As dentists, we are often asked “what is the best type of toothbrush to use”? The answer in short, is that any kind of toothbrush is better than no toothbrush. The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice per day. The type of toothbrush that you choose to do that with, largely depends on your personal preferences.
There is a huge variety of toothbrushes on the market today, so it is understandable that it could be hard to choose. Do you need an electric toothbrush? What if you prefer a manual brush? Should your brush heads have soft bristles, medium bristles, or hard bristles? Let’s break it down further so that finding the right toothbrush won’t give you information overload.
Manual Toothbrush Or Electric Toothbrush
An article published in Consumer Reports noted that electric toothbrushes have been shown to reduce 21% more dental plaque and 11% more gingivitis over three months of use. However, the ADA states that both electric and manual toothbrushes can be effective at removing plaque. Ultimately, the effectiveness of your toothbrush depends on your brushing technique.
If you are using a manual toothbrush and just simply scrubbing back and forth, without paying attention to all surfaces of the teeth and gums, the results that you receive from brushing are likely not going to be very effective. Conversely, if you are brushing effectively and ensuring that you are reaching the back of your mouth, each tooth surface and gumline, it shouldn’t really matter what kind of toothbrush you are using.
Electric toothbrushes are great because they help take some of the guesswork out of brushing. You still need to ensure that you are paying attention to each tooth surface and your gumline, but the vibrations and oscillating movements of an electric brush can remove more plaque and debris than a manual toothbrush that is not being used properly could. For this reason, an electric brush might be an excellent choice for children who are still learning proper brushing techniques, or the elderly or those with mobility issues, who may have a hard time brushing effectively on their own. They are also a good choice for anyone who just wants to be extra sure that they are getting the job done.
The Importance Of Flossing
Good oral health goes beyond just choosing the best toothbrush. Let’s not forget the importance of flossing in this equation. No toothbrush head can reach within the crevices of your teeth to remove any plaque or food debris that may be stuck in there. Therefore, if you are only brushing and not properly flossing, you are only doing half the job. Buildup in between the teeth can lead to gingivitis and gum disease, so it is important to be sure those areas are getting clean.
For some reason, flossing seems to be a task that people do not enjoy doing. Similar to toothbrushes, there are other options on the market besides dental floss that are designed to achieve the same goal. Waterpiks are one such device that have increased in popularity over the years. But is a waterpik worth it? Also referred to as a dental water jet or oral irrigator, a waterpik uses a pressurized stream of pulsating water that cleans away food particles, bacteria, and plaque between teeth and under the gumline.
These devices are great for those who have orthodontic work such as braces, or bridge work, crowns or dental implants that make it difficult to use traditional floss. Similar to electric toothbrushes, they can also be a useful tool for those with mobility issues that have a hard time reaching certain areas in their mouth. Unfortunately, waterpiks can also be expensive to purchase and can be quite messy, so if you are able – good old fashioned flossing is always a good bet.
Good Oral Hygiene Practices Are The Number One Priority
More and more studies are coming out showing the importance of dental health not just for a healthy mouth, but for your overall well being. Whether you want to choose the best electric toothbrush on the market or a basic drugstore variety manual brush, stick to the rule of flossing and brushing twice per day for two minutes each time. Set a two-minute timer if that helps! You should also get a new toothbrush or swap replacement heads every three months or less if the bristles are showing signs of wear.
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene at home, make sure that you maintain preventative dental hygiene visits with a good dental care provider every six months. These visits are designed to not only clean your teeth, but identify and prevent more serious oral health issues from occurring.