Oral-B replacement brush heads – Which ones are the best?
This page explains the replacement brush head options you have with the Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush line. The following brush designs are included in our discussion:
- Ultimate Clean
- Gentle Care
- Precision Clean
- 3D White
- Ortho Care
- Sensitive Gum Care
- Pro GumCare
- Power Tip
- Deep Sweep
- Dual Clean
We show pictures of what each type of head looks like and explain its design features. We also give our opinion about which ones make the best choice for different purposes Jump Ahead such as removing plaque, cleaning at the gum line, whitening teeth, etc…
(Note: None of the information on this page applies to the discontinued Oral-B Pulsonic toothbrush.)
Oral-B replacement brush heads –
Before we can point out specifically which heads we think are the best ones, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
- What styles are available? How are they different?
- Brush head / Toothbrush model compatibility.
(If you already know enough about these issues, jump ahead to which brush heads we think tend to make the best choice, and why.)
For the most part, Oral-B brush heads are interchangeable.
Something that’s very commendable about the Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush line is that any of its brush heads can be used with any of its models. (Only recently has Sonicare finally come close to this same level of interchangeability.)
Why is brush head interchangeability so advantageous?
It’s a really a nice feature to have because it means that you’re not tied to just using the one style of brush head that originally came with your brush.
- That allows you to experiment with a very wide range of different head designs and determine which one really makes the best choice for you.
- During your brushing sessions, you may find that switching to a second head helps you to do a better job in some areas.
- If you share your brush, each of you can use whatever style brush head works best for you.
- Or when you’re looking for a new electric brush, you can just go ahead and buy the model that’s on sale, even if it doesn’t come with the head you prefer.
Tip: Keep in mind that you’re not restricted to just using the kind of brush head that your toothbrush came with originally. So look through the lineup, and experiment with a different style if you think it might be better for you.
The recent exception and a step backward.
The iO Series toothbrushes.
In 2020 Oral-B introduced the iO Series toothbrush line. And a noticeable difference with these models is that the stem on which brush heads are mounted has been redesigned. And due to this change, these models can only be used with iO-specific brush heads (the Ultimate Clean and Gentle Care). Oral-B’s previous head style simply won’t fit.
Why the change?
With the iO toothbrush line, Oral-B has redesigned the motor that drives the brush head. (They call it their “frictionless, smooth magnetic drive system.”) And we’re assuming that it’s because of this change that the brush head mounting system needed to be redesigned too.
The hope for the future.
Since Oral-B touts that their new drive system provides a better user experience and brushing outcome, it seems likely that they’ll continue to use this mechanism for future models. So, over time, it seems likely that the number of brush head styles that support this new mounting system may increase and possibly supplant the older design. And if so, widespread interchangeability may then be restored.
The Oral-B replacement brush head lineup.
Here’s an overview of each of Oral-B’s current lineup of brush heads (pictures included), and we explain what each one has been designed to do best.
As you’ll see, the working end of most of them is round or oval-shaped and has a back-and-forth rotary motion. The exception is the Deep Sweep. It has a shape and is used more like a traditional toothbrush.
Oral-B Deep Sweep (L) and FlossAction (R) brush heads.
1) The FlossAction brush head.
Formally these are referred to as “micropulse” bristles. Oral-B suggests that they give this head an improved ability (probably due to their comparative stiffness) to clean in between teeth and along the gum line.
(Note: Not that we’d really expect that anyone would be confused on this point, Oral-B’s website points out that the use of this head does not replace the need to actually use dental floss.)
FlossAction brush heads cost on the order of $4.60 per head (see notes below about our methodology).
Note: Our proxy for Oral-B brush head prices.
A factor most people will want to consider when deciding which brush head makes the best choice for them is its cost.
Oral-B’s website doesn’t display brush head prices (MSRP’s). So as a proxy for price, we’ve picked out a major brick-and-mortar retailer that also has an online presence that sells each type of Oral-B’s brush heads (that alone was a little difficult to find), and used their online prices as our basis of comparison.
The price we show is for 1 brush head (genuine Oral-B product), when bought in a 3 or 4 item multi-pack.)
By no means does this mean that the price we show is a good one. We’d hope that by shopping around even a little, either locally, online or both, you could do better. But using this method gives us a fairly apples-to-apples way to make cost comparisons between the different models.
Our opinion about the FlossAction brush head.
Generally speaking, we like this head. We’re under the impression that it’s one of Oral-B’s best plaque removers.
It’s good at removing food and debris.
It seems best suited for people who have spaces between their teeth where food particles and associated debris tends to accumulate. (It’s the micropulse bristles that excel in cleaning these areas.)
But if you don’t have moderate to large interdental spacing, the Precision Clean or CrossAction heads probably make an equal or possibly better choice.
It’s a vigorous brush head.
When using this head you can expect to feel a vigorous cleaning action. Two descriptions we noticed in some online reviews were that using it feels like experiencing a weedwhacker or going through a car wash.
Once again, this is probably due to the micropulse bristles. And some people, especially those with sensitive teeth or gums, will consider this brush to be too firm or aggressive for their use.
Its size and shape aren’t ideal.
We should point out that the FlossAction is a little bit larger than Oral-B’s perfectly round replacements (like the Precision Clean or CrossAction). And that makes it a little harder to use in tight areas.
Also, since this head is oval-shaped its orientation against your teeth will change as you change the way you hold your brush in different areas of your mouth, with some alignments being more favorable for cleaning than others.
2) The Precision Clean brush head.
Precision Clean brush head.
- The Oral-B website states that this is their most popular replacement brush head.
- They also suggest that it offers a “gentle clean” that’s ideal for “beginners.”
It would be our guess that this comment is in reference to it’s more-traditional, “less aggressive” bristle design (no angled or MicroPulse bristles).
Precision Clean brush heads cost on the order of $4.30 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the Precision Clean brush head.
We think this head makes a good choice but otherwise we don’t have a lot to say about it.
It has a very basic design.
The Precision Clean has a conventional/generic design, in the sense that it looks like what you’d expect a rotary, brush-one-tooth-at-a-time toothbrush head to look like. That makes it very straight forward to know how to use it.
It’s an effective plaque remover.
Oral-B states that this head is especially good at cleaning along the gum line (evidently more effective than the CrossAction on this point). And it’s smallish round head makes it easy and consistent in the way it’s able to access teeth in the different regions of your mouth.
We were surprised to read in some online reviews that some (few) users felt that the Precision Clean’s bristles were too firm for their liking.
We should also mention that the user reviews we read seemed to suggest that this is the most counterfeited Oral-B brush head (its basic design would lend itself to that). So beware of your source is for this product.
3) The CrossAction brush head.
CrossAction brush head.
CrossAction brush heads cost on the order of $5.30 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the CrossAction brush head.
We like this head and expect that overall it’s an excellent plaque remover. A blurb on the Australian version of Oral-B’s website says that it: “Delivers a clinically superior clean compared with Oral-B Precision Clean.”
It has a unique design.
The idea of the CrossAction’s angled bristles makes sense to us. If you’re old enough to remember, it used to be that all manual (non-electric) toothbrushes had bristles arranged in even rows.
Nowadays that type of design is relatively hard to find. Instead what’s most available is an arrangement where different groups of bristles have different lengths, jutting out at different angles. And studies indicate that this irregular-looking type of design helps to make a brush more effective.
Not too soft or hard.
The CrossAction seems to be a mix of soft and harder bristles, with the firmer ones being in the center of the head and the softer ones being the ones that clean at your gum line.
When reading online reviews for the CrossAction, it seemed that lots of posters felt this head offered the mix that they needed. It cleaned well without being too harsh on their gums.
A good size.
As compared to the FlossAction, this head is both round (instead of oblong) and slightly smaller, making it easier to clean all areas of your mouth.
4) The 3D White brush head.
(We’ve also seen this product sold as the Pro White replacement brush head, and possibly even the PowerPolisher.)
3D White brush head.
3D White (Pro White) brush heads cost on the order of $4.70 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the 3D White brush head.
This may be an OK head but we’re not so convinced.
Questions about effectiveness.
We noticed that more than one online post by users stated that they (and often their dentist or hygienist too) felt that their brushing results were improved after switching to a different Oral-B head.
That would lead us to believe that if this brush head does have a place, it’s not one for full-time use.
In terms of brushing (plaque removing) effectiveness, just looking at this brush head raises questions. For example, its bristle configuration looks somewhat sparse as compared to the heads we’ve already discussed.
And we get the idea that the rubber cup scours and polishes your teeth. But we’d anticipate that most of what it does goes on in the center of the tooth as opposed to across its entire surface, like in between teeth where stain certainly tends to form.
One clever user.
Here’s something we ran across that we thought was interesting. In a comment on a retailer’s website, the poster stated that they had cut the bristles off an old 3D-White head and were using the cup alone to do touch up polishing on their teeth every once in a while.
We just can’t let this pass. It caught our eye that the Oral-B website seems to stress that this head “naturally” whitens teeth. So whatever is especially “natural” about a rubber cup filled with silica particles (grit) from toothpaste being used to scrub the surface stain off teeth, yes, this head does that.
5) The Sensitive Gum Care brush head.
Sensitive brush head.
Sensitive Gum Care brush heads cost on the order of $6.66 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the Sensitive brush head.
The online reviews we’ve read seem to indicate that this head does a pretty good job of providing a solution for those who need a gentler brushing experience.
We think we should point out that while it doesn’t take using a stiff-bristle brush to do a good job of cleaning your teeth, most people will probably find that if they can tolerate using them that the Precision Clean or CrossAction heads will probably prove to be more efficient plaque removers.
Tip: When buying an Oral-b, don’t be concerned about which brush head it comes with (so go ahead and buy the model version that’s on sale). Later on, you can just swap it out with any other design that you prefer.
6) The Pro GumCare brush head.
Pro GumCare brush head.
Sensitive Gum Care brush heads cost on the order of $4.50 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the Pro Gum Health brush head.
The online reviews we’ve read seem to indicate that people are generally happy with this brush head choice. The core theme that seems to be most frequently stated is that using this head delivers a much gentler brushing experience than most others.
Just like mentioned above, while it doesn’t take using a stiff-bristle brush to do a good job of cleaning your teeth, most people will probably find that if they can tolerate using them, that the Precision Clean or CrossAction heads will tend to be more efficient plaque removers.
Having said that, we couldn’t help but notice one online review where the person stated that using the Pro GumCare allowed them to use their brush on its full-power Daily Clean mode rather than Sensitive. We think that’s very positive.
7) The Deep Sweep brush head.
(We’re under the impression that this head is also marketed as the Trizone.)
Oral-B Deep Sweep (L) and FlossAction (R) brush heads.
Deep Sweep brush heads cost on the order of $7.30 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the Deep Sweep brush head.
We get that if you don’t like using a rotary-action brush that switching to the Deep Sweep head provides you with a solution. But otherwise, if we initially knew that we wanted an electric that’s used similarly to an ordinary toothbrush, we’d investigate buying a Sonicare first.
In defense of this head, there is some (minimal) published researched that suggests that using the Deep Sweep compares favorably to a Sonicare (Goyal 2012) [page references]. (3 studies from a related group of researchers, all published in just a single issue of one journal.)
We have no information about how the Deep Sweep compares to using other Oral-B heads.
What users think.
While reading online reviews posted by actual Deep Sweep users, we were a little surprised at how many of them really liked this brush.
Some stated that its design and gentle bristles made it possible for them to use their Oral-B where otherwise they found it too uncomfortable. It seems “gentle but intense” is a fair way to describe the experience this brush head provides.
Some user postings that we read mentioned how this head’s longer-length bristles at the tip of the brush were very much too their liking. Others mentioned that they liked using a full-sized head (one similar in size to a manual toothbrush) rather than a small rotary one.
In contrast to the last statement above, some users simply found this brush to be too big and bulky to easily use everywhere. Its large size may also make it difficult for some to angle its bristles toward their gum line.
8) The Dual Clean brush head.
Dual Clean brush head.
Dual Clean heads cost on the order of $7.30 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
Our opinion about the Dual Clean brush head.
We’re not fans of this brush’s design. To us, the whole thing just seems too gimmicky. We think any of the heads discussed above would make a better choice than this one.
This is the largest brush head.
We’ll point out that some people won’t have enough available space in their mouth to make full use of this head’s action. For example, many won’t be able to position the swiveling portion on their molars furthest back.
One online poster stated that they found this head so big it even made cleaning the backside of their front teeth difficult for them.
9) The Ortho Care brush head.
Ortho Care brush head.
Ortho Care brush heads cost on the order of $5.50 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
It was our impression that multi-packs of this head alone are somewhat difficult to find. A common way this brush head is sold is in combination with the Power Tip.
Our opinion about the Ortho Care brush head.
This head can make a good choice. It’s probably best used in conjunction with the Power Tip (discussed next). And as noted above, Oral-B even packages these two heads together as multi-packs.
A possible alternative.
When reading online user reviews about the FlossAction we couldn’t help but notice that some people stated they were using it with their braces.
Use this brush head selectively.
We think it’s a good idea to keep in mind that for teeth or tooth surfaces that don’t have braces (brackets and wires) mounted on them that brushing with one of Oral-B’s conventional heads likely makes the more effective brushing choice.
This head isn’t just for braces.
Because this head lies in that position where it’s more of a brush than the Power Tip but less of one than the other rotary designs, it seems possible that many people might have a location or situation (around bridgework, spaces between teeth, etc…) that might be better cleansed using the Ortho Care.
10) The Power Tip brush head.
Power Tip brush head.
Power Tip brush heads cost on the order of $5.50 per head (see notes above about our methodology).
We found that even online this brush head can be a little difficult to find on its own. As mentioned above, its often sold with the Ortho Care in multi-packs.
Our opinion about the Power Tip brush head.
Clearly, this head serves a purpose that no other Oral-B design does. But keep in mind that it’s best suited for just cleaning trouble areas (around braces, gaps, spaces, at the gum line of periodontally involved teeth, etc…).
Trying to use a Power Tip to clean your entire mouth would be quite tedious. And would almost certainly prove to be less effective than using any of Oral-B’s conventional heads.
11) The Kids brush head.
Kids brush head.
The standard Kids brush head costs on the order of $4.20 per head (see notes above about our methodology). They frequently have images printed on them, such as Disney characters.
At least online, the other styles of Kids brush heads seem difficult to find.
Our opinion about the Kids brush head.
Due to its diminutive size specifically created with use by children in mind, clearly this brush head serves a purpose that the other heads in Oral-B’s lineup can’t duplicate.
12) The Ultimate Clean brush head.
Important Note: Due to the design of its mounting system, this brush head can only be used with iO Series toothbrushes.
This is one of Oral-B’s newest brush heads. It has been designed specifically for use with their new iO Series toothbrushes. (It is one of only two heads that can be used with these models.)
The Ultimate Clean head.
- It has increased bristle density as compared to previous Oral-B brush head styles.
- Each tuft of bristles is composed of a center core of thinner, longer bristles surrounded by shorter, thicker ones. Oral-B refers to this as Bristle Tuft-in-Tuft technology.
- The outer ring of bristle tufts is angled at 16 degrees (somewhat reminiscent of the Cross Action head described above).
Ultimate Clean brush heads cost on the order of $11.50 per head (see notes above about our methodology). That’s more than any of the brush heads described above. And a factor that makes owning an iO Series brush a comparatively expensive proposition.
Our opinion about the Ultimate Clean brush head.
Oral-B seems to imply that this head has been designed with the properties of the iO Series’ new frictionless, smooth magnetic drive system in mind, so to create a better brushing result.
For evidence, we searched through recent published dental research looking for documentation about the capabilities of iO brushes and the use of this head. However, we failed to identify any study that directly compared this combo with other Oral-B toothbrush and head combinations. So, we’re unclear as to the level of advancement over previous designs that this actually represents.
13) The Gentle Care brush head.
Important Note: Due to the design of its mounting system, this brush head can only be used with iO Series toothbrushes.
If you own an iO Series toothbrush, this and the Ultimate Clean are your only two brush head choices.
The Gentle Care is a round brush head. Its bristles are “extra soft.”
Gentle Clean brush heads cost on the order of $15.00 per head (see notes above about our methodology). (As opposed to the Ultimate Clean, we could only find this head sold in two-packs, which tends to raise the price per head.)
As pointed out with the Ultimate Clean, the high cost of iO replacement heads will increase your cost of ownership of these models.
Our opinion about the Gentle Care brush head.
We think that the Gentle Care should only be considered by those people who can’t tolerate the brushing experience of the Ultimate Clean. However, when considering this option, keep in mind that “sensitive,” extra-soft-bristled heads typically don’t clean as effectively and their normal counterparts.
Which of the Oral-B brush heads makes the best choice?
For people with all permanent teeth (generally age 12 years and older) …
a) What’s the best Oral-B brush head for plaque removal (improved gum health / cavity prevention)?
We think the FlossAction, CrossAction, Precision Clean and Deep Sweep heads can each make a good choice for this purpose, depending on your specific situation and needs.
If you have spaces between your teeth that tend to trap food particles and assorted debris, the FlossAction will likely make the best choice for you. However if your teeth or gums are very sensitive, the brushing experience it creates may be too vigorous for you.
If being able to remove plaque at the gum line is your biggest concern, then the Precision Clean probably makes the right choice.
A blurb on the Oral-B website says that this head cleans 400% better at the gum line than a manual brush. (For the CrossAction this statistic is 300%. We don’t see this stat mentioned for the FlossAction.)
Oral-B states that this head represents their most advanced design. And as mentioned above, the Australian version of their website says that this head is “clinically superior” to the Precision Clean, although the data on which this statement is based is not provided.
Generally speaking, we’d have faith in the angled-bristles design of this brush and would think that for people with no special brushing concerns, it probably makes the best choice.
While not a conventional Oral-B brush head, the Deep Sweep probably makes a reasonable choice.
As stated above, there’s some published research that suggests that this head can perform on par with a Sonicare. We personally don’t consider that evidence overwhelming but it does suggest that this head deserves a look.
What does Oral-B state about which brush head is best?
What does published research say about which Oral-B brush head is best?
A proxy for determining which head researchers think is best.
What we found were several studies that had used Oral-B’s CrossAction, FlossAction and Precision Clean heads. No one head predominated. However, what we can state is this.
- 2 studies that had chosen to evaluate the use of the FlossAction.
- 3 studies that had evaluated the Precision Clean.
- 5 studies that had selected the CrossAction.
▲ Section references – PubMed.gov
b) What’s the best Oral-B brush head for people who have sensitive gums or teeth?
The obvious two choices here are the Sensitive and Pro GumCare brush heads. Per our discussion above, the other clear conclusion on this matter would be not to choose the FlossAction.
Beyond that, everything is relative. If you can tolerate the brushing action generated by the Precision Clean or CrossAction heads, they’re probably more effective, or at least more efficient, cleaning devices.
c) What’s the best Oral-B brush head for people who have gum recession?
People who have, or have had, gum disease (periodontal disease) frequently experience gum recession. Or, a person may experience recession with age.
For gum recession that’s caused moderate interdental spacing, the FlossAction brush head could make a viable option (if it’s action isn’t too aggressive for you or your situation). In lieu of that, the CrossAction or Precision Clean might be chosen.
Power tip and Ortho Care.
If the size of the spacing between your teeth is large, using the Power Tip, and possibly even the Ortho Clean head too, may be what’s needed.
The general idea would be that you would use these brushes to clean your interdental spaces and along your gum line, and then use a conventional Oral-B head to clean everywhere afterward.
d) What’s the best Oral-B brush head for people who have braces?
Ortho Care and Power tip.
For people with braces, the Ortho Care makes the obvious choice. And as discussed above, using the Power Tip will probably be helpful too. (Oral-B sells both of these together in one package.)
Keep in mind that those teeth and tooth surfaces that don’t have braces mounted on them should be cleaned using a conventional Oral-B brush head.
e) What’s the best Oral-B brush head for whitening your teeth?
With this issue, it’s important to understand that the only thing that a toothbrush can do to whiten teeth is to remove or prevent stain that forms on the surface of your teeth (surface staining).
In the case where you’ve just come from your dentist’s office and your teeth have been polished white and clean, all that’s needed to prevent surface staining from forming is the best plaque remover possible. (All tooth surface stains start out as debris accumulation.)
Depending on your circumstances, that would probably be either the CrossAction, FlossAction or Precision Clean heads (see discussions above). We don’t feel that the 3D White makes the best choice for this purpose.
If light surface staining has already formed on your teeth, it’s possible for a toothbrush to scrub it off over time (a little comes off each time you brush).
The 3D White brush head with its center rubber cup has been designed to speed up this process. If chosen, our comment would be that we would focus on using this head just in areas that have stained. Then afterward, we would use one of Oral-B’s main-stream heads just to make sure that we had brushed as effectively as possible. (We’re not so impressed with the use of the 3D White on its own.)
We’ll also mention that using any of Oral-B’s better plaque removers should produce the same general effect of removing stain over time, although likely more slowly. (As proof, Sonicare states their brushes remove staining yet none of their heads features a rubber cup.)
We’d anticipate that the vigorousness of the FlossAction with its micropulse bristles would be best at this, although we have no data to back up this statement.
f) What’s the best Oral-B brush head for people who own an iO Series toothbrush?
As mentioned above, iO Series toothbrush owners only have two brush head options, the Ultimate Clean and the Gentle Care. Of these two, it is our opinion that the Ultimate Clean is the more efficient and effective plaque remover.
If you want to evaluate brush heads first hand.
If our pictures above don’t provide enough information for you, we’ve noticed two retailers (Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target) that tend to have a number of Oral-B models, as well as other electrics, on display.
And since different models frequently 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. In our local area, Target had the wider selection of Oral-B’s out.)
Brush head replacement intervals.
Oral-B’s standard recommendation.
Oral-B literature states that brush heads should be replaced at 3-month intervals.
Most Oral-B brush heads feature blue indicator bristles that fade in color with use, thus indicating when the head should be replaced.
Brush head FYI.
Another evaluation is to simply compare the bristles of the head you’re using to a new one to see if they seem noticeably splayed or damaged. Brushing with too much pressure tends to wear out brush heads quicker.
Brush head identification.
If you share an Oral-B toothbrush, how do you keep track of which brush head is yours?
The thoughtful design of Oral-B brush heads makes it easy for people who share a toothbrush handle to keep track of which brush head is theirs.
- Each replacement brush head contains a colored ring (red, blue, yellow, etc…) loose in its packaging.
- The ring can then be slipped onto the base of the head’s stem as an identification marker.
- If the ring that comes with your replacement head isn’t the color that you’ve already designated for yourself, you can just pry the ring that’s on your worn-out head off and place it on your new one.
Tip: Remember, you’re not just restricted to using the style of brush head that your toothbrush came with originally. If you see a design that seems a better solution for your problem issues, you should give it a try.
Page references sources:
All reference sources for topic Electric Toothbrushes.