A sonic toothbrush.

Sonicare Electric Brush

The best Sonicare brush heads. / Replacements. (September 2017) - Comparisons by: style, size, interchangeability, effectiveness.

- DiamondClean, Adaptive Clean, InterCare, ProResults, Plaque Control, Gum Care, Sensitive, Simply Clean, TongueCare+, e-Series, BrushSync heads. | Replacement intervals and indicators. | Click-on vs. Screw-on heads.

While all of the models listed on our Best Sonicares page come with a brush head included, it's important to understand that other styles can be used too (different bristle designs, standard or compact size).

In fact, if you've chosen one of the models* that utilizes snap-on heads, you'll have over a dozen different brush designs that you can choose from when it comes time to buy replacements.

(* Applies to DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, Flexcare, HealthyWhite, Essence+ and Sonicare 2 and 3 Series and For Kids product lines. Does not apply to Essence and PowerUp brushes.)

What should you look for in a replacement head?

There are a number of factors you should consider. They include: brush design/purpose, head size, brushing effectiveness, convenience of use, replacement intervals and cost.

We discuss all of these issues on this page.


What brush head choices (styles/designs/sizes) do you have?

The replacement offerings from Sonicare are -

Current Sonicare brush head styles.

a) Click-on (snap-on)
  • C3 Premium Plaque Control - $12.25 - This is a Sonicare BrushSync head (see below). It has a design aimed at maximizing plaque removal. It comes in Standard size only.
  • G3 Premium Gum Care - $12.25 - This is another BrushSync head. This one is designed with soft, flexible bristles on its side that adapt to gum contours. It comes in Standard size only.
  • W3 Premium White - $12.25 - A Sonicare BrushSync head. Designed with "polishing" bristles that remove surface stain. Standard size only.
Sonicare brush heads.

DiamondClean and original ProResults brush heads.

  • DiamondClean - $12.25 - This head features a central diamond-shaped pad of stain-removing bristles. It comes in Standard and Compact sizes.
  • InterCare - $13 - The InterCare features extra-long bristles that reach further between teeth. Standard size only.
  • Adaptive Clean - $13 - A bristle design that maximizes surface contact with teeth and gums. Standard size only.
  • ProResults - $10 - This head is designed with curved bristles (power tufts) that aid with cleaning. Comes in Standard and Compact sizes.
  • Simply Clean - $8 - Designed with a contoured profile to better fit the shape of your teeth. Standard size only.
  • Plaque Control - $10 - This head has a design focused toward "superior" plaque removal. Standard size only.
  • Gum Health - $10 - Features softer bristles for gentler brushing. Standard size only.
  • Sensitive - $10 - Designed for sensitive teeth and gums. Standard size only.
  • TongueCare+ - $9 - A pad featuring 240 rubber "microbristles" used to scrub/clean your tongue.
  • For Kids - $11 - For Kids brushes have softer bristles than most adult heads. Comes in Standard and Compact sizes.
b) Screw-on
  • e-Series - $12.33 - This head features contoured bristles whose profile is designed to fit the shape of your teeth. Comes in 3 styles: Standard, Compact and Sensitive. (Can only be used with the Essence toothbrush.)
How we formulated this list.

We selected the above group of brush heads from the Philips (USA) website on September 8, 2017. (Our list includes "current" and "supported" heads.) We found all available for purchase online.

If you want to see these brush heads first hand.

We've run across two retailers (Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target) who tend to have Sonicare models, as well as other electrics, on display. And since various models come with different brush heads, you'll have an assortment of designs to touch and evaluate first hand. (Note: The display models don't actually run.)

About the prices we show.

Here's how we determined the cost-per-brush numbers shown above.

  • On the Philips Sonicare website (USA) we looked for product items that packaged the largest number of heads together (usually 3 but in some cases 2 or 5).
  • We then divided the "suggested retail price" by the number of heads included.

It would be our expectation that with just minimal shopping you'll be able to find any and all of the heads above at the same or lower per-unit price.

Standard vs. Compact sizes.

There are times when having the option of choosing a large or small brush head (Sonicare uses the terms Standard and Compact) is an important one.

Per the Philips Sonicare website, the following heads come in both Standard and Compact sizes: DiamondClean, ProResults, For Kids and e-Series.

BrushSync brush heads.

Sonicare's newest group of brushes are the BrushSync heads. They're unique because they contain a microchip whose presence can be detected by BrushSync capable toothbrush handles. (Right now that's just the models that make up the DiamondClean Smart line.)

Once the head has been placed, it triggers the brush handle to switch to the brushing mode and intensity that Sonicare feels is best suited for that brush head's design (see types/modes below), or else the settings you have manually programed.

Since they have Sonicare's standard click-on design, BrushSync heads can also be used with most all of Sonicare's other toothbrush handles too, although doing so provides no extra advantage.

Types / Modes

BrushSync heads come in the following styles and switch the brush to the following modes: 1) C3 Premium Plaque Control (Clean mode). 2) G3 Premium Gum Care (Gum Health mode). 3) W3 Premium White (White+ mode). 4) Tongue Care+ (Tongue Care mode).


Which Sonicare models can be used with which brush heads?

Several years ago Sonicare came out with their click-on brush head design. These brushes snap in place over a rod that extends from the toothbrush's body. (We discuss the advantages of this design below.)

To their credit, each major model that's come out since then has continued to support this feature. And this gives owners a very wide selection of replacement brush head choices.

Per information collected from the Philips Sonicare website (USA), the following models can be used with the following styles of brush heads:

a) "Click-on brush head" toothbrush models -

The members of these toothbrush lines -

  • DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum, FlexCare+ (plus), HealthyWhite+ (plus), HealthyWhite, Sonicare 2 Series plaque control, Sonicare 3 Series gum health, Essence+, For Kids

Can be used with these click-on brush heads -

  • DiamondClean, InterCare, ProResults, Plaque Control, Gum Health, Sensitive, Adaptive Clean, Simply Clean, TongueCare+, For Kids, C3 Premium Plaque Control, G3 Premium Gum Care, W3 Premium White
b) "Screw-on brush head" toothbrush models -

In contrast to the above:

  • The e-Series brush heads (Standard, Compact, Sensitive) can only be used with older style Sonicares, like the Essence.

Which brush head design offers the greatest cleaning efficiency?

One thing you can always count on is that Sonicare will sooner or later introduce yet another "new and improved" brush head. And superior effectiveness is one of the claims that's typically touted.

Which Sonicare brush heads are the most effective?

Here's how Sonicare seems to rank the comparative effectiveness of their heads in regard to plaque removal.

  • "10x more" - Adaptive Clean (Standard), C3 Premium Plaque Control (Standard), W3 Premium White (Standard), G3 Premium Gum Care (Standard)
  • "7x more" - DiamondClean (Standard), DiamondClean (Compact), InterCare (Standard)
  • "6x more" - Plaque Control (Standard), Gum Health (Standard)
  • "2x more" - ProResults (Standard), ProResults (Compact), Simply Clean (Standard), e-Series (Standard), e-Series (Compact), e-Series (Sensitive)

(This information comes from the Philips USA website. We were unable to find a comparative effectiveness claim for the Sensitive brush head.)

Observations and comments.

When looking at the rankings above, it stood out to us that there seemed to be an awfully large jump in claimed efficiency between the comparatively higher and lower ranked brush heads (a factor of over 5 times, top to bottom).

Sonicare doesn't share the data or statistical analysis on which these claims are made, so we don't have that information to look at and understand.

But simply out of curiosity we read through a large number of consumer comments (posted on the website of a large online retailer) pertaining to the use of the DiamondClean head (Standard size) to see what people were saying.

  • We paid particular notice to remarks from people who seemed to have used both the DiamondClean and other brush styles (typically the basic ProResults head).
  • It seems most did think that the DiamondClean was the better brush. But we'd be hesitant to think that from what we read that anyone was really suggesting that they felt that using it was over 3 times better than when a brush like the ProResults was used (the ratio calculated from the list above).

What we're saying here is that we do think the list above does accurately reflect the comparative effectiveness of each type of replacement brush head. But as to the actual values (multiples of 10X, 7X, etc... over manual brushing), we're very hesitant to place much faith in what they seem to state.


How long do Sonicare brush heads last?

Suggested replacement intervals.

Sonicare's standard recommendation is that brush heads (all styles) should be replaced every 3 months.

In the past, the manuals for the Elite and Essence lines (older-style models that use e-Series brush heads) recommended a 6 month interval (now changed to 3). So, for whatever reason, Philips Sonicare designers seem to be working in the wrong direction in regard to this matter.

Blue indicator bristles.

Sonicare incorporates blue "reminder" bristles in their heads. Their color gradually fades to white with use.

We will point out that Sonicare has used the word "reminder" when naming these bristles, meaning they're not necessarily a precise indicator. Online user comments we read typically stated that the color change signaled replacement before a full 3 months had lapsed.

The DiamondClean Smart brush head replacement indicator.

Sonicare claims that this line of brushes can track brush head wear based on time of use and amount of pressure used. A blinking light on the toothbrush handle indicates that brush head replacement is due.

A better test.

Rather than relying on the estimates above, a perfectly reasonable evaluation of brush head integrity is to just compare it to a new one. For example: Do the bristles look frayed and worn? Does the bristle arrangement itself look misshapen or damaged? After using the head, did you notice a lack of effectiveness?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it's time for a replacement.

Other things to know about brush head longevity.

Here are some additional points we've noticed when reading Sonicare user manuals.

  • It's recommended that brush heads that have bent or crushed bristles should not be used. Damaged bristles may break off while brushing.
  • If the toothpaste you use contains peroxide, baking soda or other type of bicarbonate (these are ingredients frequently found in "whitening" toothpaste), be sure to rinse you brush off thoroughly after use.

    Residual amounts of these compounds can cause damage to plastic components, like brush heads or even your toothbrush's handle.

Brushing efficiency- New vs. old brush heads.

There is no question that newer brush heads tend to clean more effectively than older ones. But of course this would be true for any type of brush, manual or powered.

Research.

To quantify this for Sonicare brush heads, a Philips "data on file" paper (Jenkins 2010) compared the plaque-removing effectiveness of new and used (3 month old) ProResults heads. They found that the new ones removed 28% more plaque.


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Brush-head size is an important consideration.

Standard vs. Compact.

Sonicare makes some brush head designs in two different sizes:

  • Standard - These heads are intended for use by adults and adult-sized teenagers.

    All styles of heads come in this size, although their actual dimensions vary. For example, the DiamondClean head is comparatively smaller than many others.

  • Compact - These heads have a smaller bristled area. In most cases, they're not an exact miniature of the head's Standard design. DiamondClean, ProResults, For Kids and e-Series brush heads are available in this size.

All of the toothbrushes in our Best Sonicare list (and probably all of the Sonicare models that you'll currently find for sale) offer the option of being able to use at least some type of Compact head.

Which size should you use?

As you might expect, Compact heads are typically favored by people who have a relative small mouth or limited oral access (children, some adults).

Additionally, people who have special needs or circumstances, such as hard-to-reach locations or dental braces, frequently find using this head size beneficial.

Size vs. brushing efficiency.

You might expect that Standard-sized heads make the best choice for most adults. They may, but research doesn't necessarily seem to confirm this.

Research.

#1 -We ran across a Sonicare "data on file" document (Putt 2010) [page references] that included an evaluation of the brushing effectiveness of both DiamondClean heads, Compact and Standard.

As compared to the study's reference brush, the Standard version showed a performance improvement of just 33% where as the Compact one 45%. Yes, the Compact brush was the more effective brusher.

#2 -We also found a published research study (Biesbrock 2007) that included the evaluation of Sonicare e-Series brush heads in both Compact and Standard form.

It determined that when compared to the study's reference toothbrush, the Compact style was more effective in removing dental plaque than the Standard.

You'll need to consider all factors.

Our point here would be that you owe it to yourself to perform some experimentation. Don't just use a Standard-size head one because you think you should. Experiment and determine which seems best to you.

From reading online consumer comments, it's our impression that people frequently prefer using a smaller brush head. However, these same posters also frequently mentioned that the heads tended to wear out more quickly than Standard ones, thus making them the more expensive option.


Click-on vs. screw-on brush heads.

The newer Sonicare models:

  • DiamondClean Smart, DiamondClean, FlexCare Platinum, FlexCare+, HealthyWhite+, HealthyWhite, Sonicare for Kids, Sonicare 2 Series plaque control, Sonicare 3 Series gum health, Essence+

Have a design where their brush head snaps into place over a rod on the toothbrush body.

This is in comparison to the older-style e-Series brush heads that have a large screw-on fitting. (The Essence model in our Best Sonicare list uses this type of head.)

a) Snap-on heads are more convenient.

If you're in the situation where you'll share your brush, the click-on design is the more convenient of the two due to the fact that switching heads is easier and quicker.

b) Brushes that use click-on heads are easier to keep clean.

Due to their design, toothbrush models that use snap-on brush heads tend to be easier to keep clean than screw-on ones.

With the latter, gunk tends to accumulate underneath the head's screw-on collar. Debris entry is via gasket joints where the stem of the brush passes through the head's casing, and then also where the casing meets the brush's body.

Especially in the case where the brush head is seldom removed, the amount of debris that can accumulate can be surprising. In online reviews on retailer websites, this is very common mention.

There are some solutions for this problem:

  • Placement of a silicone cover (e.g. Sonic Seal) over the brush head. It acts as a barrier to seepage.
  • Removal of the brush head after each use and cleaning and drying both it and the toothbrush body (This is the most time consuming option.)
  • Application of silicone grease at each joint may help to prevent/minimize leakage.

Extra brush head storage.

The charging base of some Sonicare models features nubs (one or two) on which you can place additional brush heads for storage.

The nubs are usually on an extra piece of plastic that snaps over the brush's core "travel" (smaller) charger.

Not all models provide extra brush head storage.
  • We've noticed the extra nubs on some FlexCare and HealthyWhite models.
  • Due to the fact that the DiamondClean and DiamondClean Smart lines feature a "glass" charger, they don't have them.
  • It seems to us that the lower-end Sonicares tend to only feature the basic travel charger base (without the extra plastic piece) and therefore don't provide for storage either.

Since this is not a standard Sonicare feature, the only way to know for sure if the model you are considering provides for additional brush head storage is to closely inspect its packaging (text and/or images).

[Philips and Sonicare are registered trademarks of Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.]

 

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Topic Menu ▶  Powered Toothbrushes

  • Sonicare Toothbrushes Pages -
    • All Sonicare models - A comprehensive review of the features/prices of all of the current models of the Sonicare lineup. Some comparisons between each of the individual product lines are made.
    • 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.
  • Page reference sources.
 
 
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Comments

Electric Brush Heads

We use the Sonicare and love it. I've always used the generic Sonicare replacement heads but we recently signed up for brusher club replacement brushes from a friends recommendation and they are a great cost saver for us.

Helpful

I have found your website to be very helpful and thorough. It has helped make what seemed like an overwhelming amount of information understandable.

Compact Brush Head

Years ago I decided the compact size cleaned my teeth the best. I think it's because, in addition to being more maneuverable for reaching difficult places, each bristle receives more energy when the motor's full force is concentrated on a smaller area.

With Appreciation

Thank you very much for sharing all of your interesting and helpful research. Using your site, I was able to select the best Sonicare for me. I couldn't have done it with you!!

Sonimart

Sonimart makes a replacement brush Sonimart Standard Replacement Toothbrush Heads for Philips Sonicare ProResults HX6013, HX6014 4 pack that sells on Amazon for $14.95. Amazon labels these as the #1 best seller, and 2,180 reviews give them an average of 4.3 of 5 stars. What do you think of these?

Craig

Having never seen one of these brush heads in the flesh, we really can't say anything definitive about them.

We can say that the Sensitive and ProResults heads they mimic are older technology. And while we don't swallow everything that Sonicare has to say, the ProResults (and likely the Sensitive too since it's similar looking) is likely a less-efficient brusher than the heads with a more modern design.

On the Amazon page you mention we see a claim of "proven to reduce gingivitis up to 100% better than a manual toothbrush." However on the company's website couldn't find a page detailing this "study." (Their website also seemed to lack information about a physical address for the company, or even what company actually owned/ran this business. Even their domain name registration hid this information.)

The Amazon page makes mention of "OEHHA Prop 65 approved." That regulation has to do with the materials used to make the heads. That's not a standard dealing with issues such as bristle stiffness or whether the tips of the brisles are rounded or not. Both of these factors could affect product safety to oral tissues.

Brush intensity

Upon speaking to Philips regarding Sonicare 3 series HX3361/02 and Healthy White HX6731/02. Trying to get how low, med, high on 3 series compares to Healthy White sen, clean/white, clean. I was told told they match up the same.....every choice has 31,000 brush strokes per minute but just vary with intensity ....and that is what trying to get answer....what are the intensities?

Brush intensity settings -

Here's a link to a publication from the branch of Philips Sonicare in Germany. It discusses the modes of a Flexcare brush and how changing their intensity settings affects them.

On the Healthywhite, Clean and Clean/White will both involve a 31,000 strokes/min action.
With the 3 Series, according to the publication, using it on the middle intensity setting should be similar to Sensitive mode on the Healthywhite.

Intensities

THANK YOU. So bottom line it seems like the Series 3 may have one lower intensity than the Healthy White.....how low still don't know but seems like the sens on the Healthy White compares to med on Series 3.

"May" is probably the right

"May" is probably the best word to use. To be perfectly honest, we're not entirely sure.

We went back and asked one of Sonicare's online representatives and the quote from them was: "However, we do not have exact equations available to define intensity at each level."

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean

The part coming from the handle to attach the brush head is wiggely and is louder than usual. Is there a place that can replace it or fix it? Could I send it somewhere to repair?

Mary Ann

We noticed this support page on Philips.com. Look in the column on the left side of the page. Hope this helps.

GREAT INFO!

Your reviews and information was extremely helpful and comprehensive.

Also, your sponsor ads were not over-the-top intrusive, which seems to be the current trend.

thank you

super helpful articles, thank you!

Question about brush heads

I'm about to order a new Sonicare HealthyWhite toothbrush to replace my old one. The old one takes the screw-on brush heads, so I'm moving into unfamiliar territory with the snap-on heads. Do you know if it's possible to get a "sampler pack" of one each of the different snap-on brush heads? I'm not really sure which kind will be best for me, aside from the fact that I've tended to prefer the compact brush head size. Thanks!

zenmom

No, we're sorry to say we're not familiar with a sampler-type kit.
You're going to get a DiamondClean with your brush.
The other brush heads that come with other top-end models are the: AdaptiveClean, InterCare, Gum Health and Plaque Control.

In terms of plaque-removing capabilities, Sonicare ranks then in this order:

Adaptive Clean (10X more than manual brush)
DiamondClean (7X more)
InterCare (7X more)
Gum Health (6X more)
Plaque Control (6X more)

thank you (please fix your layout)

thank you for the extremely detailed review and information. i actually purchased the kids model for myself - it actually looks quite good without the stickers and comes at a low enough price for the 30k vibration.
also want to mention that your site is really hard to read through. its not structured or formatted well and that's a pity... cos its got the best source of info anywhere.
please make it better

Criticism taken Sandeep.

As a start, we've implemented a fuller description of each page's content in the Topic Index found at the bottom of each page.

We've also improved the organization of our page-top linking (the buttons) so it's easier to find related pages.

Cost

Hi all, I am sure that it is a money thing when it comes to the cost of the lower end brushes to the upper-end ones. I am sure that there is a difference but not that much. Also, when looking at when to replace a brush, I believe it went from 6 months to 3 months, umm, because they make more money. I find it hard to believe it is because the brushes wear out that fast.

Sharing

My wife and I would like to share an Essence+. I've heard there is a way to distinguish between which would be my brushhead, and which would be hers (colored rings, markings, etc.), but I can't find anything online to confirm this. Could you elaborate on this? Thanks.

Nate

Here's your answer. The heads have different geometrical shapes etched on them.

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