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When I was a kid, if I walked out of my twice-yearly dentist appointment with fewer than five cavities, my parents considered it a good visit. These were the days before dental sealants, when flossing and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste was pretty much all you could do to prevent cavities.
Like most kids, my siblings and I hated to floss. Hoping to put an end to our never-ending cavities, my father purchased a Waterpik — a device that uses pulsating water to flush out food particles hidden between teeth and under your gums. Initially, my young siblings and I found maneuvering the device entertaining, mostly because we were drenched after each use. Sadly, the Waterpik never became part of our regular dental routine and quickly found a home in the cabinet under the bathroom sink.
Fast forward a few decades, and I’m happy to say I haven’t had a cavity since I started using an electric toothbrush in college. So I was intrigued when I saw that Waterpik introduced a new sonic toothbrush that allows you to brush and floss at the same time.
“The Waterpik Sonic Fusion uses ultrasound technology to clean tooth surfaces and has a built-in ‘flosser’ that pulses water from the center of the brush to clean where toothbrush bristles can’t reach,” says Brian Woodard, Waterpik’s Director of New Products. “Since people aren’t flossing a lot, this product is a game-changer.”
Intrigued, I got my hands on a unit and prepared to give it a test. I decided to spend an evening binge-watching "The Crown" on Netflix with a big bowl of popcorn, hoping to catch a few kernels between my teeth. I then did my homework by watching how-to videos on YouTube, where I was advised to slip into an old T-shirt and pull my hair back in case things got messy.
How is it as a toothbrush?
The brushing was the easiest part to adapt to, given I’ve been using an electric toothbrush for years. I just had to remember to move the bristles slowly over each tooth to maximize the sonic effect.
"Sonic bristles move in a rapid pace, at approximately 30,000 strokes per minute,” said Dr. Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, a leading dental clinician, author, and a member of the American Dental Association. "Move the brush head from tooth to tooth, letting the bristles do the scrubbing for you."
The toothbrush function includes a timer cycle that lasts for two minutes, with pauses every 30 seconds to remind you to switch to a new section of teeth.
“Everyone should brush for two minutes, two times a day,” said Dr. Doniger. “People tend to think they brush for two minutes, but in reality, it may only be 30 seconds. With the pacer feature, you’re guaranteed to brush the exact amount to help you achieve oral health.”
To get the best results, position the brush along the gum line at a 45-degree angle, starting at the back and working towards the front of your mouth. “Brush up into the upper maxillary gum line and down into the lower mandibular gum line, as this is where the bulk of bacteria, which can turn into cavities or harden into tarter, tend to hide,” said Dr. Doniger.
How is it as a flosser?
I tried the flossing feature, and yes, had flashbacks to the ’80s Waterpik my dad had hoped we’d all fall in love with. It was like using a mini power washer on my teeth and gums, and I have to admit it was slightly satisfying to see popcorn kernels in the sink.
As my final step, I tried the dual-action brushing/flossing mode and found it hard to see why anyone would want to use both of these functions at the same time. The toothpaste pretty much washes off the bristles as soon as you hit the flosser button, and it becomes hard to concentrate on brushing since your mouth becomes filled with water.
The flosser function features 10 different pressure settings, though it's recommended to start with the middle setting and adjust based on what feels comfortable. To avoid getting soaked during the floss mode, don’t look in the mirror. Instead, drop your head and stare at the drain, keeping your mouth open to allow water to spill into the sink. You can also close your mouth and periodically open it to let water out. It gets less messy with practice.
Is it worth the upgrade?
If you’re someone who truly hates to floss, this toothbrush was made for you.
As for the toothbrush itself, the end result is a super clean feel, similar to when you run your tongue over your teeth after going to the dentist. Clinical studies by the American Dental Association revealed this device is two times more effective than regular brushing and flossing, making it a good choice if you’re looking to up your oral hygiene game.
For more stories like this, check out:
- This $25 electric toothbrush may seem gimmicky — but it's a total game-changer
- Do you floss or do you just say you do? 27 percent of adults lie to dentists
- How to clean your coffee maker, toothbrush holder, pillows and more
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