Chomping Down for Dental Care

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It's been awhile since I needed to read a user manual for a toothbrush, but I did with the HydraBrush Express ($100)—an electric toothbrush with an approach that looks, and feels, different. The device sports not one but what looks like four pulsating brush heads that surround your top and bottom teeth in one swoop.

Using it means biting down on the brushes and moving it slowly across the teeth. It feels weird and awkward at first, banging around a bit on the teeth until you get the hang of it, but the approach is intriguing and probably effective. The inventor warns that the brush may startle with its ability to clean beyond teeth. "Your gums will probably bleed a bit at first," says Kenneth Hegemann of Oralbotic Research. And, sure enough, mine did, even though I floss.

HydraBrush Express

The brush is touted as a time saver, cutting by more than half the recommended two minutes with a standard toothbrush. But the heads snap on and off in two pieces, making the HydraBrush twice the hassle to share, as my wife and I do our traditional electric model. The HydraBrush also is a monster by comparison, at perhaps three times the size and weight of the traditional model.

Finally, its charger seems crude—it isn't built into the cradle, forcing you to fumble with a connector for recharging, and the manual warns against charging for more than 24 hours. And while nobody ever looks elegant brushing their teeth, they look particularly goofy with this one. So maybe I'll be swayed over time, but for now, I'm not ready to, uh, bite.