The Best Electric Toothbrushes for Every User, According to Two Dentists

iStock.com/Wavebreak
iStock.com/Wavebreak

If you listen to electric toothbrush manufacturers, picking up a manual toothbrush is as antiquated a practice as using a horse and carriage to get around town. Battery-powered toothbrushes promise to remove more plaque than their analog counterparts thanks to their high-speed scrubbing—and the gentle nudge that encourages users to brush for the correct amount of time.

While using proper technique with a manual toothbrush will do a fine job of maintaining your dental health, many people prefer to leave the nuances to a gadget. The problem is one of choice: With literally hundreds of models available, deciding which electric toothbrush is the best fit for your mouth can be as agonizing as an extraction.

To help you decide, Mental Floss asked two practicing dentists which electric toothbrushes they recommend to their patients, as well as which models they actually use themselves. Since their answers varied depending on a person’s individual cleaning needs and preferences, we’ve narrowed it down to a few options. Check out the best electric toothbrushes that could earn you compliments the next time you see your hygienist, including the best options for adults, kids, those with sensitive teeth, and people who never remember to swap out their brush heads.

1. Best All-Around Brush for Most Users // Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean electric toothbrush rests in its charging station.
Philips Sonicare, Amazon

Philips Sonicare has emerged as one of the most dominant brands in the electric toothbrush industry, for good reason. Both dentists we spoke to voiced their preference for Sonicare toothbrushes, both for their own personal home use and as the brand they recommend most often to patients in their practice.

“For me, the Sonicare is much gentler and not as aggressive as the Oral-B,” explains Gabija Revis, a dentist who practices in Frisco, Colorado. While Oral-B’s small brush head uses an oscillating action—similar to the tooth polisher used during cleaning appointments—the Sonicare’s up/down vibrating motion tackles more teeth at one time. The DiamondClean model also sports many of the features of power brushes that dentists favor most, including a timer that notifies users that they’ve brushed for the recommended two minutes.

“I find [the DiamondClean] is tailored to all dental needs,” says Sheri Doniger, who operates a general dentistry practice in Lincolnwood, Illinois. “It has several settings, from Clean, White, Polish, Gum Care, and Sensitive. I switch between Clean, which is a two-minute set timer, to White, which is a three-minute timer." The toothbrush notifies users when they've spent the recommended 30 seconds for each quadrant, making sure that they spend an equal amount of time on all of their teeth.

(Note: Sonicare also sells much cheaper toothbrush models than the DiamondClean that offer the same basic two-minute timer and up/down vibrating motion dentists recommend, albeit with fewer settings and slightly different brush heads. The Sonicare Essence retails for just $25 on Amazon.)

Revis also approves of the Sonicare’s DiamondClean brush heads, which are slightly smaller than most power brushes and can make positioning the toothbrush along the gum line easier.

Buy it on Amazon for $148 or at these other retailers:

2. Best for Sensitive Teeth // Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean

A woman holds up the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean electric toothbrush near a sink
Philips Sonicare, Amazon

One of the biggest mistakes users make while brushing manually is attacking their teeth with an overzealous scrubbing technique, which can damage enamel and contribute to gum recession. If you notice your brush bristles are splayed out, you might be an offender. “It’s crazy to think you can brush too well and cause damage, but I see it frequently in my practice,” Revis says.

To combat this, some powered brushes come with a pressure sensor that alerts users when they’re pressing the brush against their teeth too hard. The Sonicare ProtectiveClean goes a step further, offering three intensity settings that reduce the vibrations for people with sensitive teeth. (If you have gum recession or are prone to over-brushing, make sure to ask your dentist if an electric brush is suitable for you.)

And remember that an electric brush is doing the work for you, so there's no need to do anything other than hold it against your teeth and toward your gum line. One option to reduce aggressive cleaning habits, Revis says, is to hold the powered brush in your non-dominant hand.

Buy it on Amazon for $108 or at these other retailers:

3. Best for Kids // Philips Sonicare for Kids

The Philips Sonicare for Kids electric toothbrush sits next to a display that features the brushing app
Philips Sonicare, Amazon

There’s more to a toothbrush meant for kids than brush or handle size. Doniger says the Sonicare for Kids incorporates a number of high-tech features that can prove useful for children who are reluctant to brush or do a poor job. “My grandkids use the Sonicare for Kids,” she says. “I recommend that to all my families with children. The brush has fun stickers, two cleaning modes, and is connected to an interactive app that helps to motivate the kids to brush longer. Since it is Bluetooth-enabled, parents or guardians are able to keep track of brushing time even when the brush isn't connected to the app. This is a great feature. When the little ones say they brushed, this app will let them see if they did and for how long.”

The Sonicare for Kids is also designed so that parents can manually assist in brushing if necessary, and comes with a timer that urges kids to keep going.

Buy it on Amazon for $40 or at these other retailers:

4. Best for the Absent-Minded User // quip

Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, dentists recommend changing the brush heads every two to three months. When your brush heads are beginning to wear out, they’re not doing as good a job of cleaning your teeth.

Quip is a subscription service that automates this process, sending you new brush heads every two months for their proprietary toothbrush handle, which opts for a simple design free of the bells and whistles of other brushes. “It’s really popular among younger adults,” Revis says. “I’ve found that patients really like the [brush service]. It’s also gentle on teeth.”

Buy it from quip for $25, plus $5 every three months for brush heads refills.

5. Best for Germaphobes // Philips Sonicare FlexCare Whitening Edition

The Philips Sonicare FlexCare electric toothbrush is pictured along with the included UV sanitizer
Philips Sonicare, Amazon

While not all the features offered by high-end electric toothbrushes are useful, UV sanitizing functions (which sterilize brushes between uses) can come in handy, especially if you have a small bathroom. Doniger says you might want to consider one if your bathroom set-up makes it more likely germs will collect near your sink, or if your toilet is less than 6 feet away from where you keep your toothbrushes. “Since [6 feet] is geographically impossible in some bathrooms, the UV sanitizing feature is nice,” Doniger says. “I have a separate UV sanitizer for my brushes.”

For a toothbrush with sanitizing features, we recommend the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Whitening Edition.

Buy it on Amazon for $150 for a two-pack. Sonicare also makes a standalone UV sanitizer that sells for $30.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

These Modern, Minimalist Cremation Urns Double as Planters

C.C. Boyce
C.C. Boyce

Cremation is becoming an increasingly common end-of-life plan, but many have lamented the lack of options when selecting an urn to store their loved one's ashes. Many of these vessels take the form of drab-looking vases that, for some people, serve as reminders of a painful event.

That’s why C.C. Boyce stepped in. The Los Angeles-based designer and woodworker created a collection of “planturns”—urns that double as planters—to fill a gap in the market.

“A while back a friend’s father passed away and they couldn’t find a cremation urn that they liked, so they asked me to make something, and I did, thinking this would just be a one-off custom job,” Boyce said in a video uploaded to Kickstarter. “But when I posted the final product to Instagram, I was flooded with messages from people all across the death care industry—people who took care of pets as well as people.”

Plant urns
C.C. Boyce

Some wanted an urn with a more modern aesthetic, while others wanted a subtler piece that would effortlessly blend with their household decor. The symbolism of death fusing with new life has not gone unnoticed, either.

Boyce spent a year experimenting with different designs and settled on two styles: one that comes in speckled maple, and another that comes in a two-toned walnut and sycamore. All of the vessels have two parts that attach via magnetic pull, so even if the planturn gets knocked over, the ashes will still be safe and sound.

The bottom part contains a hand-waxed muslin bag to store your loved one’s cremated remains, and the top part features a glass or ceramic holder for your plant of choice, whether it’s a succulent or air plant.

They come in three sizes, which will vary in accordance with the amount of ashes you want to store. A small planturn is suitable for small pets, while a large can hold the ashes of a person. Get it on Kickstarter for $225 to $500, depending on the size.

Celebrate Earth Day With 7 Eco-Friendly Fashion Options That Won't Pollute the Planet

iStock.com/lolostock
iStock.com/lolostock

Fashion is one of Earth’s most resource-intensive, environment-polluting industries. Manufacturing clothing requires vast quantities of water, international transport, and labor—and after all that, clothes regularly get thrown away after just a few months or years. (In part because recycling fabric into new textiles is very difficult.)

But that doesn’t mean that you need to become a nudist in order to save the Earth. There are plenty of clothing companies that take their environmental impact very seriously, using recycled and organic materials and trying to minimize the carbon footprint of their supply chain and manufacturing process. This Earth Day, take a look at some of the clothing that allows you to feel good about looking good.

1. Ralph Lauren Earth Polo

While it’s easier to find eco-friendly clothing at outdoor and sporting retailers, some mainstream fashion companies are getting in on the trend, too. Ralph Lauren just launched its first polo shirt made of recycled material—the Earth Polo. Available for both men and women in four different colors, the shirts are made with fabric derived from plastic bottles. Though they look nearly identical to the company’s regular styles, each Earth Polo is made from approximately 12 recycled plastic bottles. And to reduce water pollution, the colored fabrics are dyed with a process that requires no water.

Buy it from Ralph Lauren for men and women for $90.

2. Madewell Second Wave Swimwear

Madewell launched its first sustainable swimwear line in February 2019, meaning that you can feel a little less guilty about ocean trash while frolicking at the beach. Made from recycled plastic bottles, Second Wave swimsuits are available in two-piece or one-piece designs in a variety of colors and patterns. According to the company, the one-piece suits incorporate material from eight used plastic bottles, while its separates are each made from two plastic bottles. (In other words, if you want to save the environment, cover up!) We like the simplicity of this $80 red one-piece suit, but there are plenty of options to choose from starting at $45 per piece. Sizes run from XX small to 3X.

Buy it at Madewell for $45 and up.

3. PrAna Shirts

The California-based clothing company prAna is all about sustainability, from its materials to its manufacturing to the composting program at its headquarters. It makes pieces with organic and recycled materials and participates in fair trade and bluesign certification. You can filter items in its online store based on whether it’s made with recycled content, and there’s a lot to choose from, whether you’re looking for something to wear to the office, the beach, or yoga class. The Iselle t-shirt line for women is made with 92 percent recycled polyester and 8 percent hemp (which requires fewer pesticides and less water to produce than cotton), and comes in short-sleeve (left), long-sleeve, and tank designs. For men, the Transverse line of shirts is made with 95 percent recycled polyester and 5 percent hemp. There are also dressier options—the Merger button-down shirts (right) are made with 44 percent recycled polyester, 53 percent hemp, and 3 percent spandex.

Buy it from prAna.

4. Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket

A navy blue Patagonia jacket
Patagonia, Backcountry.com

Patagonia’s Rainshadow jackets are designed to keep you dry but cool during summer showers or while you’re working hard. The latest version of the design—which is fully waterproof but still breathable—is made with ECONYL, a recycled nylon made from discarded materials like abandoned fishing nets. ECONYL’s manufacturer estimates that the material reduces the climate change-related impact of nylon by up to 80 percent compared to new construction made from oil.

Buy it from Backcountry.com for men and women for $200.

5. Mammut Convey Recycled Down Jacket

Down-filled jackets are a reliable way to stay toasty during the cold months, but you may worry about the impact your outdoor adventures have on the ducks and geese that serve as the source for your jacket’s filling. Many outdoor retailers are switching to recycled down, which repurposes down from used bedding, cushions, and other items that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Mammut’s Convey is one of the best puffy jackets for cold weather, according to Popular Mechanics, and its 700 fill down comes from recycled sources.

Buy it from Mammut for men and women for $200.

6. Decathlon Fleece

Decathlon, a French mega-retailer that’s essentially the IKEA of sporting goods, makes a number of jackets, shirts, and pants using recycled polyester and other eco-friendly materials. (It’s also dedicated to reducing any unnecessary packaging.) The company just launched its first U.S. store in the Bay Area, and is rolling out its online store nationwide. If you’re looking for gear made with recycled materials, head to the fleece department—it its lightweight Forclaz 50 fleece jackets are made with 100 percent recycled polyester. The company also manufactures plenty of warm-weather gear with recycled materials, too, like its TREK 500 t-shirts (available for men and women) and flip-flops, all made with a majority, if not 100 percent, recycled materials. Oh, and did we mention that everything is dirt cheap?

Buy Forclaz 50 fleece jackets from Decathlon for both men and women for $5.

7. Pacsafe ECONYL Backpack

Recycled fabric isn’t just for clothing. A number of retailers also use sustainable textiles to make accessories. Pacsafe, which makes secure bags designed to keep your stuff from getting snatched while you’re traveling, makes a line of anti-theft bags designed with ECONYL regenerated nylon. The carry-on backpack has all the same security features as the company’s other products—cut-resistant straps and fabric, locking clips and zippers, and more—but it’s made with recycled materials. And all the profits from the line go to the Turtle Fund, the company’s conservation effort aimed at helping endangered sea turtles.

Buy it from Pacsafe for $130.

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