Should You Use an Electric Toothbrush?

When it comes to dental care, the electric toothbrush vs. manual toothbrush question is a debate along the lines of Sony PlayStation vs. Microsoft Xbox. While each side has its supporters, it really comes down to which features are important to you and your family.
Both the electric toothbrush and manual toothbrush clean your family’s teeth. You just need to determine which features, if any, are worth the added investment you’ll make for an electric toothbrush. Yes, manual toothbrushes are a bit more prone to “user error,” but they work just fine if you use good tooth brushing habits.
Our Spokane Valley, WA dentist Dr. Craig Ellsworth is happy to talk toothbrushes with you any time. At your next checkup, he can recommend toothbrushes that may be well suited to your specific needs. Call Family Dental of Spokane Valley at 509-850-3217 to schedule an appointment with him.
In the meantime, we’ve shared some information in this post that we hope may answer some of the questions you have about electric toothbrushes. It should help you answer the electric toothbrush vs. manual toothbrush question.

Do Electric Toothbrushes Do a Better Job?

We can’t definitively answer this question. Much depends on your personal brushing habits. However, a report published in 2014 by research firm Cochrane found that electric toothbrushes reduced dental plaque 21 percent more than their manual counterparts and gum disease 11 percent more in three months of use. The report was based on Cochrane’s analysis of 56 different studies.

5 Types of Electric Toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes do not all clean your family’s teeth the same way. You can choose from five different brush motions:

  • Rotating electric toothbrush. The bristles on these electric toothbrushes rotate in a circular motion. The bristles may rotate in different directions or all in the same direction.
  • Rotating-oscillating toothbrush. On these brushes, the head of the brush moves back and forth (oscillates).
  • Counter-oscillating electric toothbrush. While these electric toothbrushes work in a similar way as rotating-oscillating brushes, some of the bristles oscillate in opposite directions.
  • Dual-head electric toothbrush. These electric toothbrushes include bristles that rotate and oscillate.
  • Vibrating electric toothbrush. The bristles on these electric toothbrushes do not rotate or oscillate. Instead, the bristles vibrate and brush up against your teeth.

Toothbrush makers like to say some of these cleaning methods may be more effective than others. For instance, some say their electric toothbrushes cover more of the surface of your teeth.
But we suggest choosing an electric toothbrush that uses a cleaning method that you find enjoyable. If you like the way a brush feels when using it, you won’t avoid brushing your teeth; you might even increase the frequency of your brushing.

4 Electric Toothbrush Features

As electric toothbrushes have become more popular, manufacturers are loading them up with all kinds of extra features. Here, we discuss some of the most notable ones.
Remember, though, that buying an electric toothbrush is a little like buying a car: you’ll pay more for one that is fully loaded with lots of extras.

  • Brushing timer. One of the most useful features, and one of the most common, is a timer that ensures you spend the recommended amount of time brushing your teeth. Some electric toothbrushes have more sophisticated timers that will buzz, pulse, or otherwise signal every 30 seconds or so that you should move to another section of your mouth.
  • Pressure sensor. A pressure sensor will signal to you if you are putting too much pressure on your teeth as you brush. Heavy brushing isn’t good for you. It can result in tender gums. Over time, it can even cause your gums to recede. Some models of electric toothbrushes will even stop working when the sensor indicates excessive pressure.
  • Brushing modes. Some electric toothbrushes include a variety of different brushing modes, most of which involve changing the speed or power of the brush. Some may switch from one type of cleaning, like oscillating, to another like rotating. Some popular modes are whitening, massaging, deep clean, and sensitive teeth.
  • Feedback features. Some electric toothbrush manufacturers have begun including features that monitor your brushing activity, much like a Fitbit monitors physical activity. Some brushes will even offer suggestions for improvement.

While these features are “nice-to-haves” and not “need-to-haves,” there are a few electric toothbrush features we consider more essential: at least one brush head, a charger, and a cleaning mode.
Call Family Dental of Spokane Valley at 509-850-3217 for more advice on electric toothbrushes, good tooth brushing habits, and other important aspects of dental care. Or you can use our online form to make an appointment.

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