Is an Electric Toothbrush Really Better?
A lot of people ask “is an electric toothbrush really better?” Well, it is my belief that just about every adult patient (and every young patient in braces) should have an electric toothbrush. There are 2 reasons for this: time spent brushing and force of brushing. When I was a student in dental school I had a professor that said a manual toothbrush could be as effective as an electric brush if used properly, and technically that is true. What I have realized after looking at teeth for 20 years is that we are simply too impatient when we brush our teeth. In the morning we’re in too much of a rush and in the evening we’re too tired to use a manual brush properly, and it is really difficult to change our habits.
Brush for Two Minutes
If you use a manual brush, time yourself brushing. The proper amount of time to brush is 2 minutes, at least 2 minutes. For many people this will seem like an eternity. One of the major benefits of an electric toothbrush is that most of them run for 2 minutes, so you turn it on and you know you are done when it turns off. Still, it can be a challenge to stand there and stare at yourself in the mirror and wait for the full 2 minutes, so I recommend walking around while you brush. Sometimes in the evenings, and when you are not so rushed getting out of the door to start your day, you may want to do 3 or 4 minutes of brushing, especially if you have a lot of fillings or crowns. The dental work can hold bacteria more than tooth enamel.
Be Gentle on Your Gums
If you have issues with receding gums or have had gum grafts or have sensitive teeth, it is better to stick to the 2 minutes because you can actually brush too much (or rather too hard). Not only can electric toothbrushes clear away bacteria well, they can also be more gentle. Most people brush way too hard, which can cause gum recession and even can wear away your teeth. With an electric toothbrush you just hold it against your teeth and gums and it does the work, removing the need for hard scrubbing.
Picking the Correct Toothpaste
Most toothpastes are abrasive, especially some of the whitening toothpastes. Most whitening toothpastes do not bleach your teeth, they make them whiter by scouring stains off. There was a study done with a toothbrush on a mechanical arm brushing against teeth for a couple of hundred thousand cycles. When only water was used there was no damage to the teeth, but when toothpaste was added large notches were worn in the teeth. Now, toothpaste is vital as a carrier for fluoride, but the plainer pastes and gels are better for you, especially if you have gum recession or sensitive teeth.
Don’t Use Too Much Force
Many manual toothbrushes also have medium or firm bristles. Never buy anything but a soft bristled toothbrush. The brushing motion should not involve hard scrubbing. Brushing should be thorough, not forceful. Time spent brushing is much more important than heavy force. Again, brushing too hard is often a difficult habit to break, thus increasing the value of an electric toothbrush.
So if you do not yet have an electric toothbrush, start checking them out. I think you’ll be pleased with the results! To schedule a checkup and cleaning, call our office at 864-520-2942 or request an appointment online.