There has been a lot of debate about electric toothbrushes (or powered toothbrushes) and regular toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes provide several times more horsepower in terms of strokes per minute than manual toothbrushes.
So, clearly, electric toothbrushes must be better for you right ?
Not necessarily… We have patients who say they their teeth feel less clean after using an electric toothbrush. And we have patients who swear by their sonic toothbrushes as well.
While having an electric toothbrush cannot hurt, I think it really boils down to the technique, and that its not the toothbrush that makes the difference.
Types of Toothbrushes
There are three main types of toothbrushes – electric, sonic, and regular (manual) toothbrushes.
Electric toothbrushes sport about 2500 to 7500 rotations per minute and are designed to replicate the motion of your hand. They use electric power or batteries and do the work your hand would normally do. These toothbrushes move one of two ways, rotate or back and forth. This motion helps to remove plaque in reducing gingivitis.
These toothbrushes vibrate rapidly, often in excess of 30,000 vibrations/strokes every minute. This rapid motion is the sonic’s claim to fame. The rapid motion aims to remove plaque buildup and keep teeth and gums clean and healthy.
The old-fashioned way of brushing your teeth using a manual toothbrush results in about 300 strokes per minute. So over the two-minute recommended brushing time, your teeth get about 600 strokes.
Benefits of Electric Toothbrushes
Studies show that sonic and electric toothbrushes are better at reducing plaque and gingivitis.
A 2003 study by Cochrane Oral Health Group (University of Manchester) concluded that, compared to manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes with rotational-oscillation action result a modest reduction in plaque and gingivitis (7 and 17 percent, respectively) compared with manual toothbrushes. But the study also found that when used properly, manual and powered brushes can both be equally effective.
Sonic Toothbrushes – Some amazing statistics
A 1997 Stanford study, showed that 95% of the dental plaque was removed using a sonic toothbrush, if the contact between the sonic toothbrush and the enamel was at least 5 seconds. If the contact time was 10 seconds or longer essentially all of the dental plaque was removed.
So what is the best option for you?
Electric toothbrushes may work better for people who are typically not good at reaching into the nooks and corners of their teeth. They may also benefit children who often lack dexterity as well as older people who may suffer arthritis or similar conditions which makes it harder for them to brush effectively.
Additionally, electric toothbrushes may motivate some people to brush more often since its less physical work.
Conclusion – What Should I buy ?
It depends on your dexterity and your budget. Manual tooth brushes can be bought for under a few dollars, and when used properly, achieve very good results. Powered tooth brushes such as Sonicare could cost between $20 and $200.
The above mentioned statistic wrt Sonic toothbrushes (95-100% plaque removal) is incredible and leads me to believe that if you have persistent plaque build up in your teeth (your dentist will likely mention this during your periodic exams), you should consider trying out a sonic toothbrush.
So in essence, there are advantages to Sonic tooth brushes. However, the benefits are not game changing if your technique with your manual toothbrush is already good and if you don’t have plaque.
Regardless of which toothbrush you use, you may want to read our post about brushing.
Authorship information and references:
Stanford CM, Srikantha RWu CD. Efficacy of the Sonicare Toothbrush Fluid Dynamic Action on Removal of Human Supragingival Plaque. Journal of Clinical Dentistry. Vol. 8, No. 1. 1997.
Parents often wonder why their children have white or brown spots in their teeth. They are even more confused or sometimes even angry when a dentist mentions “Baby Bottle Decay” or “Early Childhood Caries”.
Children need healthy teeth to chew food, speak and have a good looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. While children do get a new set of teeth when the childhood teeth fall off, it is important to instill a sense of good oral hygiene to help protect their teeth for decades to come.
What is Baby Bottle Decay
Baby bottle decay is the earliest form of childhood decay. It occurs because children are put to sleep with a bottle filled with milk, juice or other sugary drinks. If left unnoticed, it quickly spreads to adjacent teeth and also causes teeth to breakdown completely before we have an option to save them.
How can I prevent it?
If you have a young child, my recommendation is the following:
- Stop nighttime nursing/milk bottle as soon as the child's teeth begin to erupt.
- Do not add sugar to milk
- Make sure you brush/clean the child’s teeth prior to bedtime.
Tip : Use a fluoride free toothpaste for children under 2 since this is safer even if swallowed. A pea sized amount should suffice. For infants, you may use a clean damp cloth instead of a toothbrush.
What is Gum Disease ?
Gum disease is a serious bacterial infection that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Gum Disease, or Periodontal disease, is a chronic infection and affects the gums and the bone that support the teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the colorless, sticky film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or more teeth.
Gum disease is classified into two types:
Gingivitis is caused by long term effects of plaque deposits on your teeth.If we don’t remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar. Together, these two cause irritation and inflammation of the gums.
When gingivitis is left untreated then it turns into periodontitis where infection and inflammation spread to ligaments and bone. It is the primary cause of teeth loss in adults.
It is imperative to diagnose gum disease as early as possible to prevent loss of teeth.
How is Gum Disease Treated ?
It is imperative that you get treatment for this serious condition. Untreated gum disease can become very serious, causing teeth to become loose or fall out.
Treatment options may include regular prophies (cleanings), scaling and root planing. For more severe conditions, surgery may be needed.
Consult your dentist to prevent and treat this silent killer early in the game.
Link to Heart Disease
Research shows that in many instances periodontal disease is linked to heart conditions. In many instances people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia (stroke) were found to have an oral infection.