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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.

Most kids, will always choose to do the fun activity over the boring one. If the task is not fun it will be rushed through or avoided all together. This can also apply to how well children brush and take care of their teeth. This is one area kids definitely need our guidance to maintain a healthy smile.

The following are four easy ways to encourage your kids to own their smile and at the same time improve their oral health:

1) Make Brushing Fun! - Most dentists recommend brushing for a minimum of two minutes. Two minutes can feel like forever for a kid. To get your child to brush and floss properly, try making Pediatric Dentistrya game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off, or sing twinkle twinkle star twice. Cute, fun toothbrushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably by his or herself, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. I also recommend an electric toothbrush for little ones. Makes it easier to use and makes them feel like big grown ups. Should be replaced every few months, particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush. For babies, a soft finger toothbrush, or wet washcloth are easiest to use for you and them. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing. There are also fun flossers that make it easier to do the best job possible. Another tip would be to brush with your child — Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique. I would also recommend the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This solution will allow you and them to see where the plaque is before brushing and what was missed after brushing. Then you can “help” them remove the last of the plaque. Once the color is gone, the plaque is too!

2) ”But Why??” Explain it all to them – It’s important for kids to know “Why” they are doing things. Brushing and flossing are no different. If they are simply told to do it, it becomes a chore and they will most likely resist. If they realize it’s a good thing for them,  or it is fun, they may be more likely to take the challenge on themselves. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes cookies and food left between your teeth. Do you want tooth bugs stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next dental checkup, ask your dentist to show visually proper brushing and flossing techniques.

3) Monitor Sweets and Candy – It’s no secret that kids love candy and sweets. But it’s important for kids to know that eating too many sweets causes cavities. Try to keep sugary snacks limited to later in the day to ensure you child brushes away the sugar with his or her evening brushing and flossing regimen. Or if they are going to have sugar at other times make sure they at least rinse but preferably brush as well following the sweets. Also avoid fruit gummies or roll ups these are the worst types of sugar because they lodge between teeth, stick and stay . They are candy not healthy like actual fruit and they are not nutritious.

4) Give kids incentives to achieve – Set a goal with your child to get a “perfect score” the next time he or she has a dental checkup. This, of course, means your dentist finds no cavities! Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect checkup, such as that new video game or doll they have been wanting. Make sure they understand that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. You can even tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily reinforcement. Tell yourdentist about the reward system, so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. If you are still finding cavities, diet may need to be looked at more closely, and Fluoride may need to be incorporated. Ask your dentist to advise. Remember to schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months. Very important to stay on schedule and go when needed. You are laying the foundation for your child’s oral health throughout life.

Ask your dentist for more tips and tricks to keep our kids teeth cavity free!