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Growing up, we had only one rule at my house regarding our letters to Santa: You can ask for three things.

Our parents' reasoning was simple. "If three gifts were enough for Jesus, then three are certainly enough for you!"

Granted, Santa usually surprised us with gifts numbering far beyond what we'd asked for, but when it came to what we could actually put on our wish lists, well, that number was limited to three.

When I was younger, my trio of wishes always included accessories for my American Girl doll or a pink-plastic-something that required tedious, often curse-inducing assembly (Sorry, Dad). These days, though, my Christmas lists are a little more practical.

A few years ago, I asked the Man with the Bag for a Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. Not exactly an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, but it was something I thought I might enjoy having. And boy, have I ever.

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Some three or four years later, that thing is still kicking, and it's become the cornerstone of my dental hygiene routine. I don't love going to the dentist, and I really hate flossing (apologies to dentists and dental hygienists everywhere!), but thanks to my trusty Sonicare, I'm obsessed with brushing my teeth.

The toothbrush has a timer to ensure you take the requisite two minutes to clean up those pearly whites, and the timer even beeps every 30 seconds so you can give each of your mouth's four quadrants its due. Plus, it's rechargeable, with a battery life that lasts up to two weeks, so you can charge and go without having to pack the charger for weekends away. And because you're supposed to swap your old toothbrush for a new one every three or four months, you can also buy affordable replacement toothbrush heads for the Sonicare to freshen up your toothbrush accordingly.

While I don't think they even make my old HX6710 "Clean and White" model anymore (quick searches on Google and Amazon suggest that they're all sold out, though I did find one listed on eBay), Philips has plenty of newer models of Sonicare electric toothbrushes that have the same features as my old faithful HX6710, plus some smart new ones.


The Sonicare HealthyWhite+ (above), for instance, has the same timer capabilities as my HX6710, with a 2-minute "Clean" mode that helps with plaque removal and a "White" mode that removes surface stains. It's not cheap – the toothbrush retails for $79.95 (you can buy it here) – but it's well worth it: The toothbrush promises to remove up to 7x more plaque than a manual toothbrush, improve gum health in just two weeks, and whiten teeth by two shades in two weeks. Just as I am a total HX6710 devotee, the owners of the Sonicare Healthywhite+ are big fans, too: Maureen gave it 5 stars on the Target website and called it "The absolute best!" She writes, "I had been using a battery-operated toothbrush and it was doing a decent job, but now I can tell such a difference since I've purchased the Sonicare! I'm so surprised it took me so long to buy it. Now I'll never give it up!!"

The Sonicare may not be a Red Ryder rifle, but it sure beats Aunt Clara's pink bunny onesie: It wins big on practicality, and it's a gift you can guarantee they'll use again … and again … and again.