If you have sensitive teeth, brushing your teeth can be a painful experience. You may worry that an electric toothbrush will be excruciating. In fact, some electric toothbrushes have been designed for people just like you. Read on to find out what to look for in an electric toothbrush for people with sensitive teeth and get recommendations from our dentists on the best models out there.
There are 4 key features to look out for when picking an electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth:
1) Types of electric toothbrush: oscillating vs vibrating
Practically all electric toothbrushes on the market today can be divided into two groups based on how their bristles move: oscillating or vibrating
- Oscillating simply means rotating. These account for the majority of electric toothbrushes on the market. The bristles on an oscillating toothbrush rotate back and forth between 2500 and 7500 times per minute depending on the model.
- Vibrating brushes are often referred to as sonic The bristles on a vibrating brush can create as many as 40,000 pulse movements per minute. Although some people believe that the sonic toothbrush’s much greater number of brush motions gives it an advantage in cleaning power, research indicates that an oscillating brush is not only more effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis, but also aggrivates significantly less sensitivity in teeth. Opting for an oscillating/rotating toothbrush rather than a sonic one is the way to go if you have sensitive teeth.
2) Sensitive mode setting
Top of the line electric toothbrushes for sensitive teeth usually allow you to switch to a special mode just for cleaning sensitive teeth. In this mode, the electric toothbrush moves its bristles at a slower rate. This causes less irritation to your teeth and gums, while still providing a very thorough cleaning. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, you definitely want a brush with this feature. You can use this mode every time you brush your teeth. Consider using it with a toothpaste specifically intended for sensitive teeth, such as Sensodyne.
3) Soft-bristle brush heads
Electric toothbrushes, just like manual ones, offer various bristle softness levels. Many brushes come with soft-bristle brush heads to begin with, especially if they come with a few to choose from. Others may come with a medium or hard brush head. You should at least be able to buy soft-bristle replacement heads at the same time you buy your electric toothbrush. Just as with a manual toothbrush, it is important to replace the brush head every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles appear worn or damaged. Replacement soft-bristle brush heads are readily available online for reasonable prices, for instance on Amazon.com. Be sure to look for brush heads that specify that the bristles are soft, or even better, extra-soft, such as Oral-B’s Extra Soft Brush Heads for sensitive gums and teeth. Be careful to ensure that the replacement brush heads you select are compatible with your model of electric toothbrush.
4) Pressure sensors
Another feature to look for in an electric toothbrush for sensitive teeth is a pressure sensor. This feature provides you with a signal if you are applying too much pressure while brushing. The signal is often in the form of a light on the handle that turns red if you are pushing too hard. Alternatively, the brush may turn off altogether if you are using too much pressure. In either case, this is a great feature to have. Even if you are already using sensitive mode and a soft-bristle brush head, you can still push too hard on your teeth. Your sensitive teeth and gums will benefit from this extra safeguard.
Best toothbrushes for sensitive teeth
Considering the features listed above, we recommend the following electric toothbrushes to our patients with sensitive teeth. Our patients have been highly satisfied with these models:
- The Oral-B PRO 5000: This model includes a low-speed sensitive mode as well as four others: Daily Clean, Gum Care, Whitening, and Deep Clean. It features both an LED warning on the brush handle and stops operating if you are applying too much pressure. It is compatible with all types of Oral-B replacement brush heads, including a variety for sensitive teeth (sold separately). Additionally, this brush is Bluetooth-compatible. It provides real-time feedback, for example from the pressure sensor, via the Oral-B App on your phone. A built-in timer also helps to guard against brushing longer than the dentist-recommended two minutes.
- The Oral-B PRO 7000: This is an even more advanced electic toothbrush than the Oral-B PRO 5000. It includes all the same features of the Pro 5000 plus one additional brushing mode (Tongue Cleaner). The PRO 700 conveniently comes with three different brush heads to choose from (CrossAction, ProWhite, and Sensitive). A travel case is also included.
- The Oral-B PRO 3000: This is a slightly more economical model. It shares all the major features of the Oral-B Pro 5000, including the visible pressure sensor, sensitive brushing mode, Bluetooth connectivity, and compatibility with sensitive brush heads, which are sold separately. However, it does not include the whitening and deep clean modes of the PRO 5000, but for those with sensitive teeth these are not essential.
A quick note about Oral-B
The American Dental Association (ADA) has awarded the PRO line of Oral-B electric toothbrushes with the ADA Seal. Few competing models have received this level of approval. In our experience, these are the best choices for someone with sensitive teeth to use to maintain oral health. Choose what works best for you and remember to brush your teeth two or three times a day.