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The PomaBrush exposes a problem I have with silicone toothbrush heads

I have a bone to pick with these new electric and smart toothbrushes that have come out in the last year that use silicone brushes. There’s a reason I haven’t used a manual toothbrush in ages. That’s because the sonic technology employed by most of today’s electric toothbrushes has immense cleaning power to remove dirt and debris from teeth, all without requiring the user to exert much effort in the brushing process.

But now, there’s this fad of silicone-based brushes being used instead of the traditional nylon-bristled variety we’re all acquainted with. For the last couple of months, I’ve been using the PomaBrush by Brompton, which is notable for the fact that it can deliver upwards of four months of battery-powered performance on a single charge. That’s one serious claim, but it’s tough for me to accept because of the silicone brush it uses.

Giving it a shot not once, but three times

One of my favorite toothbrushes to use continues to be the Oral-B iO Series 9 Smart Toothbrush. Despite its staggering $300 cost, it’s the best clean I’ve experienced to date — while also packing some smart features that guide me toward better brushing. Every time I finish brushing with it, I can tell it’s a deep clean because of the smooth feel of my teeth.

PomaBrush silicone toothbrush on table with brush heads.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The PomaBrush comes with a silicone brush head that reportedly dishes out 15,000 vibrations per minute. I didn’t know what to expect using one for the first time, but I came away unimpressed after the two-minute cleaning interval was up. Sure, it performed much like any other electric toothbrush I’ve used. However, I just didn’t feel it performed to the same degree I’ve come to expect with nylon brushes.

Even though my first time was disappointing, I gave it a second shot — then a third to really affirm my sentiments. It felt like I was just brushing rubber against my teeth, but that’s the reality. The experience reminded me of the time a year ago when I tried using a silicone-based brush head to clean the toilet. If you haven’t tried one, call yourself lucky because you’d be wasting money. Sure, the silicone was gentle against the porcelain surface, but it did absolutely nothing to remove stuck-on stains and other debris.

Doesn’t hold up long term

Luckily, PomaBrush does offer a combination brush head that features charcoal-infused nylon bristles surrounded by silicone bristles. I opted to use this particular one over the all-silicone brush head because it does a better job at cleaning — something that can be attributed to the nylon bristles. Well, it’s been a solid two months, and the surprising thing that came up during that time was the long-term durability of silicone bristles.

Missing bristles on the PomaBrush silicone toothbrush.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Thank goodness I decided to give up on the all-silicone brush head, because a few of the silicone bristles on the combination brush did fall off unexpectedly. I didn’t notice it until I was done brushing and rinsed it under water. Looking back on it now, I can only imagine how the all-silicone one would look after two months of use. It wouldn’t look pretty, that’s for sure. Based on my experience, the silicone material just can’t hold up nearly as well as nylon. I’d rather see nylon bristles slowly lose their rigidity than have silicone bristles come off completely.

This fad has to end

The PomaBrush isn’t the only new electric or smart toothbrush that has popularized the use of silicone brushes. In fact, the Quip smart toothbrush made waves very recently for its minimalist design and silicone brush head — as has the 360 Sonic Brush Pro, which claims to clean teeth in 45 seconds. If you’re like me and adamant about having an exceptional clean each and every time, then stay clear from this silicone fad because you’ll be brushing endlessly without results.

Brush heads of the PomaBrush silicone toothbrush side by side.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

I understand why silicone brush heads exist, I really do. They’re far gentler than traditional nylon brush heads (evident with my toilet brush experience too), which is good if you happen to have sensitive gums. For some, using an electric toothbrush is still intense enough to cause bleeding gums, so these silicone brush heads make for the proper alternative.

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