Sonicare features - Brushing modes and routines.

The Sonicare line of toothbrushes features a number of options that have been designed to assist you in your brushing efforts. They include:

Sonicare has also created several functions that can help to make using your brush easier, or more convenient or efficient (the Easy-Start, Smartimer, Quad-Pacer functions).


Sonicare brushing modes.

A)The Full-power setting.

If you're considering purchasing a Sonicare toothbrush, it's probably because you've heard good reports about their effectiveness.

If so, you'll want to make sure that the one you purchase has a setting where it creates Sonicare's hallmark (full-power) 31,0000-brush-strokes-per-minute brushing action.

The good new is that doing so is easy because all models offer this setting.

For most people, the full-power setting makes the best choice.

Despite the availability of more elaborate brushing actions on some models, for the vast majority of Sonicare owners we think that their brush's standard full-power mode offers the best brushing choice.

Most Sonicare research involves the use of this setting.

To support this opinion, we'll state that this full-power (31,0000-brush-strokes-per-minute) mode is the setting that has been used for the bulk of the scientific research that has documented the effectiveness Sonicare toothbrushes.

Additionally, we'll point out that the owner's manuals for the FlexCare and HealthyWhite lines (models that feature other, more elaborate, brushing routines) both specifically state that when clinical studies are performed these brushes should be set to their full-power setting.


B) Sensitive mode.

Some Sonicare models offer a reduced-power "Sensitive" brushing mode.

What's the purpose of this feature?

For some people, the standard full-power brushing action of a sonic brush can be too vigorous or intense. Users may state that their brush "tickles" too much, is uncomfortable on their teeth or gums, or is simply too overwhelming (this is sometimes a problem for medically debilitated or elderly persons).

How does this setting work?

When its reduced-power setting is selected, a Sonicare's brush head vibrates with less intensity.

There's a tradeoff to using the Sensitive mode.

When running in Sensitive mode, the cleaning action that's created by the brush is less efficient. This is why we always feel that it is preferable for a user to use their brush at its full-power setting, if possible.


C) The Easy-start feature.

As just explained, some people will find the full-power setting of their sonic toothbrush too uncomfortable or too foreign to be tolerated. A solution for this problem can be the use of Sonicare's Easy-start feature.

When the Easy-start option is selected, a routine is begun where the brush will automatically, step by step, raise the power (intensity) of its brushing action over the user's next twelve to fourteen brushing events (depending on the model).

Examples of when this feature may be needed.

This slow ramp-up to full power can serve two purposes. Some people simply need an introductory period during which they can get used to their new brush. If so, the Easy-start feature can help with this transition.

In other cases, the person's difficulty with using their new Sonicare may be due to the current ill health of their gum tissue. If so, the Easy-start function can provide a period over which the user's sensitive, inflamed gums get a chance to heal (due to improved brushing with their Sonicare) in tandem with the gradual speed up of their brush to full power.

Only one person should use a toothbrush once its Easy-start feature has been initiated.

The use of the Easy-start option dictates that the brush needs to be a "one-user" brush for the next twelve to fourteen brushing events, as its gradual step up in power takes place.


D) Advanced brushing modes and routines.

Higher-end Sonicare models typically feature more sophisticated brushing actions. In general, we still consider the use of the standard full-power setting the best choice for the majority of people, for the reasons mentioned above.

Two of the models we review have advanced brushing actions. We discuss them on the following pages.


E)The Smartimer feature.

Sonicare's Smartimer function is simply a brushing timer. This feature takes the general recommendation from dental professionals that a person should brush for at least two minutes, to a literal extreme.

The Smartimer starts when the toothbrush is turned on. It then automatically shuts the brush off after two minutes of use. (With some models this brushing cycle can be extended to 2 1/2 or 3 minutes.)

It's OK to brush longer.

It seems to us that the Smartimer feature tacitly implies to a user that brushing for just two minutes is enough. As any dentist will tell you, that may or may not be the case.

Of course, some people (maybe most) need all the help they can get just to brush for two minutes. If so, it's great that this feature exists.


F) The QuadPacer feature.

The Sonicare QuadPacer function is a pause-and-beep indicator that signals when one-fourth of the Smartimer brushing cycle has elapsed. (With some models there are variations to this basic theme.)

The idea associated with this feature is this. If a person uses a brushing approach where they think of their mouth in terms of quadrants (upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right), the QuadPacer indicator can be used to signal when they should move on to cleaning the next 1/4th of their mouth.

For us, this featured has limited appeal (tooth brushing isn't a timed race but should be based on doing a thorough job). However, for the uninterested or uncooperative brusher, we can see how the QuadPacer feature could provide a benefit.


G) The KidTimer and KidPacer functions.

The Sonicare 'For Kids' toothbrush offers some variations on the standard Smartimer and Quadpacer functions.

The KidTimer, similar to the Smartimer, is a two minute brushing timer. However, at the end of its cycle, it plays a "congratulatory" sound before it turns the brush off.

Additionally, when this brush is set to its lower brushing speed, the KidTimer slowly increases in duration from 1 to 2 minutes, over the course of 90 days. The idea is that this slow change helps young children learn how to brush for a full two minutes.

The KidPacer feature signals (with musical notes) for the user to move on to brushing the next quadrant of their mouth as each 1/4th of the brush's brushing cycle elapses.

Sonicare Toothbrushes
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