Choosing The Right Toothbrush
It’s time to choose a new toothbrush, but which one should you buy?
Is it time to fork out for a fancy, self-timing electric toothbrush or should you stick with the standard manual toothbrush? As there is an extensive range of toothbrushes available to buy, we can understand the dilemma you may be in.
A Brief History Of The Toothbrush
The toothbrush has been around since 3000BC where the Ancient Egyptians used the end of a twig with frayed ends to clean their teeth. Various changes have thankfully been made to improve the performance of toothbrushes over the years. The toothbrush we are familiar with today was invented in the late 1930s using nylon bristles with softer bristles being introduced in the 1950s.
Today, both manual and electric toothbrushes are available in many shapes and sizes, offering different desired effects.
There are particular characteristics that you should look out for when purchasing any new toothbrush – manual or electric.
Firstly, look at the size. The ideal size of a toothbrush head should allow you to be able to easily brush all surfaces of your teeth, including those hard to reach areas at the back of the mouth. Most toothbrush heads are around ½ an inch wide and 1 inch long as this size provides the most effective way to clean every tooth. However, depending on personal choice, there are larger heads available.
Next, you should look at the bristles. Choosing the correct level of hardness of bristles again depends entirely on what you are most comfortable with using. Softer bristles are good for people who suffer from sensitive teeth although medium to hard bristled toothbrushes can actually damage gums and protective tooth enamel.
Manual Vs Electric
As long as you clean your teeth regularly using the correct brushing technique, you should be able to reduce plaque build-up and keep gums healthy regardless of whether you are using a manual or electric toothbrush.
Electric toothbrushes make rapid, automatic movements either back and forth (oscillation) or rotates in circles which is perceived by some as being better at cleaning teeth than a manual toothbrush. However, some people don’t like the vibrating feeling so opt for a manual toothbrush. It is at the end of the day, entirely your own personal preference.
The best toothbrush for you is down to which one you are most likely to use. If you enjoy using your toothbrush, you are more likely to clean your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes. Some electric varieties have built in timers or play music whilst you brush your teeth to increase the likelihood that you will brush for the optimum time.
Other electric varieties have pressure sensors where the toothbrush will flash red or stop completely when you are applying too much pressure. Applying too much pressure, especially around the gum line can cause significant damage, so this technology prevents this from happening before it becomes a problem.
There are even toothbrushes available where you can sync your toothbrush to your smartphone over Bluetooth. Information about your brushing technique is recorded in an app and graphs are used to present how often you brush your teeth, if you have brushed for the appropriate amount of time and which areas you need to brush more. You can also set goals to continue to improve your oral health.
Battery Operated or Rechargeable?
Battery operated toothbrushes are cheaper and more portable than rechargeable ones, so they could be a good introduction if you are not sure if you should pay out for an expensive rechargeable toothbrush.
When deciding which one to buy, it is important to consider the price of replacing the batteries and that a battery operated toothbrush may lose effectiveness as the battery begins to drain away.
A rechargeable toothbrush typically holds its charge for a week’s worth of brushing two times a day, but some can last for up to 6 weeks.
One of the most obvious differences between a manual and electric toothbrushes is the cost. Ranging from less than £1 to over £100 for a top of the range electric toothbrush. Other things to bear in mind is the cost of replacement heads which can cost £30 for 4 subject to where you buy them from. But, if an electric toothbrush keeps your teeth cleaner, you may make up for the costs in a reduction in dental costs.
There have been a wealth of studies carried out to find out if electric toothbrushes are actually more effective than the manual variety. Some studies have shown that you can achieve the same results using a proper brushing technique, a fluoride toothpaste and a manual toothbrush. However, a recent American study found that electric toothbrushes were 20% better at removing plaque and 11% better at preventing gingivitis over a 6 month period than manual toothbrushes.
The trick with using electric toothbrushes is to know how to use them correctly. The most common mistake is assuming you still use the same sweeping technique you would using a manual toothbrush. Instead you should just place the toothbrush head against the tooth and the pulsations do the work for you!
Choosing a toothbrush for your child
When choosing a toothbrush for a child it is important to select one that they will use. Most child’s toothbrushes are available in bright colours or a favourite TV character to encourage them to use a toothbrush regularly.
Electric toothbrushes can help children to brush their teeth better as they do not have to put in as much effort as a manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are not suitable for under 3 years old and parents should supervise brushing up until the age of 7.
We hope this guide has helped you decide which type of toothbrush is better suited for you, if you would like any further information we recommend booking an appointment with your dentist who will be more than happy to advise you about what the best options are for you.
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