What Makes A Sonicare Toothbrush So Special?

When you read a Sonicare toothbrush review for the very first time, it’s easy to wonder at the awe-struck remarks and ask yourself: “What could there be about a toothbrush that makes it so special?”

Well, when it comes to the Sonicare toothbrush, there really is a lot about it that makes such praise well deserved.

It’s a sonic toothbrush that can get rid of dental plaque – even in areas you can’t reach with the brush head. Such non-contact brushing is one of many technological advances that have made Sonicare a well known brand in the oral hygiene market since the early 1990s.

How Does a Sonicare Toothbrush Clean Teeth?

Basically, it works in two ways.

1. There’s a primary scrubbing action which is just like any other toothbrush, where bristles rub away any grit and grime coating your teeth. How well it does the job depends upon how much the brush moves in each stroke (amplitude) and how fast it brushes (frequency).

2. But the Sonicare toothbrush also generates a secondary cleaning action that is so effective at disrupting and removing plaque… even in areas where the brush-head cannot make direct contact with teeth. This happens through fluid dynamics, where water or saliva in your mouth gets agitated by the brush head and washes away grit and plaque on the teeth.

The latter effect is a direct consequence of a rapidly vibrating head that boasts of high speeds in the ultrasonic range. The toothbrush vibrates at a high speed near the lower end of the 20 to 20,000 Hz our human ears can hear.

At maximum power, the Sonicare toothbrush delivers 31,000 brush strokes per minute. Each brush stroke is made of an up and down movement, which means there are (31,000/2) or 15,500 cycles per minute… that’s 258 cycles/second (258 Hz). It produces a low-pitched hum that’s clearly heard, even if it’s barely within your audible range.

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As a matter of interest, conventional electric toothbrushes only generate 2,500 to 7,500 brush strokes per minute and so you may not even hear the hum clearly. That’s why they aren’t listed as “sonic toothbrushes”.

Fluid Dynamics of the Sonicare Toothbrush

Several research reports have been published to detail the fluid dynamics of Sonicare toothbrushes, explaining phrases like “shear forces” and “pressure waves” that are generated by the vibrating brush head inside your mouth.

Just like sea waves create foam on the surf, the pressure waves in your mouth also churn up tiny bubbles that aid the brushing action when they are propelled with some force against the teeth. The impact of such waves can be seen at up to 4 millimeters from the brush head, which is what leads to the “non-contact brushing” effect.

Other variables that affect the cleaning effect of electric toothbrushes include the shape of your jaw, dentition, use of dentures or braces, and the density of adhesion of bacteria and plaque to the tooth surface. In fact, by breaking up bacterial colonies that form in the interstices between teeth, fluid dynamics can delay or prevent plaque formation or clear up existing dental plaque effectively.

Is the Sonicare Toothbrush Effective?

Yes, it is reasonably effective at cleaning teeth and removing plaque – but no, it is not 100% guaranteed to remove all plaque in all users. The direct scrubbing effect that’s seen in other electric toothbrushes is the main way in which plaque is removed. The non-contact brushing effect is only secondary and supplements this direct effect.

The benefits of non-contact brushing are:

* Removal of colonies of bacteria which may be responsible for forming plaque and growing it.

* Unremoved, these bacteria can mutate into harmful strains that cause gum disease and lead to bad breath, in addition to dental plaque formation.

* Gum disease that is caused by oral germs and bacteria is cured and prevented because of the extensive reach of Sonicare toothbrush pressure waves.

But this should not be the only reason why you select a Sonicare toothbrush over any other model or brand. The secondary benefits of non-contact brushing are not convincingly proven in any study, so it’s wise to pick your choice based on the other factors – and even here, the Sonicare toothbrush scores well over other competing brands like an Oral-B toothbrush.

Scientific Tests, Studies And Reports

Because of its dominant position in the marketplace, the Sonicare electric toothbrush has been subjected to careful scrutiny by multiple sources. Among many studies conducted on the model’s efficacy at cleaning teeth and removing plaque, one of the earliest came out of Harvard – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9487840?dopt=AbstractPlus

The study came to some very interesting conclusions about the Sonicare toothbrush.

1. Tests to measure the effectiveness of scrubbing action showed a 95% to 100% effectiveness, with most of the dental plaque on teeth removed when the contact with a Sonicare brush head was 5 seconds or longer.

2. When the brush head was held 2 millimeters away from the teeth, dental plaque was removed with a 65% efficiency by the fluid dynamics and pressure wave force when the brush was held in position for at least 5 seconds.

3. A conventional electric toothbrush was tested in similar fashion by holding it 3 millimeters away from the teeth… and no significant removal of dental plaque was noticed!

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These observations have been independently confirmed and verified in several other experiments and clinical trials conducted by various groups. It is obvious that there are some clear advantages to using a sonic electric toothbrush which are not seen in other conventional models.

Also, the studies suggest that not moving the Sonicare brush around too rapidly and giving it time for both direct and non-contact cleaning can give the best results.

Taking all the evidence into consideration and going by the detailed information on the Philips Sonicare website about this range of electric toothbrushes, it is easy to see what makes the range of Sonicare toothbrush models such a popular hit in the marketplace.

To learn more about specific models, you can click on the links below to read full reviews of various Sonicare toothbrushes. And if you have any questions about specific aspects of the Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush, please leave a comment or contact me about it.

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