What are the best features to look for when buying an electric toothbrush?
1. Battery Life
There are generally two options when it comes to powering an electric toothbrush; regular disposable batteries and rechargeable battery (or battery pack). The more popular style of electric toothbrush is the variety that uses rechargeable battery packs, mainly because for most people, it is cheaper and easier to simply recharge daily than replace batteries on a regular basis. However, what is more important than style is actual battery life. If you plan to use an electric toothbrush on a daily basis, it will pay off to invest in a higher quality model that can go at least 1 to 3 days on a single charge, if it is a rechargeable and at least one month if it uses disposable batteries.
For people who like to travel, or who need to make frequent business trips, having an electric toothbrush that is easy to transport is definitely a plus. One problem that often arises with electric toothbrushes is the bulkiness of them compared to regular models. Those that have a charging base can be especially tedious to pack up and often do not fit into a toiletry bag. Even smaller, regular battery operated models can be bulky when packing and require the necessity to pack extra batteries in case the current set fails. To maximize portability, look for recharging models that are streamlined and have extremely long battery life. (iBrush for example, is sleek and has a 6 week battery life between charges.)
According to the American Dental Association, the basic guidelines for good oral health care state patients should brush for 2 minutes a day, twice a day. Many standard and professional quality electric toothbrushes include a timer to help signal to users when they should be done. As trivial as it may seem, several studies and surveys have shown that the average person only brushes for around 45 seconds, which is less than half the time they should be. In order to get the most value out of a standard or professional model, be sure it has some form of guidance to help ensure you are brushing the proper amount of time. (This can be especially great for young kids and there are many models that make the two minutes engaging with music, sounds, or lights.)
4. Bristle/Brush Head Durability
The American Dental Association suggests changing your toothbrush every three months for optimal health (as germs and bacteria can accumulate and the bristles loose effectiveness for scrubbing). One point that many consumers debate on, when it comes to picking the best electric toothbrush, is the cost to maintain one. For serious, everyday use, bristles need to hold up for no less than the recommended 3 months, before needing to be changed. When selecting a model of electric toothbrush, be sure to compare the costs for replacement heads, or look for models that are designed for extended periods due to built-in sanitizing systems.
What are the top rated brands right now?
A well known name in the dental healthcare industry, Oral-B (sometimes referred to as Braun Oral-B) is one of the most used brands for toothbrushes around the world. After joining the Proctor and Gamble company in 2006, the brand expanded and has come to sell several popular series of electronic toothbrushes, including both rechargeable (Professional Deep Sweep 1000) and battery operated (Pro Health Precision Clean) models. They are known for making quality toothbrushes that can fit into any budget and work well for any age (they have an entire line of progressive dental care products from ages infant to adult).
While their products may not be as widespread or diverse as Oral-B’s, Philips, a general appliance and home wares company, makes only one kind of toothbrush; electric Sonicares. They offer both adult and children models, with more advanced, professional grade series as well. Before the introduction of their first series, no one considered there to be a difference between the basic electric toothbrushes. Each model that they sell has two elements that are always present; they are rechargeable and they use a patented brush head with sonic technology. With a single division of the Philips company devoted to making a single type of product, they have been able to perfect it with each new generation of improvements.
Like Philips, WaterPik made a name for themselves by focusing on a singular concept and perfecting it. Clinically proven to be more effective than standard flossing, Water Pik created a unique system that uses streams and pulses of water to remove plaque and build up from between teeth and around the gum lines. Taking it beyond just flossing, their highly popular Complete Care series adds in a rechargeable toothbrush to allow people to give their mouths a complete cleaning from top to bottom and in between.
4. Health HP
While far from a big name company, the Health HP-STX Ultra High Powered Sonic Toothbrush has been making quite a buzz among long time electric toothbrush users. They offer the one model, but with it comes a host of features that is comparative to other brand’s, but at half or less the price they charge. One particularly big draw, aside from their timer alerts and sonic action, is the cost per replacement head being $2 or less a piece. Coupled with the starting pack that includes ten replacement brush heads, this is one small company that has been quickly growing in popularity.
Similar to Health HP, Pursonic manufacturers a sonic rechargeable toothbrush that features several commercial grade elements for considerably less. Though unlike Health HP, they sell a whole line up of both sonic and standard electric toothbrushes, with changeable heads that are just as economical. As a company, their goal is to provide a wide selection of quality personal healthcare items at reasonable rates.
Another small name company, but one that is definitely worth mentioning, TechEge produces a single model of sonic toothbrush that is very streamlined and efficient. The iBrush is noted as having a battery life of up to six weeks or more from a single charge, which can be quite impressive and convenient for those who have to travel. In terms of pricing, is it comparable with most standard systems of electronic toothbrushes (it comes with 3 extra heads), plus includes a UV sanitizing station that keeps the brush heads clean while being stored.
I want to buy a "professional" electric toothbrush, what should I aim for?
For electric toothbrushes there is the major difference between battery operated and rechargeable, and there is also a difference between standard and sonic. Sonic technology began rising in popularity around 2006, and it employs high intensity oscillations to help break up plaque and kill germs. In standard electric toothbrushes, the head typically rotates, or vibrates mildly to help break up and scrub away plaque. When comparing the number of strokes, for every single manual stroke, electric will average around ten and sonic around thirty. In another sense, sonic toothbrushes can get as high as 30,000+ strokes per minute. While this does not mean you need to do less work to completely clean your teeth, it can help clean your teeth better than other methods of brushing. Consider that not all electric brushes are sonic, so be sure to look at the listed brush strokes per minute, if you want a sonic level clean.
All electric toothbrushes can present the potential for better oral healthcare. However, professional grade models that are rechargeable also offer a level of convenience that battery operated models do not. While the charge time and usage may vary, on average it is best to look for models that can last at least a week before needing a recharge to maximize its value and minimize upkeep in terms of power costs.
3. Voltage Capacity
An issue that anyone traveling with an electric toothbrush may encounter, especially if they travel abroad to countries outside of the US, is voltage capacity conflicts. Standard outlets in the US are rated to 120 Volts. In contrast to other countries, whose outlets can vary between 110 to 240, and cause serious issues if an appliance is not rated for such. Professional quality models tend to more frequently be adaptable between the 120 and 230 (most European) range. If you travel far, you should look for models that are adaptable to different voltage rates, or at least for the countries you plan to visit.
4. Brushing Modes
One of the most common, but debatable features for professional quality electric toothbrushes, is the addition of different brushing modes. As an example, some models will have “normal, gentle/soft, and massage” settings that reduces or alters the rotation/vibration of the brush. While not entirely necessary for optimal health benefits, these modes are considered more of a luxury for commercial models. The option to lessen the intensity is one that many manufacturers include for people with sensitive mouths, who may not like the feel of the toothbrush when first using it. If you have very sensitive teeth or gums and want to start using an electric toothbrush, it may be a good idea to look for one that has optional modes.
5. Pressure Sensors
One of the most popular advancements and luxury features that has been added to several brands (iBrush, Philips, and Oral-B for example), is a sensor in the brush head. Its primary goal is used to make sure you are not pushing the brush too firmly against your teeth, and that you do not brush one section for too long. Some models go so far as to have a program that will beep every 30 seconds to remind the user to change quadrants (top left, top right, lower left, lower right). For those who tend to need a bit of guidance, or reminders, look for models with pressure sensors and guiding alarms.
6. UV Sanitizing
While the general recommendation for changing your toothbrush (or brush head) is every three months, some models (Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum series) include a means for sanitizing the brush heads. While the exact usefulness is debatable, some feel this feature can extend the life of the brush head, the more accepted reasoning is to help ensure germs and viruses cannot populate it. Most standard models do not include a UV sanitizing station, but it is quite popular among professional grade toothbrushes. If you like to ensure your toothbrush is kept as clean as possible, consider purchasing either a model that includes this feature, or look for a separate unit to do so.
1. Sharing With Multiple Brush Heads
If the price of getting everyone in the family their own electric toothbrush seems a bit steep, consider a very popular alternative; sharing the base between users. Quality models that are rechargeable with changeable heads, are designed to frequently have the brush head changed out. One way that many people, couples especially, get around the expense of owning separate systems, is to just have one and keep their brush heads separate. Not only does this cut down on the initial and recharging costs, it can also make the most of systems that come with extra brush heads.
2. Consider What You Need
Dentists recommend patients use a good toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash daily for good oral hygiene. Manually cleaning can be just as effective as using fancier electric toothbrushes for many people. However, there is a level of clean above standard brushing that only basic electric and sonic toothbrushes can provide. Studies have shown that electric brushes can improve your overall oral health, including your gums, with proper and regular usage. For people who have difficulty keeping up with flossing, a sonic level electric toothbrush can help keep between teeth clean, even better than regular flossing. If you have trouble keeping up with flossing, or don’t like how it feels, consider using an electric toothbrush to ensure you still get the benefit of cleaning between the teeth.
3. Traveling With Electric Toothbrushes
For people who need to, or just like to travel, using an electric toothbrush can present some unique challenges. Aside from needing one that will either keep its charge during the trip, or that can be charged while traveling, transporting them can require a bit of rearranging. It is important to keep in mind that electric toothbrushes are bulkier than normal ones, to help counter this, you should look for models that come with carrying cases to help make storage and travel easier.
4. Bristle Firmness
There are general guidelines for how to select the proper type of bristles. Soft bristles are for people with sensitive teeth and gums, while medium firmness bristles are considered the standard firmness that everyone can/should use. Some instances, where metal braces are concerned, an orthodontist may recommend for some patients to use brushes with hard bristles (to ensure the metalwork is properly cleaned). Your dentist should always be consulted regarding which firmness of bristle would work best for you. The proper bristle firmness is important because using the wrong style can lead to bad brushing habits (scrubbing to hard, or not enough). Look for models that offer a selection of bristles your dentist recommends, or at least be sure to go with a brand that offers a variety so you can find the one that works best for you.