Sonicare vs Oral-B

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 83940)

Please note: Since recording this video in 2017, the toothbrushes Oral-B and Sonicare produce, along with their technology and features, have been updated. This has some influence on which might be considered the better brand.

Sonicare now (in my opinion) outranks Oral-B overall, when you consider all different elements.

However, Oral-B is still a very good option and the differences are in reality negligible. What is best or better for one person might not be for another.

NEW UPDATED VIDEO COMING SOON.

Introduction

If you are considering an electric toothbrush, within minutes of your search you will become aware that there are two leading brands within the UK, they are Philips Sonicare and Braun Oral-B.

The question is then, which makes the best electric toothbrush, Sonicare or Oral-B?

There is no simple answer to this question.  Both have their pros and cons and will appeal to some more than others.

In this guide, I present as much information as possible for you to become better informed on which brand is more suited to you and why.

When it comes to making the final decision, you may also like to see our post on the best electric toothbrushes.

Sonicare vs Oral-B: the short answers

I know you might be short of time and want simple cold hard facts, so here we are:

  • Which has the best brushing technology? Oral-B
  • Which has the best design? Sonicare
  • Which offers the most features? Sonicare
  • Which is quietest? Sonicare
  • Which has the most accessories? Oral-B
  • Which has the best battery life? Sonicare
  • Which is the most innovative? Sonicare
  • Which is the best quality? Sonicare
  • Which is the cheapest? Oral-B
  • Which is best for families? Oral-B
  • Which is best for travellers? Sonicare
  • Which has the best warranty? Oral-B

Sonicare vs Oral-B: which is best?

Sonicare is the best brand overall.

This is my opinion, based on the above categories/questions.  Sonicare scored  7 compared to Oral-B’s 5.

That said, you need to seriously consider your personal needs and wants. Oral-B remains my most recommended brand for most individuals.

For a large proportion, Oral-B products are better when you consider the required features and price point.

Read on to really understand the differences.

Sonicare vs Oral-B: which brushes in each range are equivalent?

At the time of writing both Sonicare and Oral-B have about 15 different models each in their ranges.

That excludes the different colour options and those that come packaged with different brush heads in the box.

I am commonly asked what the equivalent brushes are within the Sonicare and Oral-B ranges.

For example, readers may ask, ‘I am looking at the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300, which is the equivalent from Oral-B?’

Or: ‘I am looking at the DiamondClean from Sonicare, which is the best from Oral-B?’

There is rarely an exact like for like, there are always differences between the ‘equivalent’ models.

The following table gives my opinion on which models most closely match between the 2 brands.

You will notice some brushes occur twice from the same manufacturer. This is intentional and happens because of the cross over of features between the two manufacturers.

Within the table, I have linked to my review of each brush — to read the review simply click the brush name.

Typically I do not create detailed comparisons for cross-manufacturer brushes, however, I have compared the two flagship models in my Genius X vs DiamondClean Smart post.

Sonicare vs Oral-B: the long answers

Whilst I gave my short answer to each of the questions presented above, the reality is that for some of those questions it is not quite as simple as selecting just one brand that is better.

Personal opinion, experience, need and wants all come into play, making giving a precise answer more difficult.

Why do some people drive a Ford and others a Vauxhall?  Why do some people go for designer label clothes over unbranded product?

The reality is there are different driving factors for us all in the decisions we make from product quality, to budget, to need and wants.

I wish now to explain each answer with detailed reason so that YOU can make YOUR OWN conclusions with some facts and data to support.

Which has the best brushing technology?

In my short answers, I said Oral-B.

Both Oral-B and Sonicare use slightly different technology and engineering to do the same job.

It’s a bit like having a gas or electric heating in your home.  Both can heat your home but they do so in slightly different ways.

Philips uses Sonic technology whilst Oral-B uses an Oscillating-Rotating approach.

The following animation shows how the sonic and oscillating-rotating motions differ.

The sonic technology seen on Sonicare brushes uses 2 methods to clean the teeth.  The first is a mechanical side-to-side cleaning motion of the brush to remove plaque by essentially sweeping and scrubbing the surfaces, like a manual brush (although the motor moves the bristles, not you).

The second is a non-contact approach that uses the sonic technology that disrupts plaque beyond the tips of the bristles.

The strokes of the brush vary in speed with most Sonicare models achieving around 31,000 movements per minute, but the more premium and powerful models like the DiamondClean range offer up to 62,000.  The number of movements is depicted by the cleaning mode.

Non-contact cleaning is all based on vibrations.  The brush head must vibrate at a speed that falls within the range of frequencies that humans hear (20-20,000hz).  This intense vibration agitates fluids that surround the teeth and can loosen and remove dental plaque in locations that are beyond the physical touch of the toothbrush.

The brush head on a sonic brush is a lot like a manual toothbrush in its size and shape.

Oral-B’s cleaning is completed via an Oscillating-Rotating series of movements.

Oral-B brushes have a small, round brush head that moves back and forth (side to side movements) in a circular motion to help remove plaque and dental debris.

When using an oscillating-rotating toothbrush, you should gently move the brush head from tooth to tooth, letting the brush do the cleaning.  The movement of the bristles and the head itself essentially scrub the teeth clean. You don’t need to repeatedly move the bush up and down, back and forth.

This oscillating-rotating movement is referred to as ‘2D’ cleaning by the brand.

Add in Pulsations (essentially vibrations) and this now becomes ‘3D’ cleaning.

Pulsations offer a more sophisticated motion and gives another dimension to the brushing.

Whereas the 2D cleaning requires the physical movement of the brush head against the teeth, pulsations are essentially a ‘non contact’ form of brushing and relies on pulsations/vibrations like Sonicare brushes do.

Clinical studies such as this one suggest a marked difference in the clean offered by the oscillating rotating brush compared to the sonic option.

That study was published by Procter & Gamble, the parent company of Oral-B.  An independent study completed by Cochrane suggests that there is some evidence oscillating technology used by Oral-B is more effective. However, the admission here is that the differences are small and clinically unclear with further studies required.

What also needs to be considered is how you brush with an electric toothbrush. The correct way to use an Oral-B toothbrush is different to a Sonicare for example.  So, whilst the studies may suggest Oral-B is better, if someone used a Sonicare with the correct technique, compared to an Oral-B user with the incorrect technique, the Sonicare would likely perform better for that user.

From a technological standpoint whilst the cleans may well be different, they are trying to achieve the same goal and the actual feeling in the mouth with the brush can often have a bearing.

Having used many different models and different cleaning modes from both brands, Oral-B’s clean can feel more abrasive/aggressive and whilst leaving you with a ‘clean’ feeling it can do at the expense of a slightly more uncomfortable clean for some.  Sonicare models feel softer and more delicate but still leaves your mouth clean and fresh.

Which has the best design?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

So this is perhaps one of the most personally influenced categories on which to judge a toothbrush.

Generally speaking, Sonicare brushes have a more clinical look and feel to them.  Many of them are a matte white with very mild/soft colour accents on the power buttons and occasionally a rubber grip.

The most premium range, the DiamondClean series is much more focused on design and whilst there is a white option there is a rose gold, pink and black too.

Oral-B brushes often have a gloss white plastic body that is accented by a large rubber grip that runs down the front handle.  The colour of the grip depends on the model.  From black, to pink to blue to green, you generally do not have much choice when actually buying the brush model you want (although this is improving), but the accent makes the brush a little more appealing and different and generally less clinical to look at.

The more premium Genius 9000 is available in white, black, silver, rose gold and orchid purple colour options.

Which offers the most features?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

In recent years, Oral-B was the winner here, but since Sonicare have introduced BrushSync, I feel they now have more features available on some of their brush handles. What you might class as a feature may differ, to me.

Despite claiming Sonicare win this category, Oral-B tends to offer more features on cheaper brush handles. More cleaning modes, a pressure sensor and Bluetooth connectivity on models that are cheaper than Sonicare, allowing those with a restricted budget to get more for their money.

Most Sonicare brushes have 1-2 cleaning modes unless you go up to the most premium model which offers 3-5; whereas Oral-B has 1-4 modes until the most premium models that offer 5-6 modes.

A pressure sensor is something that you didn’t see all that often on Sonicare brushes, but newer brush handles come with it as standard. Although present, the implementation is not quite as good as Oral-B.  With Oral-B it is a light on the back of the brush handle that illuminates when the brush detects you are brushing too hard.  It is a simple and easy way to become aware of the issue that is brushing too hard. Sonicare have a vibration alert, whilst functional is less obvious.

A newer feature (although it has been around for a few years now) is Bluetooth connectivity which shares brushing data with your phone.  Sonicare have 2 models that can do this whereas Oral-B have 8.

Sonicare offers an Easy-Start mode which increases the power of the brush over the first 14 cleans, easing in a new user.

They do also offer an automatic power off feature which in my opinion is the best feature and most applicable of all additions over the basic cleaning mode.

What propels Sonicare forward is BrushSync, which I explain in detail here, but essentially it is a 2 part system that alerts you when it is time to change your brush head and selects the most suitable cleaning mode, based on the brush head fitted to the handle.

Whilst all these features are great, there is one thing that many of us, myself included forget or overlook and that is how we use them.  It is all very well having 6 cleaning modes, but what is the point if we only use them once or twice.  Most of us fall into the trap of just using the standard ‘Clean’ mode most of the time.  We either forget about the others or simply don’t bother.

The pressure sensor is great, but after about 2 weeks, you know how hard or soft to brush.

Sonicare’s easy start mode, brilliant.  Not really worthwhile after those first 14 cleans….

Box contents could also be considered here, however, I have given this its own category.

Which is quietest?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

No contest here, Sonicare brushes as a whole are much quieter.

Sonicare produce a strong vibration and humming sound, whereas the Oral-B brushes produce a much louder mechanical noise.  It is hard to explain the difference.

The best thing to do is watch the following video.

For a more detailed scenario, imagine cleaning your teeth in the bathroom of a house in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep.  With an Oral-B brush unless you closed the bathroom door you would likely wake someone up.  With Sonicare you could leave the bathroom door open and probably nobody would hear you.

Some Sonicare models get close to the sound levels of the Oral-B brushes but this is usually on specific deep clean/power intensive modes.

Which has the most accessories?

In my short answers, I said Oral-B.

I stand by this as you do generally get more in the box with Oral-B brushes.  Be that brush heads or other useful items.

As you would expect, generally speaking, the more you pay, the more you get.

Take Oral-B Smart 5 5000, you get a brush handle, a couple of brush heads, a charging stand, and a holder for your brush heads, travel case and smartphone stand.

With the more premium Genius 9000, you get the handle, multiple brush heads, a charging stand, a brush head storage compartment, a travel case and smartphone holder.

The accessories often look to serve a purpose and tie in with the brush.  For example, the brush head storage compartment that can store up to 4 heads is normally provided with a brush that has different cleaning modes and in an ideal world a specific brush head would be used for each cleaning mode, thus the tray is provided to give a home to those heads when not in use.

For most, I think the travel case is most useful as it is one of those things we do not need every day, but when travelling it can be a great accessory to keep things together, protect the brush and the head and avoid accidental activation.

Sonicare brushes tend to be supplied less frequently with a series of accessories but the ones that they do, could be considered to be more useful, this is personal opinion of course.

For example, some models have the option of a UV sanitiser.  Not only does this provide a home for up to 2 brush heads, but it also cleans bacteria and germs off the brush head via a light bulb emitting UV rays.  To me, this has more perceived value and usefulness than a plastic moulded tray that accommodates 4 brush heads.

The Sonicare travel case that comes with the Sonicare DiamondClean range can charge from a USB port on your computer, or connect to a charger like you might use for your smartphone, making it more versatile than the Oral-B equivalent.

Which has the best battery life?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

Oral-B fall a bit short of the mark set by Sonicare.

Typically Sonicare brushes last for 2 or more weeks. 3 weeks is the average, with some lasting as long as 5 weeks between charges, and that is with twice daily use.

Oral-B’s longest lasting toothbrush brush lasts about 16 days.  This is quite disappointing in comparison.

How important this is will depend on your routine.  It is safe to leave either brand of brush on charge for a prolonged period of time but for frequent travellers, the extended life of the Sonicare may be preferred.

Although subject to model most in both ranges have battery indicators that give a guide as to when a charge is required.

The reason behind this power difference primarily is the battery technology used.  Sonicare have for a long time been using the more desirable lithium-ion batteries whereas Oral-B have only just begun using lithium and although improved from older standards have not quite perfected it yet like Philips.

Some extra life is achieved by Sonicare I believe via the quieter and possibly more efficient motor as well as the automatic power off feature, something Oral-B does not have.

Which is the most innovative?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

This is one of the most difficult categories to pick a winner for and both Sonicare and Oral-B are innovative in their own right.

Oral-B was the first to introduce Bluetooth to the toothbrush and their implementation of the pressure sensor is more user friendly.

Oral-B does appear most innovative as their flagship Genius X has artificial intelligence.

This is very cutting edge and does work.  However, Sonicare toothbrushes offer a similar thing, with less prominent marketing and actually, in my opinion, is implemented better from a user perspective.

Sonicare have too introduced BrushSync technology which Oral-B have yet to match.

Is the more practical travel cases offered with some Sonicare toothbrushes innovation?  You decide.

There are limits to the innovation that can exist within a toothbrush, but Sonicare appears to be shaping change more than Oral-B.

Which is the best quality?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

This is much harder to quantify and say for sure.

I was using an Oral-B electric toothbrush which was 5 years old and still working perfectly, is this a sign of quality?!

Is the look and feel of a brush in hand how you should judge the quality?

I think both feed into the ‘quality’.

The reason I believe that Sonicare is the best quality overall is because of the feel and performance in hand.  Sonicare, to me at least feel more robust and premium, the plastics look and feel stronger and the overall experience is that more effort and attention to detail has been put into the product.

Oral-B do offer a better warranty, 2 years as standard with an optional 3rd year if you register online.  This shows confidence in the product that Sonicare does not.

Sonicare offer a 2 year warranty.

Which is the cheapest?

In my short answers, I said Oral-B.

Oral-B brushes tend to start from about £15 whereas a Sonicare starts at around £30.

Oral-B rushes tend to be about 20-25% cheaper for like equivalents, but this can stretch even further.

There is a perception of better value for money with Oral-B brushes that is often justified.

However, matters like battery life have a personal value that is not equal for all.

Whilst both brands are subject to discounts and typically can be purchased for 40+% off their RRP with a little shopping around, it is Oral-B brushes that are more heavily discounted on the whole and more actively marketed as being on offer, particularly around Christmas.

Which is best for families?

In my short answers, I said Oral-B.

Neither Sonicare or Oral-B are perfectly suited to families in my opinion, but out of the two, Oral-B is certainly the better for a couple of reasons.

Often budgets kick in more frequently with a family, as does the likelihood of different users having different needs.

On this basis Oral-B brushes offer more cleaning modes at a cheaper price, meaning it is more cost effective for a family.

Many Oral-B models come packaged with a number of different brush heads, and acquiring new ones is often a few pounds cheaper per head for an Oral-B compared to Sonicare.  As a rough guide, an Oral-B replacement heads average around £3 compared to the £6 of Sonicare.

Oral-B brush heads have coloured rings, to help identity whose brush head is whose.  This is not a feature found on Sonicare models.

 

There is often the inclusion of a brush head storage tray which can accommodate up to 4 brush heads, whereas Sonicare models do not tend to come with any storage compartment for brush heads.

Oral-B does also offer select models that come with dual handle packages.  Meaning the same accessories but two brush handles included.  A his and a hers maybe, or one for the parents and one for the kids.  This is a nice touch.  Although more expensive than the single handled pack, the dual handled models do have an overall cost saving.

As good as this is, only one charging stand might be a bugbear for some.

One thing to point out is that brushes with Bluetooth can only properly support one user.

Which is best for travellers?

In my short answers, I said Sonicare.

If compact and lightweight is the biggest draw as a traveller then neither brand really have that box ticked.  Ok, they are not huge or mega heavy but Colgate’s C250+ is lighter and thinner as is a regular manual toothbrush but may lack features.

For me, Sonicare wins because of battery life primarily.  With up to 3 weeks on most models, that covers most people for more than enough time when travelling.  Just take the brush and no charging stand.  With Oral-B, even with the most premium brush, you may need to consider taking a charger for a 2 week holiday.

If you invest in the Sonicare ExpertClean, or DiamondClean series you get provided with an excellent quality travel case that allows the brush to be charged in the case.  Just connect the cable to a USB port.

Oral-B does offer a travel case, that allows you to charge the brush inside. However, you need to take a proprietory travel adapter, not the internationally accepted USB power cable.

Other models from Sonicare that do not come supplied with a case, do come with a charging stand that supports voltages from 110-240 volts. Oral-B, on the other hand, comes with stands that typically only support 220-240 volts.  This means it is more difficult to travel with an Oral-B brush as there is less global support for different voltages used around the world.

With either, you will often need an adapter to connect them to different power sockets and that adapter will often regulate the voltage but with Sonicare, you have peace of mind that it will work safely because of the support for the broader voltage range.

Which has the best warranty?

In my short answers, I said Oral-B.

As standard, both brands come with a two year warranty, but UK residents can extend the warranty on most Oral-B brushes by an extra year if you register it online.

Three years is an extra year compared to Sonicare and it is free!

Sonicare put a clause in their warranty that the battery is only supported for twelve months (one year) whereas no such clause exists for Oral-B models.

In most instances warranty issues are dealt with on a case by case scenario and it would appear that Sonicare are more likely to replace than repair should something go wrong, but Oral-B does have quite a slick warranty repair process with quick turnaround times.

Additional factors

I believe that the twelve categories on which I have used to judge Sonicare vs Oral-B cover most instances and factors that you might consider when choosing a toothbrush.

However, you might have even more specific factors to base your decision on.

For example, if you are specifically looking for something with a sensitive cleaning mode and a pressure sensor that costs less than £40.  Despite what might be a personal desire to go for Philips because you trust the brand and like the quality etc, your only option is likely to be an Oral-B model.

Water Resistance

Whilst both brands typically are designed to resist water and can safely be rinsed under the tap and used in the shower, neither brand would really recommend or advise prolonged exposure to water and certainly advise against immersion/submersion in water.

Timers

Most Oral-B and Sonicare brushes have timers built in. These come in two forms, a timer that tells you when to change quadrants in the mouth and a timer that tells you the clean is over.

A normal clean lasts for 2 minutes and you should spend 30 seconds cleaning each of the 4 quadrants of the mouth.  Most Oral-B and Sonicare brushes have both timers built in.  The 30 second pacer is a pause in the brush head motion that in turn changes the sound emitted from the brush.

The 2 minute timer on Oral-B is a longer/different pause pattern whereas with Sonicare the brush usually automatically turns off. Nether are essential, but both go a long way in making sure you clean your teeth for the right amount of time.

Trial Period

Both brands offer a small but possibly useful option.  Their money back guarantees/trial periods, allow you to test a product and return it for a refund if you are not happy.

Oral-B call this the 30 day money back guarantee.  You can find more details on this here.

Sonicare has a 28 day money back guarantee.  You can find more details on this here.

Which one to buy?

This is by no means a simple answer and there is not a right answer as personal needs and desires come into play as well as budget.

I think personally the decision is either led by features or price.

What I mean by this is, if you particularly need a feature, such as a whitening mode, you will pay what you need to, to get a brush that offers this. Whilst, if you have £50 to spend you will try to get the best for this money.

Therefore from this recommendation, I can only go on price and I present two options for both brands.  The best brush when on a budget and the best brush that gives overall value for money.

Shop around

Always shop around to find a price you are happy to pay for a brush.

From large high-street chemists and beauty stores like Boots and Superdrug, through to online companies like Amazon, Argos and Shavers.co.uk. It’s always worth checking out eBay too.

Purchase from a location you know and trust and pay what you are prepared to pay.

Conclusion

As I suggested at the start of this article, there is no simple answer to this question.  Both Sonicare and Oral-B have their pros and cons and will appeal to some more than others.

This article has explained in detail how some may favour Oral-B for reasons like budget, whilst Sonicare might be the best choice because of the battery life.

Whatever your decision make sure it is one you are happy with and do let me know what you go for and why.

Jon Love

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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2 thoughts on “Sonicare vs Oral-B”

  1. As I understand right, there is only one differens between oral’s pro 2000 and pro 750. First one has pressure sensor, and second one – travelling case instead. So, if after a while, I’ll feel optimal pressure without sensors, 750 with case is more valuable 🙂

    Reply
    • Sorry for the delay in replying. There are a few differences. The pressure sensor is one, the 2000 has this, the 750 does not. The 2000 does not have the travel case that comes with the 750. The brush handle colour is different too. The 750 is Black and White whereas the 2000 is normally a Blue and White. A very small difference is that the 2000’s motor is slightly more powerful, but the 750’s motor is perfectly suitable and will e a step up from any manual toothbrush.

      Reply
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