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The Real Deal on Sonic Toothbrushes

The Real Deal on Sonic Toothbrushes


A lot of people are raving about their sonic toothbrushes. But what are these devices really capable of – and are they worth the cost?

Whether you're looking for the latest way to achieve that whiter, brighter smile or wondering how you can get your teeth their cleanest, you've probably at least been intrigued by the idea of a sonic toothbrush. But considering the relatively high price of this new technology – not to mention the lack of approval by the American Dental Association – many consumers are questioning its worth. Does the Sonicare® toothbrush really offer a superior alternative to the traditional toothbrush?

Break Out Your Calculus Book for a Brush-Up on Fluid Dynamics

The sonic toothbrush is set apart from other electric toothbrushes by the significantly more rapid movement of its bristles. While an ordinary electric toothbrush might oscillate at a rate of between 2,500 and 7,500 strokes per minute, sonic toothbrush models have been shown to vibrate at speeds in excess of 30,000 strokes per minute. The vibrations of the toothbrush are transferred to the saliva and other fluids in the mouth, creating a dishwasher-like effect that can loosen the plaque that lies beyond the reach of the bristles themselves.

As a theory, this certainly sounds compelling enough, but does the fluid dynamic action caused by the Sonicare® really remove more plaque than other toothbrushes? According to a study conducted by the Dows Institute for Dental Research at the University of Iowa, it does. The study found that the Sonicare® toothbrush removed 56 to 78 percent of plaque situated three millimeters from the tip of the brush's bristles. Conversely, an electric toothbrush did not remove any of this plaque.

A Question of Preference

So shouldn't everyone own a Sonicare® toothbrush? While the potential cleaning power of this device may be significant, dental professionals stress that the best toothbrush for any person is the one that they will use. If you find that an electric or sonic toothbrush is awkward or uncomfortable to use, a good old-fashioned manual toothbrush is still effective and may be the best option for you.

Many people, however, have commented on the surprising ease and comfort of the sonic toothbrushes they have tried. You may have heard that brushing your teeth too hard can cause damage, including erosion of the tooth's surface and recession of the gum line. Electric toothbrushes allow some people to more easily control the pressure used when brushing their teeth, reducing damage to the teeth and gums.

A Cost Comparison

For most consumers, it all boils down to the price of the toothbrush. With Phillips Sonicare® models ranging in price from about $70 to $200, intrigue may not be enough to convince most people to give this dental device a try. Add on the cost of replacement brushes (two for $25) and batteries, and it's easy to see why most people opt for the manual toothbrush at an average price of $3.50.

Don't Forget to Floss!

The important thing to remember is that the sonic toothbrush is not a catch-all solution for all oral care issues. It must be used properly, regularly, and for an appropriate amount of time. A sonic toothbrush may make brushing easier, more effective, more fun, or more comfortable; however, it will not provide a substitute for good brushing practices, daily flossing, or regular dental checkups.

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