Best Cheap Electric Toothbrushes
Published on By Michael Sweet
Philips Sonicare 2 Series Review
From $40 Best
- Makes teeth feel very clean, users report.
- Sonic wave technology is touted by dental professionals.
- Up to two weeks between charges; battery indicator light.
- Intensity builds over first 14 uses.
- Features a two-minute timer and 30-second quadrant alert.
- Slim, angled neck and brush head.
- The Sweethome's runner-up for best electric toothbrush.
- Replacement brush heads are pricey.
Takeaway: The Philips Sonicare 2 Series is one of the brand's most affordable electric toothbrushes. It's very popular with reviewers, who laud the cleaning results. Users also like the timer and long-lasting battery charge. About the only gripe we found concerns the comparatively high cost of replacement brush heads for this Philips Sonicare toothbrush.
Oral-B Pro 1000 Review
From $40 Best
- Feels comfortable on teeth and gums, reviewers say.
- User-friendly, lightweight, and travel-ready.
- Two-minute timer and 30-second quadrant alert.
- Pressure sensor stops the pulsing if you're brushing too hard.
- Affordable replacement brush heads; compatible with all Oral-B electric toothbrush heads.
- The Sweethome's pick for best electric toothbrush.
- TechGearLab Best Buy.
- No control over speed or intensity.
- Large brush head may be uncomfortable for some users.
- Seems loud compared with other electric toothbrushes.
Takeaway: It's easy to see why the Oral-B Pro 1000 is one of the most popular electric toothbrushes. Users cite reasons such as light weight, comfort, durable build, and effectiveness. Some reviews say the action may be a bit rough for people with sensitive gums, but a vast majority declare this Oral-B electric toothbrush a winner.
Philips Sonicare for Kids Review
From $42 Best
- Two brushing modes: low (intensity builds gradually) and high.
- 30-second quadrant alert up to two minutes.
- App teaches and encourages kids to brush.
- Up to two weeks between charges; battery-indicator light.
- Rubber handle provides a good grip.
- Comes with removeable stickers to customize the handle and a protective cover.
- Full charge takes up to 24 hours.
- Included brush head may be a little large for small kids; smaller brush heads are sold separately.
- A handful of users can't connect the toothbrush to their devices via Bluetooth.
- Expensive for a kids' toothbrush.
Takeaway: Getting kids to brush can be a real chore, but the Philips Sonicare for Kids makes the task easier and perhaps even fun with a Bluetooth-connected app. We read many, many reviews from parents saying their children really take to this toothbrush and it encourages them to develop good brushing habits.
Oral-B 3D White Battery Toothbrush Review
From $6 Good
- Cleans teeth well, reviewers say.
- Comes with two AA batteries.
- Good for travel, with a compact size and no charger to transport.
- Accepts any Oral-B brush head for battery-powered toothbrushes.
- Powerful brush may be too much for some users.
- Battery discharges quickly.
- Included brush head is too large for some users.
Takeaway: The Oral-B 3D White Battery Toothbrush costs barely more than a tube of toothpaste, making it a super-cheap gateway into the world of power brushing. Users generally like how well this brush cleans their teeth, and the compact size is suited for on-the-go brushing. Grousing about limited battery life and excessive brushing strength should be weighed against the price, convenience, and positive comments in scores of reviews.
Oral-B Vitality Floss Action Review
From $20 Good
- Cleans teeth thoroughly, reviewers say.
- Two-minute timer with 30-second quadrant alert.
- Waterproof handle.
- User-friendly; relatively lightweight and compact design.
- Special brush head simulates flossing; compatible with other Oral-B heads.
- Comes with two brush heads.
- Vibration is too intense for some users.
- Plastic on/off button feels chintzy, some users say.
- Maximum of five days of battery life with twice-daily brushing.
Takeaway: Reviewers of the Oral-B Vitality Floss Action award points for ergonomic design and ease of use. Some object to what they consider too much vibration and relatively limited battery life between charges -- both minor drawbacks to an otherwise good investment in oral health.
Philips Sonicare Essence Review
From $25 Good
- Sonic wave technology cleans teeth very well, dental professionals say and users confirm in reviews.
- Power increases gently over first 12 uses.
- Built-in two-minute timer.
- Up to 14 days between charges.
- Users like the smallish brush head.
- Comes with a travel case.
- Less powerful than other Sonicare brushes; some users are disappointed with the cleaning.
- No quadrant timer.
- Too bulky and heavy for some users.
- Small minority of users report recharging problems after several months.
- Replacement brush heads are expensive.
Takeaway: The Essence toothbrush from Philips Sonicare is a cheap but effective electric brush. It does the job, it's comfortable, and the battery holds a charge longer than some comparable models. Complaints are scattered here and there among reviews, but overall, the Philips Sonicare Essence is a good low-cost way to begin using an electric toothbrush.
Colgate 360 Optic White Powered Toothbrush Review
From $6 Think Twice
- Does a decent job cleaning teeth, users report.
- Relatively quiet for an electric toothbrush.
- Cheek and tongue cleaner.
- Comes with two AAA batteries.
- Cheek scraper rubs uncomfortably against the mouth.
- Many users say the brush isn't very powerful; some say a manual works better.
- Limited battery life; some reports of the brush failing after the batteries are replaced.
- Replacement brush heads are not widely available.
Takeaway: The bare-bones Colgate 360 Optic White Powered Toothbrush sells at a bargain-basement price and provides an adequate level of service. However, some users aren't impressed with its performance, design, or durability. There are better battery-powered toothbrushes on the market.
Choosing an Electric Toothbrush
Tooth brushing is an essential part of a daily hygiene routine, not to mention overall well-being. Dentists widely agree that electric toothbrushes are superior to manual brushes when it comes to maintaining dental health: They get at hard-to-reach areas, massage gums, attack plaque, and clean effectively (assuming proper technique). They sell at prices ranging from as little as $5 to nearly $200. Cheapism.com culled the best electric toothbrushes under $50 based on scores of expert and user reviews. Each of our picks provides a thorough and comfortable cleaning experience, and many include a few extras, such as a timer and different brushing modes.
Electric Toothbrush Brands.Oral-B absolutely dominates the market, starting with inexpensive electric toothbrushes and climbing ever higher on the price scale. Our favorite is the Oral-B Pro 1000 (starting at $40), followed by the Vitality Floss Action (starting at $20).
Philips Sonicare is another big name in this category. The company focuses mostly on pricier models but also produces two that rank among the best cheap electric toothbrushes: the Philips Sonicare 2 Series (starting at $40) and the Philips Sonicare for Kids (starting at $42). An even less expensive and still solid option is the Philips Sonicare Essence (starting at $25).
Popular toothpaste brands such as Colgate and Arm & Hammer also sell cheap electric toothbrushes, as does a company called Pursonic.
Expensive vs. Cheap Electric Toothbrushes.For shoppers interested in giving their teeth the luxury treatment, there are a surprising number of electric toothbrushes tagged well above $100. These models often come with features such as Bluetooth and accompanying apps, battery level indicators, travel cases, and cool designs or finishes. Cheap electric toothbrushes only sometimes feature such goodies. Among the models we researched in our price range, the Oral-B Pro 1000 includes a pressure sensor that sends an alert when brushing too hard. And the Philips Sonicare for Kids includes Bluetooth and app support (perhaps it will make brushing more appealing!).
A vast majority of electric toothbrushes, including almost all our budget picks, are rechargeable and come with a charging station that plugs into a regular outlet. But the very cheapest electric toothbrushes are powered by disposable batteries. These basic models cost only slightly more than manual toothbrushes. The Oral-B 3D White Powered Toothbrush (starting at $6) is a good example; it runs on a single AA battery. The Colgate 360 Optic White Powered Toothbrush (starting at $6) takes two AAA batteries, but reviews suggest they don't last long -- one thing that keeps this model from earning our recommendation.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Electric Toothbrush Reviews: What We Considered
Even though electric toothbrushes are widely recommended by professionals, most online reviews are posted by consumers, on manufacturer sites and retail sites including Amazon, QVC, Overstock, Walmart, RiteAid, Best Buy, Walgreens, and Target. In making our picks, we also consulted reviews by dental bloggers and product review sites such as TopTenReviews, The Sweethome, and TechGearLab, which conduct product testing.
Although some people do wonder how to use an electric toothbrush, most models aren't very complicated, and ease of use is rarely a concern. Battery life, however, is a big deal for many shoppers, particularly those who travel often and don't want to lug around yet another charger. Users want the battery to hold a charge for more than a few days. We also assessed the cost of replacement heads, which should be switched out every three months or so, and noted other helpful features.
General Performance.Brushing action varies on electric toothbrushes. Some models oscillate, some pulsate, and some use sonic wave technology. Some dentists say the latter may be slightly more effective in killing bacteria below the gum line and forestalling plaque buildup. However, we didn't find any indication in reviews that one type of motion is better than the other. Oscillating, sonic, and dual cleaning all garner strong support.
For the most part, people who buy budget electric toothbrushes are happy with their performance, saying they do indeed clean much better than manual brushing and produce results that dentists notice. The brushing power of some electric toothbrushes can be pretty intense, though. We read complaints from reviewers about the "rough" experience they had using even the best electric toothbrushes we reviewed, such as the Oral-B 1000. Some users of the battery-powered Colgate 360 Optic White Powered Toothbrush consider it uncomfortable, according to reviews on Amazon.
In situations like this, experts recommend opting for a model with a choice of intensity settings. Even people with sensitive teeth or gums should be able to find one that's forgiving. The relatively pricey Oral-B Pro 5000 (starting at $100) offers five brushing modes.
Battery Life.Battery life is one of the top factors that buyers consider when shopping for an electric toothbrush. For rechargeable brushes, the typical amount of time from full charge to empty is about two weeks. But battery life varies by brand and usage frequency.
Unfortunately, some electric toothbrushes we researched run on batteries that may drain a little too quickly. The Oral-B Vitality Floss Action lasts only about five days between charges, reviewers write, and the Oral-B Pro 1000 doesn't do much better, lasting about a week. The Brio SmartClean (starting at $68) sits outside the budget price range but easily surpasses our picks with very impressive battery life that maxes out at six weeks.
Ease of Use.Electric toothbrushes are pretty easy to use, for the most part. They usually don't weigh very much, often less than 5 ounces, although toothbrushes with larger batteries may weigh almost a full pound. Cheap models usually have only one brush mode, so it's simply a matter of pressing the power button and brushing away. Brushes with additional brushing modes add a bit more complexity but still are user-friendly.
Models that incorporate Bluetooth and apps can present a challenge. In some reviews of the Philips Sonicare for Kids, buyers say they couldn't sync the brush to an older tablet or smartphone, for example.
Replacement Heads.Just as a manual toothbrush should be replaced every few months, so too the brush head on an electric toothbrush. In some cases the price of this replacement part ratchets up the long-term cost. Prices vary by brand and style of brush head (some brushes, such as the Oral-B models on our list, support several types of heads). Some models may accommodate cheaper off-brand heads. It's a good idea to factor the price of replacement heads into the total cost of ownership when choosing which electric toothbrush to buy. Also make sure that replacement heads are readily available.
Even for the same brush head, costs can vary widely depending where you buy and in what quantity. But for the sake of comparison, we checked the prices of replacement brush heads from the makers of the toothbrushes on our list. Colgate brush heads go for about $3.50 each in a two-pack. Oral-B sells several kinds of brush heads at different prices, but its popular Floss Action replacement brush head comes in an eight-pack for $35 ($4.40 each). Brio sells two-packs for about $12 ($6 each). Philips Sonicare brush heads are the priciest: Its Simply Clean replacement heads sell for about $7.50 each in a five-pack costing $38.
Most cheap electric toothbrushes come with one brush head to start, but the Pursonic S500 (starting at $35) includes 12 as part of the initial package. Pursonic's replacement heads are also the cheapest of any brand we researched -- $25 for an eight-pack, or about $3 apiece. A user who follows the recommendation to change out the brush every three months won't even need to buy replacements for three years -- although reviews suggest the brush might quit holding a charge before then.
Timers.Many electric toothbrushes have a built-in timer that automatically shuts off the brush after two minutes, which is the recommended amount of brushing time. Dentists also urge spending 30 seconds on each quadrant of teeth (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left). Electric toothbrushes often include a quadrant timer that pulses, pauses, or gives some indication that it's time to move on. Among the models we researched, all but the disposable-battery-powered toothbrushes feature a timer.
Additional Products We Considered
Pursonic S500 Review
- Comes with 12 color-coded brush heads and a storage case.
- Sonic action cleans teeth well, according to reviewers.
- Three brushing modes: gum massage, sensitive, and normal.
- Two-minute timer with 30-second alert.
- Thin, lightweight handle.
- LED battery-charge indicator.
- Inexpensive replacement heads.
- Vibration may be too strong for some users.
- Battery wears out quickly; may stop holding a full charge within a year.
Takeaway: Reviewers of the Pursonic S500 appreciate the choice of brushing modes, partly because some find the vibrations on the "normal" setting so strong as to be uncomfortable. The extra brush heads included in the package add value -- multiple people can share the brush and one person can go three years without buying replacements. However, we saw a large number of user complaints that the battery stopped holding a charge long before then, which bumped this model off our slate of top picks.
Brio SmartClean Review
- Up to six weeks of battery life.
- Very comfortable brushing experience, users say.
- Sonic wave technology is easy on gums and cleans teeth well, according to reviews.
- Three brushing modes.
- Two-minute timer and 30-second quadrant alert.
- Comes with two brush heads.
- TechGearLab Editors' Choice.
- Brushing may be a little too intense for some users.
- Handle may be too large to hold comfortably.
- Very large battery is heavier than most.
- Only one type of brush head available.
Takeaway: Reviewers rave about the Brio SmartClean, with comfort and impressive battery life singled out for special praise. The tradeoff for the bigger battery is a handle that's on the heavier side. Users also like the round charging base with holders for two brush heads and the affordable price for replacement heads.
Oral-B Pro 5000 Review
- Five brushing modes: daily clean, deep clean, sensitive, whitening, massage.
- Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush pairs with app to track and give feedback on brushing habits.
- Pressure sensor alert when brushing too hard.
- Two-minute timer with 30-second quadrant alert.
- Comes with a holder for four brush heads and a travel case for two.
- Compatible with many brush heads.
- Handle seems chintzy, according to some reviews.
- No brushing-mode display.
Takeaway: Packing in lots of features, the Oral-B Pro 5000 is one of the fancier models around and still sells at what might pass for a reasonable price. It's Bluetooth-enabled and boasts a host of other extras rarely found on brushes in the Cheapism price range. The Oral-B Pro 5000 has few drawbacks, so go for it if cost is no deterrent.