Learn more about electric toothbrushes

March 25, 2010

I learn the info I put in the previous post from a toothbrush Knol.

If you know more about this than me, go to that Knol and edit it so we can all learn.

Electric Toothbrush

March 24, 2010

An electric toothbrush is a toothbrush that uses electric power to move the brush head, normally in an oscillating pattern, though electric toothbrushes are sometimes called ‘rotary’ toothbrushes.

The first successful electric toothbrush, the Broxodent, was conceived in Switzerland in 1954 by Dr. Philippe-Guy Woog. Woog’s electric toothbrushes were originally manufactured in Switzerland (later in France) for Broxo S.A. The first clinical study showing its superiority over manual brushing was published by Pr. Arthur Jean Held in Geneva in 1956. Electric toothbrushes were initially created for patients with limited motor skills, as well as orthodontic patients (such as those with braces). Claims have been made that these are more effective than manual toothbrushes, as it leaves less room for patients to brush incorrectly.

The Broxo Electric Toothbrush was introduced in the USA by E. R. Squibb and Sons Pharmaceuticals at the centennial of the American Dental Association in 1959. After introduction, it was marketed in the USA by Squibb under the names Broxo-Dent or Broxodent. In the 1980s, Squibb transferred distribution of the Broxodent line to the Somerset Labs division of Bristol Myers/Squibb.

While the Broxodent may have been the first electric toothbrush and a superior product, the electric toothbrush that caught the public’s attention in USA was the General Electric Automatic Toothbrush introduced in the early 1960s. Similar to the Broxodent in function, it differed in one major aspect: the cordless hand piece relied on rechargeable NiCad batteries for power, while the Broxodent hand piece was designed to plug into a standard wall outlet and run on AC line voltage. Broxodent USA models were designed for 110v 60Hz AC power; other models were available for European power standards.

This difference in power source was significant for several reasons. In the case of the GE unit, the hand piece was portable but it was also rather bulky – about the size of a two D-cell flashlight handle. NiCad batteries of this period left much to be desired: they suffered from memory and lazy battery effects. The GE Automatic Toothbrush came with a charging stand which held the hand piece upright – most units spent their life sitting in the charger which is not the best way to get maximum service life from a NiCad battery. Early NiCad batteries did not hold much power (not as much power as a comparable alkaline batteries, for example) and it was not uncommon for the GE Automatic toothbrush to run out of power before tooth brushing was complete – particularly if several members of the family used the same hand piece within a short time space. Finally, early NiCad batteries tended to have a short lifespan. The batteries were sealed inside the GE hand piece and the whole unit was frequently discarded when the batteries failed. The GE Automatic Toothbrush was less expensive than the Broxodent which may have contributed to its disposable characteristic. Despite the shortcomings of the GE Automatic Toothbrush, the public was hooked on electric toothbrushing.

In contrast, the Broxodent hand piece was slim and remarkably compact – even by today’s standards. Since it was powered by AC line voltage, it never grew tired or slowed down, although it could grow warm after extended use. Early Broxodent models came with a straight power cord – later units with a coiled cord. All Broxodent cords had a small molded strain relief where the cord entered the hand piece, but this was still the likely place for a cord to fail. Since the Broxodent hand pieces were sealed, a cord failure was not repairable and the expensive hand piece had to be discarded. That said, it was not unusual for a Broxodent hand piece to last for 20 years or longer and failures were rare.

The use of an AC line voltage appliance in a bathroom environment was problematic. By the early 1990s, Underwriter Laboratories (UL) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) would no longer certify line-voltage appliances for bathroom use. Newer appliances had to use a step-down transformer at the wall to transmit lower voltage to the hand-held unit (typically 12, 16 or 24 volts) – modern hair blowers frequently use this approach. Many such appliances also include a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter in the step-down transformer for added protection against electrical shock. Wiring standards in many countries now require that outlets in bath areas must be protected by a GFCI device (required in USA since 1970’s on bathroom outlets in new construction).

By the decade of the 1990s, Broxo’s original design was still functional, but problems with safety certification could not be ignored. Further, improved low-voltage design toothbrushes were providing formidable competition. Broxo S. A. still produces and markets a low-voltage model but its public visibility in the USA has been limited in the face of large competitors, such as Philips Sonicare and Braun Oral-B models. Later Broxo models had no major distributor (such as Squibb) in the USA and have only been selling online.

The Broxo low-voltage models used one of several different methods to attach brushes to the hand piece. However, the brushes for low-voltage models would not fit the original line-voltage Broxodent. Brushes were not even interchangeable among various Broxo low-voltage models. By the 1990s, replacement brushes for line-voltage Broxodent models were no longer being sold in the USA (they were available in Europe) so the original Broxodent Electric Toothbrush was rapidly approaching the end of its product life. But this innovative product started a trend and enjoyed 30+ years of product leadership.

Second, the Ultrasonex

March 5, 2010

Yes, the second spot belongs to the Ultrasonex toothbrush. Just as good as Oral-B Triumph’s best models. Alas, just as expensive too…

First Post

March 5, 2010

Right. On this site I will list all the toothbrushes I feel is the best I ever used. In the coming weeks, hopefully I’ll have time to review it one by one.

In the first spot is the famous Oral-B model, TRIUMPH! I’m sure you all have heard of it.


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