How to Choose an Electric Toothbrush

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Considering replacing your trusty manual toothbrush with an electric one? Here’s what you should consider.

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With so many types of electric toothbrushes to choose from, it can be somewhat overwhelming and confusing, so here’s a guide to help you out!

Advantages of an Electric Toothbrush

Easier to use

If you struggle to brush your teeth properly with an ordinary toothbrush, an electric toothbrush may just help.

With an electric toothbrush, you don’t have to constantly move your hands, wrists and arms. They need significantly less force to effectively remove plaque – just hold the toothbrush against your teeth and let the powered motion do all the work for you!

This is especially ideal for those suffering from dexterity issues – arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other painful or debilitating conditions – as most models feature large, soft grip handles that are designed to be more comfortable to hold and easier to maneuver than the small, hard handles of ordinary toothbrushes.

Better at removing plaque

Though early electric toothbrushes did nothing to impress dental hygienists in terms of plaque removal, they have evolved dramatically over the years. With new brush head and bristle designs, recent research shows that the current generation of powered toothbrushes removes more plaque than manual toothbrushes.

Extra features to help improve oral hygiene habits

While basic models have a standard brush head and one cleaning programme, higher-spec brushes can come with various features and accessories designed to help improve your oral hygiene habits by encouraging you to brush more accurately.

Such features include built-in timers, pressure sensors to prevent over-brushing, or even cute little noises to tell you when you’re doing a good job!

Disadvantages of an Electric Toothbrush

Less suitable for travelling

Because of their bulky size and weight, and their need for a battery replacement or charging, electric toothbrushes simply don’t make the most reliable travel companions when compared to ordinary toothbrushes.

More fragile

The worst thing you can do with a standard toothbrush is to drop it on the floor. On the other hand, electric toothbrushes are capable of breaking or running out of batteries.

Higher cost

A big price tag does not necessarily mean better results. Some of the cheaper powered toothbrushes perform as well as or better than the more expensive ones in terms of removing plaque.

However, the initial cost of an electric toothbrush can seem a bit on the pricey side when compared to the cost of an ordinary toothbrush, especially when considering the cost of replacement heads (which can be difficult to find in some areas).

Choosing an Electric Toothbrush

Movement

A rotating head has bristles that spin in one direction, while a rotating-oscillating head makes rapid quarter turns in one direction, and then the other – creating a windshield-wiper effect (making it a favourite among dental hygienists!). Counter-oscillating heads are similar but instead of changing direction, these bristles rotate in different directions simultaneously. When using rotating or oscillating brushes, you simply move the brush slowly from tooth to tooth.

Side to side vibrating brushes don’t spin; instead they sweep from side to side at such high speeds that they vibrate against your teeth. There are also ultrasonic brushes that vibrate at high frequencies to help break down plaque. Manufacturers of sonic brushes claim that they also drive cleaning fluid (a mixture of toothpaste, water and saliva) between your teeth to help dislodge plaque. When using a vibrating toothbrush, you usually brush just like a manual toothbrush.

A dual head brush can have one head rotating while the other sweeps from side to side. However, the large size of the head can make it hard to manoeuvre in tight spots such as the back molars. Buyers with braces should definitely opt for an electric toothbrush that has a small head instead.

Brush head and bristle design

Rechargeable electric toothbrushes come with a removable head you need to replace once the bristles are worn out. Toothbrush technology has come a long way though, and you can now choose from a variety of bristle types, from brush heads that feature a cup shape for cleaning around your teeth to those with a diagonal pattern of bristles for cleaning the sides of your teeth and along the gum line.

Extra features

If you’re looking for something more, here are a handful of some of the most common extra features to get you started.

  • Pressure sensors: Harsh scrubbing to remove plaque is not necessary. In fact, too much pressure can do more harm than good to your gums and teeth! Pressure sensors help you determine the appropriate amount of pressure to apply when brushing your teeth by beeping or lighting up to warn you when you’re pressing too hard.
  • Speed control: By being able to control the speed at which the bristles rotate, buyers can ensure that their teeth receive proper care. Those with sensitive gums or braces should consider extra feature.
  • Built-in timer: These ensure you brush for a total of two minutes, or 30 seconds for each quadrant of the mouth. Some are auto-programmed, while others will beep when it’s time to change quadrants and when it’s time to stop. Studies show that the average amount of time we spend brushing our teeth is only about 45 seconds – that’s less than half of what is needed to keep our teeth clean and healthy! Try timing yourself and if you find that two minutes are too long, you might just benefit from a built-in timer.
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