On the surface, taking care of your teeth seems like menial, mundane work. Brush, rinse, spit, repeat — it’s as easy as 1,2,3.
However, maintaining excellent dental hygiene — now, that’s a feat. There’s more work to be done aside from brushing and flossing: you have to regularly visit the dentist to know if your teeth have any issues, and extra steps have to be taken if you have a serious dental condition. Financially, that’s a challenge, too.
Fortunately, taking conscientious care of your teeth is doable, and you can always start with the basics. One of the building blocks of healthy teeth and gums is an effective toothbrush. Not just a toothbrush — but the right toothbrush that not only suits your personal preferences, but also your specific dental needs.
General Factors You Should Consider
Here’s a list of what to look for when choosing a toothbrush:
Friends say size doesn’t matter, but for toothbrushes, it sure does. Your toothbrush head should reach all surfaces of your teeth. The standard size for adults is ½ inch wide and 1 inch long. The head cannot be too big, because it would be more difficult for you to clean the sides and backs of your molars, which are hard to reach. You should also be able to hold your toothbrush handle comfortably.
Toothbrush heads come in oval and rectangular shapes, and the best shape is the one that doesn’t hurt when you use it. The handles also come in rounded or edged forms. Comfort is key in determining if it’s right for you. Don’t buy the toothbrush if it doesn’t feel right in your hand.
These come in direct contact with your teeth and gums. Consider these two factors when choosing them:
Toothbrushes are available in soft, medium, and hard bristles. Medium and hard bristles may clean your teeth thoroughly; sometimes, a little too much. If you brush aggressively using a hard-bristled brush, it can wear down your teeth, scratching enamel and leading to receding gums.
Generally, you don’t need to apply too much pressure to remove the plaque from your teeth. That’s why the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends soft-bristled toothbrushes as the safest choice for effective and comfortable teeth cleaning.
Some toothbrush types feature straight or sharp bristles that aim to promote deep cleaning; They supposedly able to reach into the unreachable regions in between your teeth. However, they are more likely to cut your gums, which can lead to inflammation and infection.
Because of this, toothbrushes with round bristles are still generally recommended. They are gentler to your mouth, regardless of how hard or soft you brush. They can also help prevent pain, especially if you have sensitive teeth and gums.
Your dentist is the best person to ask for recommendations. They know which ones have undergone quality control tests. In stores, you can also look for the CDA Seal of Approval on manual and electric toothbrushes validated to have bonafide oral benefits.
- For disposable toothbrushes, the seal ensures that:
- The brush has soft bristles.
- The bristles remain intact and will not fall off the toothbrush under typical brushing conditions.
- The handle will withstand normal use.
- The toothbrush will effectively reduce plaque build-up and gum disease in their early stages.
- Aside from satisfying conditions similar to disposable brushes, electric toothbrushes can only bear the CDA seal when they undergo safety testing in an independent lab. Clinical trials must also prove that the toothbrush is safe for use on mouth and teeth tissues and on any dental applications such as metal retainers and clear braces.
Manual vs. Electric Toothbrush
The decision to get a manual or an electric toothbrush all comes down to preference. While some say they feel that their teeth have never felt cleaner before using an electric toothbrush, others still prefer manual, disposable ones because of the price.
Advantages of Using a Manual Toothbrush
- Easy to use
Most of us have been trained at an early age to use a manual toothbrush. There are no power requirements; you don’t need to worry about replacing batteries, connecting to a power source, or electric hazards.
Manual toothbrushes were made to be affordable. You don’t need to purchase replacement brush heads or batteries. It is a simple teeth-cleaning unit that depends on your brushing technique to be effective.
- Easy to dispose of
Mostly disposable and recyclable, manual toothbrushes can be thrown away and replaced after 2 to 3 months of use. If you are worried about your ecological footprint, ask your dentist for a recommendation on a fully biodegradable bamboo toothbrush.
Advantages of Using an Electric Toothbrush
- Better at removing plaque
Research shows that, compared to manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes are more efficient for removing plaque and protecting your gums against gingivitis. Rotation oscillation brushes with bristles that go around, as well as back and forth, cover more surface area without taking a toll on your arm and elbow.
Electric toothbrushes also make it easier for people wearing braces to reach specific areas inside the mouth. If you’ve recently been fitted with orthodontics, ask your dentist if you need to change your toothbrush to improve your dental routine.
- Better for people with less mobility
There are some who find it hard and uncomfortable to do typical toothbrushing movements due to an injury, a condition (such as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis), or aging. An electric toothbrush requires little to no effort to use. You can rely on the self-moving bristles to do the deep-cleaning in your mouth. All you need to do is exert a little effort on moving your arm gently so you can cover all the areas that need brushing.
- Built-in timer
Not everyone keeps track of the time when they brush. It feels instinctive to start and stop at a certain point. HOwever, most of us don’t actually get to the recommended 2 minutes, while others exceed it .
An electric toothbrush assumes this timekeeping responsibility and ensures that you are brushing within the bounds of the brushing timeframe recommended for optimum cleaning. Nowadays, most electric toothbrushes, such as the CDA-approved ones made by Oral B, come with a built-in timer.
Regardless of your choice, what’s important is that you stick to your brushing schedule. With a proper tooth brushing technique, you can guarantee that your teeth and gums remain healthy and plaque-free — whether your toothbrush is manual or electric.
When to Replace Your Toothbrush
Knowing when to replace your toothbrush is equally important to choosing one. The CDA recommends that you replace it every 3 months. Around this time, your toothbrush is expected to be worn and out of shape.
Once the color on the bristles starts fading, it’s a sign that you need to buy a new brush, or replace the head (if it’s an electric unit). You are discouraged from using it any further as it can damage and make your teeth and gums sensitive. To be sure that you don’t forget, add toothbrush replacements to your calendar.
You also need to replace your toothbrush after recovering from an illness, such as a cold, the flu, or any other viral infection. Bacteria can stay in your toothbrush for a while, so you need to replace your toothbrush to avoid getting sick again with the same thing.
What’s the Best Toothbrush for My Kids?
The best toothbrush for your child is the one they can enjoy using on a regular basis. Disposable and electric options abound for your kids, so find one that sports soft rounded bristles with a CDA Seal of Approval on the packaging.
Manual brushes are generally the safer choice, especially for babies and toddlers. However, electric toothbrushes can be helpful if you have an older child that’s easily distracted. The noise and vibrations are often enough to keep kids interested throughout their brushing! Some varieties play music within the recommended brushing time, and come with toothbrush cases that provide additional protection from unwanted articles.
Seek your dentist’s advice before making the switch from manual to electric toothbrush for your kid.
As your kids grow older, let them help you pick out their toothbrushes. Getting your children involved in the process (like having them pick their favourite colour) can make them more interested in dental hygiene.
Achieve that Healthy Smile with Us
With the proper brushing technique, the toothbrush that you’re most comfortable using will help you achieve strong and healthy teeth. Dr. Urszula Barrios can help you find the right toothbrush and the necessary steps to take for your dental hygiene. Call us now at 519-767-6453 for an appointment!