Electric toothbrushes are intended to make the daily cleaning routine more thorough and pleasant. COMPUTER BILD has investigated which model cleans the cleanest and is best to handle.
Electric toothbrushes clean teeth much more thoroughly than manual toothbrushes - at least that's what the electric toothbrush manufacturers
claim. Professor Dr. Ulrich Schiffner from the University Medical Center in Hamburg-Eppendorf. With a manual toothbrush, the same result is possible as with an electric toothbrush
. However, only with the right cleaning technique. And that's exactly what is often a problem in practice. Many people brush incorrectly, too seldom and too short for optimal dental hygiene. Electric toothbrushes can help here, perhaps only by motivating you to go about your daily routine. But which model is the best cleaning aid? A comparison of eight electric toothbrushes reveals it.
Rotating or sound
Almost every second German (45 percent) brushes with an electric toothbrush and almost half (49 percent) of them with a Braun Oral-B device. Therefore, three Oral-B models appear in the test field - the bestsellers in their respective price ranges. All Oral-B toothbrushes tested use the so-called oscillating-rotating technology and have round brush heads. The round heads of the rotary toothbrushes perform several movements at the same time: They pulsate, so they lightly tap the tooth to loosen plaque. In addition, they rotate 45 degrees in each direction and swing back and forth about 4400 times per minute in order to transport away the loosened dental plaque. With an electric rotary brush, no quick movements like a manual toothbrush are required.
The newest and most expensive model Oral-B iO is driven by a newly developed magnetic motor, which produces a vibrating effect similar to a sonic toothbrush
, but does not rattle like a traditional, mechanically driven rotary brush. All other test candidates are sonic toothbrushes with elongated brush heads. The brush heads of a sonic toothbrush move much faster than those of a rotary brush. They create up to 40,000 vibrations per minute, with a characteristic humming sound. When brushing, the sonic toothbrush is slowly guided over the teeth with light pressure. Intensive cleaning movements, such as with a simple manual toothbrush, are not necessary due to the vibrations that do most of the work. The job of the cleaner remains to clean all interior, To reach outer and chewing surfaces as well as the spaces in between. All models offer the choice between several cleaning modes, for example for different intensities when cleaning teeth and tongue or for a gum massage.
The brush head of a rotary toothbrush is round like that of the Oral-B iO.
Round or oblong
In the test, there were no extreme differences in cleaning performance. With the correct cleaning technique, at least a good cleaning effect can be achieved with all brushes. The round brush heads clean individual teeth better, while the elongated brush heads clean a larger area at the same time. The optimal cleaning movements are therefore slightly different.
Hard-to-reach areas such as the back molars can hardly be cleaned perfectly with both brush head shapes. The testers also had minor problems with the brush head of the Oral-B iO, the shaft of which widens significantly towards the bottom. If you clean the side surfaces particularly far back, you will then use it to scrape the lips of your closed mouth. This is a bit uncomfortable and can prevent sensitive natures from sufficiently cleaning this area. If you open your lips further, you run the risk of unsightly, toothpaste-white water splashes on the bathroom mirror.
The brush heads of sonic toothbrushes are elongated like that of the Panasonic EW-DL83.
Brush heads under a magnifying glass
COMPUTER BILD has also examined the quality of the brush heads, which, with long-term use, has an impact on the abrasion of the tooth enamel. Some models, such as the own brands of the discounter DM and Rossmann, attracted attention with their edges and frayed ends on the bristles. Ideally, the bristle ends are rounded, as in the brush heads of the Oral-B iO, the Philips Sonicare 9000 and the Panasonic EW-DL83, so as not to damage the tooth enamel in the long term. When deciding on a model, buyers should also consider the follow-up costs. The manufacturers recommend replacing the brush head every two to three months. If the brush is too worn out, then sooner too. With the inexpensive models from DM and Rossmann, these costs fall at 2, 50 euros per brush head in the permanently available double pack hardly adds up to the weight. A replacement brush for the Oral-B iO, on the other hand, costs three times as much, even in the multiple pack, and alternatives from third-party manufacturers are not yet available. With all other models, you can save a lot of money by buying multiple packs or suitable products from third-party suppliers. The exchange of the brush heads is very easy for all test candidates by pulling them off and plugging them in. However, only the Oral-B models clearly indicate that the brush head is correctly seated. With them you can feel a slight click into place. The brushes of the other models, on the other hand, only rub over the connecting rod when they are put on until they are finally firmly in place.
The bristle head ends of the test winner toothbrush Panasonic EW-DL83 are almost perfectly rounded.
Power for cleaning
There were huge differences in the battery life. This is especially important when traveling when the charging station is to stay at home. While the drugstore brushes do not even clean for an hour without recharging the batteries, the test winner from Panasonic cleans for over three hours. The battery power of the Oral-B iO and the Playbrush are also very long at over two hours. And what if the battery does run out? Then charging should be done quickly, after all, after cleaning, you go to work or to bed. With the Oral-B iO, the Philips and the Panasonic brushes, five minutes are enough on the charging station. The other models took up to 30 minutes before they could do a cleaning session. That can then become a test of patience. There are similarly large differences in performance when charging from absolutely empty to fully charged. The Panasonic and Oral-B iO managed this fastest in the test. You need about an hour for this. All other models took at least 14 hours. But that's all nothing compared to Playbrush, which even took more than 40 hours. And that's doubly annoying, because the initial setup of the app only succeeded in the test when the battery was fully charged. In the worst case, buyers have to wait two days before they can use their newly acquired Playbrush toothbrush with app. Basically, the model cleans the teeth even without an app, but basic functions such as changing the cleaning mode can only be done via the app. That makes everyday operation cumbersome. All other models took at least 14 hours. But that's all nothing compared to Playbrush, which even took more than 40 hours. And that's doubly annoying, because the initial setup of the app only succeeded in the test when the battery was fully charged. In the worst case, buyers have to wait two days before they can use their newly acquired Playbrush toothbrush with app. Basically, the model cleans the teeth even without an app, but basic functions such as changing the cleaning mode can only be done via the app. That makes everyday operation cumbersome. All other models took at least 14 hours. But that's all nothing compared to Playbrush, which even took more than 40 hours. And that's doubly annoying, because the initial setup of the app only succeeded in the test when the battery was fully charged. In the worst case scenario, buyers have to wait two days before they can use their newly acquired Playbrush toothbrush with app. Basically, the model cleans the teeth even without an app, but basic functions such as changing the cleaning mode can only be done via the app. That makes the operation cumbersome in everyday life. In the worst case, buyers have to wait two days before they can use their newly acquired Playbrush toothbrush with app. Basically, the model cleans the teeth even without an app, but basic functions such as changing the cleaning mode can only be done via the app. That makes everyday operation cumbersome. In the worst case, buyers have to wait two days before they can use their newly acquired Playbrush toothbrush with app. Basically, the model cleans the teeth even without an app, but basic functions such as changing the cleaning mode can only be done via the app. That makes everyday operation cumbersome.
The charger's suffering
A suitable charger is included with every toothbrush tested. In everyday life, the inconspicuous accessories are only noticeable in two situations: when they do not give the toothbrush sufficient stability or are difficult to clean. With the Oral-B iO, only a toothbrush weakens in terms of stability. Unlike the competition, it does not hold up with a retaining pin or ring, but with a magnet. However, the system does not offer the same stability as the other devices, even light touches can cause the holder to fall over, which means that the almost flat contact surface can be cleaned effortlessly. In contrast to the base stations of the Playbrush Smart One and the Prokudent with their hard-to-reach areas between the retaining pin and the border: Over time, unsightly deposits form there.
Not a pretty sight: deposits collect on the chargers. Some models are easy to clean, such as the Oral-B iO (right in the picture).
Sound and vibration
Every toothbrush model generates characteristic noises and vibrations. The sonic toothbrushes and the Oral-B OK hum while the other rotary toothbrushes rattle. This can be frightening at first, because when you brush, the toothbrush comes very close to the ear and the sound is transmitted to the skull bone. However, this should not be an argument against buying it - it's all a matter of getting used to. For people who are particularly sensitive to noise, the Dontodent is interesting as the quietest toothbrush.
With the exception of the Panasonic EW-DL83 and the two drugstore products, there is a suitable smartphone app for all toothbrushes, with which cleaners can monitor and log their cleaning progress. The Oral-B iO not only analyzes which dental quadrants have already been cleaned, but also whether the side and chewing surfaces have had enough cleaning time - a 3D protocol, so to speak. The Playbrush Smart One app offers even more functions. In this, small games are linked to the toothbrushing process, which should also motivate children in particular.
The Playbrush Smart One not only logs the brushing of teeth, but also offers matching smartphone games while brushing as well as additional dental insurance.
If you want an electric toothbrush with a good cleaning effect, you don't have to invest 300 euros. Even the cheapest devices clean clean in the test - if you pay attention to the correct cleaning technique. The price surcharge for more expensive devices is explained, for example, with the scope of delivery and additional functions such as a pressure sensor or a Bluetooth module for connecting to the smartphone.
But a little more equipment can definitely pay off. Because if the comfort is right, you will very likely use your electric toothbrush more often - and ultimately achieve better oral hygiene. Of course, it is also important that the handpiece lies comfortably in the hand, that you do not perceive the vibrations as unpleasant in the long term and that the device is easy to clean. All of these points were taken into account in the test table and incorporated into the overall result. In addition, the brush head should match the anatomy of your oral cavity. In addition to being pleasant to use, apps that keep minutes and award medals can also motivate. This doesn't only work with younger contemporaries, as the testers found out. Whether an app is available and, if applicable, its quality,
According to the manufacturer, an electric toothbrush has a lifespan of around three years. However, many devices last significantly longer, although the battery cannot be replaced in any of the devices tested. The long service life also puts the purchase price into perspective. Putting a dollar or two more into buying an electric toothbrush that you really like can actually be very smart financially. Because if you like to brush thoroughly, you will save quite a bit on dentist costs in the long term.
Three questions for the expert
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schiffner (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf)
Who should do without electric toothbrushes?
There are actually no restrictions here. Some patients with very sensitive teeth may be sensitive to electric toothbrushes. And a manufacturer of pacemakers points out that the electric toothbrush shouldn't come closer than a few centimeters to the pacemaker. But that doesn't happen when you brush your teeth. By the way, it is recommended that children do not do without a manual toothbrush, so that the offspring can learn to clean the complex tooth surfaces. A combination of hand and electric toothbrushes is possible, however.
Do round or elongated brush heads clean better?
Brush heads should be small enough that the toothbrush can be easily guided in the mouth and the tooth surfaces can be reached as easily as possible.
Are electric toothbrushes enough for good dental hygiene?
No, an electric toothbrush alone is not enough. Targeted measures to clean the interdental spaces are essential. And even if it goes without saying, it should be pointed out once again that a toothpaste containing fluoride makes a decisive contribution to protecting against tooth decay.
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