But it isn’t all sunshine and roses. This is an older model and it shows. The features have also been stripped down to the bare essentials. If you’re an experienced Sonicare user, check the features list to make sure you know what you’re getting.
Introducing the Sonicare Essence 5600
The Essence 5600 is the most affordable of the rechargeable toothbrushes in the Sonicare line. Sonicare has been a proven brand for years and to keen-eyed observers the Essence 5600 probably feels pretty familiar. It’s an older model, though unlike its predecessors the Essence 5600 uses an Ni-MH battery, and its features are basic. Still, what it lacks in modern styling and fancy gadgetry it makes up in a highly-discounted sticker price.
The Essence 5600’s features are simple: a basic two minute timer (the dentist recommended length for a brushing session), an “easy-start” mode that introduces new users to the toothbrush using a reduced power setting, a distinct angled neck and soft contoured bristles for increased comfort and reach, and a battery that can last up to two weeks on a single charge.
If you’re expecting to find the Quadpacer feature here, don’t. One of the most common complaints I’ve seen from former Sonicare users using the Essence 5600 is the unexpected loss of this feature. (For the uninitiated, Quadpacer is a Sonicare innovation that breaks up the two minute brushing session into 30 second chunks, pausing the motor as a hint to the user to move on to the next section of their mouth.) If you can’t live without Quadpacer’s functionality and are willing to pay a few dollars more, consider a brush like the Sonicare EasyClean.
for more information.
Stuff to consider…
- Keep it clean.
The Essence 5600 does a good job cleaning your teeth, but keep in mind you’ll have to return the favor. The screw-on brush head creates an imperfect seal, allows saliva, water and toothpaste to leak into the handle. If unscrewed and thoroughly rinsed after use, the gunk is easily washed away, but left untouched for a few months the result can be a goopy, stinky mess that’s hard to clean. If you’re going to get Essence 5600, a little TLC now and then will be necessary to keep it in good condition. For the record, this little design faux-pas was largely corrected in the EasyClean and Sonicare’s other, more modern brushes.
- Let the battery run down.
Don’t store the toothbrush in its cradle when not in use. It may seem counter-intuitive (and to go against the otherwise reliable advice in the instruction manual), but an Ni-MH rechargeable battery suffers when kept at full charge. BatteryUniversity.com’s article on charging nickel-metal-hydride batteries has a bunch of suggestions, but the short version is to store your toothbrush off its charger, recharging only when necessary.
- If you travel abroad, pack a voltage converter.
The model available in the United States only runs on 110v current, so if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in Europe a voltage converter will be necessary.
- You need to replace those brush heads.
Lastly, Sonicare recommends replacing the Essence 5600’s brush head every three to four months. That advice extends to their entire line of electric toothbrushes and, by and large, the cost of replacement brush heads is the same whatever model you use.
Just remember that the Essence 5600, as it’s older model, uses a different brush head design than the rest of the Sonicare line. Stay away from ProResults and DiamondClean brush heads. If you’re using an Essence 5600, you want Eseries Standard Replacement Brush Heads instead.
What does everyone else think?
Amazon.com’s customer rating for this toothbrush is 4.4 out of 5 stars.
On the whole, the Essence 5600 is a fairly solid entry-level electric toothbrush. It’s an older model, which means it requires more upkeep than the other brushes in the Sonicare line, but it’s a cheap and effective introduction to the world of electric toothbrushes if you can swallow the inconveniences.
Just turn it on after it’s in your mouth and not before. Your mirror, your walls, your glasses, your clothes and anything else that would be otherwise sprayed with a fine mist of toothpaste will thank you for it.
Obligatory note on packaging
If you do decide to buy this product on Amazon.com it’s important to understand what “Amazon Frustration-Free” packaging means. You will receive your Sonicare Essence 5600 in a cardboard Amazon box, with none of the original packaging. This makes it considerably easier to open (and recyclable), but much harder to wrap. If you’re buying this toothbrush as a gift, be sure to select the “Retail” option instead.