Toothbrush Selection

With what seems like an endless variety of toothbrushes available, how do we know which one to choose? Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush? Is a soft bristled toothbrush as good as a hard bristled brush? When should a toothbrush be replaced?

Which Toothbrush is Best

When shopping for a toothbrush one can get easily overwhelmed. In this section we will go over the different varieties of toothbrushes and their benefits. Lets start by explaining the function of a toothbrush.

The main purpose of a toothbrush is removal of food debris, dental plaque and stimulation of the gum tissue. This allows the gum tissue and the teeth to stay healthy. Virtually all toothbrushes, electric or manual, will do the job. The operator is the only variable, which will determine how well the teeth are cleaned. An individual with a manual toothbrush and a good technique can do a better job than someone using a battery operated toothbrush with a poor technique.


Battery Operated or Electric Toothbrushes

Battery operated toothbrushes have become very popular in the last decade. Two of the more popular brands include the Oral B and Sonicare. Oral B utilizes the oscillating-rotating power toothbrush technology. Sonicare on the other hand utilizes the sonic technology. There are potentially some benefits to using these toothbrushes over manual ones. It is important to note that these toothbrushes do not eliminate the need for flossing, as no toothbrush is able to effectively remove plaque between teeth.

Some of the benefits of electric brushes include:

  • A built in timer- most of us don’t brush for a full two minutes and tend to rush through the whole mouth in thirty seconds to a minute. With a built-in timer we can focus more on the area that is being brushed instead of the length of time we need to brush. This allows us to more effectively eliminate plaque.
  • Power toothbrush does all the dirty work-  Another benefit of a power operated toothbrush is that the operator can remove most of the plaque by proper positioning and slow movement of the toothbrush around the oral cavity. The operator doesn’t have to worry about proper brushing technique.
  • Simple use and very effective- due to a short learning curve and ease of use, electric toothbrushes allow individuals with poor manual dexterity, due to arthritis or other debilitating disorders, to successfully remove plaque.
  • Potentially less traumatic than manual toothbrushes- poor technique when brushing with a manual toothbrush is one of the main causes of trauma. There is a common belief that the harder the toothbrush bristles the cleaner the teeth will be. This is not true. A soft toothbrush removes plaque as good and better than a hard bristled toothbrush. Another misconception is that the more pressure applied to the toothbrush the cleaner the teeth will be. This is also false. Brushing with a soft toothbrush with very light pressure is the most effective way of removing plaque. Brushing with a hard or even medium bristled toothbrush or application of moderate to excessive force can lead to traumatizing of the gum tissue which ultimately leads to gum recession. Another complication of applying excessive force during brushing or improper toothbrush selection is destruction of tooth structure, called toothbrush abrasion. Both gum recession, which can leads to root exposure, and abrasion of a tooth can lead to increased tooth sensitivity.

Individuals with poor manual dexterity will benefit the most from an electric toothbrush because it allows them to maintain good oral hygiene at minimal effort.


Manual Toothbrushes

The right manual toothbrush, when used properly, is just as effective at plaque removal and gum tissue stimulation as a battery operated one. Even though more effort is required to brush teeth, manual toothbrushes have their benefit too. The most important factor to consider is softness or hardness of the brush. Soft toothbrushes are ideal because they minimize chances for operator caused trauma.

One of the major benefits of a manual toothbrush is that it costs a fraction of a battery powered one. This includes the cost of the first toothbrush and refills.

Another advantage is that there is no need for batteries or a power source.

Because all the brushing is completed manually, it is important to use a proper technique. Oral hygiene instructions should be provided by a dental professional to enable healthy oral hygiene practices.

There are a wide variety of designs that are offered with manual toothbrushes. Some of these can include a larger brushing area, bent handle and smaller heads for better accessibility, bristles that change color to remind us when it’s time to replace the brush, bristle density, and how soft or hard the bristles are. All these variations were developed for comfort and personal preference.  You can never go wrong with a soft or extra soft toothbrush.


When to Replace a Toothbrush

On average for someone brushing 2x per day with a soft bristle toothbrush and applying light pressure the toothbrush should last about three months.


The Replacement Time for Replacing a Toothbrush will Vary on Several Factors.

  • brushing frequency
  • amount of force applied when brushing
  • hard vs. soft bristle toothbrush

A simple rule to remember is that if the toothbrush bristles begin bending, it is time to replace the brush.

Visit our online dental store to find the right toothbrush or replacement brushes.