Electric toothbrush buying guide
What to look for to ensure your teeth are getting the best possible treatment.
The ultimate guide to electric and battery-powered toothbrushes
As anyone who's squirmed through a root canal or forked over thousands to their dentist for crowns and fillings will tell you, looking after your choppers is well worth the investment. Bad teeth can cause a world of pain, both physically and financially, so you want to make sure that your daily brushing is getting the job done properly.
- Want to know how we get our review results? Check out how we test electric toothbrushes.
Battery-powered or rechargeable?
Rechargeable toothbrushes have a built-in battery pack that you can recharge from its own AC adaptor; battery-powered ones look just like regular toothbrushes with room for the battery in the handle.
Battery-powered toothbrushes are inexpensive to buy but it's worth considering the cost and environmental impact of throwing away alkaline batteries. (Using rechargeable batteries can help minimise this).
We find rechargeable electric toothbrushes cost you just over $3 per year in power, while the battery-powered toothbrushes can cost up to $27 per year in replacing batteries.
Rotation, oscillation or vibration
Some toothbrushes just have a vibrate function, which isn't as good for teeth cleaning. Toothbrushes with a rotation oscillation action have been found by the nonprofit Cochrane Collaboration to "reduce plaque and gingivitis more than manual tooth brushing".
Features to look for
Charge indicator light
This shows when you should recharge your toothbrush – useful if you take your brush away on holiday or regularly unplug your charger.
Different speeds easily accessed from the front of the brush can make it easier to choose your preference.
A timer that indicates when to move the brush to a different part of your mouth, or when you have passed the recommended two-minute clean.
This can prevent gum damage by detecting when you're brushing too hard and reducing the movement action of the toothbrush.
When it's time to replace the toothbrush head, the bristles slowly fade to white, losing their colouring
Range of heads
Choosing a brush with a range of heads can help you give the best brush possible, with options including interdental (between individual teeth), tongue-cleaning and teeth-brightening styles. Some people find that a smaller circular head offers better access to back teeth.
Brush head container
Useful for families or couples who share one electric brush, each with their own brush heads.
Beware a head that can't be replaced!
Brushes that don't allow you to change the head will mean you have to replace the entire unit up to four times a year.
Can I use an electric toothbrush if I have...
Brushing is very important if you have bands on, so an electric brush could help here, as long as you don't dislodge the wires or brackets. The Australian Dental Association recommends discussing it with your orthodontist, as it's usually decided on a case-by-case basis.
Electric brushes can be useful for cleaning properly, particularly if you also have poor manual dexterity.
A recent survey found rotation oscillation brushes were good for cleaning implanted teeth, but still discuss your individual situation with your dentist.
They range in price from $30 to $370.