Little girl brushing teeth electric toothbrush

Power Toothbrushes 101: Overview of Features

Date: September 2020

Author: Susanna E. Scherer R.D.H, B.S.D.H

When providing patient education, how do you decide what power toothbrush would be best for that individual patient? Do you have a favorite brand or model? Do you have a price range you prefer to stay within? Do you favor one brush head over another? Technology is always advancing, and there are many new power toothbrushes available to patients. Staying familiar with those advances will allow dental professionals to make the best power toothbrush recommendation for each patient.

The Basics

When it comes to making a power toothbrush recommendation, many dental professionals begin with the motion of the toothbrush head. Options include oscillating, rotating, oscillating-rotating, sonic-vibration and ultrasonic power toothbrushes. Oscillating-rotating and sonic-vibration brushes are popular. An oscillating-rotating power brush rotates in each direction and moves in a sweeping pulsating motion. These power brushes typically have a round head that focuses on one tooth at a time. A sonic-vibration power brush uses a vibrating motion; there are varying levels of amplitude and how many vibrations per minute that each brand/model offers. This type of power toothbrush has an oblong brush head and resembles a manual toothbrush. Coaching patients on the differences between an oscillating-rotating and a sonic-vibration power toothbrush will allow your patients to narrow down the options available to them.

Bells and Whistles

Similar to the purchase of a new car or cellular phone, it’s often the bells and whistles that close the deal on a power toothbrush purchase. As dental professionals we should educate patients on the value of specific features. When our patients understand that these features can have a positive effect on their oral health, they are more likely to follow our recommendation.

Timers are one example of a special feature. Dental professionals know better than anyone that most people do not brush their teeth for long enough. Most patients know they should brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes. However, most do not realize how little time they actually spend doing so. Built-in timers encourage longer brushing and patients can be amazed to realize they have not been brushing for long enough.

Another valuable feature of power toothbrushes is the ability to change the brush mode. Many power toothbrushes have mode ranges such as sensitive, whitening or deep clean. As you educate patients about power brushing, it's important to talk through this feature and recommend which mode might be best for that individual. This will help to ensure patients have an optimal experience with their power toothbrush.

Advanced Technology

One amazing advancement in technology is apps that sync with power toothbrushes. Guided brushing is really useful in helping patients improve their brushing. For example, the new hum power toothbrush allows patients to track the frequency, duration and coverage of their brushing style. This new option is a sonic-vibration power toothbrush. Patients may be unaware that they chronically miss certain areas while brushing. The app shows patients all surfaces they should brush and highlights each section as it is completed to help patients achieve full coverage while brushing. Additionally, each time they brush with hum, or complete an activity, users earn rewards that can be redeemed in the app’s shop.

Similarly, the Colgate Magik toothbrush uses augmented reality to teach children the basics of toothbrushing. While not a power brush, the free app provides a gamified experience to help children develop good brushing habits. The advanced visual tracking in the connector detects the exact position of the brush as a child uses it, teaching them where and how to brush. Each time a child brushes with the Colgate Magik app they earn points that can be used to claim rewards in the app.


If you aren’t familiar with the new technology available among power toothbrushes, take the time to try it out for yourself. Patients will be motivated to try a new product when they know their dental professional has tried it too. Educating patients about the different power toothbrush options available will help them make an informed decision about which brush would be best for their oral health needs.

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