The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Here’s one to get your teeth into . . . the cost of brush­ing

- By Toby Walne

AN ELEC­TRIC tooth­brush is an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar way to clean those pearly whites, but buy­ers must be wary of hid­den rip-off costs. The na­tion spends £5.8bil­lion a year on den­tal treat­ment. Much of this could be avoided by tak­ing greater care of our teeth.

A £2 man­ual tooth­brush can do a great job if used prop­erly, but the Bri­tish Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion be­lieves many would ben­e­fit from health­ier teeth by in­vest­ing in an elec­tric brush, which can cost any­thing from £10 to more than £100.

Damien Walm­s­ley is a pro­fes­sor of restora­tive den­tistry at the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham Den­tal School and sci­en­tific ad­viser to the Bri­tish Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion.

He says: ‘In­de­pen­dent re­search has found there is a 21 per cent re­duc­tion in plaque for those as­sessed three months af­ter switch­ing to a pow­ered brush rather than if they had sim­ply stuck with a man­ual brush.’

Plaque is the sticky film on teeth that con­tains bac­te­ria and can cause gin­givi­tis – an in­flam­ma­tion that can lead to gum dis­ease and tooth de­cay.

Many elec­tric brushes come with fancy bells-and-whis­tles such as timers, pres­sure sen­sors and even smart­phone apps that help to keep tabs on clean­ing habits. Yet th­ese costly ex­tras are not nec­es­sary. It is the brush ac­tion that re­ally counts.

Jon Love, founder of con­sumer web­site Elec­tric Teeth, has tested more than 300 dif­fer­ent mod­els in the past two years.

He says that once all the mar­ket­ing hype is swept away, there are three main types of clean­ing ac­tion to con­sider. Th­ese are of­fered by lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers Oral-B (Proc­ter & Gam­ble), Philips, Col­gate-Pal­mo­live and Me­ga­sonex.

First, there is a so-called ‘sonic’ va­ri­ety that uses a side-to-side mo­tion and emits sound waves of be­tween 20 and 20,000 hertz – in the hu­man range of hear­ing – to at­tack plaque. Philips in­tro­duced this tech­nol­ogy in 1992 and still uses it, as do ri­vals in­clud­ing Col­gate-Pal­mo­live. Then there is the os­cil­lat­in­gre­tails ro­tat­ing va­ri­ety, of­ten known as the ‘2D clean’. This moves side-to-side but si­mul­ta­ne­ously turns in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion. Some mod­els also add ‘pul­sa­tion’ vi­bra­tions that make it be­come more of a ‘3D clean’. It is a pop­u­lar op­tion used with Oral-B tech­nol­ogy.

FI­NALLY, there is the ul­tra­sonic va­ri­ety that has a vi­bra­tion in­tense enough to emit waves of more than 20,000 hertz. Among those us­ing this tech­nol­ogy is Me­ga­sonex. Walm­s­ley says: ‘Do not get too hung-up on which ac­tion you choose. The nov­elty ef­fect of any new tech­nol­ogy is of­ten the most im­por­tant fac­tor as it en­cour­ages you to do a more thor­ough job on your teeth. But a small brush head is of­ten best and use a timer fa­cil­ity so you clean for at least two min­utes.’

Tooth­brush tester Love says you can spend less than £30 on a brush that does just as good a job – or even bet­ter – than a £100-plus model. He says: ‘Among my favourite bud­get mod­els is the Oral-B Pro 600. Al­though it re­tails at £50, there are of­ten in­tro­duc­tory of­fers start­ing from £25.’ Love says the Oral-B Pro 6500 has handy ex­tras such as Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity to give you real-time guid­ance to keep tabs on your clean­ing. It re­tails at £190 but can be bought for £95.

For us­abil­ity, he also rec­om­mends the Philips Soni­care EasyClean HX6511/50 that for £90 but can be picked up for £45. The lat­est Philips Soni­care Di­a­mondClean at £120 is a good op­tion for those who travel as it in­cludes a strong car­ry­ing case.

Given man­u­fac­tur­ers are keen to lure in new cus­tomers, there are of­ten spe­cial pro­mo­tions of­fered through on­line re­tail­ers such as Ama­zon and high street shops in­clud­ing Boots and Ar­gos.

Love says: ‘The re­place­ment heads are where com­pa­nies re­ally make their money. While the man­u­fac­turer’s own brand is go­ing to be of good qual­ity, you can save a small for­tune by choos­ing a third-party provider.’

Oral-B elec­tric tooth­brush re­place­ment heads can cost £16.99 for a packet of four. Yet man­u­fac­turer Mo­lar­clean sells a com­pat­i­ble pack of four for £6.95. A bulk buy pack of 12 Mo­lar­cleans can cost just £13.90.

Other third-party branded brush heads that fit a va­ri­ety of man­u­fac­tur­ers’ mod­els in­clude Boots Univer­sal Per­fect An­gle (£11.99 for four) and Su­per­drug To­tal Clean (£14.99 for four, with a cur­rent pro­mo­tion re­duc­ing the price to £7.42).

As a rule of thumb, the head for an elec­tric tooth­brush should be changed every three months, so us­ing cheaper brands can eas­ily save £12 a year.

Love says: ‘Third-party providers can work out great value, but avoid in­ter­net sold coun­ter­feits branded with a maker’s name. Th­ese are usu­ally eas­ily to spot as the price cut is dra­matic.’

Web­sites such as Elec­tric Teeth of­fer guid­ance on other is­sues you should con­sider on top of the brush ac­tion. Th­ese in­clude buy­ing a model with recharge­able bat­ter­ies that lasts at least a week be­fore need­ing to be pow­ered up again via a two-pin adapter in your bath­room. Cheap £10 mod­els with a bat­tery that can­not be recharged can turn out to be a false econ­omy.

There is noth­ing wrong with stick­ing to a man­ual brush, but visit a den­tist at least once a year and ask for their ad­vice on the proper way to clean. Brush heads come with soft, medium or hard bris­tles. If un­sure about which one to use, try a soft brush as too much rub­bing can harm your gums.

Top-rated man­ual brushes in­clude the £2.49 Lis­ter­ine Reach, the £4.99 Col­gate 360, the £4.00 Oral-B Pro-Ex­pert and £3.25 Sen­so­dyne Pre­ci­sion.

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 ??  ?? WHITE STUFF: Jon Love says £30 will buy a de­cent elec­tric tooth­brush
WHITE STUFF: Jon Love says £30 will buy a de­cent elec­tric tooth­brush

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