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It’s time to upgrade your toothbrush. Go smart and electric for the win.

The Oral-B iO™ uses artificial intelligence.
Oral-B iO™ uses artificial intelligence to guide consumers through a two-minute brushing session with 3D teeth tracking to ensure a professional clean feeling every time. 
Business Wire

You probably have no idea that you aren’t brushing your teeth long enough. And you may be brushing too hard. The smartest electric toothbrushes on the market help you get the most out of every brushing session.

By the time my third child needed braces, I finally listened when the dental hygienist told us an electric toothbrush was the way to go. I always thought they were a waste of money and not really necessary. But now that I’ve seen the smart, electric side of daily brushing, I will never go back.

Electric toothbrushes remove plaque significantly better than a manual brush, according to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 46 patients with braces participated in the study and researchers used digital plaque image analysis to measure effectiveness. The electric toothbrush with an oscillating-rotating head scored the best, with an electric toothbrush with a regular head coming in second and the manual toothbrush last.

To get kids started with electric toothbrushes, there are options from the very basic to character-focused fancier versions.

For themes from the world of the Walt Disney Company, go with Oral-B Kids. Toothbrushes featuring Disney Princesses, characters from Marvel, Star Wars and Frozen are some of the options in a $54.99 bundle that comes with the toothbrush, a charger and four brush heads and stickers. That’s a year’s worth of brush heads that oscillate and rotate on a brush with two-minute coaching timers built in. But the interactive Disney Magic Timer app is the real star here. Kids can choose a different character each time they brush. Mickey and Minnie come standard, but other characters can be purchased or will appear when you scan their faces on Oral-B or Crest products. Kids may see a short movie clip and then as they brush, more and more of a sticker involving that character is revealed until it is fully uncovered. Kids can go back and look at all the stickers they collect and many of the characters have fun augmented reality elements.

If kids don’t care whether they brush with a name brand character, parents can opt for Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. For $39.95 it comes with the charger, toothbrush and stickers to decorate it. The toothbrush interacts with an app that uses a character named Sparkly and interactive games to teach proper brushing techniques. The app also has a parent dashboard so mom or dad can keep tabs on how long and often kids are brushing.

For adults, there are basic options for those trying an electric toothbrush for the first time. But I researched the smartest hi-tech offerings from Oral-B, Philips Sonicare and quip. All three of these toothbrushes work with an app, letting users know how well they’re covering all areas of their mouths and whether they’re using the right pressure.

Each time I used the Oral-B iOS series 9 toothbrush, I felt like I had just come from a professional cleaning. The brush head oscilates, rotates and uses micro-vibrations. Users can choose from seven different modes including whitening, sensitive and intense. A light ring around the brush turns red if you apply too much pressure, white if you don’t push hard enough and a sensor allows the brush to adjust amplitude to protect gums and enamel. The interactive app has real-time 3D tracking and coaching. While two minutes is the standard brushing time, I found that to satisfy the app, I needed to brush about 2:30; much longer than I had ever brushed in the past. For $299.99 you’ll get the brush, a magnetic charger, four brush heads and a charging travel case.

The smartest of the offerings from Philips Sonicare is the 9900 Prestige which comes with a sleek, pleather USB travel charger, a regular charger and one brush head for $299.99. It also adapts in real-time by adjusting if you’re pushing too hard and works with an app. The brush has five cleaning modes (each with three intensity options) including deep clean, white and sensitive. It also has a built in timer to make sure you’re cleaning thoroughly. A full charge lasts two weeks or more, but unlike the Oral-B iO, you’ll need to look on the app to see what percentage remains.

Honorable mention to the quip brand for having great options that are also app compatible. The adult version is $60 and the kids costs $45 for a lightweight, very quiet brush with a three month battery life. The brush uses sonic vibrations and guided pulses to make sure you brush for two minutes. They come with a lifetime guarantee and offer rewards (discounts on products) through the app for doing a good job brushing. Sign up for a refill subscription and receive a new brush head and battery for $5 every three months. There’s no cord to deal with and the base of the toothbrush is able to stick to a mirror to save counter space.

For the cleanest teeth, an electric toothbrush is the way to go. With most brands offering discounts right now, it’s a good time to introduce them to your kids and maybe get a smarter upgrade for yourself.