Cheap vs Expensive Electric Toothbrush: Which one is better for you?

There are hundreds of electric toothbrushes on the market, with prices ranging from $30 all the way up to $300. So today, we are going to compare the differences between a cheaper vs a more expensive electric toothbrush. Hopefully, this article will help you decide which toothbrush is better for your teeth, as well as your wallet.

philips sonicare electric toothbrush

Cheap Electric Toothbrush

Advantages of a Cheap Electric Toothbrush

  • A 2-minute timer is an excellent feature since most people who use a manual toothbrush struggle with keeping track of time.
  • Small toothbrush head. All electric toothbrushes have a small toothbrush head, regardless of their price tag. This is a useful feature since it gives you better access to the back teeth and makes brushing easier in those hard-to-reach corners.
  • Easy to use! It does the rotating or vibrating for you, so all you need to do is guide it around the mouth. 
cheap oral b electric toothbrush
Oral-B Vitality is approx. $30

Disadvantages of a Cheap Electric Toothbrush

  • Often, no pressure sensor. This means cheaper electric toothbrushes often won’t give you any indication if you’re applying too much pressure with your toothbrush. Unfortunately, it is possible to brush TOO hard with your electric toothbrush and cause more harm than good. 
    • TIP: Avoid excess pressure by placing the toothbrush head on the tooth with the same amount of pressure as you would place on the tip of a needle with your fingertip. In other words, don’t push the toothbrush onto your teeth – brushing your teeth harder will NOT remove more plaque.
  • Battery life for the cheaper electric toothbrushes usually decreases after a few months of use. Therefore, you have to remember to place the toothbrush back on the charging dock after EVERY use. If you forget to charge it, then the next time you want to use it, you will notice a significant decrease in the speed of the toothbrush head. It’s important to remember that an electric toothbrush that is under-charged won’t work at its optimal speed, thus, it won’t remove plaque as effectively.
  • Some cheaper electric toothbrushes are less travel-friendly. Often, cheaper electric toothbrushes come with a charging dock that plugs into the wall, thus, making it harder to travel with them around the globe. However, a lot of new online brands are starting to sell travel-friendly cheap electric toothbrushes, which are charged using a USB port. But I personally prefer a brand name electric toothbrush (ie. Oral B or Philips Sonicare) because of the quality & longevity. 
cheap oral b electric toothbrush
Oral-B Pro 1000 is approx. $50

Expensive Electric Toothbrush

Advantages of Expensive Electric Toothbrushes

  • A pressure sensor lets you know if you’re brushing too hard. This feature is important for people who have gum disease, tooth sensitivity or signs of tooth wear (abrasion). A lot of these problems are often caused by improper brushing techniques. Thus, it’s beneficial to invest in an electric toothbrush that has a pressure sensor.
  • Toothbrushing reports are available on your phone via Bluetooth. They analyze your brushing habits and tell you the spots you’re missing around your mouth. This an advantage for people who struggle with cavities (ie. dental decay) or build-up of plaque and tartar.
  • The ability to increase or decrease the speed of your toothbrush head. This can be a good feature to have if you have sensitive teeth or gum disease.
  • Motor Speed – The motor speed is important because it often controls the number of strokes electric toothbrushes perform per minute. The more expensive electric toothbrushes often have speeds of 20,000-30,000 strokes/minute, whereas, cheaper electric toothbrushes have lower strokes per minute. 
  • Better Battery Life – Expensive electric toothbrushes can usually work at the optimal speed for 3+ days without being re-charged. Whereas the speed for cheaper electric toothbrushes often decreases if you forget to put them on the charging dock after every use.
  • Better Longevity – Expensive toothbrushes will last you YEARS (often 5+ years). 
    • Note: The toothbrush head should be replaced every 3-4 months. 
  • Multiple Timers – All electric toothbrushes have a 2-minute timer regardless of their price. However, expensive toothbrushes often give you an indication every 30 seconds, so you can move to the next corner of your mouth. This way you don’t accidentally spend all your time on one side of your mouth 
Expensive Oral b smartseries electric toothbrush
Oral-B Pro SmartSeries approx. $150-200

Disadvantages of Expensive Electric Toothbrushes

  • Cost – the initial investment to buy an expensive electric toothbrush is relatively high, often between $200-300.
  • Overly technical for an average person. A lot of expensive toothbrushes are high-tech, which means they often come with a Bluetooth connected LCD screen or phone app. They help you visualize which parts of the mouth you missed or where you applied too much pressure with the toothbrush head. However, if you’re not a fan of technology, then the Bluetooth features can often feel overwhelming and go unused.
  • Fancy, but sometimes unpractical. Some expensive electric toothbrushes come with charging docks that are either too big or bulky, and not practical for everyday use. Sometimes charging docks are in the shape of a short glass, which people have complained about since their toothbrush constantly falls out of it or the toothpaste residue builds up inside of the charging dock. Moreover, if you have young children around, I don’t know how safe it would be to keep a glass charging dock on your bathroom counter. Thus, before buying an expensive electric toothbrush, it’s wise to compare the charging dock size & practicality to others on the market.
  • Too many settings. Expensive toothbrushes often give you the option to choose settings such as – deep clean, gum health, whitening or sensitive. But, I rarely see people modifying these settings, they tend to just stick to one. All these settings essentially have the same purpose…to remove plaque. Thus, I don’t consider all these settings on an expensive toothbrush to be life-changing features. Perhaps the only setting worth trying would be “sensitive” if you have mildly sensitive teeth. But keep in mind that most patients with extremely sensitive teeth cannot tolerate electric toothbrushes. Thus, I would think twice before buying an expensive toothbrush if you have extremely sensitive teeth.
Philips Sonicare with UV Sanitiser approx. $200

Which Electric Toothbrush Do I Personally Use as a Dentist?

I don’t have cavities, gum disease or tooth sensitivity, and I am always aware of how much pressure I’m putting on the toothbrush head. Thus, I use a relatively cheap, $50 Oral B electric toothbrush, because I don’t need the features of an expensive toothbrush.  

However, owning an expensive electric toothbrush has its own advantages. For people with gum disease or mild tooth sensitivity, the ability to switch to a “sensitive setting” might be an advantage. Plus, getting a daily toothbrushing report showing you the spots you missed around your mouth might be advantageous for people who get cavities or gum disease due to improper plaque removal. But keep in mind that regardless of the price tag, ALL electric toothbrushes will remove plaque. The additional features of an expensive toothbrush are a BONUS, they not mandatory. Therefore, the best advice I can give you is – pick an electric toothbrush that fits your budget. If you have the money to splurge or you enjoy high-tech gadgets & phone apps, then feel free to buy an expensive toothbrush. But regardless of which toothbrush you choose to buy, remember to brush twice a day for the best results.

On a side note, if you suffer from severe tooth sensitivity, and you simply cannot tolerate the sensation of an electric toothbrush, then a manual toothbrush will be a better option for you. To learn more about manual vs electric toothbrushes, click here.

Written by: Dr. Sanya Arora (Doctor of Dental Surgery)

Interested in whitening your teeth at home? If so, click here to read a list of natural things you can try at home.

Suffering from bad breath? If so, click here to learn tips and tricks for getting rid of bad breath.

Sanya Arora

Hi, I'm Sanya, a cosmetic dentist. I am passionate about chocolate and red wine, but I'm also passionate about maintaining a nice, healthy smile! This is a common dilemma I saw amongst my patients, which led to the creation of The Dental Pen blog. Hopefully, my articles will help you maintain your pearly white teeth while you enjoy all the sweet treats life has to offer. Some of my other hobbies include volunteering, singing and dancing.

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Cheap vs Expensive Electric Toothbrush: Which one is better for you?
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