29 April 2014
Category: Dental health
29 April 2014,

Everyone knows that dentists recommend brushing teeth at least two times a day, but fewer people know that many of those dentists are now suggesting that patients upgrade their tooth brush technology and buy an electric

Officially, the American Dental Association says the best tooth brush is the one that gets used, but many dentists are suggesting that an electric toothbrush is more likely to get used and contributes to a healthier mouth, including both teeth and gums. But why is an electric toothbrush better?

Reason 1: Electric toothbrushes apply consistent pressure.

When a person brushes his teeth, sometimes a spot is hard to reach or awkward. So, only the tip of the toothbrush makes it there and the pressure is feather-light, not doing much to remove the germs, bacteria and food particles on the tooth. Or, and this can be even worse, the front teeth get scrubbed extra hard, the with the  intent of making her smile as bright as possible.

The problem with both is that they are not getting teeth cleaned evenly. With too little pressure, the gunk on the teeth stays and makes it possible for bacteria or tooth decay to set in. With too much pressure, the enamel on teeth can be damaged, leading to sensitivity to cold or heat or exposing the softer parts of the tooth to long-term decay. Brushing too hard can also cause damage to the soft tissues of the mouth, leaving to pain and a lingering aversion to dental care.

Reason 2: Electric toothbrushes help avoid dexterity and mobility issues.

Part of the reason some people apply inconsistent pressure when brushing their teeth is that the process can be very awkward. Brushing along the gum line behind teeth or reaching the back molars can sometimes feel like it requires contortionist lessons. With an electric toothbrush, the toothbrush is doing the majority of the work. The person doing the brushing merely positions the bristles and lets the machine clean their teeth. No more need for back bends or head stands to reach those back teeth.

Reason 3: Electric toothbrushes often come with a built-in timer.

Let’s face it, generally speaking, people are impatient. Dentists and the ADA recommend brushing for at least two minutes twice a day, but this is a society where some people think microwave popcorn takes too long. Unless they are actively staring at a clock, most people have no clue how long two minutes actually is. Many people can count off the seconds, but a built-in timer in the electric toothbrush makes it easier to know when that two minutes has been reached.

In preschools and daycares around the country, children are taught to sing various little songs when washing their hands to make certain that they are washing long enough, but almost no one educates children about the proper amount of time to spend brushing their teeth. Singing a song to make sure they brush long enough is not very feasible, so having an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer is an easy way to train children, and adults, to be sure they brush long enough.

Reason 4: Electric toothbrushes get teeth cleaner.

This point is debated, but the consensus among dentists is that electric toothbrushes get teeth cleaner. Why?

In part, it might be that electric toothbrushes are easier to use. In part it might be because they apply consistent pressure and get in those hard to reach nooks and crannies. It might be because with the time, people are brushing longer and more adequately. Whatever the reason, people who buy and use electric toothbrushes tend to have cleaner teeth. If it spares even one second on the scrapping in the dentist’s chair, it is probably worth it.

Reason 5: Electric toothbrushes can make brushing fun.

Most Americans these days, especially children, are always looking for the newest gadget or technological gizmo. For children and young adults who have had electronic devices for every part of their life since birth, an electric toothbrush just seems normal. Their books are digital, they’re connected via the web almost every minute of the day and a manual toothbrush just seems old-fashioned.

Additionally, especially for younger children, it can be a struggle to get them to even brush at all. With an electric toothbrush, a child might feel more like he’s being treated more like a grown up or he may simply view it as an electric toy to play with. As long as he plays with it on his teeth, that might not be a bad thing.

Bonus Reason: An electric toothbrush can be good for the environment.

Aside from using it to scrub bathroom grout, no one ever recycles their manual toothbrush. The toothbrushes need to be replaced frequently, usually every three months, and over a lifetime that can be a lot of toothbrushes headed for the landfill. Add to that the ones that are used once by an overnight guest and then thrown away and the end result is a lot of plastic waste.

Unlike manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes – at least the head which is what is replaced every three months – are recyclable. While some green experts express concern about the base of the toothbrush and the waste it generates, that is replaced much less frequently, only needing to be replaced when it will not take or hold a charge. Ultimately, the decision whether to use an electric toothbrush or a manual one comes down to personal brushing habits and the dentist’s recommendation. For children who are reluctant to brush, an electric toothbrush might just be the enticement they need. For people with sensitive gums, an electric toothbrush might prevent brushing too hard and damaging teeth and gums.

For a cleaner mouth, the electric toothbrush might be the best answer simply because it helps people remember to brush longer and more thoroughly.

But even if dentists prefer electric toothbrushes, carrying a spare manual toothbrush for work luncheons or those nights away from home is always a good idea.

If you have questions about electric toothbrushes, don’t hesitate to ask Dr Nicula at your next appointment. 

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