Picture of a Sonicare toothbrush.

Sonicare Electric Brush

Sonicare brushing modes and settings - Clean, Deep Clean, White, Gum Care, Refresh, Sensitive, Massage, Easy-start modes. -

What does each do? / Which of these settings do you really need? / Details about Smartimer, KidTimer, QuadPacer, BrushPacer and the Sonicare smartphone app.

As you read through our review of Sonicare models and their features, you'll find that different toothbrushes have different combinations of brushing options. They include:

  • Brushing modes - Clean, White, Deep Clean, Gum Health, Sensitive, Massage, TongueCare
  • Brushing intensity settings - High, Medium, Low, Easy-Start
  • Brushing timers - Smartimer, KidTimer, QuadPacer, BrushPacer.
How important is it to have which of these brush settings?

For the average consumer, this is a big question. With so many Sonicare models to choose from, with each having different combinations of modes and options, how do you know which one to buy?

For us, we need an answer to this question too. Since our Best Sonicares page is focused on picking out brushes that have as few unneeded options as possible (like extra brushing modes), we need to know which ones are really important to have.

How we came up with an answer.

Towards figuring things out, we studied the user manuals for each of the current Sonicare models that offer multiple brushing settings. And using that information we determined that we could come up with answers to our questions.

In Sonicare's own words, here's what we've found out and determined ...

Sonicare brushing modes. - Which ones are important to have?

A) Clean mode.

This is the basic full-power setting on a Sonicare. And the brushing mode on which this brand built it's reputation.

And based on information found in Sonicare user manuals, we're going to make the case that for the vast majority of people it's really the only one they need.

It's the way a Sonicare vibrates that makes it special.

Animation showing the fluid-dynamics cleaning action of a Sonicare toothbrush.

It can clean beyond where its bristles touch.

31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute.

In a nutshell, the unique cleaning action that Sonicare toothbrushes generate is due to the rapid rate at which their brush heads vibrate. And that currently is, and historically always has been, 31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute.

(Some Sonicare promotional materials state this as the equivalent 62,000 brush-movements-per-minute, see below for an explanation).

A Sonicare's cleaning ability is actually due to two mechanisms:

A sonic toothbrush cleans your teeth in two ways.

  1. The more important of the two is the obvious one. The action of the toothbrush's bristles scrub dental plaque off the surface of your teeth.

    Of course this is how every toothbrush works (sonic or not). But with a Sonicare, it's high rate of motion creates a very effective and efficient scrubbing action.

  2. A sonic toothbrush's same vibratory motion also creates what is referred to as "fluid dynamics." This is a phenomenon where the liquids surrounding your teeth (water, saliva) are agitated to the extent that they're able to disrupt dental plaque colonies beyond where the bristles of the brush actually touch.

    Only a toothbrush operating at sonic (or higher) vibrational speed can make this claim. This effect is an interesting phenomenon, you can read more about it on our page that explains how sonic toothbrushes work.

[A longer explanation about sonic toothbrush effectiveness would also need to include a discussion about the amplitude of the brush head's motion (side-to-side width of swing). For our purposes here however, it's enough to say that the Sonicare brand has this point covered too.]

Which models have the full-power 31,000 strokes-per-minute setting?

  • All current Sonicare models do ...
  • ... with the exception of the PowerUp product line that doesn't.

    [PowerUp brushes only have a top vibratory rate of 15,000 strokes-per-minute. We consider that to be subpar and for that reason this line wasn't considered for our Best Sonicares list. Nor do we include it in our comments on this page about the characteristics and abilities of Sonicares in general.]

62,000 brush-movements-per-minute vs. 31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute?

In 2016 we noticed that Sonicare started referring to the brushing action of some of their models as being "62,000 brush movements/minute." And at first glance we assumed that this motion was something that was newer and better.

No, not newer or better.

After a fair amount of searching, we finally stumbled upon a Philips/Sonicare press release dated September 1, 2016 which when explaining about a brush included the phrase:

  • "... features unique sonic technology that delivers 31,000 brush strokes/62,000 brush movements per minute ..."

So based on that statement, it seems that the only difference between the two is simply the way the math is done. 1 brush stroke = 2 brush movements (one back, the other forth).

2018 Update.

While gathering information from Sonicare's website (usa.philips.com) to update our pages in the Spring of 2018 we noticed quite a few inconsistencies (errors in our opinion) in their use of the terms "31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute", "31,000 brush-movements-per-minute" and "62,000 brush-movements-per-minute".

When inquiring about the matter via Sonicare's "Chat 24/7" support, laughably their typed response was literally our paragraphs above copied and pasted. So evidently Sonicare's chat support considers our website Animated-Teeth.com an authority on this issue. We'll gladly accept that designation.

In regard to this issue and in a nutshell, all of Sonicare's rechargeable powered toothbrushes are equivalent in the fact that they have at least one mode that features Sonicare's signature brushing action that vibrates at "31,000 brush-strokes-per-minute" (equivalent to "62,000 brush-movements-per-minute"), with the exception of the PowerUp line. (March 2018)

Further confirmation.

Just to make sure we weren't overlooking something we should be aware of, we searched (on 11/13/2016, 09/12/2017 and 03/28/2018) the PubMed.gov index of health-science publications (run by the US National Library of Science) for various combinations of the terms: Sonicare, sonic toothbrush, 31,000, 62,000, brush strokes, brush movements.

We couldn't locate any published studies/articles (either by Sonicare/Philips or independent researchers) that documented (or even referred to) the benefits of some type of new 62,000-movement design.

Why do we think that using Clean mode makes the right choice?

You don't just have to take our word for it. There are plenty of references in Sonicare user manuals that confirm this very point.

a) Clean mode descriptions.

Here's the way this mode is described in user manuals for three of Sonicare's higher-end brushes.

  • Clean mode is "the Ultimate in plaque removal." - The DiamondClean (2016), HealthyWhite+ (2015)
  • Clean mode is the "standard mode for superior teeth cleaning." - FlexCare Platinum Connected (2016)

The statements in other toothbrush manuals are a little less definitive. Although, how much more effective can a brush be than "completely"?

  • Clean mode "gives you a thorough and complete clean." - The DiamondClean Smart (2017)
  • Clean mode provides "complete whole mouth cleaning." - FlexCare+ (2013)
b) Additional excerpts about Clean mode.

When studies that evaluate the effectiveness of Sonicare products are performed, Philips Sonicare wants it known that they expect their products to be used in their most effective setting. And to that point, here's what the user manuals of various models state:

  • "When the Sonicare is used in clinical studies, the default 2-minute Clean mode must be selected." - The FlexCare+ (2013)
  • "When the Philips Sonicare is used in clinical studies, the default 2-minute Clean mode with high intensity must be selected." - The FlexCare Platinum Connected (2016) and HealthyWhite+ (2015)
  • "When the Philips Sonicare is used in clinical studies, it must be used in the default 2-minute Clean mode or in the Deep Clean mode" - The DiamondClean (2016)
  • "When the Philips Sonicare is used in clinical studies, it must be used at high intensity in the Clean mode, in White+ mode, in GumHealth mode, or in unconnected DeepClean+ mode to achieve the efficacy in plaque removal, stain removal, gum health or superiority (respectively)." - The DiamondClean Smart (2017)
Surely you noticed.

a) The DiamondClean line.

We'll concede that the statement from the DiamondClean user manual implies that the effectiveness of Clean and Deep Clean modes are equivalent, so that one can be considered a draw. We do find it interesting however that there's no mention of this point for the FlexCare Platinum Connected which also has Deep Clean mode.

We'll also mention that Deep Clean mode on these brushes is a 3 minute routine that combines alternating periods of cleaning and massaging.

So we're comfortable holding the opinion that if you would simply brush using Clean mode for a full 3 minutes (instead of its regular 2, which would bring using it to a full apples-to-apples comparison with the Deep Clean), in terms of brushing effectiveness and efficiency you would come out ahead.

b) The DiamondClean Smart line.

In regard to the mention of Clean mode in this line's manual, we think we understand the meaning of the awkward phrase "achieve the efficacy in plaque removal." But we're not so clear on the meaning of the equivalent phrase carved out of the manual pertaining to the DeepClean+: "achieve the efficacy in superiority."

Also, and like above, we will point out that with this brush a direct comparison between the Clean and DeepClean+ modes may not be a true apples-to-apples one. The DeepClean+ routine runs for either 2 or 3 minutes (depending on whether or not the brush is in "connected" mode), while the Clean mode is a 2 minute timed event.

And because of this, we once again have no problem holding the opinion that if both were used for the same total duration that Clean mode could be expected to provide brushing effectiveness on par or better than the Deep Clean.

How to find the "Clean" mode setting on your toothbrush.

  • On brushes that feature multiple brushing modes, Clean is typically the standard or default setting.
  • On Sonicares that only have a single brushing speed, it's Clean mode.
  • If the brush has intensity settings, choose Clean mode and the High intensity setting.

B) Sensitive mode.

Some Sonicare models offer a reduced-power or "sensitive" brushing setting. And besides Clean, this is the only additional mode that we feel might be needed. And even then, only for a special subset of users.

[As opposed to offering a specific "sensitive" brushing setting, some models (see below) feature different brush intensity settings (High/Low or High/Medium/Low).]

What's the purpose of this feature?

Some people may find that the standard, full-power brushing action of their brush is too vigorous or intense. And if so, they may not use it because it's:

  • Uncomfortable to their teeth or gums.
  • Generally too overwhelming. (This is sometimes a problem for medically debilitated or elderly persons.)
  • "Tickles" too much.

For those encountering these problems, using their brush in a reduced-power mode may offer a solution.

The trade-off of using Sensitive mode.

When a lower-power setting is selected, a Sonicare will vibrate with less intensity, thus making its brushing session less efficient and effective.

That makes choosing this setting a make-do solution, rather than a first choice. Whenever possible, the user is always better served by using their Sonicare in its full-power (Clean) mode.

Which brushes have a sensitive setting?

  • DiamondClean, FlexCare+ - These toothbrushes feature a Sensitive mode.
  • DiamondClean Smart, FlexCare Platinum Connected, HealthyWhite+, 3 Series Gum Health, Sonicare for Kids - These brushes don't have a Sensitive setting per se but have higher and lower intensity settings.

C) The Easy-start feature.

As just discussed, some people may find the full-power setting of their new sonic toothbrush too uncomfortable or foreign to want to use.

In these instances, it may be that the person simply needs a break-in period. One during which they can gradually get accustom to using their new brush.

As a way of providing for this type of transition, Philips Sonicare has developed a feature they call Easy-start.

When this option is selected, a routine is begun where the brush will automatically and gradually raise the power (intensity) of its brushing action step-by-step over the user's next twelve to fourteen brushing events (depending on the model).

How does Easy-start help?

  • Most people probably use this option as a way of getting used to the tickling sensation they notice when using their new brush.
  • For others, the current ill health of their gum tissue may lie at the root of their problem.

    If so, the Easy-start function provides a period over which a user's sensitive, inflamed gums have a chance to heal (due to improved brushing with their new brush) in tandem with the gradual speed up of their brush to full power.

Which brushes have the Easy-start feature?

We're under the impression that all Sonicare models offer this option, with the exception of the PowerUps.

Just so you know.
  • Once the Easy-start function has been initiated, your toothbrush needs to remain a "one user" brush over its next twelve to fourteen uses as it slowly ramps up in power.
  • Each brushing session must be at least one minute in duration for the Easy-Start feature to work properly.
  • This feature does not work with tongue cleaning modes.

D) Novelty brushing modes.

The higher-end Sonicare models come with multiple brushing modes or routines. And generally speaking, we're not such big fans of them.

We feel we've made the case above that with all things being equal (like total brushing duration), just using Clean mode will serve the vast majority of people best.

And for those few who can't tolerate its vigorous brushing action, Sensitive mode would be our backup choice.

Details about Sonicare's additional brushing modes.

For your information, here's how Philips Sonicare has chosen to describe their novelty modes and routines in the user manuals of their products.

a) White / White+ mode.

Found on these models: DiamondClean Smart (White+), DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum Connected, HealthyWhite+

Description from user manuals:

  • DiamondClean Smart - "White+ is a 2-minute 40-seconds mode, recommended to be used with intensity level 3." (2017)
  • DiamondClean - "2 minutes to remove surface stains and 30 seconds to brighten and polish your front teeth." (2016)
  • FlexCare Platinum Connected - "2 minutes of alternating between White and Massage, with an additional 40 seconds to polish your visible front teeth." (2016)
  • HealthyWhite+ - "White mode lasts for 2.5 minutes and includes four 30 second Quadpacer intervals and two and two additional 15 second Quadpacer intervals to focus on your visible front teeth." (2015)

Our comments. / Things you should know about whitening teeth.

  • A toothbrush on its own cannot change the intrinsic color of teeth. For example, if the color of your tooth enamel is naturally yellow, using a toothbrush will not change that fact.
  • Toothbrush usage can inhibit extrinsic tooth staining (surface stain). It can either prevent it from building up, or help to remove it once it has formed.
  • That which ultimately transforms into surface stain begins as soft debris accumulation on your teeth (dental plaque, etc...). If it is not allowed to accumulate (by way of effective brushing and flossing), no surface staining will form.

Now consider these points ...

Above, we make the case that Clean mode on a Sonicare is usually it's best (most efficient, most effective) brushing mode. That means it's the mode most capable of removing the debris that ultimately transforms into staining.

So in regard to inhibiting stain, we fail to understand how a brushing motion that combines Sonicare's best brushing action (Clean mode) with other motions (which the White modes do) could be more effective than just using Clean mode alone.

A pair of Sonicare's own studies document this exact point.

The articles we're referring to are:

  • Evaluation of tooth shade change following stain induction and Sonicare HealthyWhite use. - Putt M, Milleman J, Jenkins W, Wei J, Schmitt P, Strate J. Data on file, 2007.
  • Evaluation of tooth shade change following stain induction and Sonicare FlexCare use. - Putt M, Milleman J, Jenkins W, Wei J, Schmitt P, Strate J. Data on file, 2007.

The findings of both of these studies, each of which evaluated a different Sonicare model, drew the exact same conclusion. In fact, both studies used the exact same text:

  • The FlexCare/HealthyWhite (depending on which study you're reading) ...
  • "was shown to be effective in removing commonly observed extrinsic stain-forming pigments from tooth surfaces. An improvement of 2 Vitapan Classical shades was seen following 2, 3 and 6 weeks of product use."

What we're saying here is that both of these models were stated to produce the same level of whitening improvement. But at the time of the study the FlexCare product line didn't offer a Clean & White (or White) option. Full-power (Clean) mode was it's "top" speed, suggesting that it's use was just as effective.

What is special about White mode?

If you'll notice above, the White mode routine runs longer than Clean (on the order of 25% depending on the model). And generally speaking, if a person brushes longer they'll end up being more effective (that's the whole premise of brushing timers). So from that standpoint using White mode has a potential advantage.

But it would be our belief, per the information just explained, that if you would instead brush 25% longer with Clean mode you would duplicate or exceed the effect created by White mode.

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b) Refresh mode.

Found on this model: FlexCare+.

Description from user manual: 1 minute touch-up for a quick clean.

Our comments: We see absolutely no reason to encourage people to brush for a shorter period of time.

Every dentist has patients who say they brush an excessive number of times per day, yet still have poor oral hygiene. It's because they never brush long enough to be thorough and effective.

c) Gum Care mode.

Found on these models: DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, FlexCare+.

Description from user manuals:

  • DiamondClean Smart - "a 3-minute 20-seconds mode, recommended to be used with intensity level 3."
  • DiamondClean - "Complete whole mouth cleaning (2 minutes) plus gentle cleaning for problem areas and along the gumline (1 minute)."
  • FlexCare+ - "Complete whole mouth cleaning (2 minutes) plus gentle cleaning for problem areas and along the gumline (1 minute)."

Our comments:

If you want healthy gums you need to thoroughly clean your teeth (and around them) above, at and below the gum line. And the only way you can accomplish this is by brushing and flossing.

Since using Gum Care mode is a 3 minute-plus routine, we'd suggest that a person would come out ahead by doing either one of the following instead:

  • Brushing with clean mode for 2 minutes and flossing 1 minute longer.
  • Brushing using Clean mode for the equivalent 3 minute-plus duration.

d) Massage mode.

Found on this model: FlexCare+ (plus)

Description from user manual: "Gentle gum stimulation (2 minutes)."

Our comments: We'd expect that anyone's dentist would agree that you'd gain more benefit from flossing for an extra two minutes as opposed to using this mode.

e) DeepClean mode.

Found on these models: DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum Connected

Description from user manuals:

  • DiamondClean Smart - The manual gives limited information other than this is a 2 or 3 minute brushing routine depending on how your brush is configured.
  • DiamondClean - "Provides an invigorating 3 minutes of alternating cleaning and massaging to deliver an exceptionally clean experience."
  • FlexCare Platinum Connected - "Provides an invigorating of deep massage to deliver an exceptionally clean experience."

Our comments: As we discuss above, we'll concede that using this mode is probably as effective, or possibly more so (DiamondClean Smart models), as using a brush's Clean setting.

Having said that, we anticipate that much of the benefit derived from the use of Deep Clean stems from the fact that it's a 3 minute mode rather than just two. And by using Clean mode for a full 3 minutes you would ultimately come out ahead.

E)The Smartimer feature.

Sonicare's Smartimer function is a simple brushing timer. This feature takes the general recommendation from dental professionals that a person should brush for at least two minutes literally.

The Smartimer starts when the toothbrush is turned on. It then automatically shuts the brush off after two minutes of use. (With some models this brushing cycle can be extended to 2 1/2 or 3 minutes.) This is a built-in feature and cannot be deactivated.

It's OK to brush longer.

It seems to us that the Smartimer feature tacitly implies to a user that brushing for just two minutes is enough. As any dentist will tell you, that may or may not be the case.

Of course, some people (possibly most) need all the help they can get just to brush for a full two minutes. So for them, it's great that this feature exists. For anyone who wants to brush longer, it's a nuisance.

Using the Smartimer.

You'll need to read your brush's manual for specific details but generally ...

  • While running, if you hold your brush's Off switch down for 2 seconds, when you turn it back on the Smartimer picks up where it left off.
  • If you return your brush to its recharger, the Smartimer resets.
  • As we stated above, there is no way to permanently turn off this feature, which is a shame.

F) The QuadPacer feature.

The Sonicare QuadPacer function is a pause-and-beep indicator that signals when one-fourth of the Smartimer brushing cycle has elapsed. (With some models, there are variations to this basic theme.)

The idea associated with using this feature is that it helps to insure that you've cleaned all areas of your mouth equally and thoroughly:

  • The user needs to think of their mouth in terms of 4 sections (upper teeth outside, upper teeth inside, lower teeth outside, lower teeth inside).
  • The QuadPacer indicator signals when they should move on to cleaning the next section of their mouth.
  • Somewhere during the 4 cycles, the person obviously needs to make sure they've included cleaning the chewing surfaces of their back teeth too.

This feature could be especially beneficial for the uninterested or uncooperative brusher. And in general it seems that many users enjoy using it and consider it to be an important aspect of their brushing routine.

If the QuadPacer does not appeal to you, some models of the FlexCare line (FlexCare+) and also the HealthyWhite+ allow you to deactivate it.

G) The BrushPacer feature.

The BrushPacer function is essentially the same as the QuadPacer. It's a beep-and-pause signal that comes from the brush handle. What's different about it is that it divides your timed brushing event into 6 divisions (back upper right, upper front, back upper left, etc...) instead of just 4 quadrants.


While it can be used on its own (just like the QuadPacer is with other brushes), it's intended that you use the BrushPacer function in conjunction with the Sonicare smartphone brushing app (DiamondClean Smart and FlexCare Platinum Connected models, see next section). This feature can be deactivated on the FlexCare Platinum Connected models.

H) The Sonicare smartphone brushing app.

This feature can only be used with Bluetooth enabled models. At the time of this writing, only the DiamondClean Smart, FlexCare Platinum Connected and Sonicare For Kids lines have this capability. (The For Kids brushing app is less sophisticated than that used with the other toothbrush lines.)

The Sonicare smartphone brushing app collects data transmitted from sensors located in the brush's handle to provide you with both real-time and historic information about your brushing sessions.

General features.
  • As you clean your teeth, the app shows both where you have brushed and currently are brushing.
  • It also registers if you have brushed each section of your mouth for long enough to have been effective. (Best form is to use the app in conjunction with the BrushPacer's signals and advance to the next section of your mouth every time it beeps.)

    If it determines that a region has been underserved, it prompts you to return to that area and brush longer.

  • The app can signal if the brush's scrubbing sensors have detected that your technique involves too much of that type of motion.
  • Based on brushing duration and pressure information, the app can calculate when and signal if when your current brush head should be replaced.
  • The app provides historical information about your brushing sessions so you can review and learn from them.
App minimum requirements.

We're under the impression that in order to use the Sonicare brushing app you'll need a mobile device that can meet the following minimum requirements.

Please note, these requirements change over time. So especially if you plan to use an older device, you should check the packaging of the toothbrush model you are considering. In cases where your device does not meet the stated minimums, you may experience bugs, crashes, layout issues or other defects.

  • Android devices - Bluetooth 4.0 enabled, Android OS 5.0 and higher.
  • iOS - iPhone 5 (or higher) or iPad 3rd generation (or higher) running iOS9 (or higher).
Our opinion about the need for a brushing app:

We'll agree that In many ways the Sonicare brushing app is impressive. And it's also easy enough to see how it could be beneficial for uninterested or uncooperative brushers by way of adding a degree of discipline to their routine, or by simply making the act of brushing more fun. Also, people who enjoy high-tech toys will enjoy using the app.

But for those people who already know what's important to accomplish when brushing and simply need a brush that will help them do that, there seems little reason to go to the expense of purchasing a model that has this capability.

Traveling with a "connected" Sonicare model on airplanes.

As described above, some Sonicare models have Bluetooth capability so a connection can be made with your smartphone.

Airlines differ in their restrictions on the use of wireless devices on flights. Some airlines ban them, others restrict the types of devices that can be used and/or when they may be turned on.

  • When your Sonicare is switched off its wireless transmitter is turned off too, so it poses no conflict with existing rules.
  • When your toothbrush is on, its wireless transmitter activates too. And in this state its use may or may not be permitted during your flight, depending on your airline's rules.
  • Some Sonicare manuals imply that the brush's Bluetooth signals can be turned off: "If you wish to use the toothbrush in an unconnected mode, the toothbrush will still function." (Some Oral-b models do this.)

    We spent time trying to figure out how to do this but couldn't. Possibly we misinterpreted the quoted line above.

    We spent a long time with Sonicare "chat" support regarding this issue only to be given the answer that this could not be done. The representative we conversed with (4/30/2017) stated that if the brush is on, it emits signals.

I) The KidTimer and KidPacer functions.

The Sonicare For Kids toothbrush offers some variations on the standard Smartimer and QuadPacer functions.

The KidTimer, similar to the Smartimer, is a two minute brushing timer. However, at the end of its cycle, it plays a "congratulatory sound sequence" before it turns the brush off.

Additionally, when this brush is set to its lower brushing speed, the KidTimer slowly increases in duration from 1 to 2 minutes, over the course of 90 days. The idea is that this slow change helps young children learn how to brush for a full two minutes.

The KidPacer feature signals (with a "short series of tones") for the user to move on to brushing the next quadrant of their mouth as each 1/4th of the brush's brushing cycle elapses.

Both of these are built-in features and cannot be turned off or switched to silent mode.

J) Excessive brushing pressure sensor.

Most Sonicare models don't have a specific excessive brushing pressure indicator (like Oral-b electrics do). But their brushing action will stall out when too much pressure is applied.

Studies have shown that neither brand (Sonicare [McCracken 2009] or Oral-b [Rosema 2014]) places the user at risk of gum recession [page references]. And for that reason we don't favor one brand/design over the other when it comes to this issue.

Some Sonicare models do have specific pressure indicators.
  • FlexCare Platinum Connected - The brush handle gently pulsates when too much brushing pressure is detected. (On this model the feature can be deactivated if you like.)

    When this model is used in connection with its brushing app, pressure and scrubbing sensors transmit a warning to your phone's screen that you're brushing too hard or with too much scrubbing motion.

  • DiamondClean Smart - This brush has pressure signaling features similar to the FlexCare Platinum Connected. Also, the butt end of this brush's handle has a lighted ring that illuminates. Feature deactivation is possible.

[Philips and Sonicare are registered trademarks of Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Easy-start and QuadPacer are registered trademarks of Philips Oral HealthCare, Inc.]



Topic Menu ▶  Powered Toothbrushes

  • Sonicare Toothbrushes Pages -
    • Sonicare models reviewed. - A comprehensive review of the features/prices of all of the current models of the Sonicare lineup. Differences and comparisons between each of the individual product lines are pointed out.
    • The best Sonicare models - A narrative that outlines how to determine which Sonicare model makes the best choice for you. It discusses Sonicare features, which of these features we think are important to have, and which models seem to offer a reasonable manifestation of them.
    • How sonic toothbrushes work. / Effectiveness. - If you're wondering how sonic toothbrushes work and what's special about the brushing action they create, this page explains.
  • Sonicare Features Pages -
    • Brush Heads - Information about Sonicare brush heads, including: What styles of heads are available, in which sizes? Which heads can be used with which models? Comparative cleaning efficiency. How long does a brush head last? Screw-on vs. Click-on design. Standard vs. Compact sizes.
    • Sonicare brushing features - An outline of the various brushing modes different Sonicare models have, and what we think of each of them. It explains the importance of having the 31,000 strokes-per-minute brushing action.
      We also explain details about the Easy-start, Smartimer, KidTimer, QuadPacer, BrushPacer and Smartphone App functions (how they work, what we think of them).
    • Additional Sonicare features - We discuss Sonicare's UV brush head sanitizer in this section. We also explain features and issues associated with Sonicare battery types, charging units, working voltages, battery replacement and travel features.
  • Oral-b Toothbrushes Pages -
    • All Oral-B rechargeable models - A comprehensive review of the features/prices of all of the current Oral-b rechargeable models. Some comparisons between each of the individual toothbrush lines are made.
    • The best Oral-B models - Our narrative outlining how to figure out which model makes the best choice for you. It covers Oral-b features, which of them we think are important to have, and which models seem to offer a reasonable manifestation of them.
  • Oral-b Features Pages -
    • Brush heads - Details about Oral-B replacement brush heads: styles, options, differences. Which are the best ones?
    • Brushing modes - An explanation of the different Oral-B brushing modes found on various models. The importance of 3D vs. 2D brushing action.
    • Additional Oral-b features - Information about the Oral-b Bluetooth/Smartphone app and the wireless Smartguide, as well as what we think of them. Also details about Oral-b brushing timers, quadrant timers and brushing pressure indicators, as well as charging units, operating voltages and battery types.
  • More about electric toothbrushes Pages -
    • Powered vs. Manual toothbrushes - Do you really need an electric toothbrush? This page can help you to decide. Advantages and potential benefits of electrics. What does research say?
    • Rotary electric toothbrushes - Types and brands of rotary-brush head powered toothbrushes (Rota-dent, Interplak, Braun Oral B). Pros and cons of their design differences.
    • The best electric toothbrushes for Senior Citizens. - Elder persons in different age groups, with differing situations, need different features. This page discusses the pros and cons of various models in meeting those needs.



Is there anyway to shut off the Smartimer? It is annoying after a few brushes. Thanks.

That's our feelings about the Smartimer too.

Kevin, We checked with Sonicare and their representative said that the Smartimer is a built-in feature on all models and cannot be permanently deactivated.

We added some additional text above about using this feature that you may find of interest. But it seems there is no solution for your basic complaint.

Turning off smartimer

On newer models, you can push the on/off button for 6-7 seconds while the unit is sitting in the charger to turn off the smartimer feature. I don't think this is available on older models, however. I just purchased the Protectiveclean 5100, which has this available.


We haven't been able to confirm what you report. We've read the user manual for the 6100, 5100 and 4100 ProtectiveClean models. A procedure similar to what you state is explained but for only disabling the EasyStart, Brush head replacement reminder and Pressure sensor features.

Not so sure about the mode explanations

I have owned both the flexcare platinum and the diamondclean sonicare toothbrushes, and disagree with you assuming that all the modes are the clean mode just for a different duration.

If you listen to the toothbrush (weird, but I notice these things) there is a distinctly different pulsating noise in certain modes- Clean mode and White mode sound very different. Of course I couldn't say what the actual difference in strokes is or anything, but it definitely is not just the clean mode for every setting. Would be rather pointless if it was.....


We're not saying the modes aren't different (we're 100% sure they do shake and vibrate differently).
We're saying that the differences aren't important or superior to just Clean mode.

The two papers mentioned above are two in-house Sonicare studies.
Each one found that the model of brush it evaluated (Flexcare with one, HealthyWhite with the other) improved the color of teeth "2 shades." (Gave the exact same outcome.)

At that time (2007), the HealthyWhite model featured the specialized whitening mode "Clean and White" but the Flexcare did not.

That means the Clean mode, per Sonicare's own research, whitens just as well as the whitening specialty mode.

Clean mode is the most efficient, most effective mode a Sonicare brush offers. If you want the full effects and maximum benefits of a Sonicare, that is the mode you should be using.

Clean and white are different

I too find clean and white sound different. I appreciate your logic but I would love to know definitively whether white might be snore effective than clean. Here is the frustrating result of asking this on Philips online chat.
Nick: Is there a difference in cleaning action between white and clean. Or is it just a timer difference?
Kiara: I appreciate your concern, I'll be glad to help you with this.
Kiara: Nick, the Clean mode is default mode, while the White mode is for extra whitening. So the in White mode the toothbrush brush vibrates for extra time.
Nick: yes. I get that it vibrates an extra 30 seconds. But does it vibrate differently. Ie stronger or with different motion?
Kiara: The vibrations are bit stronger.
Nick: It sounds slightly different so I wondered this. That makes sense that tha amplitude is different. That seems like a selling feature but I could not find this info anywhere!
Nick: Thanks Kiara. Is this info written anywhere?
Kiara: I'm sorry, ! this information is not written anywhere.
Kiara: Is there anything else I may assist you with today?


We would think their vagueness pretty much answers your question.

FlexCare Platinum White Mode

That's what I wanted to point out about FlexCare Platinum--White mode is different from Clean mode.

Different how?
Clean mode = vibrate for 2 minutes (does not have a rhythm, think of it this way: Z-----------------------------------end)
White mode = rhythmically vibrate for 2 minutes (Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z......-Z-end) + clean mode for 30 seconds

Refer to Manual and Service Manual:
"Clean The ultimate in plaque removal (default mode).
White 2 minutes of whitening mode to remove surface stains and 30 seconds to brighten and polish your front teeth.
Gum care: Combines Clean mode with an additional minute to gently stimulate and massage gums to improve gum health."

The question we address isn't

The question we address isn't whether each mode is different, we too understand each is. Instead we are more interested in what value each gimmick mode offers, in comparison to just using Clean mode for an equal amount of time.
As discussed above, when it comes to whitening effect it's our opinion that Sonicare's own publications suggest that there is no special advantage to using one of their novelty modes.

Sonic electric toothbrushes

This article about electric toothbrushes is the most informative explanation of how an electric toothbrush operates that I have ever read. It sounds completely honest! The explanations are complete and I wish everyone would read all this before buying an electric toothbrush. Thank you.

Thanks for the kind words

Thanks for the kind words Ivan.


The 30-second Quadpacer quadrants are actually (1)upper-outside,(2)upper-inside,(3)lower-outside,(4)-lower-inside. I love the quadpacer feature and wish they had it on their lower end models like the 5610. After a few brushings you can get the 30-second interval down pretty good, so each tooth gets equal cleaning :)

Point taken.

Thank you for posting.

Clean & White mode

I would agree that the Healthy White model which I just purchased definitely vibrates MORE on the clean & white mode, even though it's only supposed to add 30 seconds of "whitening" (my interpretation: stronger) at the very end after doing the clean mode (hence the name clean + white rather than just "white") I definitely find this a bit odd. I definitely find it superior to my aging Essence model though, possibly because the brush head needs replacement but I still feel that "super clean" that I was missing from the Essence even though that one works well too. Might also be the Diamond Clean head which feels closest to what it's like when you're getting your teeth cleaned at the hygienist.

Kids brush

Hi can i use the kids brush if im an adult whats the differance in the standard kids size and the adult size ? Is it the same amount of brush strokes ? Thanks david w


Sonicare promotional materials specifically state 31,000 brush strokes per minute (that's the same as on the good adult brushes).

As far as the size of the head, you'll need to compare at the store. The Standard For Kids head is similar in size to the adult DiamondClean (which is a smallish head). Other of the adult brush heads are as much as about 1/3 larger. And then compared to available heads, the Compact Kids head is smaller yet.

Kids brush heads have softer bristles than most adult brush heads.

And yes, according to Sonicare the Adult snap-on brush heads will fit on the For Kids model.

Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this informative piece and for your entire website. Super useful and I appreciate it very much. Keep up the good work!

Sonicare - question about Clean Mode

Firstly, your website is extremely informative and has been very useful in my search for a Philips Sonicare toothbrush. Thank you.

Secondly, I do have a question that I couldn't find an answer for. Your website mentions that within the Sonicare line of toothbrushes, there doesn't seem to be a need for all the extra cleaning modes and that the Clean Mode is all one needs. However, in the models that only have the one Clean mode (and runs on a lithium ion battery which is my battery of preference), it is the Sonicare 3 Series Gum Health. This particular toothbrush comes only with one mode but it has 3 intensities to choose from. Which intensity would I choose to for the standard and/or default Clean Mode cleaning?



The highest (most powerful) intensity setting.

31k brush strokes vs 62k brush movements

Their Facebook page has confirmation that the 31k/62k thing is the same. On a November 9 post on the Philips Sonicare Facebook page about the diamond care...

Matthew K: "Why does the rose gold have 31000 brush strokes compared to the 62000 movements of the other colors?"
November 17 at 7:17am

Philips Sonicare: Hi Matthew, that is a very good question! We will check with our product specialists why this is, as soon as we have more information we will let you know.
November 17 at 7:41am

Matthew: ???
November 22 at 2:39pm

Philips Sonicare: Hi Matthew, thanks for your message! They have the same brush strokes, but it is a different rating they are initially counted in. So there is no difference to these two models in terms of brush strokes. Best wishes, Oscar.
November 23 at 9:48am


Thank you for the reference.

Sonicare modes

Thanks for a really interesting site. The article here that researches the sonicare modes, eg clean vs whitening:
The article concludes that the only difference was the length of time the brush ran for. I thought that at first but also thought that can't be all it is, and noticed that within a 30 second segment, in whitening mode the brush alternates between what seems to be Clean phases and and a heavy vibration phases. So there Is more to it than we think, although whether it has any different effect, who knows. I also wondered about the advice given in user guides, to move to the next of 4 mouth sectors every 30 seconds. Sounds good but that must ignore the fact that from the moment brushing starts, the toothpaste effectiveness must steadily be weakening as it gets diluted by our saliva. So if say the top left is always the last sector to be done then that will always be the least cleaned one. Maybe best to change the order in rotation for each each brushing or just constantly move back and forth throughout the sectors as we go. Anyway, I'm glad I ditched the manual brush, my teeth are so much cleaner and healthier feeling now :-)


My thoughts on quad pacer were always to think upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left. That way I get inside, outside and molar tops.

That's a good idea, I'm

That's a good idea, I'm definitely going to try this method out. Although I feel like they should have more time to brush the molar tops and tongue before it turns off

Great site - Aha series-3 and series-7 explained

My Sonicare series-3(HX6730) quit working so i went shopping for a new Sonicare. My head began to become overloaded on the various models displayed on the shelf. Models ranging from DiamondClean Smart, Platinum, Healthy White Felxcare, Sonicare-3, Sonicare-2. What in the world? Why did Sonicare make it so difficult to replace my broken Series 3 with one of these other models. I was happy with what I've been using for years. My dilemma. Do I need these upgrades? This site has taken all the mystery out of the Sonicre terminology. Thanks


You're quite welcome. Glad we could help.

Your review of Sonicare

Wow ... thanks for the comprehensive, objective review! Super interesting. Regarding the 'gum' feature, I thought that might be useful in terms of dislodging gunk forming near the base of the gum which could then be brushed away the next time you brush. In such a case (sounds like you don't buy it), I was wondering whether it would make more sense to use the teeth+gum setting at night and then brush it all away in the morning. Anyway, I also use an electric flosser (waterpik) and oral probiotic for mouth (Life Extension). My dentist is thrilled and teeth cleaning takes at least 20% less time and effort.


When you brush your teeth, your goal 100% of the time should be to remove as much dental plaque and accumulated debris from on and around your teeth as possible, including above the gum line, at the gum line and even below. Ideally that should be done twice to three times a day. Being effective in these efforts also requires flossing.

Thorough plaque removal is especially important before bedtime because when we sleep the amount of saliva we produce decreases. That means during sleeping hours the beneficial/protective effect that the presence of saliva produces falls to a lower level. As such, you are placed at greater risk (however minimal) for developing dental health problems.

There's noting wrong with brushing with a less-powerful, less-efficient brushing setting first and then, immediately following, brushing with the most effective one possible (Clean mode) so you get the job done properly. It's just that we don't see the great benefit of doing that.

Sonic toothbrush vibration induces blood clot ?

Whilst using a Philips sonic toothbrush I suffered a stroke . Analysis of the injury suggests vibration of the toothbrush may have been the cause. I wondered if anybody else had experienced similar problems.


We're sorry to hear of your problems.

As an initial reply, we're unfamiliar with a suggested causal relationship between the use of a sonic toothbrush and cerebrovascular accidents (stroke).

The first places we thought of as potential resources for information were:
The FDA (www.fda.gov)
PubMed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed), the most complete database of abstracts for published medical research.

We searched both websites to no avail.

As we continued our web search, we did stumble across a comment on this page where the poster suggests that possibly the vigorous action of a powered toothbrush (any type) might overstimulate persons with "compromised intracranial dynamics".

The assumption here by us (dentists, not physicians) is that the phrase "compromised intracranial dynamics" might include a person predisposed for a stroke (we don't really know).

Best of luck with your recovery.

Sonic toothbrush vibration induces blood clot ?

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I appreciate this is not a regularly documented occurrence but this is of great importance to me. The stroke happened as I was using the toothbrush. The type of stroke was a pure motor stroke and in the area of the brain directly above where the toothbrush was being used. There were factors that were unusual. I was biting down on the toothbrush at the time, trying to remove some overalls . This type of stroke is usually associated with older men with high blood pressure /cholesterol etc., As I am a female with NO risk factors ( I have no narrowing of the carotid arteries and have had a 5 day heart monitor test to rule out atrial fibrillation also no high BP or cholesterol ) we, as a family, started to investigate. My husband is a vibration test engineer tested the frequency of the brush and this came out at a frequency that has been proven to cause damage to blood vessel linings and blood clotting. There is a lot of research into HAVs at this frequency (125hz/250hz ) and the damage it causes. The mandible an skull are also susceptible to frequencies >100hz. I understand that this may be a rare occurrence but when you start to investigate vibration and its damage you start to question whether it is a good idea to put a brush of this frequency anywhere near the head. I am grateful for your reply . We have compiled a report comprising the toothbrush test by us, and an independent source . We have also got all my medical scans (MRI) and hospital discharge notes and independent blood test results and we intend to send these out to the dental profession and anybody who has any interest so that this matter can be discussed. Suzanne


While we didn't elaborate above, we considered the FDA a resource because they have mechanism were adverse events can be reported. So, don't overlook that venue.

How Consumers Can Report an Adverse Event or Serious Problem to FDA.

Also, it seems that the "American Heart Association/American Stroke Association" has a committee that guides their support of research projects. So, your report might be of interest to them.

AHA Research Programs

As far as locating an individual researcher who has an interest or some knowledge about this issue, we would think that searching the PubMed database (link above) would be the most fruitful. We did perform a cursory search but often the exact choice of keywords provides very different results.

Good luck with everything.

Sonic toothbrush vibration induces blood clot ?

Thank you very much for your help. I appreciate your guidance.

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