Dentistry
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Product Reviews
Updated on August 16, 2022

Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush Review

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Summary Review

  • The Protective Clean 4100 provides many valuable features for the money
  • Has the ADA Seal of Acceptance 
  • Compares well to the Oral-B Pro 1000
  • Quiet, lightweight, and solid battery life
  • Two-year warranty
  • Good brush for electric toothbrush beginners

What is the Sonicare Protective Clean 4100? 

philips sonicare 4100 electric toothbrush

The Philips Sonicare Protective Clean Plaque Control 4100 is one of the top-selling electric toothbrushes in the world. 

There’s a good reason for this. Along with Oral-B, Sonicare has long been favored by dental professionals for the superior cleaning experience of its products. 

A Protective Clean toothbrush provides you with many essential features for just $40 to $70 (depending on the retailer).

These features include:

  • Two-minute timer to ensure adequate brushing time
  • Interval pacer that prompts you to move to the next section of your mouth
  • BrushSync to let you know when to replace your brush head
  • Pressure sensor that vibrates to alert you to excess brushing pressure

These features, particularly the timer and pacer, are key to the value of an electric toothbrush. 

Dental professionals agree it takes two minutes to adequately brush your teeth.1 However, most Americans only brush for 45 seconds, leading to plaque buildup and cavities.4 The pacer and timer ensure good brushing habits.

One problem many people encounter when switching from a manual toothbrush to an electric is improper use. People either brush too hard or fail to replace the brush heads when they get worn out. Both can damage enamel and cause oral health issues.6

Pressure sensors and a reminder system like BrushSync help prevent these issues. These are just as important as the timer and pacer, but less common, providing the 4100 added value.

A Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 kit comes with the following:

  • Rechargeable brush
  • One brush head 
  • Charger cord
  • Charging base

The American Dental Association (ADA) has given the Protective Clean 4100 its Seal of Acceptance, meaning the brush can effectively remove plaque and prevent cavities.1

Anyone looking to upgrade from a manual toothbrush will find the Protective Clean a good option. The brush has many essential features needed in an electric toothbrush, as well as some helpful extras. 

Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 vs Oral-B Pro 1000

The Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 compares well to the Oral-B Pro 1000. Both brushes come with the ADA Seal of Acceptance and will clean your teeth exceptionally well. However, each comes with its own advantages.

Here’s where each brush excels:

Design: Sonicare Protective Clean 4100

Sonicare has always emphasized aesthetics slightly more than Oral-B, and the Protective Clean is no exception. 

The Protective Clean is pleasing to the eye, in contrast to the relatively clunky-looking Pro 100. In addition, the Sonicare brush is also much quieter, whereas the Pro 1000 is quite noisy.

In Oral-B’s favor,  the Pro 1000 actually weighs slightly less - just under half a pound to the Protective Clean’s 0.79 lbs. 

Cost of Ownership: Oral-B Pro 1000

The Pro 1000 costs less in terms of both retail price and long-term ownership. On Amazon, the Oral-B is currently selling for $40. Meanwhile, the Protective Clean retails for $70 — a significant difference.

The cost of replacement heads also varies for the two brushes.

An official brush head for the Protective Clean costs $9 ($1 for generic). The Pro 1000 brush head costs significantly less at $5.50 ($0.75 for generic).

The Oral-B is a more affordable brush, both in the short and long term.

Battery Life: Sonicare Protective Clean 4100

The Protective Clean has two weeks of battery life on a full charge. This is more than Pro 1000, which lasts anywhere from a week to 10 days. 

Some reports have even placed the Protective Clean’s battery life at well over two weeks, but even with the official stats, the Protective Clean has a significant advantage.

Brush Head Size: Oral-B Pro 1000

Oral-B brush heads tend to be smaller than the oval brush heads favored by Sonicare. This means that Oral-B toothbrushes are a bit easier to maneuver in your mouth. 

Many people, especially those with small mouths, say they find Oral-B toothbrushes more comfortable to brush with.

Features: Sonicare Protective Clean 4100

The Protective Clean offers more features than the Pro 1000. Not only does it have BrushSync, but its pressure sensor also emits an actual noise to alert you when you're brushing too hard. 

The Pro 1000 does have a pressure sensor as well, but it’s silent. It only slightly reduces the intensity if you press down too hard.

In addition, the Protective Clean 4100 also comes with EasyStart, which slowly ramps up the vibration intensity over the first two weeks of ownership. This is ideal for electric toothbrush beginners, who may find the intensity of the vibrations a bit overwhelming. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 is better-designed and slightly more advanced than the Pro 1000. However, the Oral-B is also a good choice due to its lower cost and slightly more comfortable brushing experience. 

For more information on the Oral-B Pro 1000, read our review here.

How Reliable is the Sonicare Protective Clean 4100?

The Sonicare line of brushes is known for its reliability. That appears to hold true with the Protective Clean. 

The brush is water-resistant and the handle appears durable and well-constructed. It’s also backed by a two-year warranty.

What Customers Are Saying

The overwhelming majority of Amazon reviews for the Protective Clean are positive. Most of the praise is directed toward the various helpful features like the timer, pacer, and pressure sensor. 

Negative reviews of the 4100 focus on the intensity of the vibrations. The 4100 vibrates at 31,000 brush strokes per minute (BPM). This can be overwhelming for someone used to manual toothbrushes or even other electric toothbrushes.

It’s not clear how many of these users took advantage of EasyStart, but this is something to keep in mind.

Pros and Cons of the Sonicare Protective Clean Electric Toothbrush

Here are some pros of the Sonicare Protective Clean 4100:

  • Attractive design
  • Good battery life
  • Various useful features
  • Reasonable price
  • Quiet
  • Lightweight
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Two-year warranty

Cons include:

  • Brush head may be uncomfortable in smaller mouths
  • Replacement brush heads are slightly more expensive than competitors
  • Single cleaning mode may be underwhelming for more experienced users 
  • Intensity of the vibrations may be off-putting to some
  • No cleaning mode for sensitive teeth

Is the Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 Toothbrush Right for You? 

If you’re looking for an electric toothbrush with slightly more features than a strictly level model, the Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 is a good choice. It has all of the essentials, plus some helpful additions other brushes in its price range don’t offer.

The brush comes with just one cleaning mode (called Clean Mode). This is fine for its price point, since the 4100 is a basic Sonicare model. It makes the brush simple to use and is all most people will need.

However, more experienced users may find this off-putting. Those with small mouths or sensitive teeth might also want to consider alternatives like the Sonicare Essence.

Price Summary & Where to Buy 

The price of the Protective Clean varies online. On Amazon, the brush costs $70. However, sites like Best Buy and eBay have it for between $40 and $50.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What replacement heads fit my Protective Clean 4100 toothbrush?

Any toothbrush head made by Philips will fit a Sonicare brush.

Is the Protective Clean 4100 waterproof?

No, but it is water-resistant. Refrain from using it in the shower but if it gets wet it should be fine.

Which is better: Sonicare or Oral-B?

Both have their merits. Click here for a full review of the differences between the two brands.

When should you replace the brush heads on a Sonicare brush?

Dentists recommend changing out your brush head every three months.

How do I stop my Philips Sonicare from getting moldy?

Store the brush and handle separately after use. This allows each component to dry completely.

Philips Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 Plaque Control Electric Toothbrush

Michael

philips sonicare 4100 e1594756357902
Overall Value
Battery Life
Reliability
Cleaning Performance
Cost
Warranty

Summary

The Protective Clean 4100 offers multiple useful features, including ones not yet standard to electric toothbrushes. BrushSync, EasyStart, and the pressure sensor all add value to what is already a solid brush. The cleaning performance and battery life are also standouts.

4.2

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Good battery life
  • Various useful features
  • Reasonable price
  • Quiet
  • Lightweight
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Brush head may be uncomfortable in smaller mouths
  • Replacement brush heads are slightly more expensive than competitors
  • Single cleaning mode may be underwhelming for more experienced users 
  • Intensity of the vibrations may be off-putting to some
  • No cleaning mode for sensitive teeth
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on August 16, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. American Dental Association. “Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean.” www.ada.org.
  2. American Dental Association. “Toothbrushes.www.ada.org.
  3. Anderson Dental. “Electric Toothbrushes.www.anderson-dental.com, 2018.
  4. Office of Public Affairs. “MANY ADULTS DON’T TAKE PROPER CARE OF THEIR TEETH.” healthcare.utah.edu, 2015.
  5. Philips. “ProtectiveClean 4100 Sonic electric toothbrush HX6817/01 | Sonicare.www.usa.philips.com.
  6. Taylor Cosmetic Dental. “CAN AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH DAMAGE MY TEETH?” www.taylor-dental.com, 2020.
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