If you’re like most Americans, you probably change your toothbrush as little as once or twice a year. I prefer that my patients changes as often as every 3-4 months.
When was the last time you shopped for a new toothbrush? Where you overwhelmed by the vast array of options, colors, and styles to choose from. With all the choices available – where do you start in picking the one that’s right for you?
If used to brush correctly and for the appropriate amount of time (you guessed it-at least two minutes!) the manual toothbrush can be plenty effective in preventing tooth and gum disease. However, I find that people tend to cut corners on using them effectively. And, research is pretty clear that electric toothbrushes are more efficient.
Electric toothbrushes fall into two categories: electric and sonic. While electric and sonic toothbrushes are both considered “electric” toothbrushes, there is a difference in their mechanisms that is important to distinguish.
An electric toothbrush is one that has a rotation oscillation. This motion is designed to replicate the motions of your hand. It averages 3,000 to 7,500 rotations a minute and requires less pressure than a manual brush as well as an ease in reaching hard to clean areas like gums and molars. A sonic toothbrush is an electric toothbrush that is characterized by its vibrating action. Rather than moving in a circle slowly, a sonic toothbrush vibrates back and forth at a very high speed, averaging about 30,000 to 40,000 strokes a minute. This high speed breaks down plaque and scrubs it off. To compare these electric brushes to a manual one, if you are brushing correctly with a manual brush you would still only be able to get about 300 strokes a minute, significantly less than with an electric or sonic brush.
You can find both kinds of electric toothbrushes with other advanced qualities to aid in brushing. Most models have a built in timer so you can be sure you brush for the right amount of time. Many have a pressure gauge that turns off the brush if you are brushing too hard, to protect your teeth and gums. They also have indicators for battery and when bristles are wearing down.
But which kind is better?
Studies have found that the rotating-oscillating electric toothbrush is proven to reduce plaque levels more than a sonic toothbrush, as well as prevent gingivitis and other gum diseases more. Electric toothbrushes are often preferred over sonic brushes due to the smaller size of the brush and ease of control as well as the benefits for teeth and gums.
When selecting an electric toothbrush, know what you’re looking for. Do you prefer battery operated or a rechargeable battery; do you need a pressure sensor; what kind of bristles do you prefer (I recommend a soft to medium bristle, especially if you have more sensitive gums). Also consider price. You can often find a more affordable variation of these brushes to try before upgrading to the more advanced and expensive ones.
If you’re on a budget: start with Oral-B Professional Healthy Clean Precision 1000 which you can find for around $40 or Phillips Sonicare Essence which can be found for around the same price.
If you feel like splurging: go for the Oral-B Professional Precision 5000 that has 5 different brushing modes (daily cleaning, deep cleaning, sensitive, whitening, massage), visual pressure indicator, professional timer, LED handle display, indicator bristles, and floss action brush head. Price starts at around $160. Or try the Phillips Sonicare Rechargable Sonic Toothbrush Diamond Clean with 5 modes (clean, gum care, sensitive, white, polish), diamond shape bristles and a bristle indicator, a charger glass (brush charges in glass and glass can be used to rinse after brushing), USB and wall charger, quadpacer and smartime (encourages attention to each quadrant of mouth and a timer for 2 minutes), and an illuminated display. Price for this brush starts at around $220.
Here’s to Better Brushing!