A toothbrush innovation may make messy toothpaste obsolete within a couple of years, according to the firm that developed the new tool.

The new Proton Magnesium Toothbrush does away with the traditional way of cleaning teeth thanks to a weak electric current produced by parallel strips of copper and magnesium embedded in the head of the brush that react in water.

The toothbrush, which went on sale in February, is produced by Kagoshima Supersonic Technical Laboratory Co., based in Kagoshima.

“You can’t feel the electric current when you clean your teeth,” said Megumi Ueno, head of the company’s international sales. “But as the brush also sterilizes your mouth by taking away bacilli that are in the plaque, your mouth feels cleaner for longer.”

The toothbrush takes advantage of the difference in electrical potential between the strips of copper and magnesium, which generate voltage and an electrical current when placed near to each other in water. The toothbrush generates between 0.8 volts and 1.8 volts and a current ranging from 300 to 3,000 micro amps.

The brush needs to be rinsed in water before you brush your teeth, but once inside the mouth the saliva acts as a suitable conductor for the electricity, Ueno said.

She added that the negative electrons in the electric current actually attract the positive calcium ions in the plaque, “peeling” the plaque away from the teeth.

“The positive ions are attracted to the electric current and pull away from where they have built up,” she said. “Even if the buildup is quite large, the brush moving up and down in the mouth is enough to dislodge it.

“Also, it leaves you with fresher breath because the bacillus that exist in the mouth are destroyed by a current of 1.5 volts.”

The company also says the toothbrush is particularly effective in helping prevent periodontitis, the major cause of tooth loss among people over age 35.

The brushes come in small or medium sizes and four colors. A brush with nylon bristles costs 380 yen, while the version with horsehair bristles is 780 yen.

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