How Does a Sonic Toothbrush Work?

In the past couple of years, the dental industry has changed a lot. The only thing that you could use before to clean your teeth was your average manual toothbrush. As technology evolved, people got access to fancier types of toothbrushes: the electric kind. These toothbrushes use an oscillating movement to efficiently clean your teeth.

That being said, while electric toothbrushes proved efficient in maintaining good oral hygiene, a more advanced solution came forward. The Sonic toothbrush promises more cleanliness and better plaque removal as compared to your average electric toothbrush.

But what exactly can a Sonic toothbrush do for you and your oral hygiene? How does it work, to be precise? This article will explain everything in detail, allowing you to understand why Sonic toothbrushes are so popular.

How Does a Sonic Toothbrush Work?

Why Sonic Toothbrushes Are Essential

Not only are Sonic toothbrushes more comfortable to use than your average toothbrush, but they are also more efficient. Doctors recommend them for proper oral hygiene, as they proved life-changing for many users. Here are some of the aspects that make a Sonic toothbrush essential:

1. They are extremely efficient at removing plaque, outperforming electric and manual toothbrushes alike.

2. They don’t allow you to overbrush your teeth, an action that may irritate the gums as you apply excess pressure.

3. They help you reach even the difficult-to-clean areas such as between your teeth, the vibrations sending the toothpaste deep into the crevices.

4. They protect your tooth enamel, as they prevent you from applying too much pressure over it.

5. They allow you to change between brushing modes, suiting different needs depending on your goals. For instance, if you have sensitive teeth, you may set the toothbrush for gentle brushing.

6. They come with a comfortable handle that makes them perfect to use by people with conditions such as arthritis.

Sonic toothbrushes are more powerful than your average toothbrush. This is why you need to get one that works well with your brushing needs.

Why Sonic Toothbrushes Are Essential

Sonic Toothbrushes - How Do They Work?

When the first electric toothbrush came to be, the action was based on a combo of vertical and horizontal moves. The purpose was to imitate how a traditional toothbrush works, only making it faster.

Somewhere in the mid-'80s and ‘90s, a new type of electric toothbrush came to the market. This one would use oscillating movements that would also include pulsation. The heads that moved at a high frequency would then be known as Sonic technology.

With Sonic technology, the device emits acoustic vibrations of a high frequency, reaching 260-500 Hz. This is caused by the filaments horizontally vibrating at speeds going at 16,000-45,000 strokes per minute. This is different from a manual toothbrush, which can manage 300 strokes per minute at most.

Sonic toothbrushes work by relying on two methods of action. The first one is mechanical, whereas the other relies on Sonic technology.

Mechanical Cleaning

This is the main action of the Sonic toothbrush. The filaments within the device perform a mechanical action, which vibrates at a very high frequency. When applied to the surface of your teeth, it can help remove stuck food, biofilm, or plaque.

Hydrodynamic and Acoustic Vibration

This is where the Sonic toothbrush process gets slightly more complex. As the filaments are vibrating at a very high intensity, they begin sending out acoustic waves. These waves will be transmitted through the saliva, water, and toothpaste and apply pressure over the biofilm on your teeth.

When that happens, the adhesion of the biofilm is prevented, no matter if the filaments can reach that specific area or not. You don’t even need to have direct contact with the teeth for the vibrations to work, although the distance should be 3mm at most.

Moreover, because of the vibrations, air is sent into your saliva, which leads to the formation of tiny bubbles. These bubbles are then pushed in the areas where you have plaque, removing potential buildups.

The bubbles formed in this process are very rich in oxygen and can easily get into your subgingival area. Since there is little oxygen in those areas, it makes the perfect medium for anaerobic colonies to form. The increased oxygen concentration will make the medium unfavorable for them, causing them to die out.

Fluid dynamics also help in altering dental plaque, as the Sonic waves send them into hard-to-reach areas. This makes it easier for the Sonic toothbrush to clean tricky areas such as below the gum line or between your teeth.

Sonic Toothbrushes - How Do They Work?

How Are Sonic Toothbrushes Different from Electric Toothbrushes?

Sonic toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes have long since been mistaken for one another, mainly because of their similar large bodies. However, the way they work is relatively different, as Sonic toothbrushes are much more powerful. As a result, you have a better chance of removing plaque from your teeth.

Standard electric toothbrushes use frequencies between 200-400 Hz (or around 24,000-48,000 rotations per minute). That being said, they mostly rely on rotations to get your teeth clean. It’s mostly like a high-speed brushing session, should your hand be several hundred times faster.

On the other hand, Sonic toothbrushes use low-amplitude, high-frequency vibrations that usually start at 20,000. Unlike electric toothbrushes, this kind of high frequency will stimulate your mouth’s salivary glands. As the production of saliva in your mouth increases, the brush should be able to clean your mouth much more efficiently.

For the most part, sonic toothbrushes have shown more efficiency at removing plaque as compared to their electric counterparts. Most commonly, they also come with a built-in timer, ensuring that you respect the routine as recommended by the ADA.

How Are Sonic Toothbrushes Different from Electric Toothbrushes?

Benefits of Sonic Toothbrushes

Now you know how a Sonic toothbrush works, but this may bring another question to your mind: how does that benefit you? Here are some aspects that you may find essential:

Faster Brushing

The best part about a Sonic toothbrush is that it can clean your teeth, tongue, and gums several times faster than your average toothbrush. Most bristles are around 0.01 mm, which can easily get into the more delicate areas of your mouth, cleaning them with ease. This ensures a thorough cleaning that you otherwise could not have achieved with a manual toothbrush.

Fitting Multiple Gum Types

Sonic brushes often come with multiple customizable modes. This makes it very easy for you to adjust them to your specific needs. For instance, you can set them for deep cleaning, whitening effects, sensitive teeth, and more. Most sonic toothbrushes will come with an instructions manual that will tell you exactly how you should set your device.

Fewer Mouth Diseases

When you have a clean mouth, it will no longer be as easy for plaque and bacteria to build up. This should offer you more resistance to diseases such as halitosis and gingivitis. Sonic toothbrushes can do wonders in this regard, as they offer a superior cleaning effect compared to manual toothbrushes.

Benefits of Sonic Toothbrushes

How to Use a Sonic Toothbrush?

For a Sonic toothbrush to work, you need to have a proper teeth-brushing routine. Here are the steps that you need to go through:

Wet the Bristles

The first thing that you need to do is to wet the bristles of your brush in the same way you would with a manual toothbrush. Many people skip this step either thinking it is not necessary or believing it will damage the toothbrush. That being said, these toothbrushes are often water-resistant, and you will only need to wet the head. This process is necessary because it will help spread the toothpaste more easily.

Apply the Toothpaste

Before powering the toothbrush, apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the bristles. Bear in mind that you should not turn the bristles on until after you put the toothbrush in your mouth. Otherwise, you risk splashing toothpaste all over the bathroom.

Brush Your Teeth

For the toothbrush to work as it should, you need to brush your teeth correctly. With a sonic toothbrush, there is no need to brush your teeth vigorously – that is because the toothbrush will handle everything for you. All you have to do is guide the toothbrush over your teeth so that the Sonic action can do its magic.

You should give about 30 seconds per quadrant, brushing over the arches of the teeth. Most Sonic toothbrushes will tell you when it is time to move from one quadrant to the other, as they beep every 30 seconds.

Rinse Your Mouth

After 2 minutes, the Sonic toothbrush should turn off on its own. This is a feature added to prevent overbrushing, which can be potentially harmful to your teeth. Remove the toothbrush from your mouth and then rinse your teeth with water. After that, take out the toothbrush head and give it a good rinse as well.

How to Use a Sonic Toothbrush?

Common Mistakes When Using a Sonic Toothbrush

Sonic toothbrushes are very effective at removing plaque and other things that can harm your teeth. However, they won’t work if you don’t use them right. Here are some common mistakes that most people make when brushing with a Sonic toothbrush:

Brushing Too Aggressively

Many people believe that if they are using a Sonic toothbrush, they need to push the brush exactly as they would do with a manual toothbrush. However, once you turn the Sonic toothbrush on, it will do most of the work for you. Brushing too vigorously is not only damaging to your teeth, but it may also cause the soft heads to require changing before time.

Instead, you should merely hold the toothbrush gently over your teeth and guide it over their surface. There is no need to brush back and forth and make circular motions either. Simply give the toothbrush time to act over each tooth in particular.

Choosing the Wrong Brush

Many people feel like their teeth are too sensitive or their gums begin to hurt when they are using a Sonic toothbrush. Very often, this is not caused by the vibration itself, but by the bristles. For instance, if you have sensitive teeth or gums, a toothbrush with harder bristles can make your sensitivity feel even worse. This is why you need to choose a brush with softer bristles, as it has a lower potential for causing discomfort.

Not Setting the Right Mode

The toothbrush head is not the only thing that you need to be careful about. A sonic toothbrush works just as well as the mode you choose for it. For instance, the tongue brushing mode is much more delicate than the standard mode. By using that mode on your teeth, you may not be able to get the cleaning results that you want.

Not Brushing Sufficiently

Many people believe that since a Sonic toothbrush is more efficient than your average manual brush, you don’t have to brush for the whole two minutes. That being said, for this type of toothbrush to give you the effect that you desire, you need to respect the ADA recommendations. Most Sonic toothbrushes come with a timer, so you need to wait until that timer goes off.

Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Head

Many people overuse their toothbrush heads, going past the recommended 3-month threshold. That being said, when you notice that the bristles are becoming broken or frayed, it is likely time to change them. Those broken bristles won’t do you any good and can even make it seem like the toothbrush is not working properly. Some Sonic toothbrushes come with color-coded bristles, which turn into a white color when they are due for a replacement.

Common Mistakes When Using a Sonic Toothbrush

The Bottom Line

In a world that is continuously evolving with its intelligent devices, it’s no wonder that our oral hygiene should also receive this kind of upgrade. Manual toothbrushes can only do so much, which is why it is high time to switch to Sonic toothbrushes. Now that you know how they work, you understand better why they are one of the best options to keep your teeth clean.

1 comment

  • Paula Creed

    Thank you for all this information.
    Very helpful.
    As I have suffered with gum problems all my life.
    I have caps and fillings. Still have all my teeth.
    I use an electric toothbrush. After reading this I am now going to purchase a sonic toothbrush. The question is which one!!

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