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When should you change your electric toothbrush head? (Oral B and Sonicare)

Mitch Avatar By: Mitch | Last updated November 19, 2022

electric toothbrush used on a model


Dental hygiene is an important factor that everyone should always prioritize. This is because ensuring its well-being can help you prevent diseases, bad breath, and expensive dental procedures. The simplest way to do this is to brush your teeth every day. While manual toothbrushes can do the job for you every day, you may want to start investing on electric brushes. As the name implies, these are electronically operated which allows it to automatically clean the teeth without much effort from the user, making it extremely convenient to use.

Electric toothbrushes come in various brands and designs, but its main selling point is the abundance of its features made possible by its use of electricity. For example, these brushes enable users to do deeper and better cleaning because of its 3D and 2D cleaning, its use of sonic vibrations, and more. However, this is made possible only with the use of brush heads. These are attached on top of the brushes that directly connect with the teeth. Because of this, the toothbrush heads need to be replaced every now and then to maintain its quality.

How long should brush heads be used?

A good brush head should have bristles that are enough for brushing the teeth and are neither too soft nor too hard. You should also take note of the fact that brush heads come with various specialties. Some are designed specifically for sensitive teeth, 3D cleaning, and for whitening. Because of this, the exact quality of the brushes may be different from each other. Users should remember to take note of the brushes’ quality upon first unboxing to see if it is still the same after months of brushing.

Aside from this, most electric brush companies such as Oral B and Sonicare recommend users to use the brush heads for only up to three months. This is also the recommended usage period for traditional disposable brushes, as this is usually how long the bristles can work properly.

Why should you replace the brush head?

The first reason is to ensure that the brush is still hygienic to use. The mouth is naturally filled with bacteria that comes from the food debris and cavities that are inside it. Since toothbrushes regularly come in contact with it, the bacteria can start to increase in the brush over time, making it unhygienic to use for a long time.

Next, the quality of the bristles also decreases over time. If you especially use brush heads designed for whitening and for maximum cleaning, you may want always to replace these to ensure the best cleaning performance. After all, still using damaged ones can result in mediocre cleaning results even if the unit is expensive.

Are there specific features that can help remind us about this?

A good feature of Sonicare is the BrushSync technology. This gives users two benefits. First, it instantly chooses the cleaning mode best used for the teeth depending on the brush head you put using RFID technology. This makes it more convenient to use, especially if the user is not knowledgeable about the different cleaning modes of their brush.

Next, this technology advises users in case they need to replace their brush head which is usually detected with the vibrations made by the brush. This is an excellent tool for users to be reminded about changing the brush heads, as some may not remember the exact month they started using theirs. 

But in all reality, the differences between the bristles and the heads are going to be totally up to the user. We have tested over 50 different electric toothbrush heads from different manufacturers and while some felt better the actual technology used in the bristles made very little difference. Some were stiffer, some were softer, but that came down to personal preference.  So at the end of the day, all we can really say is that if you are trying a toothbrush out and you don't like the results you should see if there are other options as far as their heads.

If there are, see if they make a difference, and if there aren't other options perhaps a different brand will get you to a place where you are happy with the cleaning and results. 

Which brush heads should you prioritize?

In choosing the brush head for your teeth, you should first consider the problems that it is facing. This is because the brush heads differ in terms of their specific benefit. For starters, the most basic and necessary brush is the Daily Cleaning brush head which, regardless of the brand, is advised to be used by almost all users. Oral B and Sonicare offer brush heads for Whitening, 3D cleaning, Sensitive, and more if you have specific needs. This is usually partnered with a specific cleaning mode to enhance its cleaning performance.


As you have seen, we've gone over the benefits of why you should change your toothbrush head, what to look for in the head, and even looked directly at two of the biggest electric toothbrush providers to see what their heads offer. Oral B and Sonicare both have specific heads for specific needs, but for us we found that unless you are in an extreme situation, the variation between the heads isn't really going to be noticed.

We don't think that you need to change your toothbrush head as often as they suggest, but that doesn't mean it will last a year as electric toothbrushes can break sooner. Because each person puts different pressure on their bristles and has their own brushing style, the bristles will lose their ability to clean over time. That time frame is based on your habits, so we suggest you checksoni the bristles and see how your teeth feel. If you find they aren't as clean as they were before it might be time to change the head.