The BBC’s recent two-part series ‘The Truth About Teeth’ has got our patient’s asking some great questions on how to look after their teeth so I thought I’d share some thoughts.
The presenter explained all you need for really clean teeth is a regular medium-soft brush – so why do we dentists often tell our patients to start using an electric toothbrush?
The thing is the studies that have shown manual brushes to be as effective as an electric brush look at what you can achieve if you brush properly. And here lies the problem. A lot of people don’t brush as well with manual toothbrushes even when they have been shown how.
In my experience people just seem to brush better with electric brushes and as a result we recommend them a lot
There are a number of reasons. To give the designers credit, oscillating brushes flick all that harmful plaque away from the gum and tooth surfaces. But in my anecdotal experience I don’t think this is the main reason.
The clever people who make electric brushes know that we are busy people and the two minutes it takes to thoroughly clean often get squeezed in our hectic schedules. So they installed little two minute timers that make the brushes buzz when two minutes are up.
Simply increasing the amount of time spent brushing achieves that deeper clean and I think this is why we see a better result when using electric brushes.
There are quite a few different brushes out there. The main electric types (rechargeable with fixed batteries) are divided into oscillating heads and sonic heads. We recommend the oscillating head varieties (Oral B – Braun type) as research supporting these is strongest.
Like everything from our cars to phones you can get overwhelmed with options - models that brush your teeth through to the ones that connect to your phone and make you a cup of tea in the morning. It’s really up to you what you want to spend, some of the additional features on the top models are pretty fancy but I’d question whether they get your teeth any cleaner.
So there you have it – the low down on the humble toothbrush.