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Sonic Toothbrush
Posted: 19 December 2008 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m in the market for a new toothbrush. After years of using regular old toothbrushes, my dentist suggested an electric one, as I tend not to scrub hard enough in the hard to reach spots.

I went to Target and looked at electric toothbrushes, and was rather confused by all the new choices. Almost every electric toothbrush says “Sonic.” Is there any truth to this being helpful in removing plaque, or is it a marketing gimmick? I’m wary of it.

I looked up “ultrasonic scaling” and only found brief mentions of debates between dentists on whether it’s any better than hand-scaling. And those are the super-powerful professional tools, so how good could the over the counter one be, if the professional ones aren’t getting rave reviews by dentists themselves?

It was also mentioned that they create aerosols, which spread pathogens. I suppose this is more of a concern in a dental office, where it might make aerosols of patient saliva, which would float around the room and land on clean instruments and other surfaces?

Here is the website for the most popular of the toothbrushes: Sonicare

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Posted: 19 December 2008 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Since your dentist suggested an electric one, why not ask him/her which brands or types s/he recommends?

Occam

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Posted: 19 December 2008 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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He recommends the one he sells in his office for $200 and makes a great profit off of.  LOL

It has sonic waves (pew! pew! pew! sound effects) a UV light to kill germs, a two minute timer, and I swear it must be silver plated for that price.

I suppose I’m most interested in finding out if it’s really effective or just marketing. I’m sure the dentist recommends it on the one he’s selling because of the profit. And the ones in Target all seem to have the “sonic” so is it all marketing, or does it really improve performance?

I am not sure I trust studies conducted by the brush manufacturers themselves. Those say “Proven to remove more plaque!” but look who paid for them.

They also may compare themselves against manual toothbrushes, instead of other electric. So it may be they remove more because they are simply electric and scrub harder, yet they are sold for a higher price because of the “sonic feature.”

That reminds me of those women’s hair conditioner advertisements. They say “reduces dry hair breakage by 90%!” Yet the fine print says “versus shampoo alone and no conditioner.” So ALL conditioners might reduce hair breakage by 90%, yet all these women are tricked into switching brands because they think their hair will be 90% smoother and stronger. But they could have just stuck with their regular conditioner. I wonder if it’s the same thing with the toothbrush? Sonic electric/regular electric might be the same thing, but the advertisements are basing the results against a regular manual toothbrush?

I suppose I’m overly skeptical of anything that’s heavily marketed.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 20 December 2008 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Consumers Union is pretty pretty much the Snopes of consumer products.

Although they test too wide a range of products for me to feel they’re expert in every line of gadget or food or financial service, their militant distance from any kind of corporate sponsorship makes them very objective.  If anything, their errors have been to test stuff too rigorously.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health-fitness/beauty-personal-care/electric-toothbrushes-1203/overview/

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Posted: 20 December 2008 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Agreed, Josh. They aren’t perfect (who is?) but Consumer Reports is basically the gold standard of product testing and advocacy.

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Posted: 20 December 2008 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Josh, you are proving to be a great supplier of relevant links throughout the forum! Even obscure topics, like that other thread on the revival of Protestant shunning. Great stuff!

The review in the link was quite helpful:

“The bottom line. Even the most effective (and expensive) electric brush in our tests, the Sonicare Elite 7500, $140, proved no better than a regular brush costing $2 or $3. And every brush garnered at least one complaint about noise and annoying vibration.”

So the sonic brushes did not remove any more plaque than a regular old toothbrush! What of all the claims that this “amazing scientific technology” was so much better at cleaning teeth? It was all bull? Go figure.

If they really don’t work much better than a manual, maybe my dentist’s recommendation to purchase an electric toothbrush was simply to try and get me to purchase the one he sold at his office. He’s a nice guy, and I’m sure just trying to make a few bucks on something that wouldn’t hurt his patients to try - but might not be necessary.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 20 December 2008 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I LOVE my sonic care toothbrush, I miss it if I don’t take it with me when I travel. The sonic care makes it easier to brush BETTER! If you already do a great job with your regular brush, I’d stick to it, but it’s a lot easier to do a great job with the sonic care. That is essentially the only difference. I have one for my (Downs) brother, and the dentist immediately noticed the difference (he goes to the dentist every 3 months, because we had not been able to improve his technique).

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Posted: 20 December 2008 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks for the review, Asanta! I was about to write this off the sonic brush as “marketing fluff” but didn’t think of the advantages it could have for someone who has trouble brushing due to physical dexterity issues or other reasons. If it “scrubs for you” it may be helpful to the elderly who have trouble gripping hard enough to scrub. Maybe also for small children who are old enough to brush on their own, but aren’t quite coordinated enough to get every spot and scrub hard enough.

When I was looking at the brushes at Target, I noticed that some models come with a few changeable brush heads for the whole family. If it works that well for your brother, I may go ahead and get one with an extra brush head in mind for my son - since he does a half-hearted job of brushing if I don’t stand there and harp over him to scrub harder. Even with my harping, he still had some plaque at his last visit. So maybe he could benefit from it as well.

But I’m curious, do you think it’s the “sonic action” removing all that plaque, or mostly the scrubbing moving bristles doing the job?

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 20 December 2008 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I think it is probably the scrubbing action, coupled with the fact that it has a timer to remind you to brush all four quadrants of your mouth for 30 seconds each. We actually have a separate handle with brush for each member of the household, with a colored band around each handle for identification (mostly for my brother’s sake)it was too difficult to continuously remind my brother to change the head. A small child may not want to be bothered either!

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Posted: 21 December 2008 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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A few visits to the dentist ago, after the hygienist cleaned my teeth I decided that I was going to pick up an electric toothbrush on the way home. I purchased the Oral-B Cross Action brush. It uses one AA battery. I think that was my best $10 purchase (it was probably a little under that amount) that year!

Prior to buying this brush my teeth would stain from all the tea that I drink. Now, my hygienist doesn’t have to work as hard. I don’t have any plague build up either. I used to use Plax oral rinse. Now I use Crest Whitening Rinse. So, I rinse, brush, and gargle. My teeth are pretty awesome, if I do say so.  cheese  I probably should floss more, though.

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Posted: 21 December 2008 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I use floss picks. They are a lot easier than the string and equally effective. You have to find the brand that is most comfortable for you, some brands I absolutely hate. They usually have little carry packets so you can carry a few with you in your pocket/purse.

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Posted: 21 December 2008 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Has anyone found a motorized toothbrush that has American Dental Assn. seal of approval?

I suppose that the “sonic” brushes use a simple wire-wound electro-magnet to produce the vibrations.  It is well known in electronics that when placing a ferro-magnetic (e.g. iron, or steel) plate very near to the end of an electro-magnet, it is easy to see and hear the plate vibrate forcefully due to: 1) the force holding the plate away and 2) the electro-magnetic attraction fight it out for a balance.  The loud buzzing of the plate striking the magnet (even when using a DC battery source) is probably the real source of the word “sonic” in those types of toothbrushes, rather than using some ultrasonic source such as what is sometimes used to clean jewelry.

There are also the brushes that have some oscillating bristles, either a circular or strait-line movement.  I only have experience with one of those types.  I had bought a cheapy ($6 US) Colgate Motion motorized toothbrush with a rotating head.  It mostly works and is a quality manufacturing job, but I can’t recommend it.  It does have a design flaw where the suds/saliva are channeled down inside the main shaft of the brush, which leads down to the motor.  Just above the motor chamber there is a rubber grommet as a seal, the seal is the last point of defense to prevent the motor from shorting, and it seals well enough.  However, the suds dry on the seal and harden, this eventually builds up enough to seize the motor shaft.  I have had to take it apart every few uses to clean out the suds and free the motor.  The toothbrush is not designed to be disassembled and so gets a little further damage each time that I take it apart.  For $6 I can say that it worked for the money, but is not perfect, and has no ADA approval so therefore could be removing too much enamel.  I stick with the manual brushes now-a-days.

I hear that once you remove your enamel, you cannot replace/regrow it, that is probably why having a automated time limit is a very important feature.  I know that tooth caps are somewhat fashionable bling now-a-days, but you don’t want to require caps do you?  I am concerned about receding gums, but also enamel loss.

Flossing is the big missing piece of the puzzle, as I understand oral hygiene.  I only do it sporadically, myself, and therefore am not a perfect demigod but instead am an imperfect human who needs improvement.  I found a dental fork that I like, you can squeeze the handles to open or close the jaws, with the floss stretched between the jaws, picture an ordinary pair of pliers or scissors but with the opposite motion, where squeezing the handles opens the jaws adding tension to the floss.  I think that the Floss Boss is a quality manufacturing job, with a polymer body with a threaded brass insert to screw the two halves together.  Good quality except that the threaded polymer bolt holds: the floss, the two halves together, and acts as the hinge, balancing those three tasks is overly complex in my opinion.

I had found and ordered the Floss Boss through the ‘net back in February 2003, but the link to Floss Boss Inc. doesn’t seem informative, today.  The contact information on my invoice, if anyone wants this dental fork, is: 1-916-739-1653, FAX 1-916-455-5617, President/Inventor Gregory Gutiérrez, 2462 18th Ave., Sacramento, CA 95820.  I wish I could find a picture on the ‘net for you, but I don’t see one any longer.  Maybe the inventor has given up advertising the fork, by now.

On oral hygiene the ADA is saying, “... increasing medical evidence suggests that an unhealthy mouth may worsen serious medical problems, like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.”  And on motorized toothbrushes they say, “... powered toothbrushes must meet the requirements of a safety laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.”  “Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth.”

I searched the ‘net a little, hoping to find information about loosing tooth enamel, I found “The rate of cementum and acidic enamel erosion was observed under a microscope. Gatorade, a sports drink was found to be the worst offender (erosion depth of 131 micrometers). This was followed by Coke (92 micrometers), Diet Coke (61 micrometers) and apple juice (57 micrometers).” from a Bio-Medicine web site.  The Mayo Clinic talks about eating/drinking acids saying, “Limit consumption: In addition to soda, energy drinks, juice and wine, limit your intake of high-acid foods including tart candies, citrus fruits and foods containing vinegar.”

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Posted: 21 December 2008 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Floss Boss

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Posted: 21 December 2008 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 21 December 2008 02:19 PM

I searched the ‘net a little, hoping to find information about loosing tooth enamel, I found “The rate of cementum and acidic enamel erosion was observed under a microscope. Gatorade, a sports drink was found to be the worst offender (erosion depth of 131 micrometers). This was followed by Coke (92 micrometers), Diet Coke (61 micrometers) and apple juice (57 micrometers).”

Oh dear. I may have to cut back on my diet Pepsi habit! I just LOVE diet Pepsi. I know many people find the taste of diet drinks unpleasant, but I like it. I have two big glasses of it a day - one with lunch and one with dinner. It’s probably so horrible for me. But I like it. But having had this habit for quite a few years, my dentist has never said a word to me about my enamel being worn at all. So I wonder if it’s OK?

I read in an article by a dentist a few years ago that one can cut back on the damage to the teeth by drinking through a straw. It supposedly allows one to drink without the liquid touching as much surface area of the teeth.

To help prevent tooth enamel erosion, I had read somewhere to use a soft-bristled brush. But I suppose one has to strike a balance between a brush stiff enough to remove the plaque and a brush hard enough not to cause damage.

Oh, an interesting note my dentist pointed out to me on the last visit, don’t use a mouthwash containing alcohol at night just before bed. Only use it in the morning. This is because the alcohol dries out the mouth. If the mouth is dry, saliva is not protecting the teeth. Since the mouth is already a bit dry at night, and that is when most damage occurs, using alcohol makes it even worse. He said if I enjoyed a nighttime mouthwash (and who wouldn’t want their spouse to have fresh breath before tucking into bed?) to use alcohol free ACT rinse or Tom’s of Maine breath rinse.

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Posted: 21 December 2008 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 21 December 2008 02:19 PM

I suppose that the “sonic” brushes use a simple wire-wound electro-magnet to produce the vibrations.  It is well known in electronics that when placing a ferro-magnetic (e.g. iron, or steel) plate very near to the end of an electro-magnet, it is easy to see and hear the plate vibrate forcefully due to: 1) the force holding the plate away and 2) the electro-magnetic attraction fight it out for a balance.  The loud buzzing of the plate striking the magnet (even when using a DC battery source) is probably the real source of the word “sonic” in those types of toothbrushes, rather than using some ultrasonic source such as what is sometimes used to clean jewelry.

That is very interesting. I had assumed it was similar to those jewelry cleaners! I suppose that is the difference between sonic and ultra sonic?

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Posted: 21 December 2008 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I looked up a cheap ultrasonic cleaner and it uses a frequency of 42,000 hz I would say the tooth brush is in the 500-2000 range and ultrasonic cleaners use a fluid and sound waves.

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