Electronic Toothbrushes

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Will electronic toothbrush work better for 9-year-old?

Sept 2002

My nine year old still does a really poor job getting the junk off his teeth when brushing. We've been considerering getting him an electric tooth brush in the hope that it would be more fun for him, he might brush longer, and his teeth would end up cleaner. Has anyone tried this with their kids? Any brand to recommend or avoid? How about expense? Does the novelty wear off too fast? anon

YES! My son resisted brushing his teeth and his dentist suggested we get an electric toothbrush. It didn't make him love brushing but he does brush now. Also the brush as a 2 minute timer in it so he brushed until it beeps. So he actually brushes 2 minutes - much longer than before. It has helped a lot for us. Dawn

Well ... I bought a Sonicare a couple years ago thinking my school-aged children would be more likely to brush. The novelty wore off after a couple of days and we were back to the nag method. I continued using it myself for a few months but found that my way-too-sensitive teeth just couldn't get used to the constant vibration, so I switched back to the manual toothbrush. anon

Our family dentist recommended the Sonicare toothbrush. While I doubt that it, or any other toothbrush for that matter, would have enough long-term appeal to make a child want to brush regularly, I think it's great. I've recommended it to many friends and think it's one of the most useful purchases we've made -- certainly well worth the purchase price. I bought mine with two brush heads at Costco about 3 years ago for around $89. I would never go back to regular toothbrush. RL

I whole-heartedly believe in electric toothbrushes. I have had the Sonicare for a number of years and the whole family absolutely loves it. It would be great to get your son used to it because your dentist will tell you of the tremendous benefits (reduction of plaque build up and gum massaging) but you may try buying a battery operated one first. I think Colgate makes one in some cool colors for about $5-7 (in the toothbrush aisle). I think they last a few months and then you throw them away. The Sonicare costs about $80 but well worth the price. peytra

Is an electric toothbrush better?

Feb 2000

In our recent dentist visit, our dentist recommended Sonicare to my husband. I wonder:
1. Is electronic brush really more superior than manual one (other than the ease of use, I assume it has)? Have you found it to be effective?
2. Which brand is a good one? Is Sonicare (advance model) the one to buy? Or are there better ones?
3. Is it practical to have one brush with multiple heads for more than one family members?
Thanks a lot. I've searched the website, but only found one email relating to Sonicare/Braun.

I love my sonicare, and since buying it my dental cleanings have gone from half hour ordeals with bleeding sore gums to ten minute, practically painless episodes. Needless to say my teeth look better, too. One of the main benefits of it, I think, is that the automatic timer forces you to brush longer. (At first, the two minutes seems like an eternity, which makes you realize how long you had been brushing before). I should add that I still don't floss, but my dentist has stopped bugging me about it, either because he grew weary of it, or the sonicare is getting rid of the plaque. Fran

We've used a Sonicare toothbrush for a few years. It really seems to keep my teeth cleaner than manual brushing (they feel as if they had just been cleaned professionally for months), although a report in Consumer Reports since then (probably at least a year ago) said that if you brush correctly you can do as well as with any electric toothbrush. Our Sonicare has gone out a couple of times. The first time just after the 2-yr warranty was up, at which time they sold us a new handle for a very reasonable amount. The second time was just a year after that so they sent us a new handle AND recharger for free. Apparently they want to keep their customers happy. I think the only difference between the two models is Quad Pacer, which beeps when 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of the way through the two-minute cycle. Ours has it but I don't pay attention to it. (You can turn it off if you want.) It's easy enough to change heads for multiple-person use. We got the Sonicare because my husband's dentist, who went to a dental school that was big on periodontics, recommended it and sold it to his patients for awhile. I seem to recall that his dental school (at the University of Washington) endorses it. Fran

My husband bought us a Sonicare about 2 months ago. We like it a lot. We find that it is superior to just brushing, but not quite as good as brushing and flossing together. I still floss in addition to using the toothbrush. But I'm not as worried about trying to floss my 3-year-old's teeth at this point (a herculean task!), since most of her spaces are still quite wide and I think the sonic waves penetrate well between her teeth (though not under the gumline very far). One reason we got it is because I've had some trouble with toothbrush abrasion, and this should reduce the likelihood of that, since one doesn't need to press so hard to get good results. You do need to read the directions, because the technique is rather different than with a regular toothbrush. Please note that we haven't been in to the dentist yet for a checkup, so I don't have a report as to whether this seems to be better or worse from her point of view. But my husband finds that his teeth feel *much* cleaner, and he doesn't have as much stuff left between them or under the gumline (he still refuses to floss).

We find that one body with 3 heads is sufficient for us, but you might consider an extra body if you have more adults all competing for the toothbrush at the same time. One advantage is that, with only one body, it can't develop mold inside the housing, which is something that people have evidently complained about. As to the brand, my husband did the research, and he said that this one had the best recommendation of the commercially available ones, and that according to studies it was at least as good if not better than the Rotadent (the one pushed by dentists, and costing many many more dollars!). You can get the Sonicare at Costco. YMMV! Hope this is helpful. Dawn

My dentist told me to look for any electric toothbrush that goes in circles - not back and forth. I ended up with the sonicare and am happy with it - my gums feel better exercised than with a traditional toothbrush. The head comes off easily to allow more than one family member to use it, but my little girl thinks it makes too much noise. She still prefers the old fashioned kind, with an Elmo on it. Sarah

1) Last year my dentist suggested we start using the Braun model with the round brush head that rotates back and forth (the Sonicare model wasn't out yet). I didn't really want to, thinking a standard brush would do fine. But since we've started with the Braun the person who does my regular cleanings has repeatedly commented on how my dental care has significantly improved. I'd imagine they have nothing to gain from lying to me, as we bought the Braun at Target, so they didn't make any money on it. Personally I now feel the Braun can do a better job that reg. brushing once you get accustomed to using it. 2) I don't know, having no experience with the Sonicare models, but the Braun works well. 3) It is practical for us (3 members) to use our own brush heads on the same motor, so long as you rinse the main unit off afterward and remember to keep it plugged in and charging so the next person isn't greeted with a dead toothbrush motor. :-) Jonathan

we love the Sonicare that we've had for about a year now. I recommend getting the one with the 4 30-second phases. This has been a wonderful guideline for my 9-year-old, who otherwise seems to think a lick and a promise are sufficient. My cleaning appts have definitely been easier. Yes, it's practical to use one barrel with different heads for each family, altho in our case my son isn't all that neat about keeping the barrel clean. Linda

The Sonicare is great! My teeth are much cleaner, as if I'd just been to the dentist. It feels great! I haven't tried other electric toothbrushes (our dentist recommended Sonicare) so I can't compare brands. My husband and I share one brush with two heads, which have a colored band so you can tell them apart. The brush came with two heads and a little stand for them. The only downside is that the brush heads are a lot more expensive than manual brushes and wear out as fast as manual ones. (Watch for coupon deals and sales to reduce the price.) Finally, the old brush heads aren't useful as old toothbrushes for cleaning etc. Kathleen

Consumer Reports just did a review - check the February (I think) issue. They found the electronic/sonic brushes to not ultimately make a big difference. I've had mine for a couple of years now and have had no problems, and seem to have better checkups and less cavities in my cavity prone mouth since using it. I have a Sonicare, bought at Costco. Sarah

I bought a Braun about 2 years ago from Costco. It came with an extra handle (I'm not sure what it's called). The model I got was a good deal at Costco when I compared it to other prices (like at Macy's). Check Costco out. Elise