Disclaimer: I received a free toothbrush unit for the purposes of generating buzz, but am not getting paid to provide a review. Also, I would never lie to you about something you might go buy.
Toothbrushes have come a long way. I mean, remember when the crappy free toothbrush you got from the dentist was just useless? Now it’s like the toothbrush you used to use before angled brushes and tongue scrapers got popular. Still not the best, but definitely useable as an I-forgot-my-toothbrush backup. Now we have brushes with rotating heads, moving bristles, vibrating gum massage, and sonic cleansing waves. When the fancy sonic electric toothbrushes came out, they were really expensive and it was hard to justify spending so much money on a toothbrush that essentially just moves faster than your hand can. Then, the wonders of large companies swept in and provided us with disposable toothbrushes that also vibrate and scrub teeth better than simple manual up-and-downs. The common retail market is a wonder (I mean, look at the Handi-Vac! Just as good as the $100 bulky vacuums) and now everyone feels like they can’t afford not to buy a fancy toothbrush. I have to admit, my teeth feel cleaner when I use the little battery powered toothbrush and they’re only a couple dollars more than the regular manual toothbrush. But does a Sonicare warrant the high price? Do you really need teeth that clean?
Years ago, probably when I was in a phase of buying expensive things because I thought it automatically meant it must be better, I actually owned a Sonicare toothbrush. There are so many different brands on the market, but I figured the one with “sonic” in its name must mean something (yeah, they have good marketing). It was rechargeable and came with changeable brush heads (although at the time I didn’t have anyone to share a toothbrush body with). It was also loud and made my teeth vibrate. The brush head felt too big for my mouth and the whole thing was kind of heavy. I seem to remember it also looked ugly on the counter and I tried to keep it hidden, like I was embarassed to have spent so much money on a toothbrush. I used it for maybe a month and have no idea where it is now. I don’t even think it got packed and moved into the house.
Since then, I’ve had no desire to go buy another rechargeable toothbrush. My little battery powered ones, in the multi-pack from Costco, suit me just fine.
I belong to a lot of sites on the internet. I click through the dozens of MyPoints e-mails and, 5 points at a time, eventually I get a gift card to somewhere. It takes some time, but not much and I don’t give it too much thought until they send me an e-mail telling me what I could redeem my points for. I also fill out surveys for a research company. For long surveys, they put $5 in my Paypal account. I suppose for the ones I answer to their standards, they send a product for me to try out. Sometimes they make it to the general market, sometimes they don’t. It’s often just a container of sauce, a sample of detergent, a cookie bar, or an all-purpose cleaner. But it’s fun to get things in the mail, especially when they’re free. I also test recipes for Leite’s Culinaria, which I enjoy mainly because it’s like a sneek peak into cookbooks without having to buy them. Also, there’s a little pride that I’m helping, in the smallest way, to make sure good recipes get posted and lame ones don’t. The site that sends the coolest things, though, is BzzAgent.
I signed up with BzzAgent because I was reading someone’s website and they mentioned getting free Hershey’s Take 5 bars as long as they promoted the candy. I thought free candy would be pretty cool, so I signed up, got the candy, didn’t like it, and proceeded to forget all about it. Then I got an e-mail announcing a new campaign for Storyville Coffee. It’s actually a very cool coffee and I enjoyed it, but just couldn’t fit it in the budget as a regular thing.
Anyway, that’s the kind of thing that comes out of BzzAgent, so I was very excited to be invited for the Sonicare campaign. For a while, I thought perhaps we’d just get a coupon for the toothbrush, since it does cost $179 (Yikes! That’s Amazon.com‘s price… Target has it for $169), but the package arrived and it’s a full-blown toothbrush and UV sanitizer!
I’ve been using it for a while and have to say, my teeth do feel cleaner. Sometimes there’s a spot on the backs of my teeth that feel like there’s a film on them even after brushing my teeth, but the Sonicare seems to get rid of that. I haven’t looked at the other new Sonicare models, but the Flexcare model is very light and small so it doesn’t feel awkward holding the handle. The brush head also comes in a compact size, which my small mouth greatly appreciates (the standard head is actually pretty small, too). It doesn’t feel any different from other toothbrushes, except that it vibrates more strongly. And it doesn’t look ugly on the bathroom counter! It’s surprisingly sleek and compact, even with the sanitizer unit on the side.
With so many cleaning modes (clean, gentle clean, gum massage, Quick clean routine, and Max routine + massage), I’m sure it’ll take me a while to settle on one, but I do like the Quick 1-minute routine for when I’m in a rush. The regular clean cycle is pretty cool because you know you’re brushing for the full “2-minutes as recommended by dentists”. Sonicare also has a feature called Quadpacer, which breaks up your brushing into 4 segments – upper outside teeth, upper inner, lower outside, and lower inner – but I actually don’t like it because that’s not how I brush my teeth. I brush front, sides, and inner teeth.
The sanitizer part is also very, very neat. I remember watching a Dateline or something episode where they tested the germs living on your toothbrush and the ways to disinfect it (a quick soak in Listerine does an awesome job, by the way). If you look around, special UV disinfection units are sold for your toothbrush and they’re not cheap. So, having one added to the Flexcare toothbrush is a nice bonus. I’m probably not going to do any tests to check the effectiveness, but it does make me feel better that my toothbrush is getting sanitized every night. Somehow, it’s also easier than giving it a quick dunk in Listerine. All you have to do is pull off the brush head (yup, it just pulls off and snaps on – no twisting or fiddling) and then pop it into the sanitizer and push a button. All done!
This is where I’m supposed to heartily endorse the Sonicare Flexcare and tell you all to rush out and get one (like I did with the Handi-Vac). I would, except for the high price tag. I was sent $10 coupons to use on any Sonicare, so if you would like one, just let me know. If you’re happy with your existing toothbrush, you’re probably going to be fine just continuing on your happy way. But! If you’ve been contemplating getting an electric toothbrush anyway and you’ve just been waffling between brands and models, then I would like to throw in a nice big recommendation for the Flexcare model. Mostly because of its size and compact brush head. Plus, the holidays are coming up and you can share it with your loved one, kind of making it seem half as expensive.