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In this guide
Welcome to adulthood: when you have to do some things on a daily basis that are necessary yet oh-so boring. Think the commute to work (or work itself), dragging the dog around the block or making your lunch for the next day. Another thing to add to that list is brushing your teeth. Thankfully, there’s something to at least make that chore slightly more pleasurable. Enter electric toothbrushes.
The best electric toothbrush helps you easily hit your recommended 2-minute brushing time. It also provides a deep clean for healthy teeth and gums, including sensitive ones. We’ve rounded up Australia’s best electric toothbrushes, pulling data from expert testing and real consumer insights.
How we picked our electric toothbrushes
Electric toothbrushes all do the same thing: clean your teeth and gums. The top 6 that we found are ones that stood out from the thousands available. You’ll notice that some brands dominate, like Oral-B and Philips. That’s because as veterans of the industry, they both consistently deliver top-performing toothbrushes that are enjoyed and trusted by dentists and people worldwide.
To begin our search, we looked to expert research. Enter CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. This gave us some electric toothbrushes that had been independently tested and reviewed.
But we wanted real consumer insights – how did the toothbrush feel, look and perform in Aussie mouths? We took our list of contenders and turned to ProductReview.com.au – Australia’s most comprehensive consumer opinion site. We were looking for highly rated toothbrushes that had lots of consistently good reviews.
To narrow our list down, we looked for features that we felt were must-haves. There weren’t many - our base line was having a timer and the ability to replace brush heads.
That left us with the 6 best toothbrushes for a range of needs.
What makes a good electric toothbrush
These are standard features we’d expect every decent electric toothbrush to have.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends you brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, morning and night. A built-in timer makes it easy for you to brush for the right amount of time. A toothbrush might beep, vibrate or pulse to let you know when you’re done.
Replacement brush heads
Dentists and manufacturers recommend changing your brush head once the bristles are worn. This is about every 3-4 months. It’s important you check that you can replace the brush heads, rather than having to replace the entire toothbrush which can be expensive.
Check the price of the replacement heads. They can be pricey, especially for higher-end toothbrushes. You’ll need to factor in buying them regularly. Consider how wide a range of brush heads are available, especially if you have sensitive teeth. These tend to have even softer bristles and a smaller head size. If you’re sharing your electric toothbrush handle with the family, different head options can cater for different needs.
Brush heads are a great way of expanding an electric toothbrush that only has 1 cleaning mode. Different brush heads offer different cleaning experiences, such as whitening or enhanced plaque removal.
Storage for brush heads
Rather than cluttering up the bathroom sink, see if the charging stand includes a place to keep spare brush heads. This is also handy for families who share the same toothbrush handle but have different brush heads.
It’s not essential but is a basic nice-to-have.
Good size charger
The point of an electric toothbrush is that it’s rechargeable. Ensure its charger isn’t too big or bulky. You don’t want it to take up too much space on a crowded sink. Plus, a smaller, lighter charger makes for easier travelling.
Consider an electric toothbrush that offers different cleaning modes, like sensitive, deep clean or whitening. These can make your toothbrush more versatile to suit multiple family members.
Bear in mind there’s no impartial research that proves that cleaning modes are important to the quality of the clean. Although a sensitive mode can be helpful for people who find the brush’s normal movements too quick or uncomfortable.
Just got one cleaning mode? That’s absolutely fine.
Regardless of how many cleaning modes there are, you’ll notice that brush heads claim to do different things:
Rotate – a circle of bristles may rotate, or individual bristles may spin.
Pulsate – the head moves backwards and forwards against teeth to help dislodge plaque.
Oscillate – small, round heads which oscillate, which means it rotates in 1 direction then the other.
Sonic – vibrate at high speeds and frequency to help break down plaque.
The major brands prefer 1 style over the other: Oral-B offers oscillation action, Philips sonic. Is one better than the other?
Oscillating toothbrushes rotate back and forth about 8,800 times per minute (and pulsate at around 40,000). They can be kinder to sensitive teeth because they don’t give a ‘tickling’ sensation. But they can be louder.
Sonic toothbrushes can vibrate up to 62,000 movements per minute to help break down plaque, but it can feel uncomfortably ticklish.
There is some evidence that rotation oscillation is better than sonic. Non-profit Cochrane reckons “rotation oscillation brushes reduce plaque and gingivitis more than side to side brushes”. A 12-week clinical study of 130 adults found that “an advanced oscillating-rotating power toothbrush produced substantial, statistically superior reductions in plaque and gingivitis … compared to a new sonic toothbrush”.
We reckon they’re both valid cleaning methods. What you choose depends on your level of sensitivity to a tooth-tickling feeling.
If you regularly unplug your charger or are frequently on-the-go, opt for a charge indicator. It’ll alert you when your brush is almost dead and it’s time to recharge.
Another basic nice-to-have is a travel container. It’ll safely store your brush away when you’re travelling, keeping your brush heads clean and everything in one handy place.
What you get if you spend more
Does spending more get you a better brush and clean? Honestly, we’re not convinced. They might make the brush look prettier or swank it up with some modern technology, but that doesn’t mean they’re better for your mouth health.
You might think that pressing harder on your teeth makes a better clean. But according to the ADA, too much pressure can damage your gums and tooth enamel. A pressure sensor warns you if you’re pressing too hard. It might beep, vibrate or turn off.
Another way to work this out without paying for a pressure sensor? If your brush head’s bristles are wearing out or start to spread apart before the 3-month mark, you’re pressing too hard.
Bluetooth connectivity and app coaching tools
Ever wondered if you’re brushing your teeth the right way? A Bluetooth-enabled coaching tool can help. It might feature a position sensor that tracks how long you brush a certain area of your mouth. This could be helpful if you don’t have a quad timer. But if you do, you’ll know exactly how long you’re spending (30 seconds). Or it might tell you if you’re using too much pressure. Which again, is also done by a pressure sensor.
If you’re a super tech type who loves stats and tracking stuff, this could work for you.
Premium storage case and charger
A premium storage case may have room for multiple brush heads, or be enclosed in premium material, like leather. Or the charger may come with a USB port and a built-in smartphone stand for use with the toothbrush’s app.
Fancy, yes. Necessary, no.
A quad pacer tells you when you’ve spent 30 seconds on one quadrant of your mouth. Currently, there are no studies that show brushing longer in smaller areas makes any difference to plaque removal. So, again, a quad pacer isn’t necessary but it does help you avoid overbrushing in certain areas.
You might get a slightly longer battery life with a premium model. But if you’re planning on leaving your toothbrush on its charger, there’s no need to upgrade. If you’re travelling off-grid for a while, it may be worth considering.
Are electric toothbrushes better?
Forget whether there was room on the door for Jack*, we all know the real debate is whether manual or electric toothbrushes are better.
The experts generally think that electric toothbrushes can be better at removing plaque than their manual siblings. A 2014 review of over 60 studies shows that people who used electric toothbrushes for 3 months saw a 21 percent reduction in plaque and a 11 percent reduction in gingivitis.
But what really makes the difference in good brushing is good technique. And an electric toothbrush can make a big difference here. All you need to do is focus the brush on a certain area and brush until it tells you to stop (this is where a quad timer is a big help).
Other advantages of electric toothbrushes are:
- They’re easier to use for anyone with limited mobility (like arthritis) because they do all the work for you.
- They help you reach the 2-minute recommended brushing time thanks to their built-in timers.
- They’re more fun for kids to use which can help build healthy habits.
- You’re less likely to press so hard, which can damage your teeth and gums.
*There was. Clearly.
What's the difference between sonic and oscillating action?
A sonic toothbrush vibrates super quickly to loosen the plaque from your teeth. Philips and Colgate brushes use sonic technology.
An oscillating toothbrush moves quickly side to side to do the same thing. Oral-B favours oscillating tech.
No study has proven that one type of cleaning action is better than the other. So, it’ll come down to personal preference. With its super high speeds, sonic cleaning can feel tickly at first.
I have sensitive teeth, what should I look for in an electric toothbrush?
First, look for a toothbrush that comes with a sensitive brush head (or compatibility with one). Sensitive brush heads have super soft bristles that are gentle on your teeth and gums.
Second, look for a toothbrush that offers more than 1 cleaning mode. Ideally, it’ll offer a gentle or sensitive cleaning mode. These are less intense and powerful than standard modes.
Combine your toothbrush with a sensitive toothpaste too.
Oh, and swing by your dentist to get your teeth checked out. They can make sure there’s nothing else going on.
What age can a child use an electric toothbrush?
Although you should start brushing your child’s teeth once they start appearing, most manufacturers say you should wait until they’re 3 to use an electric toothbrush.
How much do replacement toothbrush heads cost?
You’ll part with between $10 and $20 depending on the brand, pack size and retailer.
- "Toothbrush Buying Guide" – Consumer Reports
- "Dental Health Week 2019 Watch your mouth! Brushing" – Australian Dental Association
- "Different types of powered toothbrushes for plaque control and healthy gums" – Cochrane
- "A 12-week clinical comparison of an oscillating-rotating power brush versus a marketed sonic brush with self-adjusting technology in reducing plaque and gingivitis" – Journal of Clinical Dentistry
- "Electric Toothbrushes" – ProductReview.com.au
- "How to buy the best electric toothbrush" – CHOICE