At the core of any good oral hygiene routine is the toothbrush. Once a humble tool – the earliest form was nothing more than a stick whose chewed, frayed ends were rubbed against the teeth – toothbrushes have, like most things, been reshaped by technology.
Today’s electric toothbrushes would be unrecognizable even a few decades ago. Bristling – no pun intended – with powerful motors and advanced electronics, they clean teeth faster and more thoroughly than ever before.
If you’ve spent any time looking for a quality electric toothbrush, you’re likely familiar with the names Philips and Oral-B. Both companies are world-leaders in designing and manufacturing oral hygiene products, and today, we’ll be exploring how they differ, which is the better choice, – and choosing a winner!
Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrushes: Cleaning Technology Overview
Sonicare electric toothbrushes utilize – as the name suggests – patented ultrasonic technology. Unlike an ordinary electric toothbrush, which moves at a relatively slow 2,500 to 7,500 cycles per minute, Sonicare’s magnetically-driven cleaning heads vibrate at plaque-obliterating speeds of up to 31,000 high-amplitude strokes per minute.
Those ultrasonic vibrations create “fluid dynamics” – a process in which the water and saliva that surround teeth become so agitated that plaque is broken up – even plaque which resides beyond the reach of the brush’s bristles.
However, there’s more to Sonicare’s incredible cleaning power than blistering speed. If ultrasonic agitation were all it took to keep teeth healthy and clean, bristles would quickly become obsolete. Plaque’s tenacity allows it to cling to teeth, where over time, its bacterial balance shifts toward harmful and decay-causing – and only with mechanical brushing can plaque be completely removed.
Sonicare’s brush heads – available in a variety of firmness levels, shapes and sizes – feature carefully-arranged bristles, designed to reach far between teeth and into the gumline, where plaque resides, and often causes the most damage. Furthermore, each brush head is engineered to transfer the full power of Sonicare’s 31,000 strokes per minute, maximizing cleaning potential, removing up to seven times more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
Oral-B Electric Toothbrushes: Cleaning Technology Overview
Though not all of Oral-B’s electric toothbrushes utilize ultrasonic technology, some of them are capable of moving very quickly – up to 40,000 movements per minute, outpacing even Philips Sonicare. Speed aside, a fundamental difference between Philips and Oral-B toothbrushes is the way in which – not just how fast – the latter moves. Oral-B utilizes 3D Action technology, which allows brush heads to do more than vibrate – they rotate, oscillate, and pulsate. This triple-action attack on plaque breaks it up and sweeps it away from the gumline.
Another key difference is found in the shape of the brush heads. Whereas Philips Sonicare brush heads are longer, more angular and traditional in appearance, Oral-B utilizes large, round brush heads which are, according to the manufacturer, “dentist-inspired”. The round shape does remind one of the professional tools found in a dental office, and the claimed advantage of this design is its ability to adapt to and cup each tooth, allowing plaque to be removed from even the hardest to reach areas.
Whereas Philips Sonicare may have the advantage of non-contact, fluid dynamics-based plaque-loosening power, Oral-B – despite the impressive speeds at which some of its electric toothbrushes move – is designed more around the physical interaction between bristles, teeth, the gumline and plaque, offering incredible cleaning power, through a different mechanism of action.
Sonicare and Oral-B Comparison
Today’s electric toothbrushes are feature-packed. Let’s take a look at how Sonicare and Oral-B compare in a few categories:
- In the case of either brand, battery life is more than sufficient – however, in this metric, Sonicare takes the lead, with some brushes providing up to three weeks of battery life, requiring less frequent charging than an Oral-B brush. However, it’s easy and convenient to set an electric toothbrush on its charging stand after each use, rendering differences in battery capacity fairly insignificant.
- Both Sonicare and Oral-B electric toothbrushes allow the user to select from a number of brushing modes – for example, deep cleaning, tongue cleaning, massage, etc. In this case, the six modes found on Oral-B’s premium Black 7000 model slightly edge out the five modes on the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean.
- Pressure sensing technology is found on both Sonicare and Oral-B electric toothbrushes, which alert the user if they’re brushing with too much pressure (a common habit, which can damage the gums and wear out brush heads prematurely).
Which Brand Is Better?
Both Philips Sonicare and Oral-B electric toothbrushes have exceptional cleaning power. Both brands are loaded with advanced features – the few listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. At this point, you might wonder if you can go wrong choosing one over the other – and in truth, any Sonicare or Oral-B product will out-power, out-clean and out-shine your old manual toothbrush. However, a winner must be chosen – and the winner is Oral-B.
That statement isn’t mere conjecture – two in-depth, multi-week, multi-participant studies found that Oral-B’s rotating and oscillating brush head action was more effective than Sonicare’s ultrasonic fluid dynamics-based system. The science has spoken: either brand of electric toothbrush is excellent, but for the ultimate clean, choose Oral-B.