There are a great number of toothbrushes on the market, manual brushes of all shapes and sizes, electric toothbrushes with sonic or oscillating actions, and battery powered brushes, it can be difficult to decide which toothbrush is best for you.
Most dental care professionals steer clear of battery powered brushes as they are usually less powerful and less cost effective than electric toothbrushes but are aimed at the same audience (claiming to do the same job as electric brushes), if you don’t want a manual brush go for electric rather than battery powered.
Manual verses Electric Toothbrushes
It is important to know that either type of brush, provided you have the correct head size and softness, can clean as well as the other so long as you are cleaning your teeth effectively.
An electric toothbrush does take the hard work out of tooth brushing as it does a lot of the cleaning for you, they must however, be used in the correct way, i.e. no scrubbing! They are particularly useful for people who have difficulty managing a manual brush e.g. children and sufferers of arthritis or strokes, or even those who have picked up the bad habit of scrubbing too hard as many electric brushes stop working if the pressure applied is too great.
A sonic toothbrush such as a Phillips Sonicare brush gently vibrates to remove plaque and debris from the teeth. When using this type of brush the user simply has to angle and manoeuvre the brush effectively over the teeth to ensure that all of the tooth surfaces are reached when cleaning.
An oscillating brush such as an oral b electric brush has a head which quickly rotates forwards and backwards by 180 degrees, similar to the bass technique used for manual brushing. When using this type of brush the user simply places the head on each tooth individually ensuring each tooth is cleaned effectively on all surfaces.
Remember to read the instructions when you by a new electric toothbrush, or ask your dentist, therapist or hygienist for tips if you’re not sure that you’re using it correctly.
Sonic brushes tend to have a more traditional shaped head and oscillating ones a round head. The important thing to remember when choosing the head for your brush is to go for a soft small head; this makes it easier to reach difficult areas and ensures that brushing is done gently. A head that is too hard can wear away gum tissue and enamel over time. Double heads and larger heads make access more difficult.
Oral b brush heads fit all oral b toothbrushes(including children’s’ toothbrush heads) but Phillips Sonicare brush heads have specific heads for specific brushes so make sure you check your type of Sonicare before replacing the head.
You don’t have to get an ‘all singing all dancing’ brush so long as it has an electric charger and preferably a two minute timer the brush will be sufficient. Prices do vary and Sonicare brushes are expensive but they do tend to last, there are often half price deals available and buying a good electric brush is a sound long term investment.
If you feel you can clean your teeth effectively with a manual brush make sure that you choose one with a soft small head, as with electric brush heads, a soft one will reduce the risk of brushing too hard and potentially scrubbing away gum tissue or enamel over time, and a small head makes access to difficult areas easier.
Some are available with indicator strips to show you when the brush needs replacing which is handy, and there are lots of different shaped heads, those which claim to ‘clean between’ or to reach difficult areas, however a simple headed manual brush is fine, such as the Sensodyne 3.5 manual brush, it is the physical act of brushing that really matters.
Manual brushes are much cheaper than electric ones but you must ensure that your teeth are cleaned effectively, there are some tips for good brushing in the post ‘tips for effective tooth brushing’, and you can always talk to your dentist, therapist or hygienist to make sure you’re using it properly.
Whichever brush you decide is right for you, remember to replace the heads or brush regularly to keep them working effectively, this is usually every three months for manual brushes and oral b electric brushes and every six months for Phillips Sonicare electric brushes, also remember to clean interdentally to really look after you teeth.