Brushing is key for dental health
Good oral hygiene involves brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly and maintaining consistent brushing habits. With these good habits, you can prevent cavities, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and periodontal disease (gum disease).
If you’re not satisfied with the results of your dental checkups, you may want to consider a power (AKA electric) toothbrush for dental care.
Does an electric toothbrush work better?
A power toothbrush is battery-powered and designed to offer superior cleaning by removing dental plaque (a sticky film that coats the teeth and contains bacteria) and food debris from the teeth and gums. By creating waves of turbulence in the toothpaste and water in your mouth, bubbles are created that can shift more plaque than manual brushing alone.
“Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean teeth,” says Ada S. Cooper, D.D.S, a New York City-based dentist and consumer advisor of the American Dental Association (ADA).
But, if you’re using a manual toothbrush, you’re responsible for doing all the work.
This means holding the manual toothbrush at a 45-degree angle while brushing the gum line and the outer and inner surfaces of the teeth while providing gentle pressure for two minutes. It’s all about brushing technique and the time spent brushing.
An electric toothbrush can eliminate common mistakes people make while brushing. Power toothbrushes take the skill out of brushing, and as a result, achieve better plaque control.
What does science say about power toothbrushes?
Many studies and systematic reviews support the benefits of a power toothbrush.
A study in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene not only found an improvement when using power toothbrushes over a manual brush but a benefit in using a power toothbrush with an oscillation-rotation mode of action over a high-frequency sonic mode of action.
Other research has shown improved plaque removal when using a power toothbrush over a manual. There was an 11% reduction in plaque at one to three months of use, and a 21% reduction in plaque when assessed after three months of use. For gingivitis, there was a 6% reduction at one to three months of use and an 11% reduction when assessed after three months of use.
The research supports the recommendation of using a power toothbrush for daily plaque removal. The maintenance of oral health has never been easier.
Are there different types of power toothbrushes?
There are three main actions/types of power toothbrushes
- Rotation-oscillation action – features a round toothbrush head that oscillates back and forth while the rotating brushes have a head that spins. The rotary and oscillatory motion enhances the cleaning action without applying additional force to your teeth. The brush moves in a sweeping pulsating motion.
- Sonic technology – these brushes also have rotating and oscillating features with a vibrating brush head moving the bristles side to side, but they move at much higher speeds This helps remove plaque and bacteria more effectively than other toothbrushes and causes less gum abrasion.
- Ultrasonic power action – these toothbrushes do not rely on physical motion for cleaning. They use a very high-frequency vibration referred to as an ultrasound to remove plaque and bacteria.
The high-frequency waves break up bacterial chains in the plaque as far as 5 millimeters below the gumline. It cleans the teeth by resting the brush on the tooth surface. According to one study, it generates over 1.2 billion movements per minute!
What are the features of a power toothbrush?
When choosing a toothbrush there are several features to look for:
Number of brush strokes per minute (BPM)
The higher the BPM, the more effective the toothbrush will be at removing plaque and bacteria. Most oscillating-rotating toothbrushes have a BPM of around 1,300 to 8,800, while sonic toothbrushes have a BPM of 24,000 to 30,000 or more.
Range of cleaning modes
There are several cleaning modes, such as high speed, sensitivity, whitening, deep cleaning, and gum care. The selections can be between different levels of vibration intensity. Some brushes even allow a combination of different modes and intensities to tailor the brushing experience.
This feature provides an alert when too much pressure is applied to the teeth — preventing damage to the gums.
Electric toothbrushes come with two charging methods: inductive and USB. Inductive charging involves placing the toothbrush in a special cradle, while USB charging can be done with any standard USB port.
Rechargeable power toothbrushes or disposable batteries
All models are battery-operated — either rechargeable or disposable. In the long run, rechargeable toothbrush models are a better value, but disposable models are more convenient if there isn’t a place to recharge them.
Replaceable brush head
Most electric toothbrushes come with a replaceable brush head. Dental professionals recommend a new brush head every 3 months — instead of replacing the entire toothbrush. The brush head’s shape and size may vary, so it’s important to find one compatible with your teeth. The smaller brush heads clean those hard-to-reach places.
Waterproof electric toothbrush
A waterproof toothbrush means you can place it underwater without fear of water rushing inside. If you’re having a hectic morning and running out of time — brush your teeth in the shower!
Do power toothbrushes provide Bluetooth connectivity?
Bluetooth is a wireless connectivity option that most of us are familiar with. Continued innovation has brought Bluetooth to the electric toothbrush.
Some brands that have Bluetooth technology built into them include:
- Philips Sonicare
Bluetooth technology allows for smarter and more engaging ways to get information about how we brush. Power brushes with the technology can track precisely where the brush is in the mouth, what teeth have and have not been brushed, and how long you’ve been brushing.
The data is sent back to an app — from the toothbrush manufacturer — and presented simply and understandably to the user. Understanding how well we brush allows for better choices to improve our brushing technique.
The apps now allow for a comparison between the current data set and previously saved data sets to provide useful feedback about how to further improve.
What are the benefits of using an electric brush?
The features listed demonstrate some of the benefits of using an electric toothbrush for better oral care. But there are additional benefits including:
Easier for people with limited mobility
The electric toothbrush does most of the work for you and may be helpful for anyone with limited mobility, such as people with:
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- developmental disabilities
According to National Geographic, one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the United States every year. In contrast, electric models are built to last, meaning less plastic ends up in the trash over time. While you still need to replace the brush heads, many companies offer recycling programs for them.
Safety and timing
Some electric toothbrush models can limit how much pressure you apply to your teeth and gums — protecting them from accidental damage. Some patients cause wear away their enamel by brushing too hard. But brushing too softly is also a problem; if you are too gentle, you won’t remove all the plaque and bacteria.
The timing feature on power toothbrushes lets you know when you’ve reached the recommended brushing time of two minutes. Some brushes have a quadrant timer that breaks up the brushing session into four equal parts to ensure all areas of the mouth are brushed. Timers are very helpful for keeping you on track to better oral health.
Improved dental care in those with orthodontic appliances
A study found that the electric toothbrush made brushing easier for people with orthodontic appliances. The improved plaque removal of a power toothbrush improved oral health over the struggle of manually brushing around dental hardware.
Optimal dental health care includes dentists, dental hygienists, and patients. All now have numerous choices when recommending or selecting an electric toothbrush, and understanding the technology, benefits, and clinical trial research in support of the various technologies. This lays the foundation for wiser choices and healthier teeth.
Why choose MD Periodontics for your Los Angeles periodontal care?
MD Periodontics is the premier periodontal facility for high-quality dental care. Located in Beverly Hills, we provide a wide range of dental services. Our patients are not only local but come to us from around the globe.
Our two board-certified periodontists and their highly qualified and professional staff form a team that is dedicated to providing top-of-the-line technology and skills earned from extensive experience in order for you to have the best smile as well as the best oral health.
MD Periodontics is nationally recognized as among the very best periodontist in the nation. Our Beverly Hills location serves Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Westwood, Culver City, Brentwood, Bel Air, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Marina Del Ray, Beverly Hills, Downtown Los Angeles, and the surrounding areas.
Schedule an appointment online or call us at (855) 245-1100.
Heasman PA, McCracken GI. Powered toothbrushes: a review of clinical trials. J Clin Periodontol.1999;26(7):407-420.
Robinson PG, Deacon SA, Deery C, et al. Manual versus powered toothbrushing for oral health. In: The Cochrane Library of Systemic Reviews 2005. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2005.
Van der Weijden FA, Timmerman MF, Snoek IM, et al. Toothbrushing duration and plaque removal efficacy of electric toothbrushes. Am J Dent. 1996;9(spec no):S31-S36.
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