There are several types of electric toothbrushes on the market. Sonic, oscillating, ultrasonic, and the list goes on and on. The word “oscillating” doesn’t feel like anything special. The word sonic seems better because it meas that something is very fast and operates at sonic frequency.
The word ULTRAsonic however feels completely badass because something is more than sonic, it’s ultrasonic.
So what’s the deal behind ultrasonic toothbrushes? Are they worth it?
In this guide we will try to explain everything you need to know before buying an ultrasonic toothbrush.
- What’s the difference between sonic and ultrasonic cleaning technology
- How not to get scammed when buying one
- What is the best ultrasonic toothbrush
- Why are there only a few ultrasonic toothbrushes on the market
If you are ready, grab a cup of coffee, relax, and dive into our extensive guide.
What is an ultrasonic toothbrush exactly?
Before we get into that, you have to understand what is a sonic toothbrush.
By definition, sonic is something that moves fast enough to be heard by an average human. This means that s sonic toothbrush is any toothbrush that vibrates, it’s as simple as that.
The reason why vibrating toothbrushes are called sonic instead of vibrating is because the word sonic sounds more interesting and has a better marketing potential. If you have a phone that vibrates and you can hear the vibration with your ears, you could say that your phone is sonic, but phone manufacturers missed on that marketing opportunity about two decades ago.
A typical sonic toothbrush produces vibrations in range from 200 to 400 Hz which roughly translates into 12,000 to 24,000 oscillations or 24,000 to 60,000 vibrations per minute.
How to use a sonic toothbrush?
Using a sonic toothbrush requires you to press it to your teeth and the vibration movements will clean the teeth almost entirely by themselves. You still have to move the brush head along your teeth and be careful not to miss a spot.
The high frequency vibration doesn’t just scrub the surface of the teeth, but it also drives fluids in areas between the teeth and along the gum line.
What makes ultrasonic toothbrushes different?
The word ultrasonic describes something that moves too fast to be heard by an average human. An ultrasonic toothbrush has to vibrate at speeds of over 2000 Hz which translates into about 2,400,000 movements per minute (roughly 38x more movements than the fastest Sonicare DiamondClean brush is able to produce).
What’s the idea behind ultrasonic brushes?
The idea is that ultrasound is able to penetrate deep in areas between teeth and below the gum line and disrupt and remove the plaque on the way. Some clinical studies suggest that ultrasound is able to penetrate up to half an inch below the gumline.
Here comes the catch (scam alert).
Just to make sure you’ve been following this guide carefully. A toothbrush has to vibrate at speeds of over 2000 Hz (2,400,000 movements per minute) to be called an ultrasonic toothbrush.
If you decide to search for an ultrasonic brush online, there’s a huge chance you will find dozens of them. However, most of these toothbrushes aren’t actually ultrasonic. They use standard sonic (vibrating) technology and produce up to about 50,000 vibrations per minute which is much less than the 2,400,000 that’s needed to be classified as ultrasonic.
Selling a sonic toothbrush as ultrasonic is nothing but a marketing scam to create more sales and trick ignorant consumers into thinking that they are buying something that isn’t just good, but ultra good.
We won’t mention any brands that falsely advertise their brushes specifically, but there are plenty of them which is a sad reality of today’s world of consumerism.
Are ultrasonic brushes worth it?
If you are in it for efficiency, then it’s hard to say. We’ve been digging through debates on Reddit and opinions about ultrasonic toothbrushes are very mixed. Some posters claim that they are nothing but a scam while others almost believe they were sent to Earth by god himself.
A few clinical studies are supporting claims that ultrasonic toothbrushes are more effective than traditional ones when it comes to reducing plaque and gingivitis, but there are also a few clinical studies that weren’t able to find much difference.
Unfortunately we also haven’t found any clinical study comparing efficiency of oscillating, sonic and ultrasonic brushes which is quite weird. It’s a well-known fact that the market is dominated by sonic and oscillating brushes. If we were to launch an ultrasonic toothbrush to the market and we truly believed that it’s better than all sonic and oscillating brushes in the world, the first thing we would do is to have an independent clinical study and if our statements were correct, our sales would skyrocket.
Here’s something that should make you think.
The most popular electric toothbrushes today are owned by some of the world’s largest corporations. Sonicare is a part of Phillips and Oral B is a part of Procter & Gamble. Both of these companies employ tens of thousands of people and generate billions of dollars of revenue every year.
Is it just a coincidence that two of the most interesting ultrasonic toothbrush brands we were able to find are owned by much smaller companies?
If either Phillips or Procter & Gamble (who invest millions into research) thought for one second that ultrasonic toothbrushes are the thing of the future, they would fight to death to secure their shares on the market. But they aren’t.
Another thing that doesn’t speak in favor of ultrasonic technology is the fact that ultrasonic toothbrushes were never nowhere near as popular as sonic or oscillating although they have been on the market in the U.S. since 1992. Another coincidence?
Keep in mind that we could be wrong and we’ll update this article as soon as we get more information about ultrasonic toothbrushes.