There's nothing quite like breaking your tooth-brushing arm to inspire a sudden fixation on electric toothbrushes. I had no idea how much dexterity was involved in regular brushing until the task fell upon my unsuspecting left hand while my right arm holidayed for more than a month in a fibreglass cast. Within days, it was clear that if I didn't want to add insult to injury by having all my teeth fall out, I'd have to take action.
On the recommendation of a prosthodontist friend, I went out and got a Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush by Philips. It looks like any other electric toothbrush, only a lot more chic and sophisticated, plus it charges in a clever drinking glass, which gets plugged into the wall. A 24-hour charge is supposed to last three weeks.
My teeth made an ideal test run: Because I am a diehard tea drinker, they looked like the inside of a white porcelain mug after three refillings of Typhoo. A single two-minute session (30 seconds per quadrant of the mouth, as informed by some beeps) left me gleaming.
All good, except that the sound of the instrument was a bit like having an agitated mosquito coming at me.
There were five different settings, like on a blender, all of which appeared to do the same thing even though they had different names. And, charming though the glass charger was, it wanted to take up a lot of space that my bathroom sink didn't have. Still, a very nice brush.
Then, I got put onto ISSA ("The Revolutionary Electric Toothbrush"), a pulsating, silicone-bristled, designer brush in happy colours that plugs into a mobile-phone charger. It has just one technophobe-friendly button on it and comes with a secondary (possibly superfluous) head for cleaning the tongue. When in motion, the ISSA makes a reassuring hum, its rubber-like bristles feel gentle and pleasant and, like the DiamondClean, definitely polished my grin whiter than a drugstore brush.
The regular head on the ISSA, which lasts a year, doesn't get clogged with toothpaste, rinses easily and can be disinfected occasionally with a simple dip in white vinegar. The only downside is that the head is so large it's a bit like being at the doctor and told to say "Ahhh" (those with a sensitive gag reflex should beware).
So, one wins the groovy prize, the other wins the elegant prize. Both are highly effective, and, in case it ever matters to you, easy on an overworked "wrong" arm.
DiamondClean is available at stores including Bed Bath & Beyond for $239.99 and ISSA is available online at Sephora for $229.
Do you know of a genius domestic product? If so, Laura wants to hear about it. E-mail email@example.com.