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    Electric Toothbrushes: Are They Worth It?

    By Sharon Liao
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS

    The biggest decision you used to make when buying a toothbrush was soft, medium, or hard bristles. Now there are dozens of types, from simple toothbrushes to pricier electric versions.

    Are power brushes worth the extra cash? Here’s the buzz.

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    Manual vs. Electric

    Regular toothbrushes get the job done when you use them the right way, says Kimberly Harms, DDS. The problem is that many of us don’t use them for the recommended 2 minutes or get to every tooth.

    That’s when a little extra power may come in handy.

    An electric toothbrush can cover a larger area faster, so you clean more surfaces in the same amount of time. When you brush by hand, you make about 300 strokes per minute. Compare that to the thousands -- in some cases tens of thousands -- of strokes per minute a power one makes.

    Pros

    Power toothbrushes are better at cleaning your teeth than manual ones. One recent studyshowed people who used them had less plaque and gum disease.

    “Electric toothbrushes are helpful for certain people, such as those who have trouble using their hands,” says Eugene Antenucci, DDS, a clinical assistant professor at New York University College of Dentistry.

    Other people they benefit include:

    Children: Kids may think that electric ones are more fun and easier to use.

    People with braces: They can clean in and around the metal parts.

    Lazy brushers: If your dentist finds you’re not removing enough plaque with a manual toothbrush, he may suggest an electronic one. 

    Cons

    The main drawback is the cost. Regular toothbrushes usually cost a few dollars, while you can spend up to $100 or more on an electric one. Brush heads for power gadgets need to be replaced as often as old-school brushes, too. The extra expense can add up.

    “They may also lead to a false sense of accomplishment,” Antenucci says. “You may feel like you’re brushing better because you spent $60 on an electric toothbrush, even though you’re not.”

    The power ones are also bigger and bulkier, which makes them harder to stash in your purse or suitcase.

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Good
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    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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