A few years ago, I remember my sister telling me that her husband wanted a fancy hundred-dollar Sonicare toothbrush. His teeth were having bad luck with the dentist, and he thought this new fangled sonic wonder from Philips was going to keep the cavities away. My sister didn’t seem too keen on this expensive toothbrush, so I was surprised when I went on a family beach trip this summer and found my parents had a Sonicare toothbrush. My sister and brother-in-law arrived a couple days later, and they also had a Sonicare toothbrush.
Seeing that my family, including my reluctant sister, had brought over $250 dollars worth of dental gear on vacation, I asked them what was going on. My sister said with the Sonicare, “your teeth feel like you just them cleaned at the dentist”. We get along pretty good in my family, but we’re not close enough to try out each other’s toothbrushes. So I decided hop on the bandwagon and buy my own Sonicare toothbrush when I got back home to Boston.
When I got back to Boston, I did a little additional research reading Amazon reviews, and I decided that I would get the Elite series. The Elite series is more expensive, but has an angled head, which is supposed to be easier to move around your mouth. One important lesson I learned from my family, is that the brush itself is easily detachable (allowing you to replace it every six months). At Target, I paid around $125 for the toothbrush plus an extra $25 for the extra brush, so that my girlfriend and I could both use the fancy toothbrush without spending $125 each. I bought a Sonicare Elite 7300 model. The toothbrush came with a travel case and a holder for two brushes (see the picture on the right).
Since I was going to be sticking a vibrating electronic device inside my mouth, I gave the manual a read before I used the toothbrush; the manual was fairly good at explaining what to expect and how to work the toothbrush. The Sonicare only has one important button, the brush my teeth now button (it’s the green one in the picture to the right). Just push the button and the Sonicare will start humming.
The manual provides two beginner’s warnings: 1) don’t start the toothbrush unless it is in your mouth otherwise it will shoot toothpaste everywhere; 2) at the beginning, the ultrafast vibrations of the toothbrush might tickle a little. They should add a third beginner’s warning: 3) when it starts to tickle, be sure to turn the toothbrush off if you need to take it out of your mouth to laugh. Alas, the first time I tried it, the machine tickled me enough to laugh, whereupon I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth, and the super-vibrations shot toothpaste all over my bathroom mirror. I also bumped my teeth a couple times with the vibrating plastic handle, because I wasn’t good at maneuvering the vibrating toothbrush around my mouth yet.
After the first attempt, I wasn’t sure the Sonicare was right for me. I didn’t like being tickled, and I really didn’t like the slightly jarring feeling of bumping the vibrating brush handle on my teeth. However, my teeth did feel pretty darn clean and I’d dropped $125 on the toothbrush, so I decided to keep using it.
The Sonicare is one great toothbrush once you get used to it. Within a couple days, the vibration of the brush no longer tickled me. My teeth have never felt cleaner. You know that sorta slippery feeling you have after you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist? After a week with the Sonicare, you’re teeth will feel like that every day. I can see why my family brought theirs’ on vacation, it’s a little addictive. I went camping at Martha’s Vineyard a week after I bought the brush, and my teeth were dissatisfied the entire trip. I still don’t plan to bring mine on vacation though, as my hand operated toothbrush is more reliable when there is no electricity, and the old fashioned toothbrush is less expensive if I leave it in a hotel room by mistake.
I think the main reason the Sonicare toothbrush works so well is that it helps make sure you brush your teeth for the dentist recommended time of 2 minutes. The Sonicare manual suggests you clean your teeth in four sections (front right, front left, rear right, rear left). The toothbrush beeps and briefly pauses every 30 seconds to let you know to switch sections. In addition to improved brushing discipline, the Sonicare brush provides much faster bristle action than older toothbrushes (electronic included). Old fashioned, move your arm real fast, brushing results in about 300 brush strokes per minute. The Sonicare toothbrush provides around 40,000 brush strokes per minute. These two features seemed to make a world of difference.
Since I share my Sonicare brush with my girlfriend, the toothbrush gets twice the work. Despite this I still think the battery runs down pretty quick; we get about five days of brushing out of a full charge. I’ve also read that the battery tends to stop working after around two years of use, since I’ve only had my brush for a couple months, I can’t comment on that (except to say I hope mine lasts longer than two years!).
As far as brushing goes, the tickling goes away after a week or so. And although you get better at maneuvering the brush over time, you still will bump the vibrating plastic toothbrush handle on your mouth everyone in awhile. Unlike the tickling, I don’t seem to be getting used to having my teeth vibrated. It’s not painfully, just annoying. One final caveat I have with the brush is that it’s not the best brush for a quicky brush. I like to quickly brush my teeth after meals. With the Sonicare, you feel more obligated to brush the full two minutes, so it’s hard to be fast (though you can stop the brushing at anytime by pressing the start/stop button).
Yes, a hundred bucks is a lot of money to spend on a toothbrush. But then again, I only have one set of teeth. To me the toothbrush has been well worth the money. I no longer have to wait six months for my next teeth cleaning at the dentist to have slippery smooth, clean teeth. As long as this brush lasts a year or two, I’ll certainly buy another Sonicare toothbrush when my current Sonicare breaks