Dental Care Products
Manual vs. Powered Toothbrushes
Is there any advantage to using a powered (electric or sonic) toothbrush compared with a manual toothbrush? Not necessarily. The key to good oral hygiene is correct and effective use of a toothbrush. But many people have a hard time brushing correctly. For them, one of the main advantages of a powered toothbrush is it's easier to brush correctly. Other advantages of powered toothbrushes include:
- Brushing becomes easier for people with medical conditions that limit manual dexterity (such as arthritis), or who are elderly or physically handicapped, or have oral conditions (such as misaligned teeth or teeth with uneven surfaces) that make thorough cleaning of all tooth surfaces difficult.
- They make it easier to clean teeth with braces and other orthodontic appliances.
- People may enjoy cleaning their teeth more since use of a powered toothbrush might be considered "fun" or "different" and therefore brush more frequently as a result. Others might be motivated to brush longer or correctly because of the money spent on purchasing the toothbrush.
- They remove more plaque and reduce your risks of gingivitis better than manual toothbrushes. At least one study has shown that the long-term (4 to 6 months) use of powered toothbrushes produce significant reductions in the amount of dental plaque on the teeth -- and therefore improves the oral health -- of patients with periodontal disease.
- They minimize or eliminate tooth-staining. The scrubbing effect of powered toothbrushes may be superior to manual toothbrushes in possibly reducing or even totally removing surface stains on teeth.
How Do I Choose a Powered Toothbrush?
Like all dental products, you have a number of choices to choose from when it comes to powered toothbrushes. Here are some key points about each style of powered toothbrushes.
- Sonic toothbrushes generate between 30,000 and 40,000 brush strokes per minute (compared with about 300 per minute with manual tooth brushing). The bristles in the toothbrush rotate in the dentist recommended back-and-forth motion. In addition, the patented cleaning action of the brush directs fluid between teeth and below the gum line to gently remove plaque (only sonic toothbrushes can make this claim).
- Electric toothbrushes generate between 3,000 and 7,500 brush strokes per minute. Although individual designs differ, the bristles in the brush head are typically either set in a circular format that rotates (the entire head rotates in unison) or individual tufts of bristles within the brush head spin independently. Some electric toothbrushes have both a rotating as well as a pulsating motion to help remove plaque and reduce gingivitis.
A complete list of toothbrushes that have received the ADA's Seal of Acceptance can be found at www.ada.org/ada/seal/index.asp.
Water picks, otherwise known as oral water irrigators, are usually unnecessary for most people. Individuals who can benefit the most from these devices are those with braces or other orthodontic appliances who need help removing food between teeth and within the appliance itself. It is important to keep in mind that these devices do not remove plaque; only brushing with toothpaste and flossing can do that.