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I had an electric toothbrush about ten years ago and never really got the hype surrounding them, I didn't doubt that they cleaned my teeth but whether or not they cleaned them better than a standard toothbrush I really wasn't convinced. After about six months I opted back to the standard toothbrush that you find in any supermarket these days and have been using one of them ever since (not the same one I'd like to point out quickly!) until Christmas when I received... drum roll... an electric toothbrush. Arguably not the most exciting present I've ever been given but I decided to try it out as there wasn't really much else I could do with it...
I was given the Philips Sensiflex HX1620/05 electric toothbrush which came in a fairly standard looking white box that showed a clear picture of the toothbrush and offered some basic information regarding the toothbrush itself. Inside the box was the actual toothbrush (which was wrapped in a plastic bag and encased in foam to stop it from being damaged) and a charger base which allows the toothbrush to be easily charged. The product weighs 1.2kg while in the box and seems to be quite an average weight for an electric toothbrush. The toothbrush is white in colour with a lime green section with the head is inserted into the base.
So what does this electric toothbrush offer? The box advertises the facts that it offers double cleaning action for naturally whiter teeth, a gum protection system which adjusts to maintain optimal brushing pressure without damaging your gums in any way and dual brush heads which combine to create 15,000 strokes on your teeth every minute. The brush also claims to target hard to reach plaque which can form in between your teeth and is often difficult to reach with a manual toothbrush. Overall the claims do sound pretty impressive... more so than a manual toothbrush... and did make me quite keen to try out this electric toothbrush.
The toothbrush is really easy to use; you simply switch it on using a small switch on the lime green section of the base. The head oscillates at 15,000 strokes per minute which is slower than many brushes but it does mean I feel like I'm in greater control. The small head sweeps from side to side which means that it does clean in between my teeth as well. The head bristles are quite compact and quite stiff; they don't hurt my gums at all or exert too much pressure. Once you feel suitably clean you simply need to use the button to turn the brush off, there's only one button on this brush which means that operating it is very simply indeed.
The electric toothbrush has an operating time of twenty five minutes when the battery is fully charged. I find that on average I brush for about two minutes each time so a fully charged brush can last me a week, give or take a bit of flexibility, which means I could take it on a week's holiday without the actual charger. However when it gets down to its last five minutes of power or so the brush pressure and speed does start to reduce and therefore the effectiveness would be lessened. The battery takes sixteen hours to fully charge which does seem quite long when compared to how long it actually runs for when in operation.
So why use an electric toothbrush? Well the reason my parents bought it for me was because it requires much less effort to thoroughly clean your teeth as there's less physical work involved. You don't need to use as much wrist action or exert as much pressure as you need to do when using a manual toothbrush, I'm living proof! It has also been claimed that they provide a much more "all over" cleaning action for your teeth and actually get between the teeth more effectively than a manual toothbrush will. Some studies have also found that electric toothbrushes with smaller heads are better at manoeuvring around the teeth as well.
However some research has found that there are really limited positive effects of using an electric toothbrush - some have even been found to cause damage to your gums due to the high pressure exerted by them according to one BBC News article that I read. The majority of articles that I've come across, and indeed the opinion offered by my dentist, is that neither electric nor manual brushes are better. Instead the effectiveness depends on how often you brush, what toothpaste you use and how well you brush - brushing for just ten seconds with either brush is not going to get you those gleaming white teeth we all want so much!
Now despite you not having to replace an electric toothbrush nearly as frequently as a manual toothbrush you do need to replace the head of the toothbrush every couple of months. The Philips Sensiflex HX2012 offers two heads and is priced at around the £7 mark and the Philips Sensiflex HX2014 offers four heads and is priced at around the £14 mark according to Amazon. I estimate that before I got this brush I spent about £2 on a manual toothbrush (mainly because I bought brushes when they were on two for one or special offer) and therefore spent about £10 a year. This one will work out more expensive, about £14!
I've been using the Philips Sensiflex HX1620/05 since Christmas now and I've been happy with the results. I can't say that my teeth are dramatically whiter, or that my gums are any more protected than they were with a normal brush but my teeth certainly appear to be in no worse a condition as a result of using this brush. The brushing itself takes much less effort than when I used a manual brush, you simply move the brush steadily over your teeth and it does all the cleaning and scrubbing without you actually brushing away. I would certainly recommend this as a somewhat easier alternative to brushing with a manual toothbrush, but it's not the be all and end all.
The brush is currently priced at just £18.89 on Amazon which seems very reasonable for an electric toothbrush. It's also available at Comet for £27.52 or Dixons for £25.16 and I haven't been able to find it any cheaper than the price it's offered for at Amazon. I've had mine for nearly three months now and I've been using it every day without fail. I can't say that I've noticed any massive changes in terms of the condition of my teeth although they do feel very clean and smooth after I use this brush, more so than after using a manual toothbrush. My dentist did comment that they were in very good condition when I visited him though in February!
Thanks for reading.
Short name: Philips HX1620