Ultrasonic toothbrushes and sonic toothbrushes are often used synonymously, but they work very differently. While sonic toothbrushes develop their effect through mechanical friction, the application of the ultrasonic toothbrush requires a special toothpaste, the particles of which are set in motion by the vibrations. But what makes an ultrasonic toothbrush better than a pure rotary toothbrush and for whom is this type of tooth cleaning suitable?
What does the ultrasound do?
Ultrasonic waves are created by vibrating a crystal. Ultrasound is used in a vibration range from 20 kHz to 40 kHz. This corresponds to around 1.6 million vibrations per minute. The vibrations are so fast that they move particles. The ultrasonic toothbrush requires a special toothpaste that is set in motion by the sound waves. The vibrations cause microbubbles to be formed in the toothpaste, which burst on the surface of the tooth and thus achieve a cleaning effect. Deposits such as plaque and deposits and the bacteria they contain are thus loosened from the hard tooth substances. Even hard deposits and light tartar deposits can be blasted off with the ultrasonic toothbrush. Thus, the contaminants remain in the toothpaste and are rinsed out.
The special toothpaste that is used does not contain any abrasive particles that are found in commercially available toothpastes and have an abrasive effect. If a normal toothpaste were used in combination with an ultrasonic toothbrush, this would have a long-term damaging effect, as the hard tooth substances are gradually rubbed off. There are only a few models commercially available that use ultrasound, while there are innumerable rotary and sonic toothbrushes. Due to the way the ultrasonic toothbrush works, without any mechanical cleaning ability, the toothbrush only has to be held from tooth to tooth without performing circular or even scrubbing movements. As a result, the hard tooth substances and soft tissues such as the gums are cleaned, but still protected and complaints such as bleeding gums or inflammation can be sustainably alleviated.
Read more on the topic: Tartar, toothpaste or via the Electric toothbrush
For whom is an ultrasonic toothbrush useful?
The ultrasonic toothbrush is useful for patients with very sensitive and thin gums, who benefit from the fact that there is no longer any mechanical friction from brushing their teeth and the gums are no longer irritated. This is the case with the majority of patients who have received orthodontic treatment and whose teeth have been displaced in the process. Shifting the teeth often results in areas with very thin gums, especially in the front of the lower jaw. These are irritated by mechanical friction, so that recessions and bleeding can occur. The ultrasonic toothbrush is gentle on the gums and still cleans them thoroughly so that symptoms can be alleviated.
An ultrasonic toothbrush can also simplify the use of people with fixed braces and reach hard-to-reach places. The movement of the toothpaste also cleans the areas under the wire or on the brackets that are almost impossible to clean with a rotary toothbrush. Furthermore, the ultrasonic toothbrush is ideally suited for denture wearers in order to thoroughly clean all areas of the crowns, bridges or telescopes. For patients who are prone to bleeding gums and who already have recessions and sensitive tooth necks, the ultrasonic toothbrush is the gentlest option for cleaning efficiently and at the same time protecting the gums. This allows the gums to regenerate sustainably and bleeding gums disappear. Furthermore, the ultrasonic toothbrush is suitable for users with limited compliance who, due to illnesses or impaired skills, could only insufficiently brush their teeth manually. Ultrasonic technology cleans areas in the oral cavity that cannot be reached when brushing with a manual or electric toothbrush.
Find out more about: dental care and professional tooth cleaning
Can an ultrasonic toothbrush also be harmful?
With products that work with ultrasound, the question for pacemakers is always whether there is any interaction between the sound waves and the pulses sent by the pacemaker. For this reason, technical devices with ultrasound are not used in the dental practice, as manufacturers of the devices advise against using it. Nevertheless, there is the all-clear about ultrasonic toothbrushes. According to scientific studies, an ultrasound toothbrush with a pacemaker is not affected, which is why patients with a defibrillator or pacemaker can safely use an ultrasonic toothbrush. In general, there are no contraindications to using the toothbrush, as the ultrasonic vibrations cannot cause any damage or negative effects.
Ultrasonic toothbrush in children
Electric toothbrushes can be used by children from the age of 3, sonic toothbrushes from around the age of 4-5. There are no ultrasonic toothbrushes specifically for children, but children would have to use the models that are also for adults. In general, an ultrasonic toothbrush can be used by children if they have sufficient skills and abilities to brush their teeth independently. This is achieved from the age of 8 years. The ultrasonic toothbrush should not be used beforehand, as the handpiece and the brush heads are too large for the child's stature and oral cavity and are therefore not suitable for use. If the brush head is too large, not all areas of the oral cavity can be reached and cleaning would be inadequate because the child can no longer handle the toothbrush.
Find out more about:
- Dental care in the baby
- Brushing the baby's teeth
- Dental care for children
- Toothbrush for babies
- Electric toothbrush for children
Ultrasonic toothbrush in pregnancy
Ultrasonic toothbrushes can be used without hesitation during pregnancy and do not cause any harm to mother or child. Since pregnant women are more prone to bleeding gums and inflammation, many dentists expressly recommend an ultrasonic toothbrush, which cleans thoroughly and particularly gently. The hormonal swelling and softening of the tissues can cause severe bleeding due to slight mechanical friction. The way the ultrasonic toothbrush works, the soft tissues are spared and also freed from bacteria, so that the risk of inflammation decreases in the long term.
Learn more about:
- Toothache During Pregnancy
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Fillings and implants
An ultrasonic toothbrush can also be used without hesitation for patients with fillings. The bursting microbubbles remove any deposits in the small crevices, which is why all areas of the teeth are optimally cleaned. There is also no risk of fillings falling out due to the use of ultrasound.
Ultrasonic toothbrushes are suitable for the daily cleaning of implants and implant-supported dentures. The cleaning is more thorough than with a manual toothbrush and by simply holding the toothbrush against the surface of the implants, it is gentler on the soft tissues, instead of mechanical friction as is the case with rotary brushes. The gums are cleaned without pressure and symptom-free and freed from bacteria without causing any irritation. The special toothpaste that is suitable for ultrasonic toothbrushes should also be used when cleaning implants. However, dental floss or interdental brushes must be used for interdental spaces or to clean bridge pontics; these cannot be replaced by ultrasound technology.
Ultrasonic toothbrushes are priced significantly higher than sonic or rotary toothbrushes. With a purchase price between one hundred and fifty and one hundred and seventy euros. The attachment heads, which have to be changed every two to three months, are available for between five and ten euros. It should also be taken into account that the special toothpaste is also slightly more expensive and costs between four and six euros.