Are Expensive Electric Toothbrushes Essential to Good Oral Health?
The answer would seem to be obvious. Of course brushing with a sophisticated electrically charged gadget with high-speed, rotating bristles must be more effective than the old fashioned manual method used for decades, right? You may be surprised to learn that there are actually a lot of questions and controversies about which is the best way to go, even in these modern times.
So many patients are now asking their dentists about these mechanical tools that the American Dental Association (ADA) has issued several news releases on the matter.
The ADA Weighs In
The organization says manual toothbrushes can be just as effective as powered ones. The key to preventing tooth decay, say experts, lies in the way a toothbrush — electric or otherwise — is used.
“If you are a wonderful brusher and a wonderful flosser … then the manual toothbrushes are just great,” says Kimberly Harms, DDS, an ADA consumer advisor who is also a dentist in Farmington, MN.
Harms says powered devices can help people who have trouble physically moving their brushes around their mouth to clean all teeth surfaces. These may include anyone with a motor disability or arthritis.
In the past, Consumer Reports has said electric and manual toothbrushes are equally effective as long as you brush teeth thoroughly for 2 minutes, twice a day. But an analysis of 56 studies found that electric models may have a slight edge. Compared with manual toothbrushes, electrics reduced dental plaque 21 percent more and gingivitis (i.e., inflammation of the gums) 11 percent more after three months of use.
More than half of the studies researchers looked at involved rotating, oscillating electric toothbrushes featuring heads that spin swiftly in one direction and then the other; sonic toothbrushes that have vibrating brush heads; powered brushes that move side-to-side but don’t rotate; and ones with tufts that move in different directions.
Toothbrushes Throughout the Centuries
There was a time when toothbrushes were considered luxury items. According to the ADA, wealthy Europeans in the Middle Ages used twigs made of sweet-smelling wood to clean their teeth. Then, in 1498, the emperor of China developed a device with hog bristles placed in a bone handle. This type of toothbrush became so popular that in Europe even the common folk used it.
Today the cost of a powered toothbrush can be more than five times that of a manual one. Keep in mind that it’s not only the initial investment in an electric toothbrush that must be factored in, but the regular replacement costs of the brushes.
Despite the controversies, SEDA dentists generally recommend high-tech brushes. If you can afford it, go for an electric toothbrush, SEDA professionals say. Not only will you benefit from a whiter and brighter smile, but your teeth will maintain a long-lasting sparkle for many more years to come. If you have any questions, Call SEDA Dental today and make an appointment for a cleaning before you make that purchase.