Users of electric toothbrushes see themselves as superior to people who have to move their wrist backwards and forwards each morning and evening. Today’s smart toothbrushes – which interact with mobile apps – are the new premium home dental cleaner, and you’ll find excellent examples from major brands such as Oral-B and Philips, and newcomers such as Kolibree. We tested a range of products to find the best electric toothbrush – paying particular attention to the smart, app-connected brushes.

The currently available smart toothbrushes aren’t a giant leap forward in dental hygiene just because of the app integration. Other less smart but still technological advances in brush handles and brush heads have moved mouth cleaning on far more than using an app while you’re brushing, but what we like about these smart brushing apps is that they focus the user on properly cleaning his or her teeth and other areas of the mouth.

The vast majority of electric toothbrushes aren’t “smart”, in that they don’t come with a dedicated app. You can, however, easily download an app and use it alongside a non-smart toothbrush. This certainly makes sense for kids, who need a bit more fun than most smart brush apps allow.

Timer

Superior electric toothbrushes feature a brushing timer that helps the user brush for the recommended full two minutes. Most dentists suggest you spend 30 seconds per quarter of the mouth (upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right). A good brush timer will alert you every 30 seconds so you know when to move on to the next quarter.

Cleaning modes

The more-sophisticated electric toothbrushes feature different modes for specific mouth areas. Most will have a standard clean setting and a deep-clean mode. Some will have a special setting for brushing the tongue (see below) or sensitive teeth, while others have a range of speed or intensity settings that can be used in a similar way.

Pressure sensor

They should also boast a pressure sensor to prevent you pushing too hard against your teeth, which can actually damage both the tooth and the gum.

When I first used an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor I was amazed how wrong (and damaging) my brushing technique was. I was brushing far too hard. Vigorous over-brushing can wear down the enamel on the teeth, and lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums, exposing the sensitive root area.

Tongue cleaning

Many of us neglect to clean our tongue as part of our dental regime, and this is a mistake. As much as half the bacteria in your mouth reside on your tongue. Look for white areas or desquamation (skin peeling) for signs of tongue ill health. Having a healthy tongue could improve your sense of taste and reduce bad breath.

The Oral-B Genius 9000 has a special tongue-cleaning mode, which is gentler than that which you use for brushing your teeth. This will eliminate the need for a separate tongue scraper.

Brush head replacement

Most of us probably don’t change our toothbrush heads often enough. Both the Oral-B and Philips smart brushes claim they know when you need to switch to a new brush head, although we suspect this is calculated merely by time since the previous replacement. If you can’t work this out – or have a scheduling system – then a gentle reminder from the connected app should help you keep your brush heads from wearing out.

Battery life

Almost all the handles reviewed here are recharged via the usual two-pin charger. We’d love to see more toothbrushes charge via USB like regular devices (and there’s one in this list) – but currently most manufacturers, despite their apps, still think about bathroom charging points only.

In terms of battery life the clear winner is the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum, which can keep going for up to three weeks between charges (on a twice-a-day two-minute regime). Others typically range between one and two weeks of battery life.

Electric toothbrush apps

Smart apps

The smart brushes we test here connect with a smartphone app to help you perfect your tooth-brushing routine, collect data on each brushing session, and point out errors in your technique.

In practice we found these apps to promise more than they actually achieved but using the apps for a few weeks really did focus the mind to improving our dental hygiene regime. We expect such apps to get smarter and more accurate but for now you should use them to perfect your routine rather than be a surrogate dental hygienist.

1. Oral-B Genius 9000 electric toothbrush

Oral-B Genius 9000 electric toothbrush

2. Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum electric toothbrush

Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum electric toothbrush

3. Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

4. Kolibree Ara Smart Toothbrush

Kolibree Ara Smart Toothbrush

5. Oral-B Pro 6000 SmartSeries electric toothbrush

Oral-B Pro 6000 SmartSeries electric toothbrush

6. Bruzzoni electric toothbrush

Bruzzoni electric toothbrush