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Clean teeth can be the key to total body health, which is why you don’t want to leave your toothbrush selection to chance. That leads many to question whether they should commit to an electric toothbrush or if their trusty manual model will get the job done.
While the American Dental Association states that both manual and electric toothbrushes can be equally effective for cleaning your teeth, the truth is that most people aren’t doing their teeth any favors with their regular brushes. After all, the average person brushes for only 45 seconds with a standard toothbrush, instead of the recommended two minutes. Likewise, it can be hard to reach every crevice when you’re brushing by hand, which can lead to plaque buildup and cavities in the long run.
However, putting hygiene to the side for a moment, we also have to contend with the waste generated by disposable toothbrushes. According to National Geographic one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the United States every year. If you care about the planet, buying a sustainably made toothbrush that is built to last can make a difference. In this piece, I will highlight the best toothbrushes for the environment.
Why Durable Electric Toothbrushes are the Most Sustainable
And from an environmental standpoint, electric models might have the edge. More than a billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the United States each year, and few, if any, are recycled. In contrast, electric models are built to last, meaning less plastic ends up in the trash over time. While you still need to replace the brush heads on most models, many companies offer recycling programs for them.
Here, we’ve compared top electric toothbrushes to determine which models come out ahead from a functionality, value, and environmental sustainability standpoint. We’ve looked at factors like the power source, product longevity, materials, company manufacturing practices, and recycling potential.
Each model on this list should help you maintain a cleaner mouth without making poor decisions for the planet. Some of the models here come in under $50, while others cost closer to $300, meaning that you can make the right decision for your budget. Curious about how we rate products? Click here to view our methodology, which at its core, is about voting with our dollars to fight climate change.
Highlights: Staff tested – With its silicone construction and 3 months long battery life, the ISSA 2 stands out for environmental sustainability.
Power Source: internal battery charged by USB cable
Includes: ISSA 2 brush base, hybrid brush head, USB charger, travel pouch
This is the toothbrush most of our staff uses at home, and it’s an incredible product. Foreo’s ISSA electric toothbrush redefines the industry with a battery-operated brush that needs to be charged via USB just once or twice a year. This brush utilizes sonic pulse technology and is made from non-toxic, petroleum-free silicone that the company claims is 35 times more hygienic than regular nylon bristles.
When you first charge the Foreo, you almost expect that the “charge once a year” marketing will turn out to be a gimmick, as all the other electric brushes we’ve used have to be charged almost every day. Not the case with this toothbrush, the Foreo is a marvel of energy efficiency. John, the Founder of this site bought one in February of 2021, and although he was hopeful the charge would last an entire year, it did last a respectable 3.5 months on the first charge. Based on our experience, the Foreo ISSA 2 does not have a yearlong battery life and needs to be charged about once every 2-3 months for optimal performance.
The back of the brush also contains a tongue cleaner, and the bristles’ angled design makes them easy to reach the back of your teeth.
Thanks to the ISSA’s durability, you need to replace the brush heads just once a year (replacements are $24.95 each). This means you’re helping the environment both by keeping brush heads out of landfills and not sucking down fossil fuels to keep your brush charged. But while the silicone material is easier on the planet, this brush is still shipped in non-recyclable plastic packaging.
As with most electric brushes, the ISSA 2 includes a two-minute timer for better brushing. However, it offers only one brushing mode and lacks Bluetooth capabilities, two features common in its similarly priced competition.
Highlights: This high-end brush connects with your phone for extra information on your brushing habits, and you can purchase recyclable brush heads to improve its sustainability.
Power Type: Lithium-Ion battery
Includes: Rechargeable handle, three brush heads, charger, travel case
As a premium option from the number one recommended brush brand by dentists, the Oral-B Genius X utilizes artificial intelligence to coach you into better brushing habits. The company claims it has learned thousands of human brushing behaviors, which allows it to recognize your brushing style in real-time and offer personal coaching to improve your technique.
This brush includes Bluetooth technology that lets you pair it with your smartphone for detailed insight on your brushing effectiveness based on whether you cover all areas and apply appropriate amounts of pressure.
From a functionality standpoint, this premium toothbrush’s rotating bristles perform 48,000 brush movements per minute (compared to 600 for a manual toothbrush), making it a powerful plaque remover. It also includes six brushing modes, including sensitive and whitening.
As a company, Oral B is making moves towards sustainability by relying on 100% renewable energy across its North American manufacturing sites—the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road a year. These manufacturing sites are also certified Zero-Manufacturing-Waste-to-Landfill, meaning that more than half of all waste is immediately recycled, while the rest is converted back to energy.
Though the brush itself doesn’t stand out from an environmental sustainability perspective, it’s made from premium materials that should last for years before breaking down. You can also purchase recyclable brush heads (View Price on Amazon) to bring the brush closer to zero-waste. Likewise, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers a greener way to power it, especially if your home utilizes renewable energy.
Highlights: Philips’ top model includes Bluetooth capabilities and five brush modes. It might be more toothbrush than most people need, but its quality design should ensure it lasts you for years to come.
Power Source: Lithium-ion battery
Includes: Diamond clean handle, eight brush heads, glass charger, USB charging travel case
If you’re looking for a top-tier electric toothbrush experience, it’s hard to beat the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean series.
Your teeth will benefit from up to 31,000 brush movements a minute, which purportedly work to remove ten times more plaque than a manual brush. It includes three intensity levels and five modes (clean, white, gum health, deep clean, and tongue care), and a pressure sensor to alert you if you’re brushing too hard.
Like the Oral B Genius X, the brush connects with your smartphone through the company’s app for personalized coaching and real-time feedback on your brushing effectiveness. You can use the app to set oral health goals and track your progress towards meeting them. Also included is a 3D mouth map feature, which lets you highlight dentist-suggested trouble spots, so the brush reminds you to give them extra attention.
A high price demands premium styling, and this electric toothbrush stands out with its glass cup charging base (similar to how you can wirelessly charge a cellphone). Simply plop the brush in after use and pull it out again when you’re ready for another round—no messing with alignment required. Also included are four different brush heads and a premium USB charging case for easier travel.
As a company, Philips has gone public with its goals to become 100% carbon neutral and source 100% of its electricity through renewable sources by 2020. It’s not clear at the moment how close the company is to meeting these targets.
Ecologically speaking, what the DiamondClean has most going for it is that you’ll want to hold onto it for a long time to justify the price. Customer reviews indicate it’s a rugged piece of equipment that should last through heavy use. Also note that the brush makes it easy to swap out heads, meaning that multiple family members can use one base.
However, you’re out of luck if the charging glass breaks or you lose the USB powered travel case, as you can’t charge the brush through any other method.
Highlights: Quip’s sleek design and replaceable battery make it the perfect electric toothbrush for an on-the-go lifestyle, though replacement heads get pricey without a subscription.
Power Source: AAA battery
Includes: Slim handle brush, soft-bristled brush head, AAA battery, cover
Imagine an electric toothbrush that doesn’t look out of place on Instagram, and you’ve got an idea of what Quip is offering. This sleek, millennial-friendly model runs on a single AAA battery, which the company provides in its quarterly subscription refill packages. For $5 every three months, you’ll receive a new brush head and battery. Pay an extra $5, you’ll get toothpaste as well. Forgo the subscription, and you’ll pay $15 per head instead.
Despite their minimalist design and low price, Quip brushes deliver to keep your teeth clean. They include a two-minute time that pulses every thirty seconds to keep you on track, and the brush heads have a tongue scraper on the back.
Quip motors power 15,000 brush movements per minute, and the brushes have soft bristles that are known for being gentle on teeth. This makes them ideal for over-brushers or those with sensitive gums. If you’re used to a more vigorous electric toothbrush, you might miss that “squeaky clean” feeling when you use one.
Environmentally, Quip brushes stand out. The brush bases are made from metal or recycled plastic that is designed to last for the long term, and the brush heads are fully recyclable, save the nylon bristles. You also don’t need to mess with a charging stand like with most other brands. According to the company, this means the brushes result in up to 80% less plastic waste over their lifespan compared to traditional brands.
Some people will love that the brush runs off a removable battery. This is a limiting factor for many electric toothbrushes—the battery is usually the first component to go, rendering your expensive brush no better than a manual. Allowing you to replace the battery yourself, in contrast, may extend its lifespan and gives you the option to use rechargeable AAA batteries instead (View Price on Amazon) – bonus points if you charge them off a renewable energy supply!
Highlights: This budget-friendly Oral-B brush includes essential electric toothbrush features and can support dozens of different brush head styles (including recyclable ones).
Power Type: Lithium-ion battery
Includes: Rechargeable brush, brush head, 220v charger
For those interested in a stripped-down electric toothbrush from a leading brand, the Oral-B Pro 1000 delivers all the essential features without excessive bells and whistles. It includes a two-minute timer that pulses every thirty seconds to direct you to a different mouth quadrant. While the brush has only one mode, its included pressure sensor stops pulsations when you’re brushing too hard and need to ease up. Expect it to last a week or longer between charges.
At under $40, this brush is one of the more affordable mainstream options. The rechargeable base is compatible with various brush heads from Oral B, including ones for sensitive teeth or that focus on whitening or flossing. You can also purchase compatible brush heads (View Price on Amazon) designed to be 100% recyclable, so long as you ship them back to the manufacturer.
However, this brush loses points for environmental sustainability. Its low price point means it’s made of relatively cheap plastic materials and isn’t likely to last as long as more expensive models. One point in its favor is that the toothbrush base is compatible with recyclable brush heads, so you can cut down on your trash production.
Highlights: This eco-friendly electric toothbrush is shipped with plastic-free packaging, and you can return the brush heads to the company for recycling.
Charging Style: lithium battery, charging stand
Includes: plastic brush handle with lithium battery, replaceable brush head, charging stand
For those in the UK, Georganics offers the ultimate in eco-friendly electric toothbrushes with its recyclable toothbrush.
Similar to its competition, the brush works with three speed adjustments for a stroke speed up to 35,000 rotations per minute. Its built-in two-minute timer alerts you every thirty seconds to change your brushing quadrant, and the entire brush is certified waterproof for safe use in the shower. The brush runs off a lithium battery, and you can expect a full charge to last up to five weeks.
Georganics makes their commitment to ecological sustainability clear with a ‘Zero To Landfill’ program that allows you to send your used brush heads back to the company for recycling.
Note: the heads include nylon bristles that can’t be recycled at home. Each brush is also shipped out with plastic-free packaging for less guilt on the onset.
Highlights: Be. Brush is an electric-style toothbrush without the electricity; instead, you’ll power it through a few hand cranks before brushing.
Charging Style: Human-powered spring-loaded motor
Includes: Toothbrush base, brush head, travel cover
Though this innovative brush won’t ship until the spring of 2021, it might be one worth taking notice of now.
Its patented design runs entirely on human power—no cords or batteries are required. You’ll twist the spring-loaded handle a few times to load energy in the motor, and it will release the brushing power equivalent to an electric toothbrush, or about 80,000 oscillations per two minutes.
In fact, the brush includes an auto-shutoff after two minutes of runtime and has a 120-gram pressure sensor that prevents over-vigorous brushing. The company claims to have carefully calibrated the design to meet the American Dental Association’s standards for safe brushing.
This brush also utilizes biodegradable brush heads, which you’re meant to switch out every three months (available on a subscription basis). They consist of degradable bioplastic and nylon-4 bristles, which the company claims are the most sustainable on the market. Likewise, all Be. Brush products will be shipped out in recyclable packaging.
Though this brush sounds promising, the fact that it hasn’t hit the market yet means it remains untested by consumers. It’s hard to say whether its human-powered motor will live up to expectations or render the brush little better than an overpriced manual one.