The 10 Best Sonic Toothbrushes
10. Violife Slim
9. Sterline Smart Clean
8. Pyle Health
7. Fairywill Crystal Black
6. Mikiz Cordless
5. Philips Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control
4. Waterpik Sensonic Professional Plus
3. Triple Bristle Best
2. Brio SmartClean
1. Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean
A Brief History Of The Toothbrush
While there have been plenty of advancements in dental care over the past few decades, generally speaking, the toothbrushes we use today are not so different from the models used 100 years ago. To understand the history of the toothbrush, it's important to talk about what came before it.
The toothbrush's main predecessor is called the chew stick. It usually consists of a twig, one side of which can be used as a toothpick. The other end is frayed to form a brush-like device. While it dates back to at least 3500 B.C. E. in the Middle East, it is still popular today in many parts of the world. Other tooth-picking utensils, like feathers, animal bones, and porcupine quills, were also popular in various regions throughout history. A soot and salt-soaked rag was also a popular cleaning method in 1700s Europe.
The bristle-headed brushes we use today are based on implements developed in China's Tang Dynasty, sometime in the latter half of the first millennium. They used hairs from hogs in northern China and Siberia, preferred for their stiffness. Their handles were typically made from bamboo or animal bone. Through trade and travel expeditions, the toothbrush made its way to other parts of Asia and eventually to Europe, where it gained popularity in the late 1600s. Horse hair became a popular alternative to boar and hog bristles because it offered a more gentle brushing experience.
Mass-produced brushes came to the market in the United Kingdom in 1780, spawning the Wisdom Toothbrushes company, which still exists today. An American version was patented in 1857, though production on this continent did not begin at a large scale until 1885.
By the turn of the 20th century, synthetic materials began replacing the animal bones and bristles used in many models. Celluloid was widely used for handles, while bristles made of nylon fibers reached the mass market in 1938. The first electric model was introduced in Switzerland in 1954, intended for those with inhibited motor skills. General Electric developed a batter-powered version about a decade later. The sonic brush arrived in 1992.
Today, standard, electric, and sonic brushes all remain popular. While the latter type is typically rechargeable and comes with a replaceable head, requiring only a one-time purchase of the base unit, most other brushes are cheap and disposable. The latest advancements in toothbrush technology include pressure sensors to keep you from brushing too hard, Bluetooth connectivity to track your brushing data, and brushes with adjustable cleaning modes to maximize efficacy in every part of your mouth.
How Sonic Toothbrush Technology Actually Works
The basic principle behind sonic toothbrushes is vibration. While you scrub your gums, molars, and tongue with a traditional brush, the physical action clears particles and debris manually. Sonic brushes emit a high-frequency sound wave, and its vibrations help break down bacteria and dislodge dental plaque. The brush head does not actually need to make contact with the plaque in order for this effect to work, it just needs to be close enough that the sound waves reach the tooth's surface. The term sonic refers to these sound waves.
The dual action of sonic brushes makes them more effective than their manual cousins. While standard electric brushes have some of the same effects, their vibrational frequency is usually much lower than sonic or ultrasonic models, which makes them less powerful at removing plaque, especially when it is out of reach. Some sonic brushes are powerful enough to remove plaque that sits on a tooth's surface below the gum line.
The difference between electric and sonic toothbrushes has to do with the intensity of vibration. Standard electric brushes, for example, typically perform 10,000 to 12,000 movements per minute. Sonic brushes are classified as such because their frequencies usually fall within the audible spectrum, which ranges up to 2.4 million movements per minute. Brushes on the higher end of this range, as well as those that exceed it, are usually marketed as ultrasonic. The most common frequency used in ultrasonic brushes is 1.6 megahertz, which falls well beyond the audible range, and consists of 192 million movements per minute.
The vibrations themselves are usually produced by applying an electric charge to a piezoelectric crystal in the brush's base. Piezoelectric substances can convert electric signals to mechanical ones and vice versa, and are also used in microphones, record players, headphones, analog clocks, and even cigarette lighters.
A Few Notes On Ensuring Your Dental Health
While it may seem ubiquitous now, regular brushing was not commonplace in the United States until after World War II, during which soldiers were required to clean their teeth every day. That being said, the practice is now instilled in the minds of Americans and much of the industrialized world as a necessity as soon as we develop cognizance. In 2003, for example, an MIT study revealed that the toothbrush was the number one invention Americans said they could not live without, beating out the computer, cell phone, and automobile.
Many dentists recommend brushing your teeth for at least 60 seconds twice a day. A good dental hygiene routine demands more than just brushing, however. The importance of flossing is difficult to understate, for example. Flossing can help you reach the surfaces between your teeth that the bristles of your toothbrush tend to miss. Every tooth has five exposed surfaces where food particles and plaque can build up, and your tooth-cleaning regimen should address each of them. If you skip flossing altogether, you're only hitting 60 percent of the surfaces of your teeth.
Another important ingredient in your oral routine is toothpaste. The manual (and vibrational, if you're using a sonic model) effects of brushing help clear your mouth of any particles stuck to your teeth. But a brush without a good toothpaste can only do so much. It's essential to use a toothpaste that helps strengthen teeth with ingredients like fluoride, which can help prevent cavities and ensure the long-term health of your molars.