9 out of 10 dentists….. want to know which is the better toothbrush – electric or manual?
Well, it turns out that both types of toothbrushes can be equally effective if used correctly! The best measure for you to know if you are suited for manual or electric is solely based on your preference; whichever one you choose to use one over the other, is the best option for you.
A toothbrush is designed to remove plaque and keep teeth free from dental decay. Plaque is an invisible biofilm that begins to collect on teeth as soon as 20 minutes after brushing, if not properly removed at least twice daily, it hardens and becomes tarter. Tarter is the main cause for gum disease and bone loss because it is not able to be brushed away, it can accumulate under the gumline and can only be removed by a dental professional by a procedure called scaling and root planing.
There are many pros and cons for various toothbrushes. The manual ones have been around for generations and people are very comfortable using them due to their availability and cost. The problem is that not everyone knows how to correctly brush with them and most people do not brush for the recommended 2 full minutes.
Dexterity may also be an issue for older adults or those who have arthritic problems that prevent manipulating toothbrushes. When a manual toothbrush is preferred, a soft compact head toothbrush should be utilized in a small circular motion. A “scrubbing” or back and forth movement leads to recession of the gums and erosion of the enamel.
For those who enjoy the convenience of a power toothbrush, there are many different brands on the market. The top brands include Oral B, Sonicare, and Rotadent; they can be pricey, but they ensure that every tooth is brushed free of plaque. Many come with a built in timer that alerts you when to move to another area and when the full 2 minutes have passed. Some people do not like the vibration motion of an electrical appliance in their mouth or feel it very uncomfortable, but usually this is just temporary until they become used to it.
A few cons of electric toothbrushes are that they can be overly used with pressure; some people tend to hold the brush with a “death grip” which defeats the purpose of allowing the toothbrush to work. If you feel you are using too much pressure, use only 3 or 4 fingers to hold the brush to “walk” along each tooth. In the end, it is a personal choice, but always remember to brush at least twice daily, no matter which one of the toothbrushes you choose.
Charles Tozzer is an Orange County dentist specializing in family and sedation dentistry (http://www.tozzerdental.com/orange-county-dentist).