The FlexCare Plus is the entry into the top-end electric toothbrush models offered by Philips Sonicare – everything has been kicked up a notch, from features to accessories. The FlexCare promises a lot and for the most part delivers.
Join us as we examine everything you could possible want to know about the FlexCare Plus. Our detailed review will allow you to make the right choice when buying your new electric toothbrush.
There are three different models of the Flexcare. While they are similar in looks they have very different features and accesories.
FlexCare Platinum – The top model of the Flexcare range. Features 3 brushing speeds, 5 brushing modes, a hard travel case, a UV Sanitizer, travel charger and two brush heads. You can read our full review of the FlexCare Platinum here.
FlexCare Plus – The middle model of the FlexCare range and the subject of this review.
Flexcare – The basic model of the FlexCare range. Features 3 brushing modes, a deluxe charging base, a soft carry case and one brush head. Originally released in 2008, This model is becoming harder to track down and with such a small price difference between this and the superior FlexCare Plus we simply do not recommend it.
Philips Sonicare FlexCare Plus
Unboxing The Sonicare FlexCare Plus
If you open up the box of your brand new FlexCare Plus, this is what you would find inside:
Let’s break it down:
- Sonicare FlexCare Plus handle
- Gum Health brush head
- Travel case
- Deluxe battery charger
Also included in the box is an instruction manual, coupons for savings on brush heads and other Philips Sonicare products as well as a product registration card.
Sonicare Flexcare Plus Handle
The Flexcare Plus handle is a sleek mixture of Metalic and white plastic with a rubber back.
Located towards the top of the handle are two distinct buttons:
The top most button is your power button. Pressing this turns your toothbrush on and off. Nothing exciting here.
The next button down is a little more interesting. Pressing this button cycles through the different brushing modes.
While some Sonicare models combine the brush mode and power button into a single button. While a single button may look nicer design-wise, splitting the functions up into buttons is much more practical.
The buttons are set into what seems to be little more than a piece of metallic plastic:
But when you press the power button the panel bursts into life. Indicator lights hidden behind the panel light up to reveal what brushing mode you are using as the battery level indicator.
I will be examining the panel indicators in greater detail further down the review.
On the on the base of the handle you will find a small socket:
This socket keeps the FlexCare Plus upright when you place it down on the charger base. The small rod on the charger base slides inside and stops the toothbrush from toppling over.
Around the outside of the socket you can find information on the FlexCare Plus handle including:
- Model Number: – HX6960
- Battery: – Lithium-ion
- Country of Manufacture – China
Every single Sonicare toothbrush we have reviewed has been made in China and the FlexCare Plus is no different. While Oral-B manufacture most of their toothbrushes in Germany. There is no noticeable difference in build quality between the two brands.
If you flip the handle over you will find will see that the rear is covered in a white rubber grip:
No matter how wet or slippery your hands are, the rubber grip allows you to easily grasp the handle of the FlexCare Plus. The grip works so well that it seems strange that Philips Sonicare chose to remove it in favor of an all plastic case on the next model up, The Flexcare Platinum
Towards the bottom of the handle you can make out a small piece of raised rubber. The handle is round in shape and this piece of rubber acts as a stand, preventing the FlexCare Plus from rolling off your bathroom countertop and onto the floor.
You will find a small metal shaft sticking out the top of the handle.
The shaft is the part of the handle that you connect the brush head to. Simply slide the brush head over the shaft and it will lock into place. Removing the brush head is just as fast, a quick pull and it will come right off.
Because brush heads can be swapped out, it is not uncommon for people to share a single handle with more than one user. Each user has their own brush head and places it on the handle when they go to brush their teeth. Much more cost effective than buying an electric toothbrush for every single person in your home.
Sonicare FlexCare Plus Brush Head
A single brush head is included in the box. Sonicare calls this brush their ProResults Gum Health brush head. Despite the name, the brush head gives an exceptional clean to both your teeth and gums.
The bristles are end rounded providing a smother feel than bristles that are cut flat. While you won’t notice the difference on your teeth, the softer feel of the bristle ends is much more pleasant when it passes over your gums.
The Gum Health is roughly the same size in length as a traditional brush head but half as wide. The narrower bristle layout helps give you more control over the brush head, particularly around trouble spots like your back teeth.
If you prefer a larger brush head or perhaps one with a different bristle lay out then you will be pleased to know that Philips Sonicare has another 9 brush heads to choose from, click here for a comparison. With proper technique, all brush heads clean your teeth equally as well so it all comes down to personal preference.
If you look closely at the bristles you will discover that two clusters are a darker colored blue than the rest. These are the indicator bristles and with regular brushing, will begin to fade.
Dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush once every three months and the Sonicare brush heads are no different. The indicator bristles will fade around three months of use to remind you to change out your brush head.
Included in the box is a plastic cap that you slide over the bristles of the brush head:
There is nothing worse than brushing your teeth only to discover that your toothbrush tastes of hairspray or deodorant. If you store your toothbrush out in the open then the bristles are going to get coated in anything that floats through the air; from dust to deodorant.
The plastic caps are a lovely addition and help keep your brush head clean and hygienic when not in use. After all, these things go in your mouth. You want to keep them clean.
Sonicare FlexCare Plus Travel Case
If you love to travel or just want a designated spot to store your electric toothbrush then you will love the travel case included in the box:
The case itself is made up of a rigid plastic. While it is nowhere near as fancy as the amazing case on the top-of-the-line Sonicare DiamondClean, the case itself will provide more than enough protect your toothbrush during everyday use.
During our testing we did find that the white plastic had a bad habit of marking, particularly if you have makeup on your hands. Fortunately cleaning was pretty simple with little more than warm soapy water and a cloth required to leave the case looking shiny and new.
On the base of the case are two vents, allowing air to circulate throughout the case. The simple addition or vents helps prevent mold and mildew from growing on your damp brush heads.
The travel case has a designated slot for the FlexCare Plus handle and two sonicare brush heads.
If you wanted to share the handle with more than one other user then you will be pleased to know that with careful positioning I was able to fit an extra two brush heads inside the case . While the extra two brush heads do rattle around loose, it beats having to pack them separately.
Charging the Sonicare Flexcare Plus
The charging stand of the FlexCare Plus is much larger than the lower models of Sonicare toothbrush, with perhaps the exception of the bulky Sonicare Essence. The added size makes the charger much less top heavy, a complaint we had with the smaller Sonicare charging stands.
Those two small rods sticking up on the rear of the charger base are your brush head holders. Sonicare brush head’s simply slide over the rod and are held in place until you need them.
You can set the deluxe charger up to be a designated all in one teeth brushing station. Now if only Philips Sonicare included somewhere to hold a tube of toothpaste.
Those of you who do not have much space on your bathroom counter may not be happy with the larger charger size. I have good news for you. Splitting the charger in half reveals…
The deluxe charger stand is simply the smaller sized Sonicare charger in disguise. If you wanted to you can simply remove the smaller charger from the casing and only use that to charge your FlexCare Plus.
But there is another reason why you might want to stick with the Deluxe charger. And that is the built in cord shortener. With the Charger in half, simply wrap the cord around the base before putting the top cover back on.
The cord shortener is great for eliminating excess cable from your bathroom counter, keeping the area looking clean and clutter free.
Flipping the charger over reveals 5 small rubber feet to stop the charger from sliding around on your slippery countertop. Printed in the middle of the charger you will find some good news for those of you who love to travel…
The charger works on any voltage that falls between 100-240V (also known as dual voltage or multi-voltage). That’s nearly any country in the world. From America to Australia and everywhere in between, you will be able to charge the battery of your FlexCare plus anywhere on earth.
The battery of the FlexCare Plus will begin to charge the moment you place it on the charging stand. Like all electric toothbrushes, Sonicares charge wirelessly. No plugging in cables. Simply place the handle on the charger and you are good to go. Talk about simple.
You will be able to tell the your FlexCare plus is charging because a flashing battery Icon will appear on the indicator panel on the front of the handle.
The indicator is shaped like a battery and is made up of three lights. Eachlight represents roughly a third of the battery charge. As you brush your teeth the lights will deplete until the indicator flashes yellow at you, warning you that the battery will die soon.
Charging the battery takes around 24 hours to recharge. If you set the charger stand up in a permanent spot on your bathroom counter, you can place the FlexCare Plus on the charging stand after each use. Doing so will ensure the toothbrush is fully charged when you need to use it.
Battery life is fantastic. Philips Sonicare claims the Lithium-ion battery can provide up to 3 weeks worth of brushing. I found this claim to be fairly accurate and was able to get 20 days worth of brushing (2 minutes, morning and night) on average before the battery was die.
This is incredibly battery life as far as electric toothbrushes are concerned and offers up to an extra week of brushing over Brauns top of the line models (which offer up to 14 days).
Testing the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Plus
When the time came for testing I called in some extra help. Four additional testers and myself tested the FlexCare Plus. The following contains our summaries of our experience using the toothbrush.
The first thing that you will notice when you pick up the FlexCare Plus is just how nicely weighted the toothbrush is. Not so heavy that it feels bulky when brushing but not so light that you don’t notice it is there. Just right.
Whether you hold your toothbrush normally, clench it in a fist or hold it like a pencil at least part of your hand will cover the rubber grip on the back. Even with wet hands I was surprised at just how easily I could grasp the FlexCare Plus.
Pressing down on the power button sees the FlexCare Plus brust into action. The sound is best described as a higher pitched hum. While it’s much quieter than your blow dryer or electric shaver, it is still loud enough to wake someone sleeping nearby.
The FlexCare Plus has a whole bunch of fancy features packed inside the handle. Let’s check them out!
1. Cleaning Modes
As I touched on earlier in the review, the second button allows you to cycle through one of five different cleaning modes.
As you cycle through each cleaning mode, its name will shine through the indicator panel on the front of the FlexCare Plus handle.
Each cleaning mode provides you with a slightly different brushing session. Here are the cleaning modes presented in the order that you cycle through them:
Clean -The standard brushing mode found on all models of Sonicare electric toothbrushes. Brushes for 2 minutes.
Gum Care – A mixed mode providing you with 2 minutes of brushing in the standard cleaning mode for your teeth and 1 minute of brushing in the sensitive mode for your gums.
Refresh – A quick 1 minute touch up clean.
Sensitive – A gentler mode for those of you with sensitive teeth and gumes. Brushes for 2 minutes.
Massage – A pulsating mode designed just for massaging and stimulating your gums. Brushes for 2 minutes.
You cannot cycle through the brushing modes with the power on. Instead you must select your preferred cleaning mode before you press start. The FlexCare plus will remember the brushing mode you last used for next time you need to brush your teeth.
Now while the testers may not have agreed on all areas of this toothbrush, they did agree one thing. Only two of the brushing modes are useful. Sensitive and standard clean.
Refresh was the brushing mode that puzzled us the most. Why would you chose a quick one minute clean when you can simply use your regular brushing mode and turn the power off when you were done. Useless.
Gum Care and Massage were also lost on us. The sensitive mode worked just fine along the gum line for a gentler gum scrub.
One of the testers who had sensitive gums claimed she could not brush with the other modes. Despite the lower power, she was just as happy with the clean provided by sensitive as those of us that used the higher powered standard clean.
The SmartTimer is a built in timer that automatically turns the FlexCare Plus off after the brushing for the duration of the selected cleaning mode.
If you wanted to continue brushing for longer you will need to press the power button again to turn the toothbrush back on.
One tester referred to this as a dumb timer since she took longer than 2 minutes to brush her teeth because she likes to spend time making sure she has completely removed plaque around her dental restoration (a crown). She’s vocally told us that the toothbrush turning off in the middle of brushing really threw off her rhythm.
However, other testers loved the auto shut-off feature. One commented:
I had no idea 2 minutes of brushing my teeth would take so long. I must not have been brushing my teeth for long enough before. That timer couldn’t come quick enough.
…Very impressed with just how efficiently I could clean my teeth in the two minutes before the toothbrush turns off.
So if you normally brush your teeth for two minutes then the Smartimer will not bother you. But for those of you who need to brush longer for whatever reason will have to turn the brush back on to continue with your teeth brushing session.
Note: The Smartimer is a feature that is found on all Sonicare models and cannot be turned off
The vibrations given off by Sonicare toothbrushes can take a while to get used to. Brushing with the toothbrush for the first time can cause a slightly unpleasant tickling sensation in some people. Fortunately with continual brushing, most people quickly get used to the rapid vibrations given off by the toothbrush.
To make the transition a little easier, the FlexCare Plus features an Easy-Start mode. Over the first 14 brushes the motor will slowly increase in power until it is brushing at the full 31,000 brush strokes/minute.
Now all the testers including myself have previously used Sonicares, so we simply chose to disable the Easy-Start feature following the instructions set out in the user manual.
But I can tell you that my first time brushing with a Sonicare toothbrush (with the Sonicare Essence) was made much easier with the inclusion of this feature. I initially found the vibrations way too ticklish and jarring. The Easy-Start was a huge help and without it I probably wouldn’t have continued to persevere with using a Sonic toothbrush.
The general consensus amongst all the testers was that if the vibrations do not affect you then you will get a better clean without it.
Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for a minimum of two minutes. But brushing your teeth is boring and while the time may feel like it drags on, a sad fact is that many of us do not come close to the recommended two minutes of brushing.
The FlexCare Plus has a handy feature to make sure that you spend the recommended 2 minutes brushing your teeth every single time. And that feature is the Quad Pacer
The QuadPacer is a built in timer that causes the FlexCare Plus to momentarily pause each time 30 seconds has passed. It gets it’s name from the way Philips Sonicare recommends you brush your teeth.
If you split your mouth into quadrants (quarters) and spend 30 seconds brushing each then you will have effectively brushed your entire mouth for the recommended 2 minutes.
My brushing routine is as follows:
- Brush left half of top teeth for 30 seconds
- Brush right half of top teeth for 30 seconds
- Brush left half of bottom teeth for 30 seconds
- Brush right half of bottom teeth for 30 seconds
By focusing on a small section of your mouth for 30 seconds you can really give each section a really good clean before the QuadPacer alerts you to move on to the next.
But how does it brush?
Those of you who currently use a Sonicare toothbrush will be instantly familiar with the standard 31,000 brush strokes per minute offered ins tandard clean.
For those who are new to the world of sonic toothbrushes I will quickly cover the technique, which many beginners find a little unusual at first.
Simply load up the brush head with your regular toothpaste, wet as usual and place the bristles against a section of your teeth at a slight angle (roughly 45 degrees), pressing with slight pressure.
Press the power button and gently move the toothbrush back and forth the rapid vibrations will help remove the plaque not only from the center of the teeth but also along the gum line and between the teeth (remember to floss after for best results).
The trick is to let the toothbrush do most of the work. While this may take some time for you to get used to, especially if you are swapping over from a manual toothbrush, but before long you will be using the correct technique without thinking about it.
The clean is exceptional. Far greater than you could get from that of a manual toothbrush.
With proper technique plaque is effortlessly removed from your teeth and along your gumline. I enjoy licking my smooth teeth after each brush, it honestly feels like you have just gotten your teeth cleaned at the dentist.
The FlexCare Plus is our favorite out of the entire FlexCare range. Well designed with just the right amount of features (compared to the over-the-top FlexCare Platinum).
The Clean is as effective as any other Sonicare toothbrush and the inclusion of a Deluxe charger and travel case makes it a nice step up from the other models.
While some of the cleaning modes were more misses than hits, you can chose tosimply not use them and will not impact your brushing session.
Overall this is a highly recommended electric toothbrush.