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How do Electric Toothbrushes Work?

Last Updated On November 19th, 2020

Do your friends need sunglasses when you smile? If not, then you should invest in an electric toothbrush. As the electric toothbrush scrubs your teeth, up to 7,000 times per minute, they shift double the amount of plaque as ordinary toothbrushes. The cleaner you keep your teeth and gums, the less dentist visits you will need. Remember, there are no real replacements for your adult teeth, only fake teeth and dentures. This brings up the question, how exactly do electric toothbrushes work? Well, let’s take a closer look and find out!

Internal Workings

If you take apart an old electric toothbrush, you can easily see the mechanisms that interact with one another to make it work. All electric toothbrushes consist of the following parts:

  • Removable brush
  • Outer case
  • Circuit
  • Motor
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Cam and gears
  • On/off switch

The removable brush is a small bit that does the dirty work. The head rotates at the top and so does the internal mechanism inside the brush. Underneath the brush is the cam and gears unit which looks like small wheels with teeth. This component is the brain of the electric toothbrush by converting the high-speed spinning motion from the electric motor as well as the back-and-forth motion that results in a more efficient teeth cleaning.

Once turned on, the motor always rotates in the same direction when on high speed. However, the cam and crank convert that rotation into a lower speed which causes a back-and-forth vibration. Therefore, as the cam turns, the crank pulls one way and then the other way thus moving the brush from side-to-side.

This unit is connected to another gear that can be found at the top of the motor. Underneath the motor is the rechargeable battery. Within the plastic casing is a simplified circuit board that directly controls the on/off switch. Most outer cases are constructed from durable plastic which the on-off switch is thin, flexible rubber. The primary purpose of the outer case is to deter water from getting into the internal componentry. This could short out the circuit and cause the metal components to rust.

Rechargeable Battery

The rechargeable battery uses wireless induction charging which is a type of transformer that creates electricity in the battery. The charging unit utilises a transformer similar to a cellphone but it is split into two pieces. One half of the transformer is in the bottom of the toothbrush while the rest is in the charger base.

An induction charger consists of the plug, internal primary coil, charger unit, secondary coil in the brush base, rechargeable battery and electric toothbrush. The primary coil can be found at the top of the base and the secondary coil is wrapped around an iron peg which the toothbrush stands on. This peg links the primary and secondary coils electromagnetically. Energy flows from one coil to internal coil in the toothbrush through the iron peg thus charging the unit. The primary reason for induction charging is that exposed leads coming from the base of the toothbrush thus improving safety, especially around water.

While the components are rather complicated, the concept is fairly straightforward. The entire mechanism is a clever bit of effective engineering that will continue to keep your teeth in the best possible shape.

Also read: Can Electric Toothbrushes Damage Teeth?

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