In addition to having a broad range of toothbrushes , they also offer an amazing number of brush heads. Generally, you probably don’t think much about which brush head you have on your toothbrush, but we think you should take a closer look.
How we tested
As with all our reviews, we began by researching brush heads to find out all that we could about what makes a good one, and which ones were worthwhile. We read reviews of all the Oral-B brush heads, and then ordered them to test them for ourselves. We also ordered lots of generic ones to compare them to the genuine articles.
To find out how well these brush heads cleaned, we performed home tests using plaque reveal pills as well as lab tests cleaning stained surfaces.
To complete the plaque reveal test, multiple testers used Oral-B brushes and after brushing, chewed a plaque reveal pill. This pill then showed how much plaque was left on the teeth. By comparing photos after the tests, we could see which brush heads most effectively swept away plaque.
In a more objective test, we used a Genius X model handle and attached every brush head that Oral-B makes to remove stains from egg shells. We could clearly see the pattern of the brush head on the stain, and determine which brush heads were the most effective. This is where we saw a clear difference between the efficacy of the genuine brushes vs. the authentic brushes.
Through this research and testing, we have helped to narrow down the choices for you.
The Best Oral-B Brush Head: CrossAction
One of our testers had been using an Oral-B brush for over a year, and he had always used the sensitive “SensiThin” because of his sensitive teeth. But once we started testing, he tried different brush heads and noticed a major difference in cleaning between the sensitive brush and the other brushes. He settled on the CrossAction as the Oral-B brush head that cleans the most thoroughly.
We confirmed this feeling with our plaque tests and in our lab tests. We saw a clear difference in how much more plaque was removed with the CrossAction brush versus the SensiThin. We also saw how the CrossAction removed much more of the stains on eggshells when compared to any other brush head in the test.
The CrossAction has angled bristles which seem to be able to clean between teeth better than flat bristles. The softer blue bristles on the outside spread out as you brush cleaning a lot of surface area for the small round head. They also act as indicator bristles to let you know when you need to change your brush head.
In our option, if you want the cleanest, plaque-free teeth using a basic Oral-B brush, then the CrossAction is the best brush head.
The CrossAction is available in black or white to match your handle.
For sensitive teeth: Oral-B Sensi UltraThin
If you find that the CrossAction is too harsh for your sensitive teeth, you could try the sensitive mode on your handle, or try a softer brush head. We recommend the Sensi Ultra Thin.
The American Dental Association recommends softer bristles for 90% of the population. The Sensi Ultra-Thin still gives a good cleaning while being gentler on the teeth and gums than the CrossAction.
In our tests, the UltraThin performed better than its generic counterparts and the standard Sensitive Clean brush offered by Oral-B.
So if you are looking for a decent cleaning but you want a gentler feel, then we recommend the Sensi Ultra Thin.
If you like standard brush heads: Oral-B Trizone
While Oral-B brushes are known for their smaller round heads that oscillate rather than vibrate, Oral-B has developed some brush heads that look and feel more like a standard brush head.
The Trizone has a longer shape that is more like a manual brush. So if you are used to this feeling and you like a rectangular brush head, we suggest you give this a try.
It is called the Trizone because it has three different types of bristles. It has softer indicator bristles at the top which gently vibrate and then dark blue and white in the middle which swing rapidly in opposite directions, sweeping away stains and plaque as they go.
In our testing, we found that this brush did well at removing plaque, although it was not as good at getting to those hard to reach spots as the CrossAction. It felt more comfortable for our testers who were more used to this type of standard brush head. In the stain test, it was a bit more difficult to test because of the different shape. When comparing the brush patterns of round brush heads, it was easy to see which ones cleaned the best, but because this has such a unique shape, it was more difficult to get a clear result.
If you are switching from a manual brush to Oral-B, and you do not like the smaller, round oscillating brushes, this might be a good option for you.
For those with orthodontics: Oral-B Ortho Care Essentials
The Ortho Care Essential package comes with two Ortho brush heads and one Interspace brush head.
These specialty heads are designed to work around dental hardware to give a good cleaning. One of our testers wears braces, and she found that these special brush heads were the only ones from Oral-B that worked well on her teeth.
On its own, the Interspace brush has been touted for doing a nice job on the gum line and between teeth. We would not recommend only using the Interspace brush head, but when combined with a good daily brush like the CrossAction, it will provide some extra cleaning in those hard to reach spaces, especially if you have irregular teeth or gum issues.
If you have orthodontics, then we recommend the Ortho brush heads. These are the only brush heads we found that will do any cleaning for those with braces.
However, in our toothbrush tests, we did find that sonic brushes, like Sonicare, perform better for people with braces than any Oral-B brushes.
Other brush heads
We like this brush in theory, but it was hard to see if it actually produces any results.
The idea is that this brush has an oval head with standard bristles combined with four yellow, longer rubber bristles that are supposed to reach between the teeth to dislodge food and other particles. However, even in their product description, Oral-B emphasizes that you should still floss after using this brush head, so it is not a replacement for flossing as the name might suggest.
Our tests were inconclusive as to whether or not this brush cleans between teeth any better than a standard brush head. It did not do as well in the plaque or lab tests as the CrossAction, but it does provide a slightly gentler cleaning action.
This is a decent brush that provides good cleaning, but we are not sure how much the yellow flossing bristles actually do.
Oral-B Precision Clean
Prior to the release of the CrossAction, this was the most common, standard Oral-B brush. It is not angled like the CrossAction, and it provides a good cleaning that is slightly more gentle than the CrossAction.
In our tests, this brush cleaned very well, being just behind the CrossAction in both plaque and lab tests. It is very consistent in the results it gives, and it would make a good every day cleaning brush head.
We would opt for the CrossAction for our daily clean, but if you want something a little less aggressive, but don’t need the Sensitive brush then this is a good middle option.
Oral-B 3D White
The 3D White brush head offers standard bristles on the outside with a rubber whitening cup in the middle. The idea is that this is supposed to act like the polishing brush you might see at your dentist’s office.
In our tests, we did not see any cleaning advantage to the whitening cup. Again, this might be something that would take a long-term test, but we feel that it is more of a gimmick than offering any effective whitening. One reviewer suggested removing all the bristles and just using the rubber cup as a second brush head for polishing after brushing with a standard brush head. We did not try this test, but it sounded interesting.
We do not recommend this brush head because we think that the polishing cup is likely more of a gimmick than an effective cleaning technology.
iO brush heads
In mid 2020, Oral-B launched a new line of electric toothbrushes called iO. This includes the iO 7, 8, and 9 series, and for these brushes, they created an entirely new line of brush heads.
For the iO there are just two options available: iO Ultimate Clean and iO Gentle Care.
The Ultimate Clean is their standard brush head which comes with every iO brush. It is comparable to the Cross Action in design and feel. Oral-B really talks up this brush head by showing how wonderful it is using a demonstration where they balance a pearl in the center of the brush head to show that it is steady and stable. However, we are not sure how this makes this good for cleaning your teeth.
Like the Cross Action, the bristles are set at an angle, 16 degrees, to provide for a better cleaning. In our test, we found that this brush head cleans as well, but still feels almost as harsh as the Cross Action despite Oral-B’s claims that the iO is gentler than their standard brushes.
In our tests, the iO 7 in combination with the Ultimate Clean brush head did a very good job of removing plaque. It was still not as good as a Sonicare brush, but on par with the best standard Oral-B brushes. It also showed more cleaning action in our corncob/coffee ground test, removing more coffee grounds from the corncob than the Genius X with a CrossAction brush head.
The Gentle Care brush head looks similar to the Ultimate Clean, but, at the time this is being written, it is only available in alabaster white, so if you have a black handle, it will be mismatched. The bristles are softer, and they are not set at an angle, so it gives you a gentler cleaning, but it is not as effective at removing plaque as the Ultimate Clean.
In our test, we found this brush head to be less effective than the standard Oral B Sensi Ultra Thin. The bristles are so soft, they failed to remove much plaque at all. And in our side by side egg test, the Gentle Care failed to remove stains from the egg, while the Ultimate Clean did a decent job. With that in mind, we struggle to recommend this brush head for anyone.
Both of these brush heads are also quite pricey. The regular price is about 30 euros for 2, but lately we have been seeing sales for 4 packs going for under 25 pounds. So look around for the best deal.
Generic vs. Genuine
We all like cheap things. It is a point of pride to say that you paid less for something than your neighbor. So when it comes time to buy a replacement brush head for your Oral-B, you may be tempted to buy that 16 pack for just 7 pounds from some no-name company. That is about 4 years worth of brush heads for a fraction of the price, and they look just about the same.
But you might want to think again.
You have already paid for a well-made toothbrush by a top manufacturer. We like to compare brush heads to tires on a car. If you have a nice car, would you buy cheap tires to save a little money but give up the performance and security of well-made tires? We hope not! And the same is true for your toothbrush, but it is quite a bit more intimate.
In a side by side comparison, you can clearly see how much better the Oral-B brush is than the knock-off. The real brush head has many more bristles that are compact and rounded on the edges. The generic cross action has cheap plastic bristles that skew all over the place.
This is a tool you use to clean your teeth, a fundamental part of your well-being. Do you really want to trust that to a no-name company just to save a few pounds?
In our tests, we found that no generic brush heads cleaned as well as the genuine replacements from Oral-B. We ordered the most popular generic brush heads from Amazon to test. They all looked similar and matched the original product line almost exactly, but you could tell by the look and feel that these were not as well-made as the genuine Oral-B brush heads. And in side-by-side lab tests, the real brush heads out performed the knock-offs in cleaning performance every time.
With its wide array of brush handles and brush heads, sometimes the choices can be overwhelming. But if you look past all the generics, and focus only on the genuine Oral-B replacements, you will be guaranteed quality. If you want a great daily clean, we go with the CrossAction.
Tip: If you are searching for new brush heads on Amazon, use the filter tool to select only the Oral-B brand. That way you will be able to find the best brush heads without having to navigate all the phony ones.