I have been currently doing research on the difference and efficiency of electric and ionic toothbrushes, so I got stumped by a patient who told me he and his fiance have been using the Quip toothbrush for the past 3 months. He had not been to a dentist in 5 years, but had recently been having some localized tooth pain. He came in wanting to know if he had a cavity, but also if his newish Quip toothbrush was working for him. While my dental assistant was taking his x-rays to see what was going on internally, I did a little research.
The Quip toothbrush was highly praised in GQ as having a 2 minute timer, vibrating at every 30 seconds so one knows when to move it to a different quadrant in the mouth (Upper Right, Lower Right, Upper Left, Lower Left), and that it specifically tells you how much toothpaste to put on the brush (pea sized amount).
What bothers me is that the Sonicare toothbrush does all this as well, and has been for many years. AND Sonicare is pressure-sensitive, meaning if one presses too hard with the brush, the motor in the handle will continue to run, but the bristles will stop. Once the brush is pulled away from the gums a bit, the bristles will continue to vibrate, preventing cuts in the gum, or toothbrush abrasion (enamel wear).
A few years ago Sonicare (Phillips) and Amazon teamed up to sell a Sonicare toothbrush for around $15.00. Say what you want about Amazon, but this brush definitely has a great ROI. It is just like the $200ish brush sold everywhere else, including dental offices, but I like this one better (have been using mine since 2014) because it doesn’t need to be plugged in. It simply runs on 2 AA batteries. The color of the bristles on the brush head fade when it is time to change it. For me it is about every 3-4 months. I usually change the brush head and the batteries at the same time.
What also bothers me about what my new patient said is that if it wasn’t for Quip, he wouldn’t have known that we only need about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to work. His former dentist(s) should have told him that. And then I thought, how often do I encourage that? A little bit of toothpaste goes a long way.
I do appreciate that a new Quip brush head gets mailed directly to you every 3 months with a new tube of toothpaste. That being said, you can set that up with Amazon for new Sonicare heads as well. You can also set up a two year warranty for about $3.00 directly on the Amazon website when purchasing. What the Amazon version of the Sonicare toothbrush does NOT have is the tongue scraper on the opposite side of the bristles. Brilliant. And, for $25, you get a toothbrush and toothpaste set, with a $5.00 replacement fee every 3 months. Once again, brilliant. This is a no brainer for those who do not like to brush their teeth. The GQ writer specifically said, “Unlike many other electric toothbrushes, the Quip is elegant and slender. I’d even call it sexy.” Wow. What great marketing.
And then there are the ionic toothbrushes. I had no idea there was more than one kind! I had bought the Dr. Tung kind and I was incredibly impressed. The concept behind the ionic toothbrushes is that there is no need for toothpaste. Teeth normally have a negative polarity while plaque has an opposite or positive polarity. This is why plaque clings to teeth.
The Ionic toothbrush from Dr. Tung’s breaks this ionic bond by temporarily reversing the polarity of tooth surfaces as you brush. The plaque molecules are then repelled by the teeth and drawn to the negatively polarized bristles of the IONIC toothbrush. One simply has to wet the brush – they state there is no need for toothpaste. A problem I have with this brush is: what is being used to fight the bacteria that cause tooth decay? The website focuses mainly on plaque and gum disease, but what about those who get a lot of cavities? Another problem is brushing time. Most Americans only brush for about 42 seconds on average. I used my phone to time myself on my brushing because there is no timer included in the brush. Gotta admit though, the bristles are very cool and truly do feel like they are getting between the teeth and gums.
The Soladey ionic toothbrush has to be purchased through an online distributor, and its technology is more advanced. It requires light and water to work; once again, no toothpaste required. The solar panel on the brush charges a semiconductor when exposed to light that is encased in a medical grade stainless steel handle. The semiconductor connects to the “engine” of the toothbrush – the titanium dioxide rod. When water contacts the Ti02 rod, negatively charged ions flood the mouth, breaking down plaque and calculus. This toothbrush is sold for $45 and comes with two brush heads.
So what is the best toothbrush out there right now? I like my Sonicare from Amazon, but Dr. Tung’s is smaller and easier to travel with (no need for toothpaste). I appreciate the convenience of Quip (especially because of the attached tongue scraper), and the Soladey seems sensitive to me. What if I cannot get enough light on it to start working?
For those that have cavities or have a sweet tooth and therefore are cavity-prone, I still encourage using a Fluoride or Xylitol based toothpaste to prevent tooth decay.
Bottom line: you have to feel comfortable with what you brush with. Try one and see your dentist for your recare appointment. If the dentist is happy with the results, then continue to use it — it is obviously a good fit for you!