Two highly popular rechargeable Electric Toothbrush brands. What are their differences?  Which one is better?

At the heart of modern preventive dental care is good tooth brushing.  After all, better brushing means less bacteria, less decay risk, less gum disease risk, and less dental visits.  In a previous article by The Smile Team Balwyn North dentist we’ve established that rechargeable electric toothbrushes can be an excellent choice if you are aware that there can be improvements to your current oral hygiene and you want to get all the help you can get.  The two most popular brands of electric rechargeable electric toothbrushes in 2019 are Oral-B (by Braun) and Sonicare (by Phillips).

What are their differences?  

The main difference between the two brands is the cleaning action, or how the toothbrush head moves to clean teeth. Oral-B uses a “3-D action” it rotates/oscillates, and most models also pulsates. Because of the motion of movement, the Oral-B toothbrush needs only to be slowly guided along each tooth.  Therefore, the Oral-B toothbrushes should be used in a different technique compared to traditional manual hand toothbrushes.  On the other hand, Sonicare toothbrushes use “sonic” back and forth vibrating movements which mimic manual toothbrush movements (but much smaller and quicker). Brushing movement is still required along the same lines as traditional manual hand toothbrushes. 




Which one is better?

Within each brand, there are different models with varying functions and features. Importantly for an Oral-B toothbrush, clinical research studies have shown that the pulsating action sets the Oral-B toothbrushes apart from toothbrushes that only rotate/oscillate (Sonicare) in terms of cleaning ability.  Oral-B has varying purchase price points that starts from under $100, with many models having excellent functions sit between $100 to $200.  Sonicare does have entry models just over $100, but have most models up higher at close to $300.  Higher end models from both companies have phone app connectivity.


In independent testing of noise comparisons between Oral-B and Sonicare toothbrushes operating on standard modes, showed a big difference between the two.  Oral-B toothbrushes had decibel readings in the high 70’s, where as Sonicare toothbrushes had decibel readings in the low 60’s.  The difference is definitely discernible in person.  Some of the difference in noise seems to be from the additional mechanical pulsating action of the Oral-B toothbrush.  The Sonicare has a low constant higher pitched hum, where as the Oral-B sounds like it’s moving and shaking quite differently.


Although these are the two most popular rechargeable electric toothbrushes, Oral-B toothbrushes still dominates in terms of popularity over Sonicare toothbrushes.  As a result, replacement heads are generally much easier to find for Oral-B toothbrushes.  Oral-B toothbrush replacements are readily available at most supermarket stores, whereas Sonicare replacement heads are typically only available from department and electrical stores.

Price of replacement heads

When the bristles of a toothbrush start to become splayed or frail, the toothbrush is no longer cleaning effectively. As a general rule of thumb, changing a toothbrush head every 3 months or with a change of season is a good idea.  When it comes to the cost of replacing a toothbrush head, Oral-B replacement heads cost about $5 each, where as Sonicare replacement heads cost above $10 each.  There are also third party Oral-B compatible replacement heads available online for about $1 each.


We have patients that enjoy using either toothbrush, but we find that the Oral-B suits a wider range of patients due to its ease of accessibility, and different price point options. The Sonicare would suit those that prefer the feel and action of using a manual toothbrush.  Because they are so different, we recommend getting a feel for both before you buy either one.  In its inaugural award for electric toothbrushes in 2018 Canstar awarded Oral-B electric toothbrushes 5 stars for overall customer satisfaction, whereas Sonicare was awarded 4 stars.

Compared to traditional manual tooth brushes, there are two particularly helpful functions that Oral-B and Sonicare electric rechargeable tooth brushes have.  Firstly, pressure alerts may be useful for those who have gum recession or a tendency to push hard when brushing.  Secondly, timers are available on many models that provide feedback of how long you have been brushing to help ensure thorough brushing (for most patients 2 minutes of brushing is recommended).  Make sure that whichever rechargeable electric toothbrush model you buy, that it has these two functions.


Please like this article if you have found it useful, and feel free to contact The Smile Team dentist for customised dental care advice.  

The Smile Team is a long established dentist, located in Balwyn North Victoria.  We have a team of experienced dentists and oral health therapists dedicated to the wellbeing of patients young and old.  We want to help you achieve your best dental health, and our dental team members are particularly passionate to help you prevent dental disease.  The Smile Team provides complete family and cosmetic quality dental care.

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