Sonic toothbrushes vs. ultrasonic toothbrushes
The terms "sonic toothbrush" and "ultrasonic toothbrush" can be confusing for consumers, especially when they’re used interchangeably. However, they rely on two fundamentally different technologies even though both types of toothbrushes are electric and use vibrations.
Sonic toothbrushes have been on the market for much longer and there are many different models depending on your needs. They operate in the range of 44,000 to 84,000 movements per minute. Unlike rotating electric toothbrushes, the brush heads of sonic toothbrushes move very quickly.
As the name suggests, ultrasonic toothbrushes use ultrasonic frequency to clean your teeth. They use 96 million vibrations per minute, which is very hard to visualise. It’s this ultrasonic frequency that breaks up plaque and removes bacteria from your teeth.
How do sonic toothbrushes work?
- The head of the brush has fine bristles or "filaments" of different lengths: the outer filaments are longer than the inner filaments, which shouldn't touch the tooth.
- The brush head vibrates very quickly causing the filaments to swing.
- The inner filaments generate a hydrodynamic effect which starts from 64,000 movements per minute: the mix of saliva and toothpaste in the mouth then cleans the teeth.
The hydrodynamic effect
Brushing your teeth with a sonic toothbrush works partially without direct contact. The mix of saliva and toothpaste flows in waves onto the surface of the tooth and in-between the gaps. The gum line is also cleaned by these currents. The liquid even manages to get to hard-to-reach places in the mouth, helping to remove bacteria and food debris.
The advantages of sonic toothbrushes
Gentle on teeth and gums
This cleaning method is very gentle on your teeth and in particular on gums, as cleaning only requires a slight pressure. As a result, there is only a very slight mechanical abrasion — much less than with manual toothbrushes, for example.
As previously mentioned, the short inner filaments don’t come into contact with the teeth, which means they don’t exert any pressure. The longer outer filaments, on the other hand, do make contact and exert slight pressure on the plaque, dislodging it. The waves created through the hydrodynamic motion of the toothbrush then carries the plaque away so that it can be spat out along with the toothpaste.
Interdental spaces are getting clean
Due to the hydrodynamic processes which occur in the oral cavity, the sonic toothbrush manages to remove food residues and bacteria from the interdental spaces effectively. However, it’s still advised you continue to use interdental brushes to clean the spaces between your teeth.
Good to know:
To be more gentle to gums and tooth enamel, it’s advisable to use a less abrasive toothpaste such as Curaprox Enzycal 1450. This toothpaste doesn’t include any abrasive granules, is SLS-free and relies on natural enzymes to clean the teeth.
Using the sonic toothbrush correctly
The intensity of a sonic toothbrush is very different from that of a classic manual toothbrush. Therefore, it’s important to know how to brush your teeth properly while using one if you haven’t done so before. With any toothbrush (including the highly effective sonic toothbrush) it feels like the brush is doing all the work. However, this isn't quite the case; it’s possible to brush incorrectly using a sonic toothbrush.
This is the correct cleaning technique
To get the most out of your sonic toothbrush, the pressure and movements you use are crucial.
- The brush head is applied to the tooth at an angle of about 45 degrees in the direction of the gum line so that the gums are gently massaged. This will be sufficient if the longer bristles are touching the surface of the tooth.
- Then you leave the brush head on the surface of each tooth for three to five seconds.
- Move the brush from one tooth to another with very light pressure. It’s best to always work in the same order:
- Along the outer sides
- Along the inner sides
- Along the occlusal surfaces
Very light contact between the bristles and the tooth is sufficient for proper cleaning. If you feel like you need to apply a lot of pressure or if your gums bleed, then it could be that you’re brushing incorrectly with the sonic toothbrush or that you’re suffering from gum disease. In that case, please contact your dentist.
Good to know:
Thanks to the technology of the sonic toothbrush with its innovative brush heads, cleaning is always thorough — even in hard-to-reach areas. However, sonic cleaning isn't sufficient for every part of your mouth. Therefore, even with a toothbrush, the additional use of interdental brushes is highly recommended for the best results.
Sonic toothbrushes and braces
Using a sonic toothbrush with braces makes oral hygiene much easier, because the hydrodynamic movements not only clean the teeth and gum line, but also wires and brackets or removable aligners and retainers. Especially the small brush heads such as the Curaprox Hydrosonic pro single brush, which enables thorough cleaning of each individual tooth.
Instructions: Cleaning braces with sonic technology
For particularly tricky, hard-to-reach areas, it helps to change the brush head and use a single tuft brush. With fixed orthodontic appliances that are attached lingually (i.e. on the inside of the tongue), single brushes can be a great help.
Good to know:
The Curaprox Hydrosonic pro brush heads have a slight bend known as a Curacurve®, which makes it easier for you to clean the hard-to-reach areas, compared to conventional sonic toothbrushes.