Table of Contents
- Sonicare Primary Models
- Why Sonicare?
- Benefits of a Sonic Toothbrush
- General Sonicare Toothbrush Features
- What to Look For When Choosing the Best Sonicare Toothbrush
- The Best Sonicare Toothbrush – Our Top Picks
- #1 Sonicare DiamondClean
- #2 Sonicare Essence+
- #3 Sonicare 3 Series Gum Health
- Replacement Brush Heads
- How to Use a Sonicare Toothbrush
- Taking Care Of Your Sonicare Toothbrush
- Best Sonicare Toothbrush Wrap Up
If you’ve decided to get an electric toothbrush, you’ve got a long journey ahead of you. Between several major brands and dozens of different models the market is saturated with life-changing, teeth-altering brush options at every level. That’s why we put together this super awesome, crazy useful guide for finding the best Sonicare toothbrush.
In this guide we’ll focus on walking you through the process at every level. First, let’s take a look at what Sonicare has to offer to the market.
Sonicare Primary Models
Since their debut in 1992, Sonicare has unleashed a myriad (fancy word, huh?!?) of different brush options. Their current lineup features 10 different major options, listed below:
- FlexCare Platinum Connected
- Sonicare For Kids
- 2 Series Plaque Control
- 3 Series Gum Health
Each of these toothbrushes seeks to provide a unique value proposition and their prices range anywhere from $10 (PowerUp) up to $200 (DiamondClean).
If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you want to get a Sonicare toothbrush, we’ll look into what Sonicare has to offer.
The majority of the toothbrushes that Sonicare offers are considered “sonic” toothbrushes.
This means that they have a frequency of somewhere between 200 and 400 Hz, which translates to a range of 24,000 to 48,000 revolutions per minute. These differ from “ultrasonic” toothbrushes, that vibrates upwards of 2.5 million times per second.
For those wondering, sonic toothbrushes are labeled as such because they vibrate in a range we can hear (our range of hearing is generally 20-20,000 Hz).
Ultrasonic toothbrushes vibrate at a frequency far above that.
Just because ultrasonic toothbrushes vibrate at a higher frequency doesn’t inherently make them more effective.
Most Sonicare toothbrushes oscillate at about 31,000 revolutions per minute, putting them smack dab in the middle of that ‘sonic’ zone. The only toothbrush that doesn’t have 31,000 rpm is the Sonicare PowerUp (and as such we don’t recommend it, more on that later though).
Benefits of a Sonic Toothbrush
So what does a sonic toothbrush get you? Well, there’s this pretty spiffy thing called ‘no-contact brushing’, which means the toothbrush is cleaning areas that it’s not touching. It’s pretty cool actually.
The basics of sonic toothbrush technology fall in the domain of fluid dynamics. If you remember from science class, fluid dynamics is the study of how fluids move in different situations.
A sonic toothbrush vibrates really fast. That fast motion will cause the fluid (mostly saliva, but some water) to move around really fast too. The quick moving fluid can actually dislodge little microorganisms that are stuck in hard-to-reach parts of your mouth.
This is pretty neat for two big reasons. First is that it increases the area of effect for your toothbrush. Studies show that ‘no-contact brushing’ has a radius of about 4 millimeters, or about 1/8 of an inch, beyond the brush head. That doesn’t sound like much, but in the right areas it can be super useful. If used near your gum line, it can actually dislodge some of the plaque that are stuck in your gum tissue.
The second is that your toothbrush can reach areas that a regular toothbrush normally can’t reach. If there’s a spot that’s 4mm into the crevice between your teeth, a manual toothbrush (or a non-sonic electric one) won’t be able to reach it. A sonic toothbrush can though.
General Sonicare Toothbrush Features
Sonicare offers a variety of features across its current models. As one might expect, the more features the higher the price. We’ll take a quick look at the major features so you know what’s on the playing field.
The smart timer is simply a 2 minute timer built into the toothbrush. Most models will simply vibrate and pause briefly after a full 120 seconds of brushing. Pretty straightforward.
While ‘QuadPace’ sounds super cool, it’s just a slightly more elaborate timer. It’ll vibrate and pause the toothbrush briefly every 30 seconds. This allows you to focus on each quadrant of your mouth (lower left, lower right, upper left, upper right) for 30 seconds each. When the 2 minutes is up you’ll not only have cleaned your entire mouth, but you’ll have done so in a pretty even manner.
If you’re coming from the super boring and super lame land of manual toothbrushes, the super ultra mega extreme power of a sonic toothbrush might be a bit too much for you. As such, Sonicare as implemented an ‘easy-start’ mode into several of their models. This basically means that the toothbrush will ramp up speed and intensity over the first several uses.
This is important to know for two reasons. First is that it can ease any anxiety you have over jumping into the sonic toothbrush world full force. The second is that it’ll take a week or two for you to really understand what the toothbrush is capable of.
It ramps up the speed over the first 12-14 uses and won’t recognize that another person is using it. Just something to keep in mind.
All Sonicare models (except the PowerUp) come with a standard “clean” mode. This is the regular toothbrush mode that spins the brush head at the 31,000 rpm for sonic toothbrush awesomeness, including that ‘no-contact’ brushing we talked about earlier. For the vast majority of folks, this is the mode that you’ll be using to clean your teeth most of the time.
Other Brush Modes
Depending on the model of brush you get, there’s a bunch of different extra brush modes it could come with. Some of them are sort of useful, others not so much. We’ll list all the modes that Sonicare offers below so you can take a look yourself.
Deep Clean Mode
The newest mode from Sonicare is their deep clean mode. As far as we can tell, this is simply their standard clean mode that lasts for three minutes instead of two. There’s not a lot of documentation about this online though, so it’s difficult to tell really.
Brushes with Deep Clean Mode: DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum
For those that find the standard clean mode a bit too strong, there’s sensitive mode. As one might expect, it’s the regular stuff turned down a few notches. The goal of this mode is to provide an alternative for those who find that the clean mode is uncomfortable on their gums/teeth, tickles a bit too much or is generally too intense. This is by far the most useful of the extra modes because it caters to a pretty wide group of people. This also makes Sonicare toothbrushes viable for those who have implants or have generally weaker teeth, such as the elderly.
Brushes with Sensitive Mode: DiamondClean, FlexCare+, HealthyWhite
As one might expect, the sensitive mode results in slightly less effective brushing. As such, we’d encourage someone who needs to use the sensitive mode to try and work their way up to the full, regular power clean mode.
Some of the higher end models come with a whitening mode. The focus of this goal is obviously to help whiten your teeth. What it boils down to is basically 2 minutes of your standard clean mode to help remove stains with an additional 30 seconds to help polish. It’s hard to see any major value coming from something that you could do with any regular brush anyways.
Brushes with Whitening Mode: DiamondClean, FexCare Platinum, HealthyWhite
Polish mode is designed to help give your teeth a quick polish. It’s only 1 minute and uses the power of the regular clean mode (as far as anyone can tell). It’s basically the same as brushing your teeth for one minute instead of two. Also if you’re worried, no, this mode won’t make you more inclined to enjoy polka music or corned beef (bad joke… I’m Polish J).
Brushes with Polish Mode: DiamondClean
Refresh mode is designed to give your teeth a quick refresh, something you’d use right before a date or a business meeting. It’s a 1 minute mode that uses the standard, regular power. Again, this is something anyone could do with any regular Sonicare toothbrush.
Brushes with Refresh Mode: FlexCare+
Gum Care Mode
Gum care mode cleans your teeth using the standard 2 minute clean mode and then provides an extra minute of lower power brushing to help stimulate healthy growth with your gums. This is a useful mode for those who have issues with their gums, but otherwise, most people won’t get a lot of use out of it. It can also be easily replicated by just lowering the intensity setting on the toothbrush (available on the FlexCare Platinum and Sonicare For Kids toothbrushes).
Brushes with Gum Care Mode: DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum, FlexCare+
Finally, we have massage mode. It’s basically the low-power mode that we just talked about, except for a full 2 minutes. The idea here is to focus entirely on stimulating and massaging your gums for healthy growth. Again, this is useful if you suffer from periodontal issues (gum disease, gingivitis) but otherwise it’s not something that a lot of people will get use out of. If your dentist has suggested you pay more attention to your gums, you might want to look towards picking up a toothbrush with this mode. It can also be replicated pretty easily by lowering the intensity on your toothbrush, as mentioned above.
Brushes with Massage Mode: FlexCare+
In generally, the vast majority of people will only be interesting in using the standard clean mode. This mode does a great job at removing plaque, cleaning your teeth and keeping things looking good. If you’re interested in other options like whitening or gum care, there are likely better options on the market that will work better. If you’re really into whitening we’d suggest you take the extra money you save from buying a cheaper toothbrush and buy some whitening toothpaste, some at-home kits or some whitening strips. These will work far better. For gum health, look towards getting some gum-focused mouthwash or toothpaste.
We talked about this above but figured we should specifically call it out. Many of the Sonicare toothbrushes have intensity settings. These settings allow you to turn things down a bit if you need to and really provides you with a fair bit of flexibility. It’s also great for those who are using one toothbrush for multiple people. For example, if you want to share this toothbrush with your kids, it might make sense for them to use a lower intensity setting to protect their newer teeth.
Anyhow, it basically acts like speed control option. The lower intensity, the lower the speed of the toothbrush. This results in less effective cleaning but can be great for stimulating or massaging gums.
Brushes with Intensity Settings: DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum, Sonicare For Kids, 3 Series Gum Health, HealthyWhite
Most people won’t need to be too worried about charging units but for those of you who travel internationally, it’s something you’re probably interested in. All Sonicare charging units are compatible with both 110V and 220V outlets. You’ll need an adapter to get the US based plug to fit into other plugs but otherwise you’ll be good to go.
Battery Types and Life
Most Sonicare models now use lithium ion batteries. Yea, there’s some bad press about these things in the news occasionally but in general you shouldn’t have any issues with it. Lithium ion batteries are generally good for somewhere between 300 and 500 full charging cycles, which puts you at several years at the minimum. It’s likely your toothbrush will wear down in other areas before you start having problems with the battery.
If, however, you do have problems, batteries can be replaced. You can either pick up an aftermarket battery and replace it yourself or contact Sonicare and have them help you. It’s not likely that this will be an issue though.
We’ll talk more about the best way to care for the battery farther down, but in general lithium ion batteries live the longest with partial charge cycles. That means you’ll want to charge about every week and a half or two weeks instead of letting it discharge completely.
Some Sonicare models still use nickel-metal hybrid batteries (NiMH). These work a bit differently – it’s best to let them discharge entirely before charging them again. Make sure you look into what battery your toothbrush uses so you can care for it the best way possible.
What to Look For When Choosing the Best Sonicare Toothbrush
With all these features and models, it can be tough to see the forest through the trees. For the most part, you’ll want to find something that works best for you. That being said though, there are a few features that we don’t think are extremely useful to most users.
- Strokes Per Minute: The main draw of getting a Sonicare toothbrush is that 31,000 strokes per minute. That causes the fluid in your mouth to move around quickly enough to provide some serious benefit. All models except the PowerUp toothbrush come with this feature so in general you’ll be fine.
- UV Brush Head Sanitizer: As nice as this sounds, it’s generally not that great. According to the American Dental Association, toothbrush santizers provide little benefit. As such, this feature isn’t the most useful. You’ll only find it on the FlexCare Platinum though.
- Extra Brushing Modes: The majority of extra brushing modes aren’t extremely useful to the average user. The main draw for getting a toothbrush with extra modes is just the peace of mind that you’re prepared for any situation that may come up in the future. Otherwise, you’ll probably be fine if you just get a toothbrush that has the regular ‘clean’ brush mode and some intensity adjustments.
The Best Sonicare Toothbrush – Our Top Picks
Below we have our top picks that range a variety of categories. Take a look through and find the one that works best for you!
The Sonicare DiamondClean is the top of the line and it’s hard to find a toothbrush that’ll perform better than this one. The major drawback is the price, but we’ll get to that. First, let’s take a look at some of the primary features.
- Smartimer and QuadPacer
- 5 brushing modes (Clean, Whiten, Sensitive, Gum Care, Deep Clean)
- 10x plaque removal over manual toothbrush
- Up to 3 weeks battery life
- USB charging cup and travel case
The one thing that we really liked with the DiamondClean is that almost all of the features included are useful. There are a few brush modes that you’re not likely to use, but otherwise everything is really solid.
You may notice that compared to other models the DiamondClean actually has fewer features, so what are you paying for exactly? Quality. We feel that everything Sonicare produces is generally high quality but the DiamondClean is better than their other models in almost every way. It lasts longer, it’s more comfortable to use, it’s quieter, it looks better, it cleans better – it really is just a solid, quality piece of machinery.
All Sonicare models are pretty easy to use, the DiamondClean included. The handle is thin, sleek and easy to grip. That’s important when you’ve got spit and toothpaste dripping all over your hand.
You’ll access all of its functionality via one button on the handle. You’ll use this button to turn the toothbrush on and then switch between modes. It’ll save the last setting though, so for most people you’ll just set it and forget it. Also it’s important to note that the DiamondClean doesn’t have different intensity settings like other Sonicare models. The only way to modify the way the brush operates is to change the brush mode.
As far as the noise, this thing is pretty quiet. That being said, electric toothbrushes tend to not be that loud. If you live in a small apartment or share a bathroom the reduced noise is a nice feature.
The charging station is pretty amazing too. At the time of this article it’s the only Sonicare toothbrush that comes with the ‘cup’ charging station. This is a pretty wonderful little device. The charging station appears to basically be a glass cup that you’d use to drink out of except it has a cable that plugs into the wall. Whenever you need to charge the DiamondClean you just set it in the cup and walk away. That’s it. The cup takes up significantly less space than many of the other, bulkier charging stations that Sonicare has to offer.
If you’re planning on travelling with the DiamondClean it’s pretty likely you won’t need a charging station at all. It’ll last for about a full 3 weeks fully topped off. If you do need to charge it on the road though, it comes with a usb charging bag. The bag (although it’s really more of a case) just plugs into a USB port or the wall. Just set the DiamondClean in the bag/case and it’ll charge on its own. Take it out in the morning and you’re good to go.
As far as the brushing goes, it’s pretty great. There are a lot of quality toothbrushes on the market but the DiamondClean seems to clean better than pretty much all of them. Every time I brush my teeth I walk away feeling like I just left a super dentist. That’s right. A super dentist.
Should you get the Sonicare DimaondClean? That depends. It’s less of a purchase and more of an investment. If you aren’t limited by cash then we’d encourage you to take a serious look at this toothbrush. It’ll keep your teeth really clean and it’ll do that for a long time. The DiamondClean is probably one of the best toothbrushes that man has ever made.
If you’re not excited about dropping $200 on a toothbrush, that’s completely reasonable. There are other options that will do a fantastic job cleaning your teeth for less than half the cost of this juggernaut. We’ll be honest in saying that the Sonicare DiamondClean is better than just about anything else out there though.
On the other end of the spectrum from the DiamondClean we have the Sonicare Essence+. This is one of their cheapest toothbrushes and will offer only the bare bones basics. And that’s what we like about it. Below is the quick list of features.
- Standard clean brush mode
- 3x plaque removal over manual toothbrush
- Up to 10 days battery life
- Applicable with snap-on Sonicare brush heads
That last one is pretty awesome and it’s why we chose this version over the cheaper Sonicare Essence base model. The original essence was only compatible with a specific type of brush head that only worked with the Essence. This updated version (the Essence+) works with Sonicare’s entire line of snap-on toothbrush replacement heads. That increases the customization and flexibility of this toothbrush tremendously.
The big thing that we missed here is the ability to modify the intensity of the toothbrush. The Essence+ has only one mode. That’ll work well for most people but if you get this and find that it’s a bit too intense there’s not really any way to change that. If you’re worried about a sonic toothbrush’s intensity, we’d recommend you spend a few extra dollars and get the 3 Series model. More on that below.
It’s important to keep in mind that we’re dealing with an entirely different beast than the DiamondClean. This model is definitely louder, less comfortable, has a smaller charge and doesn’t clean quite as well. But we’re completely okay with that.
The Essence+ is one of the cheapest option that gives you that 31,000 strokes per minute clean mode. This allows you to access the awesomeness of sonic toothbrush cleaning but at a significantly cheaper price than almost any other option on the market. That said you’ll find a few less convenient features here.
The toothbrush vibrates a bit more than you’re probably used to, but it’s something you’ll get used to quickly. And as we mentioned, it’s a bit louder. You’d be hard pressed to wake anybody up with it though. If you’ve got a significant other whose trying to catch a few extra winks though they might get a bit annoyed with you. That might be a bonus though.
As far as the clean, it’s definitely not as good as other options on the market but it still cleans extremely well. You’ll see a big gap between this toothbrush and your regular manual toothbrush. It’ll leave your mouth feeling pretty great day after day.
Another nice thing to note is that the charging station is pretty small. Some of the other Sonicare models have huge, cumbersome charging stations that take up way more space than necessary. This is small, lightweight and convenient. And while the charge lasts only about half as long as the DiamondClean, 10 days is still plenty long enough for most people.
We really like this toothbrush. It doesn’t try to ‘wow’ anybody with crazy features, extra modes or insane Bluetooth technology. It does one thing and does that well. If you’re looking to jump into sonic toothbrush land but don’t want to break the bank, the Sonicare Essence+ is probably your best bet.
Our final toothbrush recommendation is the Sonicare 3 Series toothbrush. This model fits into a great in-between spot of useful features and reasonable price. We personally feel that this is the best bang for your buck in the Sonicare linup. Below is a quick look at the features it provides.
- Smartimer and QuadPacer
- 3 intensity settings
- 6x plaque removal over manual toothbrush
- Up to 3 weeks battery life
- Charging station and USB travel case
We love this toothbrush because it takes all the cool, top-of-the-line stuff from the DiamondClean and pairs it with the bare-bones aspect of the Essence+. There aren’t any extraneous brush settings but still allows a comfortable amount of customization with the three intensity settings. The battery life is up there with the top level models and it includes the nifty carrying case.
While our experience with the 3 Series wasn’t as lavish as it was with the DiamondClean, it still impressed us. The clean we got from this toothbrush was pretty fantastic. You can definitely tell there’s a bit of an improvement over the Essence+. As we’ve said before though, any of these toothbrushes will clean your mouth well.
The charging station is similar to the Essence+, although you’ll need to use it less. The three weeks between charges nice and allows you to feel confident travelling for a week or more without needing the charging case. If you do happen to be out of town for a longer time though, the addition of the case is really nice. Not only is it great for travelling, but it allows a safe place to store your toothbrush wherever you are.
What makes the 3 Series shine is the three different intensity settings. We felt that the lower setting offers a very mild and gentle experience compared to the highest. This is great for first-time users who are a bit weary of the full setting.
This is a fantastic entry point for someone who isn’t looking to spend a fortune but still wants some of the nifty features Sonicare has to offer. The 3 Series balances price with functionality extremely well and we feel it’s the best value out of all the Sonicare models. It may not be the absolute best Sonicare toothbrush on the market, but the Sonicare 3 Series is probably the one that’ll work best for most people out there.
Replacement Brush Heads
One of the major advantages to picking up an electric toothbrush is access to an expansive line of toothbrush replacement heads. Sonicare offers a wide variety of options that span a bunch of different functions. Below is their line-up:
- Adaptive Clean
- ProResults Plaque Control
- ProResults Gum Health
- Ultra Soft Sensitive
- Simply Clean
- For Kids
Standard vs. Compact Size
We won’t go too into detail on the individual brush heads here because we have a whole article dedicated to it (see here). We’ll call out a few main points though. First, most brush heads (specifically the DiamondClean, Simply Clean, Adaptive Clean, ProResults, For Kids and e-Series) come in either a standard size or a compact size. In general, the standard size is a bit longer and has a slightly larger surface area. The compact size is smaller, shorter and has a decreased surface area.
Interestingly enough, studies show that the compact brush heads clean a tiny bit better than the standard brushes, but it’s by a small margin. In general you’ll want to buy a brush head that fits the size of your mouth.
Replacing Brush Heads
In general, you should be replacing brush heads about every 3 months. Most of them come with ‘indicator bristles’ that will help you see visually when the brush head is wearing down.
One of the big expenses that comes with electric toothbrushes that a lot of people don’t realize is replacing the brush heads. You’ll generally find replacement heads in packages that include somewhere between 2 and 5 units. These generally run somewhere between $10-15 per package. Depending on how many heads you use regularly, you’re probably looking at around $20-30 per person a year in brush heads. Just something to keep in mind.
Something you should take into account with brush heads is how they’re stored. We touched on it earlier, but the idea is that you’re keeping them clean and dry before use. You’ll almost certainly have several of these things sitting around unused because you can pretty much only buy them in packages.
For the most part, you’ll be just fine if you stick them in a plastic bag and throw them in a drawer. Just make sure to push all the air out and make sure wherever you’re keeping them isn’t too hot.
Some models come with extra brush head covers – these are great for keeping the head clean while you’re regularly using it. The big issue you’ll run into is if you have multiple people using multiple brush heads. In general, Sonicare is pretty inconsistent in how they include these, so make sure you read the description of the product carefully before purchasing to see if a cap is included or not.
How to Use a Sonicare Toothbrush
The techies at Sonicare did a pretty good job of making these toothbrushes easy to use. There’s not a whole lot different from your standard toothbrush. Even still, below is a quick walkthrough on how to use one if it’s your first time:
Make sure your brush head is snapped or screwed on cleanly. If not, it could cause a number of issues, including damage to your toothbrush.
After making sure that the brush head is secure, wet your brush head down slightly and apply a small dab of toothpaste. Since the Sonicare toothbrushes spin so quickly you’ll likely find that you need to apply less toothpaste than you’re used to. It foams up pretty quick. Play around with it a bit but make sure you’re not using more than you need!
Choose your brush mode and intensity setting. If you just bought your toothbrush, check to see if it has an Easy-Start mode. If so, don’t bother adjusting any settings. I’d recommend you start out with the standard clean mode but be careful that you test the waters slowly.
Begin to clean your teeth. If you have a QuadPacer timer on your toothbrush, focus on brushing your mouth in quadrants. This way you can use the 30 second interval to switch between different areas. If you have a standard timer, make sure to pace yourself appropriately so that you cover all parts of your mouth in the two minutes.
Brush with light pressure. Make sure you let the toothbrush do the work for you. The high speeds (especially if you’re new) can potentially cause damage if applied too hard. Make small back-and-forth movements as you normally would using a toothbrush. Make sure to spend some time around your gum line so that the effect of the non-contact brushing can get extra plaque out from beneath your gums.
When you’re done brushing make sure to rinse the brush off entirely and apply the cap (if you have one) to the brush head. Store it in a dry location at room temperature.
Taking Care Of Your Sonicare Toothbrush
If you spend the money to upgrade to an electric toothbrush you’ll want to make sure you’re caring for it properly. Thankfully, these things are pretty low maintenance. There are just a few things to consider.
First is the battery. If you’re using a lithium ion battery try to charge the battery when it’s somewhere between 25 and 50% left. That’ll usually be between a week and two weeks of use. This works best for extending the life of the battery. If instead your toothbrush comes with a nickel-metal hybrid (NiMH) battery, you’ll want to run it down as far as you can before you charge it.
Also, make sure to store the brush in a dry location at room temperature. Batteries start to wear down if they experience high heat for too long. Unless you’re brushing your teeth in a desert or on the sun you’ll probably be fine, but it’s just something to keep in mind.
Make sure you’re storing your brush in a location that’s farther than 5 feet away from the toilet, especially if you don’t have a brush head cap. Toilets can spray water droplets up to 5 feet so there’s the risk that some of those will get on your toothbrush.
Finally, make sure you’re replacing the brush heads about once every three months. A worn down brush head significantly decreases the effectiveness of the toothbrush. If you spent the money for a nice piece of equipment to help your oral health you might as well make sure you’re getting the most out of it!
Best Sonicare Toothbrush Wrap Up
So there we have it, just about everything you need to know for finding the best Sonicare toothbrush. At the end of the day it’s important to make sure you’re getting something that works best for you. That might be the top-of-the-line model or it might be the cheapest one. Or maybe it’s somewhere inbetween.
And that’s okay.
I’d encourage you to take a look at all the major elements along with the competition before making a purchase. Many of these cost a fair bit of money so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting something you’re happy with!