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Sonic Toothbrushes versus Power and Manual Brushes

There is a lot of debate out there regarding whether a sonic toothbrush is better at removing plaque than a standard or regular electric toothbrush . In my experience, I have found the difference that a sonic toothbrush makes to be negligible, if not non-existent.

The basic concept of the toothbrush has been around for a very long time, and has changed little beyond improvements to make brushing more efficient and effective by making the grips more comfortable, offering contours get help get between teeth, and so on. In fact, the standard toothbrush is quite effective at cleaning the surface of teeth and work decently at getting between the teeth due to the design of the bristles.

Electric, or power, toothbrushes are a nice convenience, but if you are conscientious about your brushing, almost every variety is for show. The only electric toothbrushes, that I found in my experience as a dentist for over 25 years, are the ones with the rotating heads like these from Oral-B. Most ‘normal’ electric toothbrushes simply vibrate, reducing the need for a brushing motion and offer no real advantage over regular toothbrushes in terms of getting your teeth clean. An electric toothbrush might be more effective for you in certain cases, such as if your oral hygiene is not perfect (and whose really is?), or you tend to brush too hard.

Sonic toothbrushes are basically an updated version of the electric toothbrush and vibrate more rapidly. While they claim to give better cleaning power and claim to clean even where the bristles can’t touch, this is not exactly the case. The problem I have found with a few people who use sonic toothbrushes, is because of the claims of better cleaning action, they are negligent in flossing and other aspects of oral hygiene. Sonic toothbrushes are no better on average for cleaning for those with good dental hygiene habits. If you brush for two minutes or more a day, and you floss, you are already reaping all of the benefits, and those beyond, of a sonic toothbrush.

However, sonic toothbrushes do nothing for removing plaque and tartar and this is where the lose major points with me. Plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, is viscous and highly resistant to brushing to begin with. The movement of the sonic toothbrush does nothing to remove plaque and a rotary toothbrush or traditional toothbrush can accomplish this task much better.

It is my personal belief that sonic toothbrushes are overrated and many people use them in lieu of proper hygiene technique. While the timing mechanisms encourage users to brush longer, the same effects can be reasonably achieved by flossing and brushing manually for two minutes. Sonic toothbrushes may be appropriate for those who don’t have the manual dexterity to use a traditional toothbrush. That said, people with decent oral hygiene technique and good habits will see no particular advantage from sonic toothbrushes over traditional and rotary toothbrushes.

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