Ask any dentist and they’ll tell you that for healthier gums and cleaner teeth, an electric or sonic toothbrush is going to give far better results than a bog-standard brush

But in recent years, toothbrushes have been getting more and more intelligent, with a range of capabilities that will make even the most reluctant teeth-cleaner smile.

Electric toothbrushes come with a range of functions, with the cheaper models using battery power simply to move the brush head back and forth. More sophisticated models rotate, vibrate and pulsate to disturb and clean plaque and polish enamel while feeling gentle on gums. Those with sonic capabilities use vibration to move the head over teeth and gums, agitating the water and toothpaste to clean thoroughly in a larger area than the brush head actually covers.

On average, brush heads should be replaced after three months, though the silicone Foreo model we tested here has a budget-friendly six month replacement recommendation.

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So, whether you want to beam bright white like a Hollywood star, be kind to sensitive teeth or just persuade your children that the bedtime routine isn’t torture, there’s something for all tastes and pockets that can make cleaning – and your smile – a whole lot more pleasant.

We tested a range of sonic, electric and battery-powered toothbrushes with families who are used to traditional brushes. From three months old to 76 years young, all our testers (and parents) agreed they will stick with their new, smarter brushes in the future. So, what can a new brush do for you?
Wilko Battery Powered Toothbrush
£4.50, Wilko
Best for: Guests and spares

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 1; Replacement brush heads: 0; Battery life: 1 month; Charge time: n/a; App: No

This basic, battery-powered brush uses a mechanical rotation technique rather than sonic waves, so you wouldn’t expect it to perform as efficiently as most of the more expensive models here. But as a standby for guests in the bathroom cabinet it really can’t be beaten, and the brush performs far better than a normal toothbrush with its small, round brush tackling plaque well and leaving teeth feeling polished and breath fresh.

Wilko also sell six packs of replacement heads for £9, so it’s got staying power. Two AA batteries are needed for use but they’re included.

Brush Baby BabySonic Electric Toothbrush
£8.99 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: First-time brushers

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 1; Replacement brush heads: 1; Battery life: 1 month; Charge time: n/a; App: No

You’re never too young to get brushing, even if that means someone else has to do it for you. This small, soft sonic brush is specially designed for babies and toddlers. It comes with a short stalk and chubby handle, so it’s easy to grip and work around baby’s delicate mouth, as soon as teeth appear. The vibrations are very gentle and our little tester didn’t protest at all – we felt confident teeth had been thoroughly cleaned. Suitable for ages 0-3 years.

Playbrush Smart Sonic Toothbrush
£34.99, Playbrush
Best for: Children who hate brushing

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 2; Replacement brush heads: 0; Battery life: 3-4 weeks; Charge time: 4 hours; App: Yes

Every parent knows what a nightmare the teeth cleaning routine before bedtime can be. What if there was a way to make your kids enjoy brushing? Like most things they like, it partly involves staring at a screen, but we’ll allow it because Playbrush gets results.

Combining a sonic brush with Bluetooth-linked games, it shows how and where to clean, and for how long. Subscribe for a monthly charge and they’ll get new brush heads delivered, extra games and stats to show how efficiently they’ve been brushing. The chunky handle is non-slip and an angled brush head gets into tricky areas easily for a thorough clean.

Muji Sonic Wave Toothbrush
£39.95, Muji
Best for: The stylish family bathroom

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 1; Replacement brush heads: 0; Battery life: 180 hours; Charge time: n/a; App: No

Japanese style comes to the bathroom with this electric attachment that fits on Muji’s minimalist toothbrushes (£2.95 each),  turning them into sonic cleaners. It’s a budget-friendly idea that’s ideal for larger families, where there are always plenty of teeth to clean. The base is powered with an AAA battery (not included)., which should last for around 180 hours, so there will be no arguments about leaving it off charge for the next user to snap their brush into place. The lid is useful for when you’re travelling, too. After brushing, teeth felt extra-clean and polished compared to using a brush without the attachment.

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100
From £105 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Precision whitening

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 3; Replacement brush heads: 1; Battery life: 2 weeks; Charge time: up to 24 hours; App: No

The Sonicare range from Philips has long been a favourite of ours, as you really do feel the difference in the quality of cleaning, especially if you switch to this from a manual brush. After using the range of intensity settings (there are three available) and the Optimal White brush heads, our tester was asked if she’d had a whitening treatment after around ten days’ use. There was a reduction in plaque with a feeling of “just having left the hygienist’s chair.”

Colgate Connect E1 Smart Electronic Toothbrush
£89.95, Apple
Best for: Teen cleaners and brace wearers

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 1; Replacement brush heads: 1; Battery life: 10 days; Charge time: 12 hours; App: Yes

If you’re a fan of facts and figures, you’ll love this. Unassuming in looks, this clever brush collects information in its base about how you brush your teeth and transmits it via Bluetooth to your phone or iPad, where the accompanying app collates your stats on coverage, technique and time spent brushing.

Over time, it’ll analyse your style and give you tailored tips on how to clean even more efficiently, so not only will your teeth look whiter (our tester’s did) but you’ll feel confident you’ve reached hidden areas, too. We’d recommend this for brace wearers who can prove to parents and dentists that – yes – they have been brushing properly.

Foreo Issa 2
£149, Boots
Best for: Sensitive mouths

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 2; Replacement brush heads: 0; Battery life: 365 uses; Charge time: 1 hour; App: No

We love Foreo for its soft, sonic skincare tools and its toothbrushes are just as effective. This probably doesn’t look like any toothbrush you’ve used before and it certainly doesn’t feel like it, as the stubby silicon body of the brush is slightly flexible. It comes with a charger, travel carry pouch and a hybrid head made of a silicon outer ring with added central bristles, which is great at tackling tough plaque build-up. Comfortable to use, the hygienic head last for six months and a single charge will power those sonic pulses for a year.

Oral-B Genius 9000 Limited Collection
£150, Boots
Best for: Smart travellers

Key specs – Cleaning modes: 6; Replacement brush heads: 3; Battery life: 12 days; Charge time: 12 hours; App: Yes

This stylish electric toothbrush comes in on-trend rose gold and with a matching travel case. But is any toothbrush worth this sort of money? It depends how much you value your smile – it’s probably one for those who are obsessive about teeth cleaning, and it certainly delivers a wonderfully clean feeling.

Connect via the Oral-B app to monitor where and how long you’ve brushed – there’s a wall attachment for your phone to monitor this via facial recognition. This means you can easily spot which areas are being neglected during brushing. Automatic speed reduction will kick in if it senses you’re being too hard on your gums, too. It comes with different heads for whitening, flossing, sensitive teeth and gum care, the last two giving impressive results for our tester who’s had problems with bleeding gums in the past. The case even charges your smart phone. A true all-rounder.

This article has been updated. It was originally published in October 2018.
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