Sonicare features - Brush heads.

HydroClean, ProResults, E-series and A-series heads.

Each Sonicare toothbrush model utilizes a specific type of brush head. The relatively newer lines (the FlexCare and HealthyWhite toothbrush models) can be used with either ProResults or HydroClean brush heads.

Previous generations of Sonicare models used either e-series (Elite-style) or a-series (Advance-style) heads. The Sonicare For Kids brush utilizes its own specific style of brush head.

Philips and Sonicare are registered trademarks of Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.

A) Does the type of brush head really matter?

There really are a number of differences between the different types of brush heads used on the different Sonicare models. And it's possible that the advantages (convenience, efficiency) offered by some of the newer-design heads may be significant enough to influence a person's choice towards a model that utilizes them.

Here's a listing of some of the brush-head factors you should consider.

B) Snap-on brush heads are convenient.

The newer-styled Sonicare heads (ProResults, HydroClean) snap into place on top of the toothbrush body. In comparison, the older style brush heads (e-series, a-series) have a larger, screw-on fitting.

If more than one person will use the same Sonicare toothbrush, the snap-on style brush heads do provide a convenience factor due to the fact that changing brush heads is quicker and easier.

Snap-on toothbrush models are easier to keep clean.

Related to the nature of their design, snap-on heads (ProResults and HydroClean) are easier to keep clean than the older-style screw-on heads. Screw-on heads have a number of nooks and crannies, both on the toothbrush body and on the brush head stem, where gunk will tend to accumulate.

In those instances where a toothbrush will be shared by multiple users, or a Sonicare owner is a bit of a neat freak, this easier-to-keep-clean feature may be appealing. However, in those cases where only one person will use the toothbrush and brush heads are only changed infrequently, the inconvenience of the screw-on design may not be very much of a consideration.

There have been some complaints.

There have been some reports, at least historically, where some Sonicare owners have found that they are unable to firmly affix their snap-on heads onto their toothbrush's body. As a result, the head comes off while their toothbrush is in use.

While it doesn't seem that this is a widespread problem, this type of event can't occur with a screw-on brush head. It may come loose, but it won't fly off.

C) Which head provides the greatest cleaning efficiency?

There are differences in the bristled end of each of the types of Sonicare toothbrush heads. Initially, it seemed to us that each new generation of brush head was designed simply to be smaller in size and shape, so it would be easier to use.

More recently, it seems that the emphasis is geared more at improving cleaning efficiency. For example:

  • The ProResults brushes are stated to provide an improvement in brushing efficiency due to their slightly wider and more flared bristle design.
  • The HydroClean heads are designed to yet further enhance the fluid dynamics cleaning ability of a Sonicare due to their "hydroguides" that help to direct liquids between teeth.

Base solely on the date of their introduction, one would have to assume that Sonicare considers the effectiveness of their brush heads to rank in this order:

a-series < e-series < ProResults < HydroClean

What does dental research show?

Sonicare has conducted studies evaluating the comparative effectiveness of their toothbrushes. For example, one study (Milleman, 2007) evaluated models that used the ProResults and e-series brush heads. The model that used the newer ProResults head was shown to be marginally (4%) more effective. (Brushing slightly longer with the old-style brush may be able to compensate for this small difference.)

D) Brush-head size can be an important consideration.

All Sonicare models offer the option of a standard-sized or compact brush head (although, evidently the HydroClean head only comes in standard size). As compared to the standard-size brush, compact brush heads have a smaller bristled area and a shorter stem.

Most adult users will probably prefer using a Standard-sized brush head. The smaller Mini brush will be favored by those who have a relative small mouth, limited oral access or by adolescents or those who have special needs such as hard-to-reach locations or braces.

E) Replacement brush heads.

Sonicare's website currently recommends that brush heads should be replaced on a three-month basis.

In the past, the owner's manuals for the Elite and Essence lines (Sonicare models that use e-series brush heads) recommended changing brush heads every 6 months (the recommendation is now 3). So, for whatever reason, Philips Sonicare designers seem to be working in the wrong direction in regards to this matter.

Our evaluation of web-based retailers suggested to us that a-series, e-series and HydroClean brush heads are slightly more expensive than ProResults heads.

Sonicare Toothbrushes
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