Choosing the Right Toothbrush

There are many different types of toothbrushes to pick from but an electric toothbrush offers benefits and conveniences you won’t get in a manual toothbrush.

When shopping for a manual toothbrush, there are soft, medium, and hard. Which one is best?

Dr. John Vitale: I personally prefer the soft toothbrush because if a person brushes his or her teeth as she’s supposed to, twice a day or three times a day, the plaque formation on your teeth never gets really hard, and so you just need a gentle wiping or brushing to remove whatever plaque accumulates. I prefer the soft one.

What are the benefits of using an electric toothbrush?

Dr. John Vitale: There are many benefits. The biggest benefit, I think, is the timer that’s on the toothbrush itself because most toothbrushes, the better ones anyway, have two minute timers with 30 second intervals, which means if a person was to start brushing his or her teeth in the upper arch, let’s say, and starts brushing, after 30 seconds of you brushing the inner portion of your mouth and the outer portion of your teeth, it beeps, which will then let you bring the toothbrush to your lower section. Then you do that again for 30 seconds and it beeps again, bringing you back to the top portion of your mouth, and then back again with the next beep to the lower portion of your teeth. What that does in effect is give you four 30 second intervals of brushing. The ADA states that one should brush his or her teeth at least two minutes a day. You have a built in timer. That’s a very big advantage.

The second advantage of an electric toothbrush is the fact that they all come, the better ones come, with a mechanism that allows you to know when you are brushing too hard in your mouth. Some come with happy faces that turn sad when you apply too much pressure with your brush, others the handle turns red and you can see it. What it’s forcing you to do is apply the proper amount of pressure and not too much pressure when brushing. Those are the biggest advantages.

Are there different types of electric toothbrushes available? What features do they come with?

Dr. John Vitale: There are literally I would say 50 or 60 different types of electric toothbrushes. The base model ones just have a little battery in them and they turn and you brush. The more sophisticated ones come with that two minute timer like I told you, the pressure sensitive mechanism, and they come with a multi number of heads that you can use, depending on what you want to achieve with your brushing. The more sophisticated ones are not that expensive. I would highly recommend them.

If you have dentures or removable teeth, will a different type of toothbrush be used to clean them?

Dr. John Vitale: A denture brush consists of two differently configured brush heads, a flat bristled head for smooth surfaces and a single tufted head for hard to reach areas. The strong flat bristles are extremely resilient and efficiently remove dental plaque, food particles, and other debris from the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth.

How often should a toothbrush or toothbrush head be replaced?

Dr. John Vitale: Depending on wear, it varies, but I always tell people if you’re brushing twice or three times a day, with an electric toothbrush, I recommend changing the head every three months. The same with your regular toothbrush. One has to look at the bristles. If they start to bend and fray, obviously you change it, but three months is generally a fair time.

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