January 26th 2021
60 years of the electric toothbrush: this is how far it’s come
March 24th 2018 / 0 comment
Use an electric toothbrush? It’s fast become a modern day bathroom essential, and our teeth, mouth and general health are all the brighter for it. On World Oral Health day, here’s how the electric toothbrush has evolved, with tips on the best options for cleaner, whiter, brighter teeth
The main message of World Oral Health Day is that “your mouth is a mirror to your body”- far beyond seeing shiny pearly whites glinting back at you, your oral health impacts everything from self-confidence to professional performance and any potential health issues- the likes of diabetes can increase your risk of gum disease, for example. Taking care of our mouths is perhaps an overlooked step in our daily wellbeing routine- many of us prioritise a HIIT class and whipping up a healthy meal post-workout, but giving your mouth and gums TLC twice a day sometimes falls off of the radar in favour of a rushed scrub. That said, the emergence of the electric toothbrush in the 1960s revolutionised our oral care habits, although it’s fair to say that the original prototypes weren’t quite perfect. Here’s a potted history of the electric toothbrush, the latest innovations knocking plaque out of the park and how modern day incarnations have adapted to our modern day needs, from jetsetting to tech overwhelm, because no one wants to spend half an evening on a frantic hunt for the precise charger you need for each and every gadget. Dental care and our whizzy devices have come a long way…
The electric toothbrush timeline
While the manual toothbrush has been doing the rounds since circa 3500 BC, the electric toothbrush has, for obvious reasons, a somewhat shorter lineage- it was invented by a Swiss doctor in 1954, only coming to the wider market in 1960. As you might imagine, it was rather clunky (apparently the handle was akin to a large torch), with a a short battery life and no option to replace them. Plugging them into the mains at too high a voltage to be safe posed the next problem, so low voltage versions emerged, before solely battery-operated models became popular.
There was then a bit of a hiatus in electric toothbrush tech- design remained relatively similar to the early 1960s examples, and speed and efficiency hadn’t accelerated that much over time. In the early 1990s, a new type of sonic toothbrush was floated, vibrating faster than ever before, but it wasn’t until very recently that progressive leaps were made in terms of design, material, performance, hygiene and adaptability. All of which are in the process of transforming our teeth and mouths for the better like never before. Here’s what’s now at the forefront of flawless teeth tech...
A brush with the future
We mentioned sonic toothbrush technology, and there’s one particular brand that’s pushing the envelope in this department, FOREO is the biggest beauty tech brand on the planet, and the company's most pioneering launch to date, the ISSA 2, delivers a mind-boggling 11,000 high intensity pulsations a minute. This means that it technically has twice the sonic power than models before it, removing plaque, tea, coffee and life induced tartar build up and helping to prevent cavities and gum disease more comprehensively than ever. Dentist Dr Mark Hughes puts a stat on that, emphasising that “it provides a soft gum massage while removing 30% more plaque than a manual toothbrush."*
Another breakthrough is what the toothbrush is actually made of- FOREO designed the world’s first toothbrush made entirely from medical-grade silicone. Not only does this make the toothbrush the dream to hold and mean it’s more flexible that any toothbrush you’ve tried (it can perform acrobatics at the back of your mouth, so to speak), but it also has mighty antibacterial benefits, as Dr Hughes explains:
“The silicone is combined with a PBT polymer in the centre of the brush head for effective plaque removal. It harbours 10,000 times less bacteria than nylon brush heads and lasts twice as long in comparison.”
Another cutting-edge longevity element is the fact that just one hour of charging equips you for A WHOLE YEAR of brushing. Given that tech should make our lives easier, but often actually kind of doesn’t, this is groundbreaking in our book, and the fact that it’s impeccably hygienic, light and easy to lug about sans charging station or cords only serves to bolster the ISSA 2’s rep as some of the most streamlined health and beauty tech about. What’s more, the long-lasting credentials make it a smarter investment for both your pocket and the planet- you won’t be replacing and subsequently chucking away plastic brush heads every few months and the ISSA 2 itself will last for years.
As for functionality, we’ve tested and reviewed the ISSA 2 before, but it’s fair to say that with many, many speed settings and intensities to choose from allows it to cater for everyone, whether your oral health goal is to look after delicate gums and sensitive teeth (soft silicone is your friend) or to give your pegs a more dazzling polish. Dr Hughes describes exactly how it works in the video below, and why it offers groundbreaking gains in terms of oral health…
What to look for in an electric toothbrush
Forget bog-standard brushes on sticks- electric toothbrushes of today ought to be as bespoke as possible according to Dr Hughes:
“I recommend a model such as this to my clients to enable them to personalise their toothbrush to ensure the best and most effective use- the ISSA 2 has 16 speeds to choose from along with ‘normal’ and sensitive brush heads. If whiteness is what you’re after, 100% of those tested experienced whiter and brighter teeth after using the hybrid brush head.”**
PT-like training capacities to coach you to take better care of your mouth are a bonus too:
“The brush uses a built-in interval timer prompting you to brush a new quadrant of your mouth every 30 seconds and the bristles channel 183 high-intensity pulsations per second to create micro-sweeps that effectively and gently clean the teeth and gums, removing plaque and preventing the build-up of decay and cavities. Whereas standard electric toothbrushes oscillate, the ISSA 2 pulsates.”
Power Plate for your teeth virtues aside, Dr Hughes also rates the fact that a sonic toothbrush such as this is built for modern life, meaning that his patients are all the more inclined to take good care of their dental health between appointments:
“It’s ideal for on-the go-use, as it’s USB rechargeable and of course you can get up to a whole year’s use from that single charge. You are required to replace the full silicone brush head only once a year and twice a year for the hybrid brush head. The toothbrush also includes a two-year warranty should anything go wrong. In short, it’s perfect for today’s lifestyle.”
A final perk: the toothbrush has a travel lock to prevent it accidentally getting started in your luggage/ in transit. Because that’s never not awkward on a work trip.
*In a clinical study conducted within 28 days by Cosderma Laboratory. Sample of 40 people, age 18-65 (testing ISSA range vs manual brush)
**In a self-assessment study conducted within 28 days by Cosderma Laboratory. Sample of 40 people, age 18-65 (testing ISSA range).
FOREO ISSA 2, £149, buy online
GTG readers will receive 15% off when buying the ISSA 2 at CurrentBody.com between 20th-25th March using the code ISSA2
The feature is a sponsored post written in partnership with FOREO