Dr. Pierre Mourad, a research associate professor in the University of Washington Department of Neurological Surgery, was discouraged by the cleaning ability of his ordinary power toothbrush. He wondered if ultrasound, something he manipulates every day in his laboratory, could transform ordinary bubbles into pulsating bubbles that could help remove plaque bacteria and produce a deep, long-lasting feeling of clean.
To transform this idea into a commercially viable consumer product, Mourad joined forces in 2003 with Jack Gallagher, the former president of Optiva Corporation (developers of Sonicare‚Â®).
Together, they forged the way for Ultreo, a toothbrush that combines ultrasound with established sonic technology. The ultrasonic soundwaves are generated by a specially designed piezoceramic transducer, developed in conjunction with and supplied by Morgan Electro Ceramics (MEC).
The ultrasound waveguide efficiently channels ultrasound energy from the transducer in the brush head into the millions of air bubbles generated by sonic bristle action. The precisely tuned ultrasonic waves agitate the air bubbles, causing them to expand and contract. The expansion and contraction of the bubbles dislodge and disrupt plaque bacteria. Clinical studies show that Ultreo can remove up to 95% of plaque in the first minute of brushing, as well as provide naturally whiter teeth in 14 days and improve gum health in 30 days.
The biggest challenge was finding a ready-made ultrasonic transducer. Ultreo teamed up with MEC, selecting a high-drive, ‚â€œhard‚â€ lead zirconate titanate (PZT) ceramic for the application. It optimizes transducer efficiency, maximizes ultrasound output and keeps heat generation to a minimum, a critical requirement in a fully sealed, non-cooled device.
The transducer comprises multiple layers of active PZT material plus an additional material that focuses the ultrasound. MEC was able to develop processes to reliably bond these layers together while bringing all electrical connections to the top surface of the device. This configuration eased assembly requirements. At the same time, these design changes had to be constrained by requirements for mass-manufacturing volumes and reducing cost.
Morgan Electro Ceramics