gifts they'll want in a pandemic

I Was Staunchly Anti–Electric Toothbrush Until I Tried This (Surprisingly Giftable) $25 One

Photo: Retailer

I’ve never had a cavity. I know this may sound like I’m bragging (I am), but because my teeth always got a thumbs-up from the dentist, I never thought twice about the brush I used. But then, after months of downing coffee, black tea, and wine, none of which I drank much of before quarantine, coupled with a sheer lack of routine, my teeth looked lackluster. They felt sensitive and grimy, no matter how much I brushed. Concerned I’d get my first cavity, I sought advice from the internet — and ended up on our very own deep dive on electric toothbrushes. “All types of powered toothbrushes outperformed manual ones in reducing plaque and gingivitis,” reported my colleague, senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson. The only problem is I hate electric toothbrushes.

When I got braces in the seventh grade, my mom bought me an electric toothbrush at my orthodontist’s recommendation, but it was heavy and clunky and way too harsh. The outlet in my childhood bathroom was not in a convenient spot for me to keep it plugged in all the time, so it was constantly dying and the replacement heads were pricey. Before long, I returned to an old-school brush.

But if an electric toothbrush would keep me from cavities (and unnecessary dentist appointments in the middle of a pandemic), I decided it was worth a try. I sifted through the great many options on the market, nixing anything with bulky chargers and superfluous functions, like Bluetooth capabilities or a sensor to tell me if I’m brushing too hard. Shiny new dental start-ups like Quip were appealing, but I was put off that they had so few recommendations by dentists — plus, Strategist writer Hilary Reid wasn’t too convinced when she tested them out. In the midst of my research, a new battery-powered electric toothbrush from Philips Sonicare landed in my mailbox. (Perhaps the tooth fairy does exist.)

Similar in design to the sleek DTC brushes — but made by a brand that dentists have long recommended — this lightweight model is a far cry from the clunky gadget I used as a kid. It’s available in four colors, including a very soothing mint, and comes with a matching carrying case. Like the rest of the Sonicare products, it has the same strength and technology that dentists approved of in the past: microvibrations and contoured bristles work to remove plaque and debris from your teeth, especially hard-to-reach places. And while it has only one setting, it does have a two-minute timer split into four 30-second groups. When 30 seconds go by, it gently buzzes, alerting me to move on to the next section, and has a long buzz once my two minutes finishes along with an automatic shutoff. The brush leaves my teeth feeling lightly polished yet extremely clean — much cleaner than they ever did with a manual brush, I begrudgingly admit.

After more than three months of using the toothbrush, I can truly see a difference in my teeth — they’re whiter, cleaner, and no longer sensitive. I even convinced my mom and boyfriend (who also has never had a cavity) to try it out, and they’re equally impressed. “At this point, I’ll probably never go back,” my boyfriend told me when asked if he’d return to manual brushing. I’m of the same mind. Replacement heads go for $10 for two, technically cheaper than a drugstore brush, and because they’re available by subscription, it’s far more convenient, too. Of all the proclivities I’ve picked up in 2020 (coffee, tea, wine), this is one I’m actually proud of. In fact, I’m even planning to gift one to my sister and sister-in-law this holiday season because they too deserve the gift of extremely clean teeth.

And some other colors, if mint’s not your thing