Electric toothbrush head replacements, cost vs benefit
August 13, 2018 9:27 PM   Subscribe

We have Philips Sonicare toothbrushes and we need new brush heads. Branded heads are expensive, but it sounds like unbranded heads are often soft. What's a good balance between cost and benefit?

We got two Philips Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control Sonic Electric Rechargeable Toothbrushes a while back. Now I see that Sonicare has some sensor in its heads, which I can't use and don't want (less tech trash, please), and they're really expensive. But the discount no-brand heads sound like they're often soft, and there are so many options, so I'll ask MeFites for suggestions. Thanks!
posted by filthy light thief to Shopping (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I just got Sonimart knockoff brush heads from Amazon, and honestly can’t tell a difference from the Sonicare-branded ones.
posted by snowmentality at 9:31 PM on August 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Can't speak to branded v. unbranded, but soft bristles are actually a good thing.
posted by matrixclown at 9:48 PM on August 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

Clinical studies try to show that dental choice A is better than option B are expensive - so it is unlikely that anybody will have bothered to do a credible - or even a shoddy - study that compares branded and off branded replacement heads. Organisations like the ADA recommend simply that people brush their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes using a brush with soft bristles that they replace every quarter, and fluoride toothpaste.

They also offer a seal of accreditation for makers of toothbrushes who are able to demonstrate that their bristles are not too sharp and that their handles are durable - and so on. Large brands like Oral B and Sonicare are seal bearers - and the non branded replacement heads are not. But the certification is clearly a marketing bauble which has no bearing on the ADA's own recommendations above.
posted by rongorongo at 11:40 PM on August 13, 2018

Costco often has a decent discount on them -- they carry Sonicare and Oral-B toothbrushes and heads and seem to alternate between discounting one or the other every month or so. Still pricey but a little less so.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:28 AM on August 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Anecdata: I've used the knock-off brush heads for years with no ill effects (judging by dental check ups)
posted by crocomancer at 1:13 AM on August 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn't even know unbranded Sonicare replacement heads were a thing, so I just picked some up at Costco when they were on sale the other week. It might be a while before they go on sale again, but it is a regular thing, alternating with Oral B, as We had a deal, Kyle says above.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:14 AM on August 14, 2018

I have a sonicare (although a less whizzy one, from the sounds of it?) and have been using these unbranded heads for a couple years now. No noticeable issues and not a peep from my dentist.
posted by halcyonday at 5:24 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Why don't you buy a set of cheap knockoffs and see if you like them?

I have an Oral B and alternate between "real" and "fake" brushheads depending on the price I can get them for and Amazon reviews of the knockoffs. The knockoffs never feel quite the same, but they get the job done and there's no real reason I buy the branded version except personal preference.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:35 AM on August 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


So, I work for a company that makes unbranded heads. A sonic head is literally a piece of plastic with bristles. There's no fancy technology that goes into the heads, besides bristles falling out or not being polished correctly, there's not a huge reason to go with the branded heads.

Most of the online knockoffs are produced in china, but most in-store knockoffs are made in the USA. If you care about that. Also, there is a lot of variety of heads that is kind of lost on the online-purchasing side of it. They have fancy different bristles like a "sensitivity" one or a "gum care" one. They all have a bit of a different mouth-feel to them.

All the store-brand stuff is the same - and I recommend Walmart as the cheapest place to buy these with the best selection. The branded items aren't that much more.

I realize I'm sounding kind of astro-turfy here. I imagine there isn't a huge difference between the Walmart heads and the $5 for 10 heads you get online. But, it is a good balance between quality and price, so it's what you asked for.

Hope this helps.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:45 AM on August 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

Previous thread, wherein I complain about my particular off-brand heads.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:31 PM on August 14, 2018

bbqturtle, thanks for the info! I checked out a local Walmart store, but found that the 3 pack off-brand was made in the US, but the 5 pack off-brand was made in China, so with that, I followed snowmentality's suggestion and went with these Sonimart knockoff brush heads from Amazon.

After using mine for almost a month, I'd say it's a fine replacement at a fraction of the price, even when Costco has sales (and I've only seen the Sonicare heads with unnecessary tech elements added in, so I'm happy to have a more "basic" toothbrush head to eventually throw away).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:45 PM on September 16, 2018

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