The Sonic Toothbrush Debate

Are Sonic Toothbrushes Worth The Cost?

We’ve written before about Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes. Today we want to touch specifically about sonic toothbrushes. 

In a Huffington Post article in 2010 Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S. did a great job in explaining why sonic toothbrushes may be worth the investment.  With prices ranging anywhere from $80 and up versus $5 and under for a manual toothbrush, you will certainly be paying a premium.

These are “electric toothbrushes” on steroids. Sonic Toothbrushes generally vibrate at 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute. The advertising says that this gives you a better cleaning, because they clean even areas where the bristles don’t touch. So, is that true? And if it’s true, is it indeed better than a standard toothbrush? In my opinion, the answer is “it depends.” It depends on you, and how in-depth your oral hygiene practices are.

I will say that the evidence does suggest that a sonic toothbrush will indeed clean areas that a conventional brush cannot. This is because the extreme vibration creates a substantial amount of energy and motion, powering mouth fluids (saliva, water, toothpaste) into the areas between teeth and below the gum line. The result is these areas are given an amount of attention that otherwise would not happen with a standard (or electric) toothbrush. So in that sense, a sonic brush is definitely superior to a standard brush. In addition, studies have shown that people brush longer with a sonic toothbrush. All else being equal, brushing longer is usually a good thing, so score another point for sonic toothbrushes. And lastly, many sonic toothbrush users report that their teeth “feel” better with a sonic toothbrush. That’s worth something.

However, that doesn’t mean they are truly “better.” I said earlier that it depends on you and your oral hygiene routine. If your daily routine includes using a standard toothbrush for two minutes, and also floss, you are getting everything (and more) than a sonic toothbrush can give. Flossing scrapes/cleans the areas where a normal toothbrush cannot reach, and it does so better than any sonic toothbrush can (please don’t think a sonic toothbrush is a substitute for flossing, despite what any advertising claims.) Also, some people use a water flosser (like a water pik®) — again, this goes beyond what a sonic toothbrush can do.

So in the end, it really depends on you. If you don’t floss (and I’m a realist — I know most people don’t), a sonic toothbrush will certainly serve you better than a regular toothbrush, and is probably worth looking into. But if you do brush diligently and floss regularly (and/or use a water flosser), a sonic toothbrush probably isn’t totally necessary — you are likely covering all the bases with your current oral hygiene routine (and congratulations on doing well in this area.)

But if you REALLY want to be sure, a sonic toothbrush AND flossing AND water flossing is an unbeatable combination. At least until technology gives us laser-powered nuclear fusion space-age super toothbrushes

So there you have it. Are sonic toothbrushes a necessity? Absolutely not! Can they be advantageous? Yes, they can, especially to the average person who doesn’t floss regularly.