Ordinary vs. Powered Toothbrushes
Stroke of Genius?
More Power Per Dollar? continued...
Today the cost of a powered toothbrush can be more than triple
that of a manual one. Modern society's obsession with cleanliness, however, has
generally made it unacceptable to share toothbrushes.
Thirty-year-old Kevin Wong doesn't even like the idea of his
electronic toothbrush falling on the floor and getting dirty. He says he
worries about that happening since he finds it difficult to find a slot in his
regular toothbrush holder for the small brush head, which detaches from the
more bulky handle.
Overall, though, Kevin is pleased with his battery-operated,
spinning brush. He thinks it's better at cleaning his teeth than a regular
toothbrush. Yet that's not enough to convince him to continue using it after
the bristles have worn off. "It's a fun thing to have, but I don't know if
it's worth the cost," he says.
At 6,000 to 30,000 strokes per minute, the mechanical brushes
appear to provide more power per dollar compared to manual ones. As Harms
notes, it takes less time to do a thorough job with the electrified
Some people don't like the power stroke action, however.
"For some younger kids or kids that are a little bit more sensitive, the
vibrations seem to bother them," Hermiston says.
The Official Spin
Toothbrushes, whether manual or electric, are considered by the
U.S. government to be medical devices. They fall within the Food and Drug
Administration's class I category, meaning that they are generally considered
to pose little harm and are subject to the least regulatory control.
A spokeswoman for FDA says she is not aware of any problems
with the powered toothbrushes.
Researchers at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry are
in the process of studying the responses of parents, children, and dental
professionals to high-tech brushes. Arthur Nowak, DMD, and colleagues are
expected to issue their report this spring in the journal
Toothbrush maker Braun Oral-B has already come out with a
report of its own on the effectiveness of the mechanical devices. In one study,
more than 16,000 patients were asked by their dentists or hygienists to use a
Braun Oral-B powered toothbrush.
When asked to monitor their patients' progress, the dental
professionals said the powered brush had a positive effect on the oral health
of more than 80% of the patients. Most participants reportedly said their oral
health was better after using the device.
Results of this study appeared in the March 2000 issue of the
Journal of the American Dental Association.