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Good Experience With Sonicare
on March 25, 2006
The Sonicare Essence is my second Sonicare toothbrush. Previously, I used an Advance, which lasted about four and a half years. Prior to that, I had a different brand of electric brush. Some observations follow.
In general, any Sonicare would be a wise investment for you. No question, years of using it have saved me time and money at the dentist. By now you've seen from the other reviews how effective it is at cleaning your teeth. As I get older, I'm finding just how effective a job it also does at slowing my gum recession. I consider the sonic system superior over other brand's rotating mechanical approaches, which seemed to have more of an unpleasant taste and couldn't be used with just any brand or style of toothpaste, unlike the Sonicare.
The Essence and Elite models use the more slender heads versus the Advance. Slender is more comfortable as you maneuver the head around your mouth. Also, the slender heads tend to stay cleaner from build-up and residue, reducing the effort and need for periodic head cleaning. So far, I've found the slender heads to last as long as the Advance ones: about 6 months.
What about Essence versus Elite? Other reviews have summed it up. Sonicare (Philips, actually) segments Elite versus Essence by tossing in a couple of extra bells and whistles. I recommend that you seriously consider the Essence and put the dollars you save towards your first head replacements.
As far as usage goes, it's hard not to have an effective brushing technique with Sonicare. Place it against your teeth and gums at an angle and move it across the surfaces from one side of your mouth to the other. Be prepared for a moderately loud sonic tone in your skull, which can be a bit deceptive to others in the room with you because it's a much more muted noise to them (just in case they have the urge to speak to you while you brush). Yes, if you bump the brush plastic against your teeth, you'll get the rattle effect, which is a tad startling. With a little practice, that rarely happens unless you rush your brushing motions.
If you use a fluoride toothpaste and have a particular brushing pattern, say top-front at start, bottom-inside at finish, just reverse your pattern the additional times you brush each day. Why? To give the fluoride a chance to stay on your different teeth surfaces longer before you rinse it out.
Lastly, I make it a point to unplug my Sonicare between full charges and run it down to complete discharge. Even though rechargeable battery technology has reached the point where the "memory effect" we used to experience with the old Ni-Cad batteries isn't much of an issue anymore, I think this approach tends to keep the batteries conditioned and gets you a bit more mileage out of your brush handle. The sacrifice you make with this approach is that last brushing as the batteries drain to empty will likely be incomplete. So trot out the old manual standby to finish and then plug in the Sonicare to charge up. With my new Essence, I find I can go about a week this way, brushing twice a day.
I consider Sonicare one of those appliances that's a great investment and which will pay you dividends over the long haul. Highly recommended.
Update Summer 2008:
Over 2 years of use on this appliance and my satisfaction level remains high. Regarding head replacements, I do want to add one observation. If you go 6 months like I do before swapping heads, the firmness of the new head will feel especially pronounced, perhaps to the point of causing gum tenderness. In that case, back off the hand pressure you apply, and in about a week, your gums should acclimate. Enjoy!
Update #2, Spring 2010:
Over 4 years of regular use and my Sonicare Essence still performs quite well. I can't go nearly as long between charges now, down to about half a week, but I've adapted to the battery's diminishing ability to hold a charge. Being a devoted user, I find I really miss the Sonicare on the occasions where I don't have it with me. This is definitely the kind of appliance that sets a standard for what you come to expect and want, thus any other experience tends to pale in comparison.
For readers in Europe and other countries that have 220V electrical systems, note that the Essence 5300 has a charger that is for use only on 110-120V / 50-60Hz systems. If you get the Essence technical spec from the Philips web site, it confirms this restriction. One possible option may be the Sonicare model called "HealthyWhite," which can be found on European Philips sites and which contains a multi-voltage charger. I don't have any experience with that particular model though, so definitely research it further before you purchase.