Do I Really Need an Electric Toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes are pretty cool. But do they do a better job of cleaning your teeth than a regular toothbrush though?  Well, there’s been a lot of research conducted on this topic, and the definitive answer is “yes and no.”

Powered Versus Regular Toothbrushes

When it comes to powered versus regular toothbrushes, “cleaning modes don’t matter, according to experts we spoke to and research we’ve seen.”  That’s what the nonbiased product review site Sweethome.com concluded.  But the evidence is confusing because people in studies who use powered toothbrushes have been shown to remove more plaque from their teeth than people who use regular toothbrushes.

People Brush Longer with Electric Toothbrushes

The research suggests that powered toothbrushes aren’t better for cleaning teeth, but people who use them have cleaner teeth. Wait a minute; what’s going on here?  Well, when experiments comparing powered versus manual toothbrushes are controlled for time, there are no significant differences in performance.  In other words, powered toothbrushes are more effective because people tend to brush longer when they use a powered toothbrush.

Why do people brush longer with powered toothbrushes?  One explanation is that it’s simply more fun to use a powered toothbrush.  But the main reason people tend to brush longer with an electric toothbrush is probably because most electric toothbrushes come with timers, which reminds people to brush longer.

Research demonstrates that on average people who choose powered toothbrushes will show a “significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis.” However, “that reduction may come only from having a brush that encourages good habits, like a full two minutes of brushing for each session.”

Brush Longer No Matter Which Type of Toothbrush You Choose

So if you want to achieve the major benefit from an electric toothbrush, the cheapest thing to do would probably be to simply practice effective brushing habits.  Another thing you could do would be to duct tape a stopwatch to your regular toothbrush.  Just kidding.  It would be a lot easier to just get an egg-timer instead.

Review.com sums it up pretty well.

How you brush is more important than what you brush with. If you carefully brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and floss regularly, an electric toothbrush may not be worth the investment.

What Is The Most Effective Way to Brush Your Teeth?

So what are effective brushing techniques?  I’m glad you asked.

  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months or as soon as bristles are frayed.
  • Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth (not up and down) in short strokes.
  • Completely brush all the surfaces of your teeth.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Choose a toothbrush that is the right size and shape to allow you to reach all areas easily.
  • Use an ADA-accepted toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Don’t use excessive pressure.
  • Avoid excessive snacking between meals.

There are Good Reasons to Select an Electric Toothbrush

So is there any reason for people to spend money on a powered toothbrush?  Yes.  People do tend to get better results with electric toothbrushes, even if it is only because they make people more likely to practice an effective overall regimen of oral health:

What you get for the higher cost is less friction in achieving good brushing habits, and, according to research, a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis, even if that reduction may come only from having a brush that encourages good habits, like a full two minutes of brushing for each session.

Even if powered toothbrushes are only more effective than regular toothbrushes because they promote more efficient brushing practices, that’s still a tangible gain which should not be scoffed at:

If you find yourself struggling to meet two minutes, you tend to brush unevenly, or you find manual brushing to be too much labor, upgrading from a manual toothbrush to an electric one that automates these elements would make sense.

In addition to encouraging good dental hygiene habits, powered toothbrushes offer benefits for people who have difficulty applying enough pressure to adequately clean their teeth with a conventional toothbrush:

If you struggle with arthritis or limited mobility, a power toothbrush is probably a better choice. The toothbrush provides much of the brushing action for you, so you get a better clean with a lot less movement on your part.

Powered Toothbrushes Help in the Fight Against Plaque

And there are good reasons to select an electric toothbrush even though an exhaustive scientific study of the research comparing the effectiveness of conventional versus powered toothbrushes concluded that “there is no evidence of a statistically significant difference between powered and manual brushes.”  This is because “rotation oscillation powered brushes significantly reduce plaque and gingivitis in both the short and long-term.”

Plaque is the Enemy of Healthy Teeth and Gums

Powered toothbrushes fight plaque and plaque is the enemy of healthy teeth.  Plaque is a filmy substance that stick to your teeth after meals.  If plaque is not removed, it will turn into tartar, that rough substance coats teeth.  And tartar is very bad for your health.

Unremoved tartar provides an excellent environment for bacteria to grow.  In addition to being a source of bad breath, this bacteria also causes the gum diseases gingivitis and periodontitis, which are really bad news.  In fact, if left untreated, gum disease can damage your gums so severely that it will cause you to lose your teeth.

So you can see why it’s essential to brush every day and to also visit your dentist regularly for a complete cleaning.  That tartar isn’t going to go away on its own.  Remember: plaque turns into tartar and tartar is a huge threat to the long-term health of your mouth, teeth and gums.

How to Fight Plaque Every Day

So here’s what you can do to fight plaque before it turns into tartar:

  • Thoroughly brush teeth twice a day.
  • Limit the consumption of sugary foods, particularly between meals.
  • Visit your dentist for a thorough cleaning at least twice per year.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque between your teeth.
  • Use a plaque-fighting mouthrinse.

Regular Dental Appointments are the Way to Go

Whichever type of toothbrush you choose, remember to brush thoroughly and get regular checkups.  So why not contact the nice people at Advanced Dental Center right away and make that appointment?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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