The subscription model is by no means new, for many years people have subscribed to the likes of magazines, clubs or perhaps services associated with their bank.
However, over recent years the model has been rolled out to more and more products and services and is becoming a more popular and convenient approach for some consumers.
Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Spotify are just a few popular examples.
More recently, the humble toothbrush market has been disrupted by brands offering subscription brush heads or toothbrushes, delivered right to your door.
Whilst for the most part the principle behind these is convenience, they do also potentially have the likes of you and I considering our oral health more seriously.
I will go into more detail below about how the various subscription clubs and services work, as well as how you can save money without a subscription, but first I will jump straight in with the question many of you are probably asking…
Is a subscription toothbrush worth it?
This question is not necessarily one that can be answered for you.
For many the answer is yes.
But, it is a case of you making your own judgement based on the information available to you.
The biggest driving factor in deciding to go with a subscription service is the convenience that it brings.
A large number of us are guilty of not replacing our brush heads as frequently as we should and the arrival of a new one on our doorstep is a good catalyst to do just this, without having to remember or think about it.
Outlined below are some of the positive and negatives associated with a subscription service.
- Convenience – The desired items are delivered to your door as and when you request, without the need for you to do anything. You can be assured of always having the items you need in stock.
- Better oral health – Receiving regular brush head deliveries can encourage the replacement of brush heads sooner than if a new head was not delivered. Brushing is completed with a brush head that is in better condition and in turn better for your oral health.
- Flexibility – Most services allow some flexibility in when you receive your subscription with the ability to adapt plans as well as cancel when you like.
- Cash flow – Regular fixed costs can often be easier to manage and budget for allowing a better cash flow than if you have to purchase items on a more ad hoc basis.
- Cost – Subject to the plan and product chosen, you may pay a slight premium for the convenience that comes as a result. A non subscription model may allow for better prices through bulk purchases of the likes of brush heads and could work out cheaper in the long run.
- Flexibility – Subject to the company and products you might not be able to get the subscription to fit with the timescales and intervals for delivery that you desire.
- Adhoc needs – As the brush heads and services are configured on arriving just before you need them, should you lose a brush head or need a new item sooner, you may have to wait or go without as you do not have stock of spares or cannot easily obtain them.
- Delivery – Whilst most subscription plans are pretty robust and things like deliveries guaranteed or insured, the additional stages and parties involved could potentially cause delays and problems that might not come with buying from a normal retail store.
- Brands and commitment – At present the subscription services are run for the most part by smaller, newer companies rather than larger and more recognised brands that have the resources, including financially to scale and manage such services. Smaller companies may not hit numbers and reach to continue long term.
What is the best toothbrush subscription service in the UK?
Deciding which is the best subscription based service is very difficult and is very much influenced by your personal needs, wants, and desires.
If you want the whole package including toothbrush and toothpaste, your options and choices are different if you merely want to receive brush heads for your more regular electric toothbrush from the likes of Oral-B, Sonicare or Colgate.
Quip is to date the best known service and offers the biggest number of packages that can be purchased as a one off or on a subscription basis.
I personally prefer the cleaning experience offered by the Uber Sonic toothbrush, but Quip offer better packages and are a more robust offering.
However, if you have an electric toothbrush already and want just replacement brush heads, then seriously consider Amazon’s subscription plan as this in our opinion, is great.
Best overall packages: Quip
Best subscription for Oral-B, Sonicare or Colgate brush heads: Amazon
In the USA and internationally other companies and subscription options do exist, this article is focused purely on the UK.
How do subscription services work?
As you are likely well aware, a subscription is an arrangement whereby goods or services are sold at predetermined intervals rather than as a one off or individual transaction.
Under the subscription banner are several different types of subscription services including fixed usage, unlimited usage and pay-as-you-go.
It is the latter that is most common in the electric toothbrush market.
As a general rule, you will pay a one-time higher fee to acquire an electric toothbrush and then at predetermined intervals (often 3 months), a payment will be made in exchange for replacement brush heads or associated accessories to be delivered to your door.
Each company or brand offering subscription based services have different packages, pricing and terms associated with their subscription model, but most allow for cancellation and amendments to the subscription to be made at any time.
Who offers subscription toothbrushes and brush heads?
As the demand for subscription based products increases, so do the number of brands or suppliers who offer such.
There are those companies who have their own toothbrush and brush head subscription services as well as those that offer just brush heads accessories such as floss for existing brands.
- Quip – www.getquip.com
One of the most comprehensive subscription toothbrush services, there are packages for individuals, families and groups.
Quip make both an adult and child’s toothbrush.
Plastic, or more premium metal, handled brushes exist in different colours to suit your style and budget.
You can buy products individually or on a subscription basis.
Quip offer fluoride containing toothpaste and a manual toothbrush in addition to their electric models.
There is no flexibility in the frequency of delivery.
Although they are US based, Quip do ship internationally. At the time of writing this was a one of $15 fee. Quarterly brush head shipments incur no shipping fees.
- Uber Sonic – www.ubersonic.co.uk
The leading UK based subscription toothbrush service.
The toothbrush itself if stylish (an award winner), cleans well and is on par with most regular electric toothbrushes.
The subscription plan is fixed with the model offering new brush heads every month, but you can make individual purchases if required.
Fairly well priced considering what you get the overall package is good, even if somewhat limited in the control you have.
The subscription comes with an annual “whitening kit”, but I don’t think all that much of this.
- Amazon – www.amazon.co.uk
This massive online retailer has a subscribe and save option whereby many products, including toothbrush heads from leading brands are available to buy.
Whether its for Oral-B, Sonicare, or Colgate, Amazon have the broadest range to subscribe to and one of the best subscription models with the ability to change how frequently you receive deliveries.
Rather than individual heads, these are usually packs of 2 or more, so you need to make your own informed judgement on setting the schedule you want or desire.
Amazon have international sites who may or may not offer this option. Subscription is available in the UK and US.
To find out more about the brush heads of a particular manufacturer, see our following posts:
- Boie USA – www.boieusa.com
An environmentally considerate toothbrush, it is made from recyclable plastics.
The brush heads are interchangeable and able to be recycled too.
Available for purchase on an ad hoc or subscription basis, whilst the brush heads can last 6 months, you can chose to subscribe to the 3, 4 or 6 month plan.
One delivery is made each year containing all the brush heads you need for the following 365 days.
They are US based, but Boie do ship internationally.
- Bristle – www.wearebristle.com
A natural manual toothbrush that can be purchased as a pack of 3 for one time purchases. Or you can subscribe and have a toothbrush delivered every 1, 2 or 3 month’s, it is entirely up to you.
It is a UK based service.
- Brushbox – www.brushbox.com
A manual toothbrush subscription service with no option for one off purchases.
You have the choice of the regular plastic manual toothbrush or a more environmentally friendly bamboo option.
In addition to the brush you get a toothpaste included. You can opt to add in floss and a tongue scraper too.
The box is delivered every 2 months.
It is a UK based service.
Other oral health accessories
- Teeth and Gums – www.teethandgums.co.uk
Centred around more advanced orthodontic based care than your regular manual or electric toothbrushes, their packages include floss, interdental brushes and more.
There is a choice of monthly or 3 monthly subscription packages.
It is a UK based service.
Subscription toothbrushes we have reviewed
We have had hands on with a few of the subscription based toothbrushes and have written detailed reviews of each.
Here is a list of those we have tested with a brief summary of them.
Perhaps the best known and one of the pioneers within this space, Quip is a stylish electric toothbrush that offers good value for money, particularly to those within the USA.
It is not the best performing electric toothbrush and feels more of a crossover between manual and electric.
A variety of different packages at different price points exist. This is probably the most comprehensive and well managed subscription based toothbrush service to date.
They do ship internationally, but the benefits are less due to the associated costs.
- Design – The Copper Metal handle I had looked and felt really good. Solid, but light and there are some small but neat touches in the construction of the brush.
- Packaging/experience – Tying in with the design, the packaging and whole user experience is very good and slick, offering a very premium feel from ordering through to the delivery and use.
- Travel cover mount – So simple, yet ingeniously effective at holding and protecting the brush head when in transit but also keeping the brush out of harms way when when not in use.
- Automatic power off – The brush automatically turns off after a 2 minute clean.
- Cleaning experience – Feels somewhat odd. Potentially better than a manual toothbrush but far weaker and less effective than a conventional electric toothbrush. A kind of hybrid that for me just didn’t deliver.
- Design – As smart as it looks, the position of the power button for me was not natural and a little awkward to get used to.
- Battery Status – No indication of how much power is in the brush.
Read our quip toothbrush review.
One of the only UK based subscription toothbrush services, the actual toothbrush itself is quite stylish and performs reasonably well.
Winner of the prestigious Red Dot Design award in 2016 the aluminum handle is slim and build quality very good.
Sadly the subscription model is fixed with no flexibility. Brush heads are delivered in packs of 2 every 2 months, equating to a new brush head every month.
Stay subscribed for a year and a new brush handle is delivered, even if the original is still functional.
- Design – It is a very slim and fairly premium handle given the price paid.
- Built in timer – Brush for the right amount of time and evenly thanks to the quadpacer.
- Clean – The resulting clean from brushing feels good.
- Battery life – Over 3 weeks battery life
- Pressure sensor – No pressure sensor to alert you when you are brushing too hard.
- Fixed subscription plans – It would be great to be able to change the frequency of brush head deliveries.
Read our Uber Sonic Review
Unlike the other options we have listed, Boie is a manual toothbrush.
It aims to cut down on pollution in two ways:
- Using plastics that are easier to recycle than those in a standard toothbrush
- Only disposing of the head of the brush, not the handle as well.
This seems like a step in the right direction compared to regular toothbrushes and even electric toothbrush heads, but there is more to consider and we cover this in our Boie Review.
- Design – Slim in the hand and lightweight too.
- Brush heads – Change less frequently and less abrasive on the teeth and gums.
- BPA free
- Subscription – A useful option for some for regular brush head delivery.
- Packaging – Simple and environmentally friendly.
- Design – The flat profile is a little odd in hand and not necessarily as strong.
- Brush head – It is larger than most other brushes I have used. Bristles flex a lot and not sure how well they will retain their structure.
- Concept – Great concept but needs millions to adopt to have impact.
- Comparison to others – lack of detail in the Boie FAQ about how the recycling of this brush compares to mainstream brushes
Read our Boie Review
Save money without a subscription
Many believe you will save money by going on a subscription plan, and you most certainly can, subject to what you opt for.
But, in some instances, you do pay a premium for the convenience that they offer.
The prices are influenced by what it is you want and need from the services. We all buy different products at different price points, so to make fair comparison is difficult.
If the same subscription toothbrush was sold in a shop for a one off purchase choice this would be easier to make comparison with a subscription, but to date this does not exist.
For the sake of example, let’s take the UK subscription service Uber Sonic.
The cost for this will be £153 or 14p per day over 3 years.
Oral-B’s Pro 2 2000 works out at just £74 or 7 p per day over the same period.
But, Uber Sonic provide new brush heads essentially every month, rather than the normal 3 months.
If you priced in new brush heads for Oral-B every month, the actual price difference over 3 years is about £3 in favour of Oral-B, but that does not factor in the convenience of to your door deliveries of Uber Sonic.
From our research and comparisons, we have calculated that the price differences between subscriptions and non subscription models are not really that great, typically within a few pounds of each other, if you compare like for like.
If you do not want to go on a subscription model that is perfectly understandable.
You can save money, particularly buying brush heads. Our article how to get cheap replacement brush heads is a must read.
You then need to take the old tried and tested tips of shopping smartly, finding the best price from a retailer you trust and perhaps waiting for particular times of the year where sales or offers are run. Christmas is a popular time in the dental health space.
Subscriptions can offer convenience, but financially they are not always a better offering.
Furthermore, the technology being offered in subscription toothbrushes isn’t always as good as traditional electric toothbrushes.
All of the current services have their pros and cons.
No one company in our minds is really winning on all counts, but a few are progressing nicely.
Consider what it is you want and make an informed decision.