Fashion blogger Navaz Batliwalla tweets me to say she’s found a toothbrush she loves and thinks I might too, knowing my predilection for dental gadgetry. But, when a sample comes from the company, the tech sounds a bit left-field, so it remains unopened on my shelves for weeks.
The Ion-Sei is a joint Japanese-German product that works on the same sonic principle already used by established toothbrush brands. Sonic just means it vibrates exceptionally fast to dislodge plaque mechanically. But Ion-Sei simultaneously uses a patented technology that counteracts plaque bacteria by, it says, creating negative ions in a photocatalytic reaction started by beaming ultraviolet light onto a titanium-oxide rod in the brush. Plaque microbes are negatively charged but the positive charge of saliva attracts them to your teeth. Here, on the principle that like charges repel, the negative ions created by the brush bounce the microbes away.
You can now also swap in brush heads with bristles coated with silver ions and bincho charcoal – a combo that will apparently put the beleaguered bacteria to death after you’re done brushing.
However, even with a lot of intriguing claims flying around and some academic backing for the ionic principle discoverable here and there, I might not have bitten but for two significant factors.
Firstly, once I finally tried it, I found the Ion-Sei the best electric brush I’ve ever used. It’s incredibly comfortable to hold and relatively quiet. It’s also gentle, but not in a wimpy way; you can just feel there’s serious business going on at the gumline. The shiny, just-been-to-the‑hygienist post-brushing sensation also continues all day. I was really surprised by how healthy my mouth felt.
Secondly, Ion-Sei is endorsed by a rather convincing dentist, Dr Oliver Dunsch of the Devonshire Dental Centre near Regent’s Park. Dr D also has on YouTube the best instructional video on tooth cleaning I’ve seen. The Ion-Sei, like most toothbrushes, has a timer set to two minutes but Dunsch says he prefers two minutes of brushing “for every jaw” – which by my calculation makes four minutes. But with Ion-Sei, it’s a surprisingly pleasurable four minutes.