I've had 2 of these now over many years and I'm still impressed by the cleaning performance. If you haven't used one before, the sonic vibrations do take some getting used to, and hence, the brush comes with a sort of introduction level of sonic 'power' for the first 20 or so operations before it jumps up to fill power. A few years ago, the Sonicare range used to be the market leaders, but nowadays, Braun have now also upped their game with comparable products. Speaking with some dentist friends of mine, it is still very much a 50:50 debate as to which is better and recommended by dental professionals.
Balancing the review, let's look at the negative points. The brush itself is quite a bit more expensive than comparable products. Also, the brush heads can be extortionately expensive, particularly for this model, and hence, you really need to shop around to try and get the best deal. The second point (please finish eating first!!) is that you can get a build up of some horrendous 'gunk' in the pocket area of the unit where you attach the brush head to. It's not easy to clean it out and can start smelling if you don't take the brush head off and clean it out every so often.
In balance, I still think that the brushing performance is fantastic, and baring the horrid 'gunk' issue, I would recommend this brush to anyone.
Due to my constant raving about how good my Braun Sonic Complete** electric toothbrush was, six months ago my partner decided he, too, wanted an electric toothbrush. He did his research online and decided he wanted one of the newer Philips Sonicare models, from the Elite e9000 series (model number HX 9552). Unbeknown to me, he had been reading reviews on mainly US sites, and it wasn't until I starting trying to find a price for his chosen model, we realized that it was very new to the UK market. We eventually managed to track one down on eBay (where the seller had that all important good feedback score), so we purchased it. I've been using it on and off for the last six months, so I've had plenty of time to put it through its paces.
~~ What's so good about Sonicare brushes? ~~
Sonicare is the brand name for electric toothbrushes made by Philips. Sonicare has patented their very own "bristle tip velocity", which undertakes 31,000 brush stokes per minute. All this brush stroke vibration whips your toothpaste (and saliva) up into a frenzy, thereby creating enough liquid force to deeply clean and cleanse your teeth and gums. Clever stuff eh?
The Sonicare system also gently massages your gums which creates a nice healthy blood circulation and works on dislodging any plaque. If you have too much plaque between your teeth and gums, it starts irritating your gum tissue which may lead to inflammation (gingivitis), which is the most common form of gum disease. If you don't thoroughly remove plaque on a daily basis, gingivitis can worsen and result receding gums, loss of teeth, abscess/infection and trench mouth. Not nice.
~~ What's in the box? ~~
The Sonicare Elite is available in three ranges; there's the standard e5000 series, the e7000 series with a couple of luxury features, and then at the top of the range are the e9000 models.
We ended up buying from the Sonicare Elite e9000 series (model number HX9552), as it included all the basic features of the e5000 and e7000 series, but had the added attraction of two brush head sizes (mini and standard) and two speeds (Gentle and Max), so that you can choose the type of cleaning you want.
Each model from the Sonicare Elite 9000 series comes with a toothbrush power handle (with built in rechargeable NiCd battery) as well as two brush heads (one standard brush head and one mini brush head). You also get a white plastic charger base with cord and 2-pin plug. In addition, there is a travel case and a brush head holder, as well as an instruction book for the toothbrush. The toothbrush can be recharged in any shaver socket, or you can buy an adaptor which plugs it into any standard plug socket.
~~ Costs and Availability ~~
Unlike six months ago, this toothbrush is now fairly common. It can be purchased in most high street shops selling electrical goods. You can currently buy it in Argos for £128.98 or for £129.99 at Comet (NB: It's currently in the Comet sale for £64.99). However, you can normally pick up a better bargain online. We got ours through a Buy it Now option on eBay for £64.99 (the same seller is currently selling the same model for £59.99, so it's still a very good bargain). However, if you prefer to buy through a more trustworthy source you can try Amazon for £105.99 inclusive of postage and packing. There are cheaper bargains at Amazon Marketplace from £73.95.
Although this toothbrush comes with two free toothbrush heads, you can buy a triple pack of replacement brush heads from around £24.99.
~~ Appearance ~~
The toothbrush is a very smooth and slim looking gadget in white, green and blue. The unit looks a little bit "wonky" to my mind in that the brush head looks out of proportion to the rest of the gadget. It's certainly not as tapered or slim-line as a lot of other electric toothbrushes on the market.
It's powered by a fully rechargeable battery, which sits firmly inside the plastic casing, and should not be tampered with. Despite being a lot meatier than a manual toothbrush, it's still very lightweight to hold, and is only just a little bit longer in length than a manual brush. It's made from a very durable and waterproof plastic, which rinses easily clean under a running tap. There's a blue plastic strip all around the handle which has a slightly rougher feel to it thus making it ideal for gripping whilst cleaning your teeth.
Each brush has a large pale green on/off button in its centre. Underneath this, is a dark blue button which lets you alter the speed of the brush vibration to either Max or Gentle.
I have to say that one of the best features of this brush is the charge indicator unit at the very base of the brush. Unlike my Braun Sonic Complete, the Sonicare Elite lets you know when the power is getting low on your brush so you can recharge it before it runs out.
The brushes themselves sit on the tapered end of the toothbrush, and the toothbrush heads are fairly easily pulled off and screwed back on (once you've got used to the process). I must say that the wand or stalk the brush itself sits on is rather feeble, and it does tend to vibrate around a bit whilst you are brushing. It almost feels like it could snap if you were slightly too heavy handed with your tooth-brushing action. That aside, the brushes themselves are a good, decent size, as I cannot be doing with tiny brush heads.
The toothbrushes have multi-angled and multi-textured bristles, so they reach between the gaps of your teeth and into those harder to reach areas.
Brushing with this brush really does make your teeth feel incredibly clean - it really is amazing how much smoother your teeth feel if you run your tongue over your teeth after you've brushed. Any discoloured marks between your teeth will gradually start to fade.
~~ Operation ~~
First off you choose the brush head you want to use; changing the brush head is fairly straightforward once you've got used to it, but it is rather fiddly at first. It has to be pulled off and then the new brush head screwed into place. The standard brush head on a Max speed setting is for everyday cleaning and optimum plaque removal. If you change the speed down a notch to the Gentle setting, this brush is a good one to massage and stimulate your gums.
If you have a particularly sensitive area in your mouth, (or you've just undergone dental work), you might want to swap over to the mini brush head. This brush is better for precision cleaning in those harder to reach areas in your mouth. I cannot honestly say I've used this mini-brush head much, as the standard size one seems to work best for me, and I'm quite happy with the clean I've got from it.
There are two speeds with this brush. The first is a gentler and quieter mode called Gentle. The Gentle programme is ideal for cleaning the gums and your tongue. When you first start using an electric toothbrush, the sensation does feel very strange, so it's a good idea to start off in Gentle mode so that your teeth, tongue and gums get used to the sensation. The second speed is Max, and this is much stronger and really gets to work on making your teeth feel clean and smooth.
To start the toothbrush up, you press the large pale green on/off button towards the top of the handle. The toothbrush will automatically start to vibrate in stronger Max mode. If you press the dark blue on/off button underneath the pale green on/off button, it shifts down into Gentle mode. The Sonicare Elite will give you a rather musical bleeping noise to indicate it has changed speed. On the whole this toothbrush is nice and quiet, and very easy to operate.
The brush is best held with a light grip and pointed towards your gumline at a 45-degree angle. The bristles should be slowly rotated in a small circular motion over your teeth and gums. You should always use light pressure. If you're scrubbing then you are not letting the brush do the work for you!
This Sonicare Elite model is equipped with a Smartimer feature which automatically sets the brushing time at 2 minutes (as recommended by most dentists). The timer encourages you to brush each quarter of your mouth for no more than 30 seconds. The Smartimer will bleep at you (and pause slightly) after each 30 second tranche of brushing, thereby letting you know you need to move onto the next section of your mouth. At the end of two minutes, the toothbrush will automatically switch itself off. You can carry on if you want to though....just click the green on button once and you're back in business! You can also re-programme the timer on your Sonicare Elite with the Quadpacer programme on this model - if you follow the instructions in the manual you can alter the timer programme up to 2½ minutes each time.
If you're new to electric toothbrushes in general, then you may appreciate the fact that this model comes with an Easy-start mode, which is designed to get you used to brushing with the Sonicare Elite. For the first 14 uses (i.e. one week if you brush your teeth twice a day), the brushing power is very gentle and gradually increases brush by brush. However, I must point out that if you're a hardened veteran of electric toothbrushes, you can de-active the Easy-start mode very easily by following the instructions in the manual.
~~ Recharging and Replacement Heads ~~
To recharge your Sonicare Elite toothbrush, you place the whole unit (brush head and all), into the white plastic charger base. It slots in very easily, and you know it's working if the LED charge at the base of the brush starts flashing green. The green charging light will blink on and off for the entire charge period, and only stops blinking once the unit is once again fully charged and ready to go. Sonicare recommend that it does take at least 24 hours to fully recharge the brush properly. However, once fully charged the brush will last for a good 14 days of brushing (twice a day for two minutes at a time). This makes ideal for holidays, as you have no need to bother to pack the charger in your suitcase.
One of the better things about the Sonicare Elite is that it has a power indicator at the base of the toothbrush which shows you when the battery is getting low. There is no need to try and remember when the brush needs recharging. When your battery is running low, you hear 3 bleeps after the Smartimer has switched off the toothbrush. In case you get confused with all this bleeping, there is also a small LED charge indicator at the base of the brush which flashes yellow for 30 seconds too. So by bleeping and flashing at you, your toothbrush really will get the message across that it needs more juice! Unfortunately, my Braun Sonic Complete doesn't have this feature and it is a real miss in comparison.
Sonicare recommend replacing the brush head on your toothbrush every six months (four months if you wear braces...for some strange reason). A triple pack of replacement brush heads will set you back around £24.99.
~~ Do I recommend it? ~~
Bearing in mind, this is not my toothbrush, and I have only being "borrowing" it on and off for the last six months, I'm still pretty impressed with it. That said, I do still prefer my Braun Sonic Complete to the Sonicare Elite. Whilst I really do rate several features on the Sonicare Elite as being better than my Braun Sonic Complete, I wouldn't want to swap. As far as tooth cleaning goes, there's not a lot of difference between both models, they both do an excellent job of cleaning my teeth, reducing any plaque build up and keeping those stubborn stains from tea/coffee drinking at bay.
Where the Sonicare Elite falls down for me, is the rather clumsy way you have to swap over the brush heads - it's fiddly and time-consuming. I'm also not that fond of the rather insubstantial wand at the base of the brush. It makes me feel I cannot be too heavy handed with the brush in case I snap it. The Braun Sonic Complete is altogether more substantial, and you can really get to grips with giving your teeth and gums a thorough work-over. Added to which, the Sonicare Elite just isn't as aesthetically pleasing as the Braun Sonic Complete to my mind. The brush head looks a little bit wonky sitting on the end of the base.
However, in its favour there are a lot of features that I like immensely with the Sonicare Elite model. I think the low power indicator on the Sonicare Elite is a great feature as it gives you plenty of warning that the battery is running low. I have to "borrow" the Sonicare Elite every time my Braun Sonic Complete runs out of battery power...and that's at least once a week. Similarly, the battery on the Sonicare Elite lasts a lot longer than that in my Braun Sonic Complete, so it was the ideal choice to take on holiday with us last month. We knew that the Sonicare Elite would last us for 10 days without having to be recharged, whereas the Braun Sonic Complete would probably have died on us within 6-7 days.
In short, the Sonicare Elite might look a little bit out of proportion, but this toothbrush has all the bells and whistles to give your teeth and gums a thorough twice daily clean, and it keeps going for hours. Recommended.
~~ Main Features ~~
* Fully rechargeable
* Maximum 24 hours charging time
* Brush charge will last up to 40 hours (up to 2 weeks worth of brushing twice a day)
* Light and easy to use with non-slip grip handle
* Completely waterproof
* Patented sonic technology (brush vibrates at 31,000 movements per minute)
* 2 different sized contoured brush heads
* 2 speed settings (Gentle and Max)
* Default Smartimer (two minute memory timer)
* Programmable Quadpacer (you can reprogramme the timer to 2½ minutes per brush)
* Charge indicator light on toothbrush (good to know when you've about to run out of juice)
* Charger base
* Easy-start mode so you can get used to the sensation of an electric toothbrush
~~ More Information ~~
This brush is suitable for all ages, although parental supervision is recommended for anyone under the age of 10. It can be used on fillings, crowns and bridges without a problem, but perhaps the Gentle mode and smaller brush head is best used on any teeth/gums which have been recently worked on by your dentist.
Sonicare Direct: 0845 408 4571
** My review on the Braun Sonic Complete can be found at:-
Short name: Philips e9500