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Ultrasonic Versus Spin Brushes: Which Is Better?

Whether you’re tired of getting mediocre results from a manual toothbrush or your trusty old electric toothbrush is starting to show its age, if you’re considering getting a new electric toothbrush it can be very overwhelming - especially if you don’t know the main differences between brush types. If you’re ready to buy a new brush but aren’t sure what kind is best, keep reading!


There are two main kinds of electric toothbrush: the spin brush and the ultrasonic brush. Both come with pros and cons, so it’s important to be aware of what each brush can and cannot do before you buy them.

Spin Brushes

A staple in American dentistry since 1959, the first spin brush, the Broxodent, was invented in Switzerland by Dr. Phillipe Guy Woog in 1954. Though it was initially designed to help patients with orthodontic work and impaired mobility, the spin brush soon caught on as a popular way to brush for all consumers. 

Spin brushes work by spinning the brush’s bristles in fast circles, blasting away plaque and food particles on the teeth as they spin. Spin brushes move in a pattern of oscillation or reverse oscillation, with some layers of bristles going clockwise while the others go counter clockwise. This means when you use a spin brush, you don’t need to manually move your brush back and forth to remove plaque, you simply need to hold the brush to the tooth you are cleaning and move it to each tooth surface as it brushes.

Brushing your teeth with a spin brush has been clinically proven to remove 21 percent more plaque and gingivitis than manual brushing. Just remember that when using a spin brush you don’t need to scrub like you would with a manual brush, nor do you need to press hard on your teeth or gums to get an effective cleaning.

Ultrasonic Toothbrushes

Ultrasonic toothbrushes are a much newer technology in comparison to spin brushes. The first ultrasonic brush, the Ultima, was developed in 1992. The Ultima initially only worked using ultrasound waves but was later adapted to include sonic vibration. Today most ultrasonic brushes use both sonic vibration and ultrasound waves to vibrate the plaque off the teeth. 

Unlike spin brushes, ultrasonic bristles do not spin but vibrate. Some users don't like that the vibrations feel like the gums are being tickled, while others eventually get used to it or aren’t bothered by the sensation. Ultrasonic brushes also differ from spin brushes in that they are much gentler on teeth and gums, so they are an excellent choice for people with sensitive gums and enamel damage. At full power mode, a sonic brush is equivalent to about 30,000 brush strokes a minute, while a spin brush can go up to 7,500 strokes per minute. Manual brushing averages about 300 strokes per minute!

Ultrasonic brushes tend to be slightly more expensive than their spin brush counterparts, and their replacement heads tend to be more expensive as well. But most users feel the cleaning they get with their ultrasonic brush is far superior to any other type of brush and thus worth the slightly higher price tag.

So, which is better? That depends on the individual. If you take excellent care of your teeth and floss regularly, you probably don’t need an ultrasonic brush or even a spin brush. But for those with orthodontics or who need a little extra help, an electric brush combined with flossing can prevent a lot of pain and cavities down the road. As long as you are using the brush correctly and for two minutes at a time, twice a day, your teeth should remain clean and healthy!

If you have any questions about what kind of brush you should be using, give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at (910) 550-3959.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959

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3317 Masonboro Loop Rd
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Wilmington, NC 28409