Samples are taken from either premium products (the most expensive and most advanced options) or standard products made by the biggest manufacturers in the market. All the toothbrushes are rechargeable with integrated batteries. Some are equipped with position detection via a smartphone app. The app tracks where and how the user brushes and gives instructions for optimal brushing. A total of 25 toothbrushes per model are required in order to carry out the test.
The laboratory test
The main focus of the test is on the toothbrushes’ capacity to remove plaque, prevent the build-up of plaque and improve the condition of the gums. The evaluation is carried out by a test panel comprising approx. 140 individuals, split into six groups, who used their allotted toothbrush for 28 days. All the individuals brush with the same toothpaste for the whole of this period. The performance of the different toothbrushes is based on the results of a clinical examination of all the teeth and the various regions of the gums for each individual, before and after the test period.
The test involves the following main elements:
- Clinical evaluation of the toothbrushes’ capacity to eliminate plaque.
- Clinical evaluation of the toothbrushes’ capacity to reduce plaque over time (long-term effect).
- Clinical evaluation of the toothbrushes’ impact on the gums (gingival effect).
- The test panel’s assessment of ergonomics and ease of use.
- Battery capacity and charging time.
After an initial dental examination, the sample quantity of individuals is selected for the test. Selection criteria:
- Men and women aged 18–70
- Smokers and non-smokers
- At least 20 natural teeth
- Incidence of plaque
- No to mild gum irritation/inflammation
- Users of manual toothbrush or both manual and electric
The test panel is split into four groups based on the criteria above. In choosing the split, the greatest emphasis is placed on the incidence of plaque (how much plaque), gum condition, whether the individual is a smoker/non-smoker and age. The panel members in each group are given an electric toothbrush along with instructions on how it works and how they should brush for the duration of the test – brushing morning and night, two minutes at a time, divided equally between the upper and lower jaw and the left and right side (all regions of the mouth). Each panel member uses the toothbrush in their home environment over a period of 28 days.
An examination of the teeth and gums is conducted by a qualified and experienced dentist.
The assessment of the amount of plaque is made using the Quigley Hein Index, a 5-point scale for determining the amount of plaque covering the teeth. The assessment is performed on all the teeth in the mouth, on the front and back of each tooth. The assessment of the back also includes the gaps between the teeth.
The condition of the gums (incidence of swelling, irritation or inflammation) is determined on a 4-point scale: 0: No signs 1: Minor signs 2: Moderate signs 3: Clear signs
A. Clinical evaluation of the toothbrushes’ capacity to eliminate plaque
The toothbrushes’ capacity to eliminate plaque is judged by comparing the amount of plaque before and immediately after brushing in the lab. The assessment is performed on all the teeth in the mouth.
B. Clinical evaluation of the toothbrushes’ capacity to reduce the build-up of plaque
The toothbrushes’ capacity to reduce the build-up of plaque is judged by comparing the amount of plaque before brushing at the start of the test period and at the end (after 28 days). If the amount of plaque has reduced, this indicates that the toothbrush has the capacity to reduce the build-up of plaque on the teeth.
C. Clinical evaluation of the toothbrushes’ impact on the gums
The toothbrushes’ impact on the gums is judged by comparing the incidence of swelling, irritation or inflammation in the gums, before brushing, at the start of the test period and at the end (after 28 days).
D. The test panel’s assessment of ergonomics and ease of use
The panel members answer a number of questions about ease of use, the accompanying instructions and ergonomics:
- Manual and instructions
- Handling and ergonomics
- Menu system
- Replacing the toothbrush head
The panel members also note any technical problems with the different toothbrushes during the test period.
E. Battery capacity and charging time
The battery is fully charged, the brush head is put under a load of 100 g and then the brush is run until the battery runs out and that time is measured. The measurements are taken at intervals of 2 minutes with a 30-second rest in between. The battery is emptied (running toothbrush until it stops). Then the time it takes to fully charge the battery is measured (when the toothbrush indicates that the battery is fully charged).
F. The toothbrush’s durability
The toothbrush is dropped repeatedly and at different angles onto a hard floor from a height of 120 centimetres. After the test, the toothbrush is checked to see if it still works.
Weighting and grading of the test results
The results from the various elements of the test are graded on a scale from 1–10, where 10 is the best. A score of less than 6 is only given if the results are poor and significantly worse than for other products in the sample. Testfakta’s grading is based on the laboratory’s test results and the reported measurements.
The weighting and grading of the various sub-results is conducted in consultation with the laboratory. The grades from the different elements of the test are combined to give a total score, using the following weighting: effect on plaque and gums 70% (of which effect on plaque 70% and effect on gums 30%), ergonomics and ease of use 20% and battery performance 10%.