Which Toothbrush is Right for Me?
One of the most frequently asked questions by our patients is “Which toothbrush
is right for me?”
Brushing your teeth is the most important aspect of excellent oral hygiene and
prevention. According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), both electric
and manual toothbrushes are effective at removing oral plaque that causes tooth
decay and disease.
Electric and manual toothbrushes each have their pros and cons, but personal
preference and factors such as age and general health usually play a role in which
kind of toothbrush is best for you.
Electric toothbrushes often have timers to ensure you brush for the full 2 minutes and can also warn you if you are applying
too much pressure, potentially damaging your teeth or gums. They are ideal for
those who have limited mobility, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis but
are also the preferred type of toothbrush for over 30% of all patients.
Manual toothbrushes are affordable and available in almost every store, easy to
maintain (they don’t require batteries or charging), and are travel-friendly.
Whichever you use, brushing your teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, is the
most effective step you can take for oral health. This ensures that the bacteria
that causes plaque, a film that adheres to your teeth, is removed. When plaque
accumulates, it can cause tooth decay as well as gum disease.
Here is what you need to consider for selecting and using a toothbrush:
Size: The best toothbrush head should allow easy access to all the surfaces of your
teeth. For most adults, a toothbrush head a half-inch wide and one-inch tall will
be the easiest to use and the most effective. Bigger is not always better! A smaller
head will ensure you are able to get to all parts of your mouth, including the backs
of your molars.
Bristle Type: Regardless if you purchase a manual toothbrush or a replacement head for your
electric toothbrush in store, or online, you will be able to select a toothbrush with
ultra soft, soft, medium, or hard bristles. An ultra-soft or soft bristled brush is
recommended as it is the most comfortable and safest choice for your gums and
teeth. Depending on how vigorously you brush your teeth and the strength of
your teeth, medium and hard-bristled brushes could actually damage the gums,
root surface, and protective tooth enamel.
Effectiveness: Numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate whether manual
or electric toothbrushes are more effective at reducing gum disease and
eliminating plaque. If you tend to brush too vigorously, which can damage your
gums and teeth, an electric toothbrush with a pressure indicator may assist you in
being more gentle on your gums and teeth and get them clean at the same time.
Similarly, a manual toothbrush can allow you to have better control of where the
bristles are on the teeth and how much pressure you use. Both manual and
electric adequately remove plaque to prevent gum disease, as long as they are
Toothbrush Care: Remember to change your manual toothbrushes, or brush heads once every 4-6
months, after getting over a cold, or sooner if the bristles are worn out and frayed.
The effectiveness of the brush decreases as the bristles become worn.
Store toothbrushes in an upright position after use and allow them to air dry.
Storing a moist toothbrush in a closed container promotes microbial growth more
so than leaving it exposed to the open air.
The way you brush is the key
Ensure you are using the appropriate toothbrushing technique whether you
choose a manual toothbrush or one with all the bells and whistles.
Depending on what type of brush you are using, hold the toothbrush at the
proper angle. A manual toothbrush should be used at a 45 degree angle to ensure
that the bristles go below the gum line. Work your way methodically around your
mouth to make sure that all surfaces of the tooth are brushed. Clean the front
and back sides of all your teeth, top and bottom, including the sharp edges. Try
not to be too aggressive when brushing. Signs of overly aggressive brushing are
tooth sensitivity, bleeding or irritated gums, receding gums and splayed
toothbrush bristles. And of course, don’t forget to clean between your teeth
where a toothbrush will not reach with floss!
Keep your regular dental visits with your dentist to ensure that your gums and
teeth stay healthy so you can enjoy a lifetime of smiles!