A Dentist’s Review of Sonicare Toothbrushes

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sonicare toothbrushes

Here’s something you probably already know: Brushing teeth is critical for good dental health. However, all brushing doesn’t achieve the desired outcomes. There’s actually a correct way to brush your teeth, and choosing the right toothbrush can help.

Electric toothbrushes can make brushing easier and do a better job than manual brushing, but choosing from the dozens of models available and picking the right brush for your teeth can be confusing. Sonicare has been a popular electric toothbrush brand for some time, yet because of the cost, many people wonder if they’re actually worth the expense.

After personally reviewing Sonicare toothbrushes, I can definitely recommend any of their models—especially for people over the age of 40 with gum recession and spaces between their teeth.

Following is my in-depth review of Sonicare toothbrushes:

Disclosure:
Ask the Dentist is supported by readers. If you use one of the links below and buy something, Ask the Dentist makes a little bit of money at no additional cost to you. I rigorously research, test, and use thousands of products every year, but recommend only a small fraction of these. I only promote products that I truly feel will be valuable to you in improving your oral health.

What Makes Sonicare Different from Other Electric Toothbrushes—And What Does it Mean for Your Health?

Sonicare was the first brand to develop a toothbrush using sonic wave technology, which vibrates as high as 30K cycles per minute. Other electric toothbrush brands like Oral-B oscillate instead of vibrating, which means that the bristles move in a circle. I’ve described Sonicare as a “jiggling motion” and Oral-B as a “sweeping motion,” and they each have advantages and specific uses.

Overall, Sonicare is great at removing the biofilm (the thin layer of plaque and tartar that all of us have on our teeth) that can ultimately lead to cavity formation. Processed foods, common in Western diets, can thicken the biofilm layer, so it’s crucial to use a toothbrush or brushing technique that can address this issue. You never remove the biofilm layer completely, but if you can brush effectively, you can break it apart.

Comparing Each of the DIfferent Sonicare Models

Now that you understand that a Sonicare is a superior toothbrush option that can contribute to great dental health, here’s a look at each of the different Sonicare models, so you can choose the one that’s right for you:

Sonicare Essence:

The Sonicare Essence is the original Sonicare model. It is less expensive than the other models, and the vibrating tuning fork comes as part of the replaceable head (which does slightly increase the price-per-head). It’s also a bigger and bulkier toothbrush, which I view as an advantage. Many patients, particularly older patients or those without a lot of dexterity in their grip, find that a larger handle leads to a better brushing experience.

Sonicare Series 2  and Sonicare Series 3:

With the Series 2 and Series 3 models, Sonicare provides an update to the original design, but both are very similar. The tuning fork is inside the handle, so it’s easier to clean, and the Series 3 has some additional features, including different intensity settings and a longer battery life.

Sonicare HealthyWhite uses the Sonicare Series 2 technology with a bluetooth connection, which is helpful for people who want to use their smartphone to track their brushing habits.

Sonicare Diamond Clean is the “professional” model that Sonicare offers (i.e., the one they send to dentists to try out). It’s similar to the Sonicare Series 2, but has a fancier package, a built-in USB charger, and a higher quality head—the “diamond head.”

Keep in mind, though, that the diamond head can be purchased separately, so it’s more cost effective to buy the one of the less expensive Sonicare models and simply upgrade the head if you want the “diamond” experience.

Pros and Cons of Sonicare Toothbrushes

Choosing the right Sonicare toothbrush is important, but it’s also important to keep in mind that no toothbrush is perfect—even the Sonicare. The good news is that the pros of Sonicares generally outweigh the cons.

Let’s take a look:

Sonicare Pros

  • Better for cleaning hard-to-reach spots. Sonic technology is the only electric toothbrush method that provides action beyond the bristles—the sonic waves ensure that even hard-to-reach plaque cells (that the bristles can’t reach) are broken up.
  • Better for gums. For people with sensitive gums or gum recession, or for those who are hard brushers, the Sonicare is safer on your gums and teeth than Oral B and other electric/manual toothbrushes. (But, with a worn toothbrush head, the edge of the bristles can still do enamel damage if pushed too hard. I recommend replacing the head every month or so.)
  • Better to clean between spaces. Sonicare is better for people with gum recession and deeper spaces between their teeth. As people age, the gums can pull away from the teeth, creating tiny spaces where food can hide. In fact, many elderly patients grapple with food impaction issues. Flossing after every meal is one option, but the Sonicare is great for blasting the food out and is why I consistently recommended the Sonicare for people over age 40.

Cons of Sonicare Toothbrushes

  • It can be uncomfortable. Not everyone likes the sensation of the sonic waves, and it can take some time to adjust to it.
  • Battery may not last as long as other electric toothbrushes. I’ve found that the Sonicare rechargeable battery lasts for about 8-9 months, but there is a lot of variability here: I’ve had patients say the battery lasted three months, while others say theirs lasted two years. The toothbrush comes with a six month warranty that covers the battery, but at its current price point, replacing the toothbrush even twice a year can become expensive.
  • More knockoffs. I’ve seen more knockoffs of Sonicare than Oral-B, so watch out for purchasing knockoff brand brushes and heads that may be poorly made and can damage your teeth and gums.

Who Should Buy a Sonicare Toothbrush?

Though many dentists will tell you that everyone should use a Sonicare toothbrush, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I think that it can be an unnecessary expense for some people. However, for the following groups of people, a Sonicare toothbrush can vastly improve overall dental health and prevent tooth decay:

  • People over 40, or anyone that has gum recession, where the gums begin to pull away from the teeth.
  • People who are willing to use a hybrid system: I often recommend that people use two different brushes—an Oral B in the morning, to attack stains, and a Sonicare at night, to blast out the food stuck between teeth before bed.

Final Thoughts: Maximizing the Benefits of a Sonicare Toothbrush

If you do decide to buy a Sonicare toothbrush, that’s great news! You’re well on your way to achieving optimum dental and oral health!

Along the way, the following suggestions will help to ensure maximum brushing benefit:

  • Consider pairing the Sonicare with the Oral B (see above), especially if you’re a heavy coffee or black tea drinker, or if you’re concerned about staining from other foods and beverages.
  • Beware the sawing motion. Despite what is shown on TV, electric toothbrushes should not be brushed like manual ones. Do NOT use a sawing, or aggressive back-and-forth, motion. Remember, the bristles are constantly in action, so all you need to do is roll the handle gently from tooth to tooth and let the bristles do the work.
  • Get the softest head you can find. It won’t come with the toothbrush, but Sonicare does make softer heads that are designed for sensitive teeth. Soft heads will do the best job of brushing teeth and are less likely to scratch the enamel, especially if they are replaced often.

Dr. Mark Burhenne

Do you like Sonicare? Let me hear from you in the comments below.

Read Next: The Best Electric Toothbrush for Kids

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6 Comments

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  1. Susan D. Howell says:

    Thank you Dr. B!
    I always enjoy reading your articles!

  2. Russell Evans says:

    Thank you very much for this review of the Sonicare! I’ve been using Sonicare for the past 10 years at least, and have had excellent results. The first year I began using the Sonicare, after it was recommended by my dentist, made a remarkable difference in the condition of my teeth and gums. The very next checkup I had (from a different dentist), they remarked that ‘whatever I was doing, keep it up!’ Been using it ever since, and only replaced the original (which was the pre Phillips model), after several years and am still on the second one after six years! (I do replace the heads regularly.)
    Thank you!

  3. Dr. Orna Izakson says:

    I’ve been using a Sonicare for more than 20 years and I attribute my good oral health to that decision. Today my dentist recommended the Diamond version of the Sonicare, but I’m wondering if it really cleans all that much better than the Essence? Are the bells and whistles worth the extra cost?

    Thank you for this article!

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      I have personally used to Diamond version myself and am not a huge fan. Part of my concern comes from the bristles themselves since sonicare doen’t have very soft options. Also, while the vibration is quick, it’s not as controlled as some of the other sonic toothbrushes I recommend. Finally, the cost is a good bit higher than the others I recommend. For example, the Burst is only $39.99 and my coupon ASKTHEDDS will save you 10% off!

  4. Great article. Helpful in choosing the right kind of electric toothbrush. I’m a fan of Sonicare electric toothbrushes and have used one for almost ten years. Still, each time it comes to replacing one, I get confused while trying to compare newer models. Reports like this one help cut through the clutter and find the perfect model to buy. Thanks!

  5. I have always used ‘Oral B ‘ for years & my teeth have always been in pretty good shape until I was in serious accident with multiple injuries ; 5 operations including plastic surgery & my hands in splints for months . Over several months my oral health suffered very badly . Now that I’m recovered I really regret my lack of focus on oral health – I cover up the scars on my body with clothing but trying to avoid smiling to cover up my bad teeth was 🙁

    To get to the point! I have a dental work programme prioritised by my finances & bought my Ist Phillips Sonicare in a 50% off sale. Within 2 weeks of using my teeth were visibly whiter ; bad stains disappearing & to my amazement the plaque was visibly reducing; within a month both plaque and stains virtually gone.

    I’d always been put off Sonicare due to price & I think if your teeth are in good shape to begin with then an Oral B type brush works fine. Based upon my recent experience I really recommend the Diamond Sonicare brush for people with stains/ plaque build up and say they are well worth the extra money – I’m now a convert for life.

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