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Tooth brushing has been a part of our lives since we can remember. It has become an activity that, for most, seems to be second nature. Brushing your teeth, as with any habit, can become tedious. You may forget the proper way and get sloppy, or may never have learned proper tooth brushing techniques to begin with. Improper tooth brushing technique can lead to many problems, including root and enamel wear, gum recession, cavities, and gum disease .

Tooth Brushing Mistake #1

-Choosing the wrong tooth brush. Not all toothbrushes are the same. Things to consider when choosing the right type of toothbrush include size of head, size of handle, and type of bristles. The head of the toothbrush should be the right size to enable you to reach all tooth surfaces. If you are straining to open wide enough to get the brush into your mouth, having a hard time cleaning around back molars, or banging into other teeth, then the brush is probably too large for you. The handle needs to be comfortable for you to use and fit your hand properly. The bristles should be soft to extra soft. If it the bristles are any harder, you increase surface abrasion.  Abrasion slowly causes wear and damage to your teeth and gums while brushing. As for manual tooth brush vs electric tooth brush, most research shows that electric toothbrushes get the teeth far cleaner than a manual brush, and if used properly, cause less abrasion.

Tooth Brushing Mistake #2

-Not brushing enough. This includes both, time of actual tooth brushing and the times per day you brush. It is recommended that you brush a minimum of twice per day for at least two minutes each time. Many of us do not brush for the recommended amount of time,instead brushing for only 15-30 s, this can definitely lead to insufficient removal of food and plaque bacteria. Brushing after each meal is ideal, removing food particles before they begin to cause problems. Timers can help you spend the correct amount of time, or humming a tune, many electric toothbrushes have an advantage in that many have a built in timer to monitor the time you are tooth brushing. Carrying a spare toothbrush or having one in your desk at work, may help you to brush more frequently.

Tooth Brushing Mistake #3

-Brushing too aggressively. Tooth brushing too vigorously can erode tooth enamel, expose the roots of the teeth, and wear away gum tissue. Erosion causes increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets. Develop the proper tooth brushing technique utilizing the right amount of force to keep your teeth clean. An aggressive tooth brushing technique is difficult to change, especially if you have been doing it this way for a long time. Electric toothbrushes are ideal for changing technique, as you hold them over each tooth, letting the brush do the work, and do not “brush” with them.

Tooth Brushing Mistake #4

-Using improper tooth brushing technique. The tooth brush should be angled at a 45 degree angle and use short strokes when brushing. This will allow you to brush safely but also give yo the ability to remove the plaque at the gum line. The strokes should be soft, going up and down, and circular or vertical. Be sure to brush the outer AND inner surfaces of your teeth along with the chewing surfaces and finally your tongue.

Tooth Brushing Mistake #5

-Not Rinsing? Cleaning your brush. Bacteria will grow on an un-rinsed, wet toothbrush. If you do not rinse, and clean your toothbrush, you will be putting plaque bacteria back in your mouth each time you brush. Rinse and dry your tooth brush after you brush to help remove any leftover toothpaste, and rid of the moist environment that bacteria love. There are many techniques to clean your brush, including UV sanitizers, soap and water, and anti bacterial rinses. Keep your mouth cleaner with a clean, dry toothbrush.

Tooth Brushing Mistake #6

-Not changing your toothbrush regularly. The recommendation from the American Dental Association is to change to a new brush every 3-4 months or sooner if the bristles appear worn.  Research shows us that, as toothbrush bristles splay, their ability to remove plaque decreases significantly. You know how often and how hard you use your brush, which will help you evaluate when it is time for a new brush. Do a visual inspection every so often to ensure the bristles still have their original flexibility. There are even some brushes now that have colored indicators on them to tell you when brushes need changing. You may need to change every 1-2 months if you are a frequent brusher.

Conclusion

Tooth brushing is a very important daily habit. The premise is simple, but the technique is critical to good oral health. It is never too late to learn proper tooth brushing technique. Don’t be shy, ask your hygienist if you are doing it correctly, he/she may have some great pointers for you. The next time you see your dentist  for a dental examination and professional cleaning, take full advantage of their knowledge, and ask questions. You may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome, healthier teeth and gums!

Toothbrush – A brush with a long handle used for cleaning teeth.

There are so many different kinds of toothbrushes on the market today. These range from colorful toothbrushes, musical toothbrushes, light up toothbrushes, to just plain

Toothbrush Debate - Marielaina Perrone DDS

Electric Toothbrush Vs Manual Toothbrush

old fashioned ones. For the most part the colors and lights on toothbrushes add nothing to the actual brushing. But there is an alternative to the old fashioned manual toothbrush. That is the electric toothbrush which adds quite a bit to the functionality of the brush.

Toothbrushes with nylon bristles first came to market during the 1930’s. Now there are literally hundreds of different kinds of oral hygiene products lining the shelves of your local store, making the right choices ever more confusing.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush

There are some general guidelines most people follow when choosing a toothbrush that is right for them. These include:

Size of Bristle Head and handle. We are all not the same size and that goes for the sizes of our mouths as well. The perfect size toothbrush will allow patients to have good access to their entire mouth. If the bristle head of the toothbrush is too large you will have a hard time reaching towards the back especially in the upper and lower molar region,where space becomes tight. Toothbrushes generally come in a large size and a regular adult size. If an adult needs a smaller size than the regular adult they can get the largest children’s size toothbrush. Length of the handle is also a factor. The toothbrush must have a long enough handle to allow access to the back of the mouth. Some handles are made wider for a more comfortable grip. Whatever toothbrush you choose make sure it allows you to do the best job of cleaning your teeth correctly.

Type of Toothbrush Bristle. The bristles come in three types of hardness: soft, medium, and hard nylon bristles. Most dentists recommend the soft bristled toothbrush for safety. A brush that is too hard can actually damage your teeth and gums if you are too aggressive a brusher. Another tip is to select bristles that have rounded edges for even more protection of the soft tissues in the mouth.

Introduction of the Electric Toothbrush

The electric toothbrush was a great innovation. It was important especially for those with limited dexterity who were unable to properly maintain their oral hygiene the right way. It was also thought to be more fun for adults and children. A novel approach generally results in brushing for longer and more often. Later, electric toothbrushes began to help with other brushing issues, such as being less abrasive, using wave motions to massage and clean more thoroughly, and refining shape for comfort and ease of use.

Advantages of an Electric Toothbrush

The electric toothbrush has a few advantages over the manual toothbrush. These include:

Larger handles. Most electric toothbrushes have larger handles which are easier to handle and hold while tooth brushing. These toothbrushes have been designed in more modern times and tend to reflect that in their designs.

Built in Timers. Most electric toothbrushes have some sort of built in timer. The recommended time for

each brushing session is about 2 minutes. This gives you enough time to adequately clean all the teeth in your mouth and not just the ones you can see.

Preference. Many patients enjoy the feeling of the electric toothbrush. This is  a positive, because when brushing feels good, you will do it more often and probably do a better

job at it.

Change the way you brush. For an aggressive brusher, the habit of hard scrubbing can be erased by using the brush to do all of the work while the patient just holds it in position. For those with limited dexterity, children included, the brush will help get to areas they may have missed with a manual toothbrush. For those with braces, the electric toothbrush can be more effective to keep all that hardware clean in less time than a manual toothbrush.

Disadvantages of an Electric Toothbrush

Cost. Electric toothbrushes tend to cost far more than their manual counterparts. A manual toothbrush can cost as little as 1-2 dollars whereas a good electric toothbrush can cost upwards of 150 dollars. In addition to the initial cost, you must buy new bristle heads every few months, as they wear down. This is an added cost. Many electric toothbrushes will only last for a year or two and need to be replaced, while others like the ROTADENT have a lifetime warranty.

Recharging Batteries. A power supply is needed to keep batteries charged. And then over time a new battery is needed which is another added cost. Most cannot simply have the battery changed and require the purchase of a new unit.

Effectiveness. Some studies have shown that a manual toothbrush is more effective than an electric tooth brush in removing all the plaque in your mouth. There are numerous studies attesting to this fact, however many patients do very well with a manual toothbrush. It all depends on the patient and their abilities.

Best Electric Toothbrushes (listed in no particular order)

1) Rotadent Electric Toothbrush.

2) Oral-B Professional Care Electric Toothbrush.

3) Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush.

Choosing an Electric Toothbrush

Choosing an electric toothbrush comes down to preference and effectiveness in your hands. When making your choice, remember to find out:

1) Where can you find replacement brush heads and how much will they cost?

2) What does the warranty cover, and for how long?

3) Is the brush size adequate for your mouth?

4) Does it need to be plugged in or is it battery operated?

5) How does the handle size feel in your hand?

6) Does the level of vibration irritate your hand?

Patients need to make the choice of what tool (the electric toothbrush or manual toothbrush) that will be most effective for them to maintain their oral hygiene. They are both used to achieve the same goal but one might work better for you. As always do not forget to visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and cleanings to maintain a healthy smile.