How to choose the best electric toothbrush features

Lynn Wright / 24 May 2016

Here’s our guide to the most important features to consider when shopping for the perfect electric toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes come with a wide variety of models. Basic electric toothbrushes may have just one brush head and a single cleaning mode, while premium models offer a host of features and accessories that explain their high price. Knowing what features are worth paying extra for will help you choose the best electric toothbrush for you.

For more information on electric toothbrushes read How to buy the best electric toothbrush.

What electric toothbrush features to look for

Brush modes Many electric toothbrushes offer a range of brushing modes so you can adjust cleaning to suit your needs. Typically these include a whitening or polish mode, daily clean, deep cleaning mode, massage and sensitive modes. A sensitive mode is useful for children and those with sensitive teeth. Some electric toothbrushes can switch between rotating, pulsing, vibrating and oscillating motions, again to suit the area of the mouth being cleaned.

Brushing timer Electric toothbrushes with timers are a great way to ensure you brush your teeth for the full two minutes as recommended by dentists. Some models are programmed to stop working after two minutes while others beep when it’s time to stop brushing.

Interval timer Some electric toothbrushes have interval timers that help ensure you brush all of your teeth within the recommended two minutes. An interval timer buzzes, or pulses every 30 seconds to signal that it’s time to move on to the next section of your mouth. This way, each area of your mouth is thoroughly cleaned.

Pressure sensor Brushing your teeth too vigorously can make gums sore and bleed. Over time, pressing too hard when brushing may even cause your gums to recede. Prevent this by choosing an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor, which lets you know if you’re pressing too hard with a flashing light or a beeping/ buzzing sound.

Replacement heads The brush heads on your electric toothbrush need to be replaced at around the same frequency as you replace a manual toothbrush – every three to six months. Replacement heads can be expensive, so before you buy an electric toothbrush, check the price and availability of new heads for it. Buying in multi-packs will help keep costs down.

Soft-grip handles Opt for an electric toothbrush with a soft grip handle as it will be more comfortable to hold and use.

Battery life This can vary widely across models. A premium electric toothbrush’s battery should last six weeks of twice-daily brushings between charges, while cheaper models typically need more frequent charging – sometimes lasting just two or three weeks.

Power charger A basic accessory for your electric toothbrush is a power cable or a charging station. Most rechargeable models come with a charging stand on to which you place your toothbrush when the battery is flat, although some cheaper models operate on standard AA batteries that can be easily replaced. A few models have a cable so you can plug the toothbrush directly into a bathroom wall socket.

Travel case A travel case is a handy and hygienic feature if you plan to take your electric toothbrush and its charger away with you on holiday or when you travel. 

Ready to choose the perfect electric toothbrush for you, read our guide to the Five best electric toothbrushes.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.