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Are You Using The Right Toothbrush?

Did You Know The Type of Toothbrush and Toothpaste You Use Really Does Make A Difference?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed choosing a toothbrush or toothpaste? Our grocery and convenience stores are full of choices. In fact, at a grocery store near the office of Dr. Finlay and Associates, we counted over 150 different types of toothbrushes available and over 160 different types of toothpaste! How do you know which kind to choose? Does it really matter? We believe that it does!

The long-standing theory that brushing for two minutes, two times a day is effective, regardless of how you are brushing no longer stands firm. An article in the September 2015 issue of Consumer Reports on Health, referenced an analysis of 56 studies published in 2014 that indicate electric models may have the edge. The analysis found that, “compared with manual toothbrushes, electrics reduced dental plaque 21% more and gingivitis 11% more after three months of use.”

Powered brushes are available in oscillating, vibrating (sonic), or ultrasonic forms. Oscillating is perhaps the most widely used, where the brush head spins around in alternating directions around the tooth. Vibrating or sonic brushes vibrate from side-to-side at a higher rate of frequency. Ultrasonic brushes use the highest frequency of vibration and do not rely on motion to clean the teeth. Costs for these brushes range from $25 – $200 depending on the manufacturer and accompaniments. If cost is a factor, you may want to consider starting with a battery-operated powered brush that can be equally effective.

There are many benefits of using a powered toothbrush, whether oscillating or sonic. These include:

  • Speed – It is impossible for a manual brush to reach the speed of a powered brush, which is able to more successfully move plaque and food. Yet, powered brushes use around half of the force needed by a manual brush to do the same job.
  • Comfort – An electric toothbrush goes the grunt work. This is especially helpful for those individuals with arthritis, carpal tunnel, paralysis, and other medical concerns. It’s also a benefit for children who do not have the dexterity to effectively clean their own teeth.
  • Deeper Clean – Powered brushes offer more power to remove stains and whiten teeth and more flexibility to reach into cracks and crevices.

The perfect complement to the right toothbrush is, of course, the right toothpaste to improve the removal of plaque and increase the effects of brushing alone. There are many toothpaste options that are targeted to the specific needs of different consumers. All FDA-approved toothpastes contain fluoride to protect against cavities and strengthen tooth enamel. Some have extra ingredients to target gingivitis, tartar, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, or whitening properties, while others are naturally-based with herbal and other natural ingredients.

All toothpastes contain mild abrasives to remove debris and surface stains. It is important to find the proper balance of abrasiveness so that the toothpaste is abrasive enough to be effective, but not so abrasive as to be harmful. The accompanying chart listing toothpaste abrasiveness ranked by relative dental abrasion value lists many popular toothpaste brands and is a great reference when shopping for a toothpaste.

toothbrush abrasiveness chart

(*chart shows toothbrush abrasiveness as ranked by RDA (relative dentin abrasion) value)

Whichever toothbrush or toothpaste you decided to use, we continue to recommend brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to maintain healthy teeth and gums. And of course, remember to visit with us twice a year for routine preventive dental care.

Contact Annapolis dentist Dr. Scott Finlay and Associates, DDS at 443-276-4094 if you have any questions related to your dental health.