An electric toothbrush manufactured by a subsidiary of
Royal Philips Electronics.
This is not your father's toothbrush!
When I was growing up in the 1960s, an electric toothbrush was a
device that rotated a toothbrush (often your own regular toothbrush
inserted into it) so that you didn't have to, causing the
bristles to brush the teeth in an up-and-down manner.
Off the top of my head, I would guess that the speed was approximately
five to ten strokes per second. But that has all changed now.
The Sonicare toothbrush strokes thirty-one thousand times per minute
(that's over five hundred per second), so fast that you can't even
see the brush moving; anecdotal evidence that it is comes from the
constant humming sound that the mechanism emits.
While that sounds pretty violent, the bristles
are so soft (only Sonicare brush heads can be used) that you really
don't feel the brushing at all. UNTIL you accidentally start brushing
the roof of your mouth instead of your teeth. That tickles! You'll
also get a sense of the forces involved inside the machine if you happen
to touch the arm of the unit to your teeth or jaw -- the phrase
bone chilling will probably come to mind, but there's no harm done.
This very high speed operation causes what the company calls
dynamic fluid action, which causes the cleaning
effectiveness to extend between the teeth where the bristles do not
actually reach. According to their clinical studies, this is so
good at removing plaque that gingivitis is reversed. In fact,
they guarantee that a dental checkup after three months of use
will show noticeably healthier teeth and gums than before.
Of course, these days, no self-respecting appliance would be caught
dead without an embedded microprocessor. The busy little brain in
the Sonicare turns the brush off after two minutes of operation (during
which time some models alert you every thirty seconds to move to the
next quadrant of your mouth), and even increases the brushing action
over the first twelve uses, starting (relatively) slowly and working
up to its full operating strength. The two minute duration is a
dentist-recommended practice; according to a survey mentioned on the
company's website (http://sonicare.com), most people brush for less
than this time. (If asked, I would not have been able to say how long
I brush my teeth, but thanks to the two-minute timer, I now know that
I go for longer than that using my previous electric (an Oral-B),
though much less if using a manual toothbrush.)
Interestingly, another part of that survey indicates that proportionally
four times more dentists use an electric toothbrush (not necessarily a
Sonicare) than the general populace.
Development on the idea started in 1987 in a partnership between
an electrical engineer and two dentists. After several false starts,
they came up with the working design and introduced the Sonicare
toothbrush at a dental tradeshow in 1992, and began selling
it through dental professionals. In 1995, the device had earned
a sterling reputation and was widely recommended by dentists to
their patients. The company, known as GEMTech until then, changed
its name to Optiva Corporation, and in 2000 was acquired by
Philips Domestic Appliances and Personal Care.
 "This is not your father's X" is a saying patterned
after an Oldsmobile commercial in the 1990s, and indicates that
X has been considerably improved or totally re-invented, and
should not be judged on experiences with the previous generation.
 Part of the appeal may have been the myth that brushing
teeth up and down is far superior to other motions. In fact, the
Sonicare brushes side-to-side.