Here’s the thing with toothbrushes: what’s right for me won’t necessarily be right for you. We all have different mouths, different requirements, different needs, different habits. One toothbrush is never going to suit everybody. So this isn’t going to be one of those articles where the writer comes out firmly in favor of the Philips Sonicare toothbrush range or tells you that you can absolutely never go wrong with an Oral-B Pro Genius 8000. If you want that kind of review, there are plenty around.
No, instead, we’re going to focus on the most important feature of all toothbrushes: you—the user of the toothbrush.
A User-Focused Review
More specifically, we’re going to look at which toothbrush, from either the Sonicare range or Oral-B’s Pro range, is best suited to which kind of user.
Are you on a budget? A coffee or tea addict? A smoker? Buying for your kid? Looking for a great travel option? Someone who needs a smaller brush head? A gadget-loving early adopter? Sensitive to noise? Do you have sensitive teeth or gum problems? And so on…
All those scenarios are going to mean different priorities in your buying choices. We’ll cover them all below.
And why only those two brands?
Because, whether it’s a Philips Sonicare toothbrush or an Oral-B Pro, they’re undeniably the market leaders, the most commonly recommended brands, the brands to come up with the newest technology (we hesitate to use the phrase ‘cutting edge’ in relation to something you stick in your mouth!) and most innovative features. On top of that, they’re trusted and they’re reliable.
But before we get to use case scenarios, here’s a general introduction to what electric toothbrushes have to offer and the main difference between the two brands.
What’s So Good About an Electric Toothbrush?
It’s very easy to see electric toothbrushes as gadgets for the lazy—how hard is it to brush your teeth anyway?
But the reason they exist isn’t to alleviate some sort of epidemic of wrist-specific laziness or dental-hygiene-induced RSI…
It’s because, yes, brushing your teeth is actually a little more complicated than many of us think.
Firstly, dentists recommend a 2-minute toothbrushing session. Ideally with a soft-bristled brush.
Next, they recommend against brushing too hard; sawing away at your gums and eroding your enamel. But what is too hard here? How can you easily tell? And do you get it right every time you brush? Not to mention that some people will need to brush harder/softer than others.
Then there are the various brushing techniques your hygienist will teach you to ensure you’re reaching the plaque building up around and under the gums, and so on.
Lastly, dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush around every three months, or whenever it seems to have worn out. Which all kind of depends on how hard you brush, how often, and how soft the bristles are…
Electric toothbrushes exist precisely to make all this much simpler and more consistent.
Electric Toothbrushes Make Oral Care Simple and Consistent
Are you pressing too hard? A good electric toothbrush has sensors to tell you.
Have you done your 2 minutes? Some brushes will not only tell you when 2 minutes is up, but also remind you every 30 seconds to move on to a new section of your teeth.
Are you reaching the plaque around your gums? Yep, your brush-head moves in that weird way to make sure you’re doing exactly that. (And whether it’s an Oral-B or a Philips Sonicare toothbrush, it works.)
You get the picture.
And not only do electric toothbrushes make brushing consistent and in line with dentists’ recommendations but different features and changeable brush heads make it possible to find one for pretty much anyone’s needs.
Which brings us to our use case scenarios…
However, first, there’s one last thing we need to cover.
Philips Sonicare Toothbrush vs. Oral-B Pro: The Main Difference
If you strip away features and price, the one really significant difference between a Philips Sonicare toothbrush and an Oral-B Pro is the brushing motion each manufacturer employs.
For a Philips Sonicare toothbrush, the brush heads and motion feel a bit closer to what you’re used to with a manual brush. The brush makes side to side motions—31,000 strokes per minute—vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency, which in addition to all that brushing helps break up plaque. In combination with Philips’s Easy Start feature, which gently gets you used to an electric brush, people tend to find this motion a bit more natural and comfortable (judging from the many online customer reviews of the two brands).
Oral-B, on the other hand, use mostly round brush heads that simultaneously rotate, pulse and oscillate to spin all the way around a single tooth at a time. Which is why Oral-B calls its brushing motion 3D. It creates 40,000 pulsations and 8,800 oscillations per minute, so also has a similar ‘ultrasonic’ effect.
Both motions have been found to be quite significantly more effective than brushing manually.
However, this study found Sonicare brushes were best for gum health. And another study reported that Oral-B’s 3D motion was marginally better for stain removal.
Those two studies are pretty old though.
The most recent and relevant study we can find pitting a recent Philips Sonicare Toothbrush against an equivalent Oral-B Pro (a DiamondClean with Premium plaque control head vs. the Oral-B Pro 7000 with a cross-action head) came out slightly in favor of the Sonicare for both gum health and plaque reduction.
Below are the two top models from Philips’ Sonicare range and the Oral-B Pro series:
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Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Rechargeable Toothbrush
About the product
- Removes up to 10x more plaque than a manual toothbrush
- Improves gum health in only two weeks
- Whitens teeth in just one week
- 5 brushing modes
- Diamond Clean brush head for Philips Sonicare’ s best whitening and Adaptive Clean brush head for Philips Sonicare’ s best plaque removal
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Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries Black Electronic Power Rechargeable Toothbrush
About the product
- Real-time feedback with the Oral-B app focuses brushing on your most important areas, tracks habits over time, motivates with helpful oral care tips, and senses when you brush too hard
- Cross Action round brush head with perfectly angled bristles for a precise clean
- Clinically proven superior 3D cleaning oscillates, rotates and pulsates to break up and remove up to 100% more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush
- Rechargeable with 6 modes: Daily Clean, Gum Care, Sensitive, Whitening, Deep Clean, and Tongue Cleaner
- Included in pack: 1 rechargeable toothbrush handle, 1 Cross Action brush head, 1 Pro White brush head, 1 Sensitive brush head, 1 charging station with brush head storage, wireless SmartGuide.
Philips Sonicare Toothbrush or Oral-B Pro? It Depends…
Each heading below is a different scenario, a specific occasion when you’ll want not just a standard electric toothbrush but one with certain special features. For each scenario, we’ll recommend a particular Oral-B Pro or Philips Sonicare toothbrush, whichever model in their range best fits the task.
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Best Electric Toothbrush for a Frequent Traveler
Philips Sonicare DiamondCare Smart 9700
If you travel a lot, you’re going to want a brush that’s compact, works well with international power outlets and preferably holds a charge well or charges super-fast.
Oral-B Pros need an adapter to work with different voltages. However, a Philips Sonicare toothbrush can be used with 110V or 220V outlets. So the question is: which Sonicare is best for travel?
We’ve picked the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9700 or 9500 (they’re both the same, except the latter comes in different colors and with fewer spare heads in the box). Whichever you pick, one charge lasts up to 3 weeks (or 42 uses) and it comes with its own sleek travel case. But what’s more, the case doubles as a USB charger, so no packing (or losing) yet another charger. And better still, USB charging means you won’t have an extra problem if you’re in one of those annoying hotel rooms with not enough sockets.
As well as being excellent for travel, Philips also claims the DiamondClean Smart is their best electric toothbrush ever. So it should cover any other requirements you might have too (check out the PDF user’s manual here). It even has movement and pressure sensors and connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth (of course) to teach you how to use it and monitor exactly how and where you’re brushing.
(Looking for a makeup brush kit that’s good for travel? Check out our reviews here.)
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Best Electric Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth
Philips Sonicare FlexCare+
Sensitive teeth and gums need slightly different brushing—slightly slower, less intense. So the question here is: does the brush have a ‘Sensitive’ mode?
Well, sensitivity isn’t too uncommon, so if that’s you, most of the Sonicares and Oral-B Pros have settings and brush heads that should help.
However, according to this comparative study of the two brands, the Sonicare brush motion is the one that’s best for gum health. So really any Philips Sonicare toothbrush that suits your budget is the one to go for. Especially ones that have the Easy Start feature to get you slowly and gently acclimatized to using an electric toothbrush—such as the DiamondClean or FlexCare+.
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Best Electric Toothbrush for Children
Oral-B Pro Health Jr.
When buying an electric toothbrush for children, you want one that’s as simple and fun to use as possible—not just something small. Kids just aren’t going to use a brush that’s a pain to use.
The Sonicare for Kids brush connects directly with an app to encourage kids to brush for long enough and teach them good brushing habits. It comes with stickers, too, to customize the handle. Suitable for ages 3 and up.
If your kid loves Disney or Star Wars though… then Oral-B might be the better option. Instead of a timer, the film-licensed Stages Power kids brushes switch between 16 Disney melodies every 30 seconds. Oral-B also has a Disney timer app you can download to make brushing more of a game. Finally, there’s a slightly cheaper Frozen-themed Pro Health Jr., which is apparently intended for tweens.
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Best Electric Toothbrush for a Small Mouth or Difficult to Reach Back Teeth
Oral-B Pro Series
A children’s brush might be one option…
However, while the size might be right and that smaller brush head could help you get at less accessible parts of the mouth, the oscillations just aren’t calibrated for adult teeth. So what you’re looking for here is a brush with brush heads and angles that will suit.
Oral-B has the wider range of brush heads available, so with a little bit of experimentation there’s a good chance you’ll find something that suits your mouth.
However, the Philips Sonicare toothbrush range also has compact versions available of all their brush heads.
So whichever brand you go with, you should be able to find a brush head that works for you.
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Best Electric Toothbrush for Smokers
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9700
We all know smoking can stain teeth, so whitening is a handy feature here. Likewise surface stain removal. Gum health can be a problem too. But a toothbrush that can clean your tongue too would jump straight to the head of the queue.
From Oral-B, the Pro 7000 and Genius Pro 8000 both have tongue cleaning modes.
However, you can get a tongue cleaning attachment quite cheaply for pretty much any Philips Sonicare toothbrush and the Sonicare DiamondClean Smart comes with both a tongue cleaning mode and attachment.
There are also modes and heads for surface stain removal, gum health and whitening, to give you up to 100% more stain removal than manual brushing. And the DiamondClean promises up to 7x better gum health within 2 weeks, compared to manual brushing.
For us, the Philips Sonicare toothbrush just scrapes it. It does everything the Genius Pro 8000 does and a little more. However, if you’re on a tighter budget, or you just prefer round brush heads, the Oral-B’s an excellent option too.
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Best Electric Toothbrush for Coffee or Tea Addicts and Red Wine Lovers
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9300 or Oral-B Pro 7000
Again, potential staining is the problem here. You want something with a good whitening setting to prevent discoloration building up. So you could just go for our smokers’ recommendations—it makes sense to go for the best available.
However, if it’s only getting the best stain prevention and whitening that concern you here, there are a few other options.
If you want a Philips Sonicare toothbrush, the DiamondClean Smart 9300 is another variation of Philips Sonicare’s flagship Smart model: it’s basically the same as the 9700 and 9500, but a little cheaper and without the tongue cleaning mode. And if you don’t care to take your phone into the bathroom and monitor everything with an app, here’s another simpler DiamondClean to check out.
In the Oral-B Pro range, the 5000, 6000 and 7000 are all smart brushes with whitening and deep clean modes, and in all honesty the only really significant difference between them is that the 7000 has a tongue cleaner mode.
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Best Electric Toothbrush If You’re On a Budget
Oral-B Pro 1000
A top of the range Oral-B Pro or Philips Sonicare toothbrush isn’t going to suit everyone’s wallet. However, let’s be honest, most of us can do without things like Bluetooth, wireless charging and sleek aesthetics. What matters most is that your brush does a better job than manual brushing.
When it comes to bang for your buck, Oral-B tends to win out over Sonicare. The Pro 1000 is the most basic model we recommend—it’s the cheapest that has Oral-B’s 3D brushing motion (oscillates, rotates and pulses). Or if you need a sensitive setting, the Pro 3000 is the next cheapest. Oral-B’s replacement brush heads also tend to be cheaper, so could save you even more money long term.
Why does a Philips Sonicare toothbrush tend to be more expensive?
Especially at this lower end, you’re mostly paying for more brushing time per charge, 110V/220V capability and slicker aesthetics. However, if you prefer the Sonicare brushing motion —and that’s the real differentiating factor between the two brands, whatever the given price point—the Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control or Essence+ Gum Health brushes are probably Philips’ best budget offerings.
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Best Electric Toothbrush If Noise Annoys
Philips Sonicare Essence
Some of us are more sensitive to noise and vibration than others. And while you won’t find a silent electric toothbrush, certain models are definitely quieter than others.
The consensus seems to be that a Philips Sonicare toothbrush is your best option, compared to the Oral-B Pro range. They’re less noisy and some find the vibrations from the Sonicare brush motion easier to cope with too.
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Best Electric Toothbrush for Gadget Lovers / Early Adopters
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean 9700 or Oral-B Genius Pro 8000
Here, we’re talking the latest technology, the most unusual or unique features, beautiful design. Cost isn’t necessarily an obstacle. For the early adopter type it’s trying something new—and hopefully better than anything else out there— that’s the attraction.
If you love design, and specifically Apple design, a Philips Sonicare toothbrush is worth the extra money. The Oral-B Pros are much more functional looking.
For novelty and innovation, Oral-B’s top of the range Genius Pro 8000 or Sonicare’s DiamondClean 9700 are both worth exploring for their smartphone app integrations. Sonicare’s glass tumbler style charger is pretty cool too—you can even use it to rinse your mouth.
And for an unusual feature, check out the Sonicare Flexcare Platinum Connected, which uses a UV light in the case to kill bacteria on your brush head.
Summing Up: Philips Sonicare Toothbrush vs. Oral-B Pro
The true, key difference between an Oral-B Pro and a Philips Sonicare toothbrush is the brushing motion. If you prefer one motion over the other (some find Oral-B’s more difficult to get used to), then it doesn’t really matter what features the other brush has. Just go for that brand, and then look for whatever other features best suit your lifestyle, your budget, your routine and any existing oral health issues. Because, Philips Sonicare toothbrush or Oral-B Pro, either way it’ll be a big improvement on manual brushing.