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How Do Electric Toothbrushes Work?

Updated February 21, 2017

An electric toothbrush is a device that uses electricity to automatically move the bristles at the top of the toothbrush in such a way as to maximise the effectiveness of cleaning teeth. The top component of the electric toothbrush is the removable brush. The removable brush plugs into a small hole at the top of the brush handle. This hole connects the bottom of the brush to a gear. The gear is what makes the brush rotate. This essentially allows the removable brush to be plugged directly into the brush's internal electric motor.

Removable Brush

An electric toothbrush is a device that uses electricity to automatically move the bristles at the top of the toothbrush in such a way as to maximise the effectiveness of cleaning teeth. The top component of the electric toothbrush is the removable brush. The removable brush plugs into a small hole at the top of the brush handle. This hole connects the bottom of the brush to a gear. The gear is what makes the brush rotate. This essentially allows the removable brush to be plugged directly into the brush's internal electric motor.

The Motor

When the toothbrush's internal motor is turned on it begins to spin. The gear converts the circular spinning into an upward and downward motion, which is ultimately the direction that the brush moves. It is this up and down motion that allows your teeth to be cleaned effectively by the electric toothbrush--it is mimicking the motions you make with your hands when you use a regular toothbrush. This coupled with the fact that your hand still moves during the process allows for the brush to cover more areas in a shorter amount of time and more efficiently clean your teeth.

The Battery

Inside the toothbrush's handle and beneath the motor is a rechargeable battery. Placing the entire toothbrush into the dock that comes with it (which is connected to a wall power outlet) allows the battery to be recharged when not in use. Also inside the brush's handle is a small circuit board that acts as an "ON" and "OFF" switch. Switching the toothbrush to "ON" turns the battery on, which starts the motor that turns the gear that rotates the removable brush. All of these delicate components are protected from water and moisture by the toothbrush handle's hard plastic shell.

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About the Author

Stephen Lilley is a freelance writer who hopes to one day make a career writing for film and television. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites. Lilley holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and video production from the University of Toledo in Ohio.