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After using my colgate actibrush for many years (perhaps a few too many years), I was rather dismayed one day while brushing happily away when the head fell off and the insides came out... Oh well, what can you expect, it was verging on becoming an ebay collectable.
I figured that it wasn't such a bad thing, toothbrush technology has advanced a long way since the days of the old electric brushes that pretty much spun a few bristles around your mouth and eat disposable batteries like they were going out of fashion. Recently there's been all kinds of advertising telling us about ultra-sonic pulses, bristles that change colour, even brushes with built in timers so you know when you've reached the recommended 3 minutes brushing. A visit to the electrical store proved that the toothbrush market hadn't just advanced since I last bought one, it has positively exploded. There's a good representation of makes and each one has a number of brands/models, some of them starting around the low cost of £8.99 and going all the way past £100, if you can afford it. Interestingly, while now made in more fashionable colours and shapes the colgate range hasn't changed in years, and a number of the other traditional brands seemed to be much the same as when I last went toothbrush shopping. Despite various innovations, the under £20 market has had little more than a cosmetic face lift in new colours. A few less fortunate brands are still looking like they should come with a free rubix cube and polyester mullet. Overall, I would avoid bottom of the range brushes, spending an extra £10 gives much, much more for your money.
Braun is one of the better represented brands in the stores I visited, their Oral B brand is obviously popular and comes in plenty of models. The prices I encountered started around £19.99 and carried on up to about £50. I was fortunate enough to find one which was originally £19.99 and discounted to half price. One of the issues I did have with Braun was that they have a huge range of brushes with varying prices, but the differences were very hard to determine. They were all the same shape, came with the same accessories, and the batteries all gave the same amount of time brushing, even the boxes appeared to have almost the exact same information on them as well. There was nothing that really stood out when I compaired them. Plus, most importantly, the fact that made me buy the standard £19.99 Oral B was that they all use the same brush heads, regardless of price. I just cannot see how a £50 toothbrush can make the same head do anything that the £20 one doesn't, after all it's just a motor to agitate the bristles.
Although, compaired to other brands I've used and saw in the shop, it is a good base. It's well designed in thick glossy plastic and feels comfortable to hold, the ergonomics are just about right. The motor itself is relatively quiet and feels powerful, unlike some brushes that stop moving if you press too hard. It's also surprisingly heavy compaired to other brands, and while most use a plastic pin to connect the head to the base this one has a good sturdy metal pin. The construction is definitely focused on quality, I'm sure that it will last many years.
One advantage over cheaper brushes that use disposable batteries is the built in re-chargable batteries. It has a low voltage charging base which uses a regular shaver socket, meaning I can charge it in the bathroom where the batteries will be constantly topped up when it's not in use. I never have to worry about flat batteries in the morning, and it will allways be ready to go on holiday as well since it stores enough power for about 2 hours brushing. Plus, disposable batteries slowly but surely get expensive over the years, and they're one of the least environmentally friendly things we throw in the rubbish. Where I was throwing about 6-8 batteries in the bin each year, now I'll just throw away a base with two in when I finally buy another toothbrush. It could easily be ten or more years before that happens, considering the overall quality of this brush. Long term a re-chargable brush could save my wallet and the landfill 80+ batteries.
As for the heads, they're rather unexciting to look at compaired to other brands and their only obvious feature is that they change colour when you need to replace them. While lacking "wow factor" they do however work exceptionally well and the indicator bristles are a useful invention as I never really knew when to change my brush head before. These ones cost about £14 for four, which initially made me pull a very bad face, but considering they last 3 months each that is a whole year's supply for just over one pound a month. The bristles themselves are firm and work their way in to gaps and the gum pockets well, but they're not excessively hard and don't hurt my gums. I can see why a lot of oral hygienists and dentists recommend this brand, they're very good at removing plaque, even some that I though was stuck there until my next dental check up has been removed. I can certainly feel a difference, my teeth are smoother and my mouth felt radically cleaner the first time I used it. Plus, while I said it was nonsense when I read it on the box, these brushes can whiten your teeth. I haven't changed toothpaste in years, just the brush, so the sudden change in colour has got to be the brush itself. Well, it's certainly not the black coffee and cigarettes doing it...
Overall, I'm totally impressed with this toothrush. Just under £20 (less if you shop around like I did), is a small investment in dental care. Since fillings cost £75 a time, if this brush saves me from having just one filling, it has paid for itself. Hopefully it will save me from having even more than that, it certainly cleans better than anything else I've used.