Gary,

In regard to intensity settings, there's a similar question here that might shed some light on this issue for you.

Yes, the reduced power modes are a lower brushstrokes/minute brushing action.
As testament of this, over the years we noticed that every Sonicare manual we've seen clearly states something similar to: "When the Sonicare is used in clinical studies, the default 2-minute Clean mode must be selected."
To us this is evidence that this setting represents the most effective cleaning action the brush can make and non-31,000 strokes/min modes are inferior. (They also state the EasyStart must be deactivated, which is another lower-power setting.)

The non-contact cleaning action of a Sonicare is dependent on the way it agitates the fluids surrounding the teeth. As such, you'd have to assume that lower-power setting creates a lesser non-contact cleaning effect. But whether this relationship curve is linear or exponential in shape, we don't know.

Don't overlook the fact that the vast majority of cleaning accomplished by any type of electric is due to bristle-to-tooth contact. The effectiveness of non-contact brushing comes in at a very distant 2nd.

Also, take a look at this abstract (PubMed.com)
This paper is hardly new nor the definitive word on this subject, but notice how it states that the pressure applied when brushing is a significant factor in causing dentinal wear (which equates to root wear, abrasion). Opting for the most effective brushing mode and being extremely conscious of the amount of pressure you are using might make an acceptable compromise.

And finally, the Sonicare representative we online "chatted" with stated that no one brush head held an advantage over the others in terms of creating non-contact (dynamic fluid) cleaning.

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