Are There Any Problems With Sonic Toothbrushes?

Sonic toothbrush technology provides superior dental hygiene at home. The pulsating action of the sonic brush head works to clean between teeth and around the gum line to maintain your healthy, happy smile. Reviewers of today's top models attest to a high level of satisfaction among users and dental researchers. Few problems have been reported with sonic toothbrushes.


The bristles on a sonic toothbrush vibrate at a more than 30,000 brush strokes per minute. Sonic toothbrushes use two cleaning mechanisms: the conventional scrubbing action of the bristles and the vibratory agitation of oral fluids caused from the sonic technology. The combination of these cleaning methods results in a cleaner tooth surface and efficient plaque removal. A 2003 study entitled, "Effects of Dynamic Fluid Activity From an Electric Toothbrush on In Vitro Oral Biofilms," by C. K. Hope and Professor Michael Wilson at the Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Healthcare Sciences, concluded that an activated Philips Sonicare Plus toothbrush removed 20 times more viable bacteria than an inactivated toothbrush.


Philips Sonicare and Oral-B Pulsonic are two popular brands of sonic toothbrushes. According to a survey of reviews, the Consumer Search website named the triple-action Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision 4000 as the Best Electric Toothbrush. This model oscillates, rotates and pulsates. Consumer Search named the Philips Sonicare for Kids as the Best Electric Toothbrush for Kids.


Researchers have investigated the effects of high-speed sonic brush heads to determine if their pulsating actions cause damage to the tooth surface and dental work such as tooth fillings. One such study by K. J. Donly and associates in 1997 concluded, "There was no apparent wear of tooth structure or of restorative materials with either the Sonicare or the manual brush. There was a small loss of cement from the margins of the gold inlays following tooth brushing, which was similar and not significantly different between the sonic and manual brush."


Overall, users of sonic toothbrushes report no problems other than an initial oral tickling sensation that fades with subsequent use. As with any rechargeable product, it can be inconvenient to travel with an appliance that requires a plug-in receptacle. Also, you have to replace rechargeable batteries. The high cost of sonic toothbrushes can be a problem for some users.


There are several advantages to a sonic toothbrush. Sonic toothbrushes provide excellent plaque removal between professional dental cleanings. If you have children who need coaxing to brush their teeth, sonic toothbrushes can provide added motivation. If you have orthodontic appliances or oral conditions that make it hard to brush, such as crooked teeth, a sonic toothbrush might be more effective and comfortable than a regular toothbrush. If you have limited manual dexterity, brushing with a sonic toothbrush can be easier than brushing by hand.