By Iman Sadri DDS
As a cosmetic dentist people always ask me what is the best toothbrush to use. I always answer, " It depends." It depends on the plaque level on a patient's teeth, and the severity of periodontal disease on a case per case basis. It depends if a patient is undergoing orthodontic treatment and it also depends on their oral hygiene and lifestyle habits.
There are two toothbrushes I mostly recommend: The Philips Sonicare or the Rotadent by Zila. I'd like to compare them to the Mac and the PC. The Rotadent has a lifetime warranty but has a harder learning curve, much like Mac products. The Sonicare is easier to use, but breaks down more quickly, similar to PCs. We sell the Rotadent, while the Sonicare is mostly sold in retail stores. Both are available readily online. They both remove more than sufficient amounts of plaque and both have their own strengths and weaknesses.
The Rotadent has a head that spins 360 degrees. A strong advantage of the Rotadent is the fact that it has a lifetime warranty. It has three spinning, replacement head types; 1) flat and hollow, 2) short and pointy, and 3) long and pointy. It also has different options for different cleaning surfaces. The long and pointy replacement head is used to clean under bridgework, and areas involving furcation (root exposure) involvement. The Rotadent appears to remove more plaque than any other toothbrush based on some studies. Its bristles are finer than most of the other leading brands, and it has a relatively light weight. So, really the Rotadent is quite innovative, because of its efficiency in relation to its simple motions. It doesn't vibrate at great strengths or make tremendous noise when it is in action. But its plaque removal is second to none.
The Sonicare uses a back and forth motion with sonic technology, similar to what is used with the Cavitron machine at a dental office. It vibrates stronger than any other toothbrush and it has a head type similar to that of a manual toothbrush.
It is easy to use and is less technique sensitive. But it does not have a lifetime warranty and its battery gets drained rather quickly. After recharging with multiple uses it loses its battery life overtime. There are many models to choose from. From the basic, first generation to the newest sold at Costco. I compare the Sonicare to the PC. Its simple, but can break down, and needs to be replaced probably every two years. Its still an incredible upgrade from a manual toothbrush, and more effective that any of the other spin brushes.
The Rotadent, much like Mac products, is going to cost more but patient's can get more value if they are patient and willingly to adapt. A patient has to be willing to be open minded with changing to how they brush their teeth. The head type is different, unlike a manual toothbrush it is not rectangular. And it has the finest bristles on any toothbrush. For some, they may even feel too soft. Some patients think thicker bristles clean more effectively. That proves to be false especially when some strong handed brushing techniques lead to enamel abrasion.
For anyone who has never used an electric toothbrush and wants to be conservative and upgrade to their first electric toothbrush, the Sonicare is the best choice. It is for the traditionalist who likes simplicity, yet efficiency. For the patient who already has an electric spin toothbrush, but wants to see then next best thing, the Sonicare may be the way to go.
Rotadent vs Sonicare, like the Mac vs PC. Ingenuity and durability vs perceived efficiency and familiarity. So it depends on how adventurous a patient wants to be with their oral hygiene habit. It depends on if they feel a brush that is quiet and has finer bristles makes their teeth cleaner. Or if they prefer the toothbrush that vibrates with greater velocity and force, with a rectangular head. So what kind of toothbrush do I recommend? It depends.