An ultrasound toothbrush is a type of electric toothbrush whose bristles vibrate at an ultrasonic frequency when activated. This vibration creates small bubbles, which augment normal brushing action to help break up and remove particles on the teeth. Ultrasonic toothbrushes are considered more effective than traditional manual toothbrushes when used correctly and regularly.
Ultrasound toothbrush technology has existed for decades, and the first professional models came to the market in the 1970s. Not until the late 1980s, however, did the cost of the technology come down enough to make consumer models feasible. Since that time, the ultrasound toothbrush has continued to come down in price and become more common, though it is still one of the most expensive oral cleaning products on the market.
Manufacturers of the ultrasound toothbrush contend that their products offer a more effective method of oral cleaning than manual models. Studies have borne out this allegation to a moderate extent. Many dentists consider the greatest benefit of ultrasound, and other electric toothbrushes, to be in cases where a patient has limited dexterity or ability to brush effectively. The ultrasonic vibrations of the brush-head whips toothpaste into a lather and helps it get to more nooks and crevices in the mouth, thus helping brush away bacteria and other detritus.
Unlike manual toothbrushes, an ultrasound toothbrush should not be utilized with a traditional circular brushing motion. Rather, it should be drawn across the teeth and gums in a slow, straight line, back and forth. This allows the ultrasonic action to be most effective in creating a lather and disrupting plaque and tartar accumulation.
Like other electric toothbrushes, ultrasound models typically use either a normal AA or AAA battery. Higher-end models use an enclosed lithium-ion battery that is recharged via magnetic induction. This method requires only that the brush-handle be placed in proximity with the charger, usually in a dock configuration. Coiled wires in the dock then transfer power to the battery, recharging it. A full charge in one of these devices can last a week or more, making them viable options for use during travel.
Given the technology involved, an ultrasound toothbrush is generally many times more expensive than a manual, or even a basic electric, toothbrush. This is the greatest barrier to using one. Still, the added effectiveness of ultrasonic brushing can avert the need for professional dental work, which can dwarf the cost of even the most expensive toothbrush.