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Ordinary vs. Powered Toothbrushes

Stroke of Genius?

More Power Per Dollar? continued...

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 version.

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 Compendium.

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.

The Key to a Lifelong, Healthy Smile

Dental health experts agree that regular tooth brushing (no matter how high tech or low tech the gadget) and flossing can help prevent tooth decay.

As a general rule, Hermiston recommends that children up to age 7 have adult supervision while brushing. This is to make sure kids completely clean all surfaces of their teeth, even hard-to-reach places where plaque often accumulates, such as the back molars or the lower bottom teeth next to the tongue.

The ADA has more suggestions for parents to help their kids develop good dental habits:

  • Take your child to see the dentist regularly. Schedule a visit to the dentist within six months of the eruption of the first tooth and no later than the child's first birthday.
  • Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday.
  • Start brushing the child's teeth with water as soon as the first tooth appears. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used after age 2, when the child can spit it out.
  • Watch how your child eats. It's better to eat regular meals and fewer sugary snacks.
  • Make certain your child gets the right amount of fluoride needed for decay-resistant teeth. Ask your dentist how this can be done.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealant, a thin protective barrier that shields the chewing surface of back teeth from tooth decay.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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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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