Dentists recommend brushing teeth for a minimum of two minutes, twice a day, with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
The right toothbrush is a matter of personal preference and financial considerations. A classic, manual brush costs a few dollars. An electric toothbrush can cost over $100. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), both work equally well to clean your teeth if used properly.
There are certain important characteristics that are common to either good manual or powered toothbrushes.
· Brush Head Size: The brush head should allow easy access to all surfaces. A ½” wide and 1” high head most comfortable and effective. The handle should be long enough to reach everywhere and feel comfortable.
· Bristles: Toothbrush bristles come in soft, medium, or hard varieties. Generally, soft-bristled, round-tipped toothbrushes are easiest and safest. Medium and hard-bristled brushes, if used incorrectly or too vigorously damage gums, root surfaces, and tooth enamel.
· Recommendations: Dentists recommend products that have passed rigorous quality control tests. The ADA seal of acceptance is a reliable endorsement, signifying the toothbrush is safe and efficacious for plaque removal and gingivitis reduction.
Disposable or Electric?
If you prefer a manual toothbrush, the choices of brush head designs are myriad. Multilevel or angled bristles with rounded tips perform better than conventional, flat-trimmed bristles in removing plaque and biofilm. Soft bristles minimize the risk of gingival abrasion.
If you prefer a powered toothbrush, you may find that it is easier to use, cleans in a shorter time, and is more efficient at hitting hidden crevices, nooks and crannies. Additional benefits include built-in timers to ensure you brush for long enough, and to remind you when to change direction, or “quadrant’” to ensure equal attention to all areas; and pressure sensors to prevent over-brushing.
Despite so many choices, it’s not the brush but how you use it that is critical. With proper brushing techniques, plaque buildup can be reduced, and gums kept healthy with either manual or electric toothbrushes.
Some differences to consider before choosing between a disposable toothbrush or an electric one:
· Cost: Electric toothbrushes cost much more. The toothbrush head will need to be replaced as often as a manual toothbrush – every 3-4 months, especially if bristles become matted or frayed.
· Personal choice: Some don’t like or can’t tolerate the vibration of a powered toothbrush. Others find it easier to clean all tooth surfaces. Your preference will determine what type of brush you use for the recommended 2 minutes. Some powered varieties include a built-in timer.
· Effectiveness: Studies find that overall, electric and manual toothbrushes are similarly effective in removing plaque and preventing gum disease. However, the rotation oscillation type (bristles rotate and move back and forth), is more effective than manual toothbrushes.
· Safety: Manual and powered brushes can be gentle, effective, hygienic, and safe. Both can also do more harm than good. Some concerns exist about powered toothbrushes introducing bacteria into the bloodstream, which is not risky for healthy immune systems.
Toothbrushes for Children
The best toothbrush is the one your child will regularly use. Disposable and electric-powered toothbrushes are available for kids. A variety of colors and children’s favorite characters from classic stories and cartoons make them more fun. Some even play music for the brushing-time needed.
More importantly, a child’s toothbrush should be child-sized with soft bristles, ADA-approved, and chosen by your child to give them a sense of ownership, enjoyment, and excitement.
A “Top Dentist” in the Twin Cities, Dr. Steven Hagerman, and his staff provide friendly and caring dentistry in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area. For cleanings, general dentistry, and cosmetic procedures call (651) 646-2392 for an appointment today.