a toothbrush came with multiple brushing modes or brush heads, we scored it based on the mode and head combination that scored highest.
Ease of use and noise: This was measured by asking testers questions about how easy it was to attach the brush head, how easy it was to recharge the device, and how comfortable the device felt to hold and use. Testers were also asked to evaluate the noise level for each device.
Battery performance: This was measured by seeing how long it took for devices to charge (for the six rechargeable brushes we tested) and how long it took for all eight models to run out of battery.
Extra features: Found in some brushes, these extra features include a timer (to ensure that you brush for the full 2 minutes), a pressure sensor, multiple speeds, a charge-level indicator, and smartphone-app capability.
Below, you’ll find four of the best top-rated electric toothbrushes, in alphabetical orders. Members can see our full toothbrush ratings and reviews here.
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