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What Are Sonic Toothbrushes & Are They Worth Paying For?

What Are Sonic Toothbrushes & Are They Worth Paying For?

From ordering your food shopping to adjusting your heating using a thermostat, you use technology to improve your life in a variety of ways. Is it possible, however, for technology to improve your toothbrush? Both yes and no. With good brushing habits, a manual toothbrush will easily clean your teeth. An electric toothbrush, on the other hand, will offer some additional benefits and features for your brushing routine if you're willing to invest.

What Is an Electric Toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush, also known as a powered toothbrush, is a battery-operated toothbrush that cleans your teeth by vibrating or rotating the bristles. Electric toothbrushes are normally classified into three groups, but the distinctions are blurring as newer models have more features. There are some of the categories:

Rotary toothbrushes with oscillating heads 

These toothbrushes have tiny circular heads that move back and forth to clean each tooth. To help dislodge more plaque, some models combine this rotating function with vibrating and pulsing.

Sonic toothbrushes 

Sonic toothbrushes have vibrating brush heads that shift bristles at high speeds from side to side. The vibrations must be rapid enough to create an audible hum in order to be known as a sonic toothbrush. Today's sonic toothbrushes have frequencies ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 movements per minute.

Ultrasonic toothbrushes 

Instead of relying on physical motion to clean your teeth, ultrasonic toothbrushes extract plaque and food particles using a high frequency of vibration called ultrasound. According to Dentistry Journal, ultrasonic toothbrushes currently use working frequencies ranging from 20 kHz to 10 MHz, which are frequencies beyond human hearing. That's more than 1.2 billion movements per second! Though ultrasonic brushes can break up plaque without moving, most models often have a sonic vibration to help remove any remaining plaque or food debris.

Why are they called "sonic" toothbrushes?

The science behind sonic toothbrushes and their ability to extract plaque from areas where their bristles can't penetrate (non-contact brushing).

The "sonic" brush is a one-of-a-kind electric toothbrush style. Sonicare was the brand name given to it when it was first introduced to the market in 1992. Brushing using a toothbrush with acoustic capabilities has the advantage of cleaning teeth using two distinct methods.

Beyond normal tooth scrubbing (as all toothbrushes do), it also performs a secondary cleansing action that aids in the disruption of dental plaque beyond where the bristles' tips directly strike.

The high-speed brushing motion produced by the brush creates this secondary action.

By definition, a sonic toothbrush (yes, the word “sonic,” as in sound) vibrates at a speed that lies within the range of frequencies that humans hear (20 to 20,000 Hz).

Do sonic toothbrushes work and are they worth paying for?

There are three common types of brushing - manual, rotating, and sonic. Electric brushes seem to get my teeth cleaner than normal brushing, However, effectiveness is often a matter of preference: if you like using a brush, you will use it more often and perhaps for longer, and that will very likely translate into cleaner teeth. 

What does science say?

Ordinary (rotating-oscillating) electric toothbrushes were the only electric brushes that outperformed manual brushing, according to British scientific studies. More recent studies have shown that sonic brushes can outperform manual brushes, which was supported by a 2017 meta-study.

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