Review - The Sonicare FlexCare electric toothbrush (and UV brush head sanitizer).
The FlexCare series of sonic toothbrushes is one of Philips Sonicare's top lines. If you've read any of our other Sonicare reviews, however, you'll already know that we typically aren't so enamored with their higher-end models.
Although we do think that Sonicare toothbrushes are great products, our feelings are that the top models can be so loaded with extra features (like a uv brush-head sanitizer or multiple brushing modes and routines) that we just don't believe we would significantly benefit from, that they end up being too expensive and, in general, not the best value.
If you are the type of person who must have a top-of-the-line brush with all-the-bells-and-whistles, then a FlexCare toothbrush will likely make a great choice for you. But for anyone who is looking for a best-value purchase, you owe it to your self to look at our reviews describing the other Sonicare models.
» Model names and numbers.
The Sonicare FlexCare series (as opposed to the FlexCare+ line) is composed of the model RS930 (HX6932) and the R910 (HX6911, and possibly HX6942).
Both products feature the same electric toothbrush. However, the RS930 features an integrated UV sanitizer and comes packaged with both a Standard and Compact-size brush heads whereas the R910 has no sanitizer and comes packaged with a single Standard-size head. (Model numbers and features change, so make sure you check before you buy.)
» What features does the FlexCare line offer?
The FlexCare brushes offer three brushing modes (Clean, Sensitive and Massage) and two pre-configured brushing routines (Max Care, Go Care). They also feature Sonicare's Easy-start, Smartimer and QuadPacer functions.
They utilize Sonicare's newer snap-on brush heads and feature a rechargeable lithium ion battery and multi-voltage charger. Due to their improved design, they create less operational noise and vibration than other Sonicare models.
The recharging base of the FlexCare RS930 includes an integrated UV (ultra-violet light) brush head sanitizer.
Philips and Sonicare are registered trademarks of Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
Easy-start and QuadPacer are registered trademarks of Philips Oral HealthCare, Inc.
1) Brushing modes and routines.
» The Clean mode.
The FlexCare line features a number of different brushing modes and routines. In our opinion, however, the most important of all of these is the Clean mode.
This is the setting where a FlexCare will generate Sonicare's hallmark 31,000-brush-strokes-per-minute brushing action. And this is the single setting we personally feel that most brush owners are best served by. (We'll also point out that all other Sonicare models, including the less expensive ones, offer this same brushing action too.)
» The Sensitive mode.
The FlexCare brushes have Sonicare's Sensitive setting. This reduced-power (and less efficient) brushing option may be important feature for some people.
» The Massage mode.
The Massage mode is a non-brushing mode whose purpose is to create soft tissue (gum tissue) stimulation. When the FlexCare is switched to this setting, its brush head creates a pulsating action.
» The Max Care brushing routine.
The FlexCare line of brushes also features some elaborate brushing actions that Sonicare terms "brushing routines." One of these routines is the Max Care.
When it is selected, the toothbrush will operate in (full-power) Clean mode for thirty seconds followed by fifteen seconds of Massage mode. This cycle is repeated four times, for a total operating time of 3 minutes.
Since we've already suggested that we don't see the great benefit associated with the use of the Massage mode, it shouldn't come as any surprise to you to learn that we don't think we'd be all that inclined to use the Max Care routine either.
If choosing between a routine consisting of three minutes of tooth brushing combined with gum tissue stimulation (the Max Care routine) or simply brushing for three minutes with the toothbrush running in Clean mode (it's full-power setting) for the entire time, we would think that the latter would be more beneficial for most people.
» The Go Care brushing routine.
The FlexCare toothbrushes also offer the Go Care routine. Evidently, this brushing routine is intended for people who are on the "go" and in a hurry. In this setting, the toothbrush operates in Clean mode for one minute, and then turns off.
Sonicare suggests that people using the Go Care routine will produce more effective cleaning than what they would accomplish in the same one-minute time frame when brushing with a manual toothbrush. We don't doubt this statement for a moment.
We would, however, suggest that the availability of the Go Care setting might be interpreted by some as suggesting that a one-minute brushing session, on its own, is acceptable. (Mom: "Junior, did you brush your teeth?", Junior:"I brushed until the toothbrush turned off.") We're fairly certain that very few people can effectively brush and clean their teeth in just sixty seconds. And we don't think anyone should be encouraged to try to do so.
Every dentist is very familiar with that patient who continues to have dental problems (tooth decay, periodontal disease) even though they brush many times per day. Yes, they may brush but no single one of their individual brushing events is long enough to produce anything near adequate cleansing. And that's the problem.
Every person needs to understand that oral health can only be achieved and maintained by way of practicing effective home care techniques. And, to us, adding the availability of a one-minute brushing session doesn't help toward getting this point across.
» Other FlexCare features.
The FlexCare line does feature Sonicare's brushing timers (the Smartimer and QuadPacer functions). It also has the Easy-start feature (designed for those who are having difficulty getting used to the vigorousness of their new sonic brush).
2) Brush heads. / The UV brush-head sanitizer.
» The FlexCare RS930 UV brush head sanitizer.
The FlexCare RS930 [HX6932] has a UV brush-head sanitizer incorporated into the design of its recharging base. (The R910 [HX6911] is the same electric toothbrush, just without the sanitizing unit.)
We have a lot to say about toothbrush sanitizers and why we feel they are not necessary. Bottom line, and especially in terms of toothbrush value, we clearly think that the R910 (the model without the sanitizer) makes the smarter buy.
» FlexCare toothbrushes utilize ProResults and HydroClean brush heads.
Both FlexCare models can be used with either ProResults or HydroClean snap-on brush heads. They are stated to have greater cleaning efficiency than previous designs. Our brush-heads page provides details (advantages, disadvantages, comparisons) about different Sonicare brush-head types.
3) Recharging / batteries.
FlexCare models feature the advantage of Sonicare's rechargeable lithium-ion battery. (Only the toothbrush runs off this battery, not the toothbrush sanitizer.) They also come with a multi-voltage charging unit. (For the travelers, this charger can be separated out from the base unit and used as a compact travel charger.) We discuss the comparative advantages of these components on our Sonicare power-features page.
4) Other features.
Design improvements built into the FlexCare line includes a vibration-canceling feature. And it may make using a sonic toothbrush more acceptable to a wider range of people.
Some owners have reported that snap-on style brush heads have come off during use (see our brush-heads page for more info).
We did take notice of the fact that even though the FlexCare represents a design change from previous generations of Sonicare brushes, it still is not possible to replace its battery. The need to discard an otherwise functional (expensive) electric toothbrush just because its battery has failed seems to be a glaring oversight.
Our conclusions about the FlexCare series.
The FlexCare line of toothbrushes features two of Sonicare's top-of-the-line brushes. And if having a toothbrush that has close to every function, mode and feature possible on it is important to you, then a FlexCare should make a good selection.
Having said that, the FlexCare products aren't our favorite Sonicare models. We don't see a need for the UV sanitation of brush heads. And we wouldn't buy the FlexCare just because it offers its Massage mode and Go Care and Max Care brushing routines. We personally would opt to run this toothbrush only in its Clean (full-power, 31,000-brush-strokes-per-minute) mode. A setting that other, less expensive, Sonicare models also share.
We will concede that the new mechanical and battery design of the FlexCare offers some advantages (for example, a smaller, lighter brush that is less unwieldy could be very beneficial for an elderly person). And the snap-on brush heads do offer a convenience factor. But all and all, we feel that other Sonicare models offer a better sonic toothbrush value.