How to choose an electric toothbrush

Many studies confirm that the use of electric toothbrushes is much more effective than the usual manual ones. However, it is not so easy to understand among the variety of modern devices. What is the difference between a rotary toothbrush and a sonic toothbrush? Is it true that ultrasound is harmful to enamel? Let’s find out.

Types of electric toothbrushes

There are currently three types of electric toothbrushes that are fundamentally different from each other, both in the way they affect your teeth and the way they are used. 

Sonic Electric Toothbrushes 

It is sometimes said that sonic brushes clean with sound. This is not true – they brush with bristles, just like regular manual brushes. 

The technology is called sonic because of the very fast movements: the bristles make quick (31,000 to 62,000) sweeping movements from the gum to the edge of the tooth – exactly the way dentists recommend. Check site.

The high speed creates a stream of microbubbles from a mixture of water and toothpaste that travels deep into the interdental spaces and cleans plaque even between teeth – places that a manual toothbrush would not normally reach.

In fact, this brush does more in one minute than you would do in a few weeks (!) using a regular hand-held tool. Teeth are cleaned comprehensively – both due to contact of bristles with enamel and due to the effect of high frequency vibrations on dental plaque (it is destroyed by it). 

It is clinically proven that these brushes are absolutely safe for enamel, suitable for daily use and several times more effective in removing plaque and taking care of gum health than other toothbrushes. 

Rotary Electric Toothbrushes

Rotary brushes are also sometimes referred to as mechanical brushes because of the rotating head. The head of a rotary toothbrush is different from a regular toothbrush because it’s small and cylindrical. The head rotates or makes a reciprocating and rotating motion as it works.

Brushing with a rotary toothbrush is done differently: each tooth is brushed separately, which may take longer than usual, especially at first. The bristles clean the tooth from all sides, penetrating into the interdental space and the periodontal pocket.

Ultrasonic Toothbrushes

Ultrasonic toothbrushes have a head that vibrates like an audible toothbrush, but instead of an electromagnet, they have a piezo-crystal that vibrates at a frequency of 1 MHz or more. Oscillating bristles create ultrasound, contributing to effective brushing – such brushes can cope not only with plaque but also with deposits of tartar. 

When brushing with an ultrasonic toothbrush you should apply minimal force – the bristles should barely touch the surface of the tooth. While ultrasonic brushes are very effective, they are not very popular. Many ultrasonic brushes are quiet and vibration-free; this confuses users who are not confident in the effectiveness of such a device. In addition, special gel-based toothpastes should be used with these brushes to be more effective.

Before using an ultrasonic toothbrush, you should consult a specialist. Its use has a number of contraindications, including fillings, orthodontic structures and so on.

3D cleaning

A trick from Oral-B in the form of an additional electromagnet in the head of the brush. In this case, to the longitudinal movement of the head of sonic brushes or circular movement of the head of the rotary brushes are added pulsations directed along the bristles. This technology is called 3D brushing. Bristles with 3D-cleaning more effectively penetrate into hard-to-reach places and recesses – in the interdental spaces, under the crowns, between orthodontic constructions.

Characteristics of Electric Toothbrushes

Use a toothbrush with the same bristle hardness as a manual toothbrush. Most people prefer medium- or medium-soft stiffness, as the bristles won’t damage your gum skin and are still quite effective. Soft bristles are recommended for people with hypersensitive gums. Super soft (ultrasoft, extra soft) bristles are used on children’s toothbrushes – baby teeth have weaker and thinner enamel than permanent ones, so baby brushes should have minimal hardness. Hard bristles on electric brushes are rare because they are not recommended for daily use.

The number of directional movements indicates the frequency of the main driver of the head – the electromagnet of the sound brush, the rotary motor or the piezo-crystal ultrasonic. The higher this frequency, the more effective the cleaning – but also the more expensive the brush itself.

The pulsation frequency is the frequency of the auxiliary electromagnet in 3D brushes. The pulse frequency also affects the cleaning efficiency, but less than the directional frequency.

Cleaning modes

Some toothbrushes have variable pulse and directional frequencies that allow them to perform in different modes. Manufacturers generally select several brush modes to suit specific applications.

Sensitive mode involves a minimum frequency of vibration of the brush. This mode is used when brushing children’s teeth, when the teeth and gums are sensitive, or for getting used to it if the normal mode of a new brush irritates the gums or teeth. 

Whitening mode (White, 3D White) – usually a normal mode with an extended duration and a switch to polishing mode at the end. Often used with special whitening tips.

Polishing mode (Polish) – short duration mode with a reduced frequency of oscillation.

Massage mode (Gum Care, Gum Care, Gum Health) – mode with minimum frequency of oscillation of the main drive allows gently massage gums, improving their blood circulation and preventing diseases.

Deep cleaning – the maximum power and duration of the mode. 

Tongue care (Tongue hygiene) – mode designed to work with a special brush head for the tongue.


Many electric toothbrushes have interchangeable brush heads. 

First, it allows you to use one toothbrush for all family members – no need to buy an expensive device for everyone, just buy them all one brush head. To make identification of nozzles easier, they are often equipped with marker labels – rings or inserts of different colors. Each family member picks his or her own color and only uses nozzles with a marker of that color. Second, interchangeable brush heads are used to increase the functionality of the brushes.

A child’s brush head has softer bristles and can be smaller. Children’s brush heads can be made for different ages – note that when choosing a head for your child. The softest bristles are needed for baby teeth.

Improved universal nozzle (Philips A3 Premium All-in-one, Oral-B CrossAction) has a complex design with a complex shape of bristles, divided into groups designed for both whitening and plaque removal and gum massage. Marketers claim that such nozzles are many times more effective than standard ones.

The whitening nozzle (Philips Optimal White, Oral-B 3D White) is designed to work in whitening mode with a special paste. May contain polishing pads.

Interdental/Bracket nozzle (Philips InterCare, Oral-B FlossAction, Oral-B Ortho) – contains specially arranged thin bristles to effectively clean interdental spaces and gaps under brackets.

Sensitive Tooth and Gum (Philips Sensitive, Oral-B Oral-B Sensi Ultrathin) – Soft, slender bristles for the most gentle cleaning.

The set may also include special brushes for massaging gums, tongue, for improved plaque and tartar removal and so on.

Many brush heads have a wear indicator – the tips of the bristles are covered with a special paint, which fade during use. If the tips of the bristles have faded or changed color, it’s time to change the nozzle.

Smart Features

Today’s electric toothbrushes differ from conventional brushes not only in the presence of a motor or electromagnet. The use of microprocessor technology, sensors and smartphone control gives toothbrushes the highest level of control over the brushing process. And, to make brushing more fun, many apps have game elements – for example, achives for brushing every day for several days without interruption and “competition” with other brush owners. With a brush like this, you just can’t brush badly.


On simple models, the timer just gives a signal after a certain amount of time – usually 1 to 2 minutes after brushing begins. On the more sophisticated models, the timer works in conjunction with the selected mode, with different tones reminding you to change the brushing zone. The “smart” models with position sensors and smartphone pairing have the maximum functionality. These brushes track the position of the head and make sure each tooth is cleaned on all sides. If you miss even one tooth, the app will alert you by voice and prompt you to brush again.

Pressure sensor

Don’t press your brush too hard on your teeth-it can damage your teeth and gums-but don’t press too hard either-it won’t brush effectively. Pressure-sensor brushes can detect the amount of pressure required: if you apply too much pressure, the brush will beep and/or flash a light. Some models may also reduce the frequency or turn off when the pressure sensor is triggered.


The toothbrush can be powered by battery or batteries. Each option has its pros and cons.

Battery-powered brushes are cheaper, take up less space while traveling because they don’t need a power supply or a stand with a connector. In addition, it is sometimes easier to change the battery than to find a free outlet for the few hours it takes to charge the battery. 

On the other hand, a battery-powered model is more likely to require cell replacement than a battery-powered model is to require recharging. Compare the battery and battery models’ battery life. The first ones have an order of magnitude longer and can last up to six months. While some battery models “last” less than an hour. In addition, the battery compartment is an additional area of risk. Often it is not properly sealed, and if water gets into it, the brush can fail.

Be sure to check for a charging indicator-not all brushes have one, and missing it can catch you out at the worst possible time. Models with a display can usually show the battery level on the display.


To attract the buyer, manufacturers equip electric brushes with additional options that increase the convenience of working with them.

A place to store the brush heads would not be out of place if the brush is used by several family members and has multiple heads. Keeping the brush heads on their own can cause them to get dirty or come in contact with other brush heads and brushes and “pick up” a bacteria colony. This danger is eliminated on models with a UV disinfector, in which the nozzles are not only kept in place, but are also treated after use with a UV lamp that kills all germs.

The UV light is harmful to the skin and eyes, so the lamp is only switched on when the nozzle storage compartment cover is closed and automatically turns off after a certain amount of time.


The stand not only makes storing the brush more convenient, it is also more hygienic because it does not touch the shelf or other objects. And if the stand is also a battery charger, it makes it even easier to maintain. The most advanced option is when the stand contains a non-contact charger. It’s not only convenient, but also safe-no need to make sure no water gets on the charging contacts. 

Travel case

For those who often travel, a travel case is a must. Manufacturers understand this and make travel cases for their brushes with extra features. Some models have a battery to charge the brush when there is no outlet. Sometimes this case can act as a full power bank and charge other gadgets via USB. It can also be recharged via USB.

Tips for choice

If you have children, it is better to take separate toothbrushes for them. A children’s electric toothbrush has soft bristles and always works in a gentle mode. With such a brush, there is no risk of mixing up the nozzle or setting the frequency of oscillation to an unacceptably high level.

If you’re serious about getting your teeth whitened, look for whitening-enabled brushes with whitening tips that come with whitening tips. 

If you travel a lot, look for a travel case that comes with it. Also a plus will be the long battery life of the brush of your choice.

For the best cleaning results, choose among “smart” models that have control from your smartphone.

It is not recommended to use regular nozzles if you wear braces on your teeth. Check to see if there is a special nozzle on the brush.

Related Posts


Recent Stories