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What Are the Different Types?

There are a few categories of electric toothbrushes. The main difference is how the brush moves:

  • Rotary: The head moves in a circular motion at 3,000 to 7,500 strokes per minute. A toothbrush where the head alternates directions has what's called rotation oscillation.
  • Sonic: These use a side-to-side motion at a speed at about 10 times that of a rotary brush -- about 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
  • Ultrasonic: The fast side-to-side motion creates vibrations that dislodge plaque.
  • Ionic: The brush head doesn’t move. A low electric current in the bristles attracts plaque.  

So, which type is best? Right now, there isn’t enough research to say for sure

How Much Should You Spend?

Disposable, battery-operated brushes cost about $6 to $15, while rechargeable electric versions range from $40 to more than $150.

Some versions come with travel cases and built-in sensors that signal when you’re brushing too hard. Others have built-in timers that beep every 30 seconds for 2 minutes to let you know it’s time to move on to a different part of your mouth.

High-tech versions have Bluetooth technology that sends data on your brushing habits to your phone.

“Like with a car, you pay extra for the bells and whistles,” Antenucci says.

No matter which kind you choose, look for the American Dental Association’s seal on the package. This means that the toothbrush has been reviewed to make sure that it’s safe and effective.

“At the end of the day, how you use that toothbrush is more important than the toothbrush itself,” Harms says. “Make sure you’re brushing with soft bristles and a fluoride toothpaste for 2 minutes, twice a day.”