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Worrying about my Oral-B Electric Toothbrush

Tony Lawrence was born in 1948 and spent most of his career as a self-employed computer troubleshooter for Unix systems.

I think it was about five years ago that I first bought an electric toothbrush. Up to then, I had thought of them as an expensive and unnecessary gadget - good old-fashioned toothbrushes were good enough for me.

My dentist changed my mind when he started selling them. I have known him for almost forty years, he certainly didn't need the extra income and barely had space in his office to display the darn things, so why was he bothering? I asked him that straight out and he told me that he was selling them because he believed everyone should have one.

I thought about that for a few years (I'm quite the impulse buyer) and then bought one. Not from him - i suppose I should have, but I was still unsure about the purchase so I wanted to buy it from a place where I could return it with righteous indignation if it didn't work out. I bought it at WalMart because I hate WalMart and would never feel the slightest qualm about returning anything to them.

So I bought it, and brought it home, and my wife grumbled because she didn't see any reason to waste $129.00 (or whatever it was - something around there) on an unnecessary gadget.

Funny thing - five years later, I'm sold and wouldn't be without it, but she still won't use it. Oh, she's tried it. Her dentist has even told her she SHOULD be using it. But she doesn't.

I was sold after the very first brushing. My teeth had never felt that clean!

A confession here: I'm a bit of a compulsive brusher. I can't go for more than a few minutes after eating without flossing and it's not long after that I want to brush. I very often brush three to four times a day.

The dentists and oral hygienests needn't panic just now. I use a soft brush, I'm not bearing down hard, and the "extra" cycles are quick, not full length cleaning. Morning and night I do the full four minute job, but during the day, I don't. I'm not wearing away enamel or damaging my gums. Everything is good.

It's not OCD

The reason I'm so compulsive is that my parents, wonderful people that they were, really didn't teach me proper oral hygiene and as a consequence my mouth is full of fillings, mostly done when I was a teenager. Not being completely dumb, I eventually made the connection between sloppy toothbrushing habits and dental fillings and started developing habits aimed at not getting more fillings. It's that simple: no OCD involved, just a desire not to have more cavities.

So, back to the electric

So, anyway, what I have is an Oral B Professional model. It has two speeds, fast and slow, and at either one it stutters every minute to let you know you are one quarter done and it's time to switch to another section of teeth. At four minutes it stutters twice and then you are done.

I like that. I used to try to count off seconds when I brushed manually. That's hard to do while concentrating on brushing your teeth.

What, a watch? I don't own one. Can't stand 'em. That's a story for another day.

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What did you say?

I do wish it had a "pause" button. Sometimes I start brushing my teeth and my wife yells something from the kitchen, which is sixty feet from the bathroom so I can barely hear her anyway and with the electric toothbrush in my mouth there's no chance.

You can't just take an electric toothbrush out of your mouth while it is running. That's one of the first things a new electric toothbrush owner learns. Foamy toothpaste gets splattered everywhere if you do that, so you really have to shut it off. When you turn it back on, the four minute cycle restarts, and if you think I have any idea of how many cycles have already passed, well, you don't know my capacity for inattention, do you?

So I have to shut the brush off, stick my head out the door and yell "What?". Invariably my wife yells back "What?" because she's probably running water and may have even forgotten that she yelled something to me at all, so we may go back and forth a bit.

So, I'd like a "pause" function. On the toothbrush, not on my wife.  Though..

Why mention that?

Because I'm thinking I might have to buy a new one of these. It seems to be working fine, but things do wear out, and there is no way I'm going back to a manual toothbrush.

I looked on the Oral B website and they have a whole pile of different models, and the top models do have a pausable timer, so I guess I'm not the only one who has a wife who yells from the kitchen.

If the brush isn't clean, the basket gets dirty - duh!

If the brush isn't clean, the basket gets dirty - duh!

That charging base gets dirty too.

That charging base gets dirty too.

So does the tip of the unit.

So does the tip of the unit.

Cleaning inside the brush head

Cleaning inside the brush head

Proper Cleaning

They don't really tell you how to properly clean these things. Even if you search Google, you'll find incomplete advice about cleaning. What everybody tells you is to rinse the head under running water and then to make sure it dries before covering it up. Then once a month or so you soak it in a bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution.

Yeah, fine, but that doesn't clean it.

I discovered that very soon after using mine. This old model has a little plastic basket to hold the brushes and I followed the directions and then a week or so later happened to look down into that basket and almost gagged.

It was filthy. It was disgusting. I was very upset, because there is my toothbrush head sitting in this filth and I had been blithely pulling it out of there and putting it in my mouth!


So, OK, here's how to clean your removable electric toothbrush head. Yes, run it under water, leaving the brush running while you do that. I use hot water at first and then tone it back.

Next, pull the brush head off and run water INTO it. This is the part that nobody mentions. Toothpaste gets inside the brush head and it is thick, so it isn't going to come out by itself. It needs to be flushed out with running water.

Then, I put the head back on and grab a Kleenex and let it spin itself dry against that.

The first time my wife saw me do that, she was aghast. "You'll wear out the bristles!" she warned.

Hmm. Which do you think is wearing out the bristles: my enamel teeth or the Kleenex tissue?

Anyway, proper cleaning technique fixed the filthy basket problem, though I do clean that once a week too just to be sure.

Speaking of wearing out

I don't believe the replacement guidelines for a minute. They say these things only last 3 months? Bull. They last about a year. It's the same thing with razor blades - I use the same blade forever. If you clean a razor thoroughly and dry it thoroughly, it lasts a long, long time. So do these electric tooth brush heads - if you give them proper care.

Absolute must have

For me, an electric toothbrush is a no-brainer. It does a better job and it is as simple as that. You don't have to concern yourself with time, it keeps track. You don't have to worry about brushing too hard, because it's doing the work. All you have to do is keep it clean and keep it charged.

I really recommend these. No, I do not know why my wife won't use it. She does have ultra sensitive teeth, but we have soft bristles and a slow speed, so that shouldn't be the reason. Her dentist has told her she should, because she gets a lot of plaque, but she sticks with the manual. Maybe it's because she doesn't need a pause button?


Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on October 06, 2010:

Maybe the Braun heads use stainless or nickel.

Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on October 06, 2010:

I checked - I see metal in there, but no rust. Are we using a different brand?

Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on October 05, 2010:

I have not noticed rust - maybe I need to look more closely!

lyjo on October 04, 2010:

Once again, awesome, my husband brushes like you, he opens a new one(tooth brush)and after 2 days, it looks like he's been using the same one for 10 years....I remember when we first met, I went to his place, and used his facilities, saw his tooth brush, and thought I can't see this one anymore, he's disgusting, but (I thought) his teeth and smile were now I just thought I had too much to drink,...we had a stomach hurting laugh about it which went on for at least 10mins. And yeah, it is OCD, sorry, personally I think its hilarious, and oh my husband so is.....

Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on October 04, 2010:

Yeah, that is cool. Induction, I assume. I wonder about the efficiency, but the safety is obvious.

Rick Brandfass on October 04, 2010:

I’ve had one of those for years. The thing that amazes me about it is that the base unit charges the battery in the hand-held part without any exposed wires.

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on October 03, 2010:

Like this Hub. Voted Up, Useful and Awesome.

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