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
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.
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
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
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
- 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.