Review: Philips Sonicare Essence Electric Toothbrush

by Khalid Hosein on January 28, 2013

Philips Sonicare Essence electric toothbrushI’ve been using a Philips Sonicare Essence electric toothbrush for a few months now; here are my thoughts on it. My beloved Oral-B Triumph 9400 died after a long 6 years. I think it was because the hermetic seal broke and some moisture got in. But I have no regrets, it was well worth the $100 or so that I spent on it.

Since my household was on the hunt for at least 2 new electric toothbrushes, when we spotted the Philips Sonicare “Elite” package with 2 handles, brushes, etc. at Costco for $100, we picked it up. There was also the “Platinum” edition for $150 which also included 2 handles, the latest DiamondClean brushes, but strangely only 1 travel charger and case. Go figure. Oh, you can pick up a single handle for about $50 on Amazon.com or the like.

The 2 most important things that I wanted, practically needed really, were a high-speed brushing action (sonic or otherwise) and a quad timer (an alert every 30 seconds to tell you when to switch to cleaning a different part of your mouth). Check and check. It also has a massage mode, but that’s not something I used even on my Oral-B.

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Given how much I loved my Oral-B Triumph, it’s inevitable that I compare this new Philips to it. And there are a few things that I don’t like. First is that I find the screw-on head to be a pain. If you don’t screw it on tightly, you’ll find the additional vibration in the handle and brushhead to be quite annoying, but screwing it on tightly can be a challenge when the parts are wet.

Next and related is that the handle is built in such a way that water accumulates in the top of the handle. After a while, that water and other let’s say ‘materials’ turn into nasty stuff that you have to clean regularly. On the plus side, you can stick the handle into the dishwasher. No kidding. And in fairness, Philips does have higher-end models that have snap-on brush heads like the Oral-B.

I didn’t think I would miss it, but the battery indicator on the Oral-B was really useful. With the Essence, I don’t have any idea until it just dies, because its power decreases gradually. So I just have to remember to recharge it every 2-3 days. On the bright side, it does seem to last longer than my Oral-B, but I may be remembering my Oral-B in its old age when its battery memory wasn’t that great.

Last, I really dislike the soft travel case. The handle and brush head barely fit in there, and it really doesn’t protect those parts if they’re getting jostled in your luggage. I give the win to the Oral-B for its hard plastic case.

One last gripe that applies to both vendors is the myriad # of part #s and packages they have. They need to trim those down and not make it so confusing for consumers to tell which is which.

In terms of cleaning, I can’t scientifically tell you whether the Sonicase is better than the Triumph, but like with the Oral-B, I just know there’s no way that me manually brushing my teeth ever feels as clean, not to mention that I can get behind*em* my teeth. Bottom line is that you should invest in an electric toothbrush. Seriously, it’s an investment. You can see my little spiel on that in the Oral-B review.

But I did prefer the Triumph’s round compact brush head that spun back and forth in circular fashion, vs the larger, elongated ‘sonic’ action of the e-Series brush head. Oh, you’ll also need to learn about different brush heads with the Sonicare line; they have at least 8 different types.

In retrospect, I should have bought a higher-end Sonicare with snap-on brush heads, but that’s the sort of thing that just doesn’t slap you in the face when you’re evaluating these things just by feature lists! Actually, the better decision would have been to stick with what I knew and loved, and I had been eyeing the new models with the wireless SmartGuide LCD display for a while too.

So would you go wrong if you buy this? No, but for a bit more $, I feel you can get a much nicer model by either Philips (for example, the Flexcare/Flexcare Plus) or Oral-B.  or the

{ 1 comment }

Dr Felteau Feb 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

I’m sticking with my Oral B!!