At Gregory A. Williams, DMD our team is gearing up to celebrate one of our favorite holidays – National Toothbrush Day on June 26. One of our favorite ways to mark the occasion is with a new brush. If you’ve never had an electric toothbrush, now is a great time to consider one!
We like electric brushes for several reasons:
- They apply more consistent, even pressure than a manual toothbrush
- Some have features to help you improve your brushing technique
- Brushes with timers can help you get in the recommended two minutes of brushing
- Their bigger handles can be easier to grip for those with arthritis or similar issues
How an Electric Toothbrush Works
Most electric brushes have a handle with removable brush heads. This gives you the ability to choose and use heads with many different kinds of bristles, without discarding the handle. Because of this, the brush keeps more plastic out of landfills and is easier on the environment. An electric toothbrush cleans teeth in one of three ways:
- Bristles move back and forth
- Bristles move back and forth and also rotate (oscillation)
- Sound wave technology moves bristles at a high speed (ultrasonic)
Any of these three styles can make it easier to clean teeth more thoroughly. Studies show that you can get about 300 strokes a minute with a manual brush vs. thousands of strokes a minute with a vibrating brush or tens of thousands of strokes with an ultrasonic one.
There are many electric brushes on the market. A surprising variety of new bells and whistles have been introduced in the past few years. For example, you can buy brushes with Bluetooth connectivity and use them with apps that say they help you improve your brushing technique.
While some of the more advanced features are helpful, and even fun, they aren’t strictly necessary.
A basic decision you’ll need to make is whether you want a battery-operated brush or a rechargeable one. Battery-powered brushes are less expensive, but the cost of batteries adds up over the life of the brush. Most rechargeable brushes have a light or other indicator that your brush needs a charge.
You’ll typically need to charge a rechargeable electric toothbrush for 12-24 hours before you use it for the first time. Check to see if your battery-powered brush comes with batteries; they usually don’t.
Electric brushes range widely in price, from as little as $5 (battery-operated) to $200 or more for a high-end ultrasonic brush.
Look for These Essential Electric Toothbrush Features
The electric toothbrush features we really like include:
Built-in timer – Even those of us with a great brushing technique benefit from brushing at least two minutes. Yet most of us don’t brush nearly that long. Try it; time yourself. With a manual brush, you can set the timer on your phone – or for a more fun way, brush to a favorite two-minute song. But a built-in timer makes it easier to get the timing right. Also often included is vibration that tells you when to move from one section of your mouth to another.
Pressure sensors – Always use a gentle touch when brushing. Brushing too hard can actually damage tooth enamel, making you more susceptible to cavities, or cause your gums to recede, making you more prone to gum disease. Pressure sensors will let you know if you’re brushing too hard, so you can lighten up if necessary.
Some additional features that we consider nice extras are:
- Digital reminders of when to replace your brush heads
- Multiple brushing modes like ones for sensitive teeth, added whitening power, or gum massage
- UV sanitizing for brush heads
- Storage case for travel
Work on Your Tooth Brushing Technique
Whether you use an electric toothbrush or a manual one, we are happy to work with you on your brushing technique when you visit us for an exam. The most important things to remember are:
- Brush for at least two minutes, at least two times a day
- Always use a soft-bristled brush that fits easily into your mouth
- Apply gentle pressure only
- Cover all of your dental surfaces: outer, inner, and tops of teeth
- Replace your brush head (or manual toothbrush) every three months or so, sooner if the bristles look frayed
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride
Need to schedule an exam or other service? Call Gregory A. Williams DMD today to visit our Tigard, OR office. If you’re a new patient, ask about our $79 exam and consultation.