Strictly speaking, almost all electric toothbrushes are battery operated toothbrushes. This is because rechargeable toothbrushes contain an internal battery to store the power. This article is concerned with toothbrushes which contain replaceable batteries, typically AA sized.
A battery toothbrush offers some benefits over a manual brush and is cheaper than a rechargeable electric toothbrush. Compared to manual toothbrushes, the battery-powered toothbrush head can rotate at a far higher speed, which allows for quicker and more thorough removal of plaque. They generally need you to perform a manual brushing action at the same time as the brush is running, but as the rotation or pulsation assists in plaque removal even areas visited for a very short period of time can be cleaned better than with a manual brush alone.
Of course, this comes at the price of the brush being heavier and bulkier than a manual toothbrush. However, a battery toothbrush is often lighter than a rechargeable electric toothbrush and may be a good compromise for those with weak wrists or children.
Electric vs Battery
Electric toothbrushes typically have more power at their disposal which allows them to offer a combination of different actions in the same unit. Battery powered toothbrushes often only provide one or two cleaning methods – a rotating head and sonic technology perhaps – and require the user to move the brush normally.
While some have a timer feature, it is not as common as with electric toothbrushes, and often the brush will simply turn off. Some children’s toothbrushes have flashing lights that stop when the brushing session is over.
|Feature||Electric Toothbrush||Battery Operated Toothbrush|
|Battery type||Factory fitted rechargeable NiMH||Standard AA or AAA can be recharged outside the unit|
|Battery life-span||Varies by brand, but around 2 weeks per charge is average||Varies by battery quality but expect 4-6 weeks|
|Cleaning patterns available||Rotation, oscillation, side-to-side, pulsing, sonic, requires only guidance from tooth to tooth||Rotation, vibration, sonic, requires manual technique to move brush around tooth.|
|Replaceable brush heads||Yes||Yes|
|Brush head variety||Yes||No|
|Travel Case||Some models||Some models|
|Timer||Yes, usually 2 minutes some models with interval timers to remind you to move to a different area of your mouth||Some models|
|Smart features||Some models||No|
|Weight||Around 70g – 340g||Around 50g-100g|
|Price||Cheapest start at around £20||Cheapest start at around £5|
Why use a battery toothbrush rather than an electric toothbrush?
Easy for children
For parents, a kids battery operated toothbrush can offer them peace of mind. As the brush still needs a regular brushing action they can ensure that their children learn how to brush correctly, with the extra vibration and rotation offering better cleaning of the areas not reached as frequently. Kids toothbrushes often come with characters such as Star Wars, Disney Princesses, Cars, or superheroes to encourage children to use them more often. Being cheaper than an electric toothbrush it also means you can trade-up regularly as your child’s brush needs vary (and their love of a character becomes a dislike!)
If you are looking for a brush that offers a better quality of clean, but isn’t as heavy as a full-sized rechargeable toothbrush, then a battery operated toothbrush may be a good choice. Battery toothbrushes tend to be smaller and lighter, so your Braun toothbrush battery operated could weigh a lot less than the rechargeable counterpart. The battery power allows the use of sonic technology and a rotating head to ensure all parts of your teeth are cleaned, but the brushes tend to be smaller and lighter as the batteries themselves are smaller and lighter.
Good for travel
Many brands come complete with a travel case or cap to protect the brush when travelling. A battery toothbrush may be more convenient than a rechargeable brush when travelling as they take up less space – you don’t have to take the charging unit with you – and the batteries they run on are widely available. Campers may prefer them if they will be unable to plug in a charger for their electric toothbrush but don’t want to resort to a manual brush on holiday. There is a complete guide to travel toothbrushes that you can refer to for further information.
The brushes are also significantly cheaper than their bigger counterparts. If you are not sure if you would be happy using a powered brush, then a battery toothbrush could be an inexpensive way to try the concept out without investing too much money initially. It is possible to get an Oral B battery operated toothbrush for barely any more than a manual brush if you are prepared to shop around.
Brands to look out for
Most major toothbrush manufacturers such as Oral-B and Colgate offer battery versions, with some brushes featuring technology seen in rechargeable versions such as the Oral B Cross-action battery operated toothbrush. Sonic Chic have a battery version of their deluxe rechargeable brush, and Foreo toothbrushes are known for their silicone heads and year-long battery life.
Where to buy
Battery operated toothbrushes are as widely sold as manual ones, and often share the same shelves. Major high street retailers Boots and Superdrug carry a wide range, while Amazon stock Sonic Chic. If you prefer to shop online, then Amazon has a good selection, and you can compare different brands before purchase.
Read through our guides to different brands to get a feel for the features that are offered by battery operated toothbrushes and decide on which you want to buy before you hit the streets.