A Closer Look at Electric Toothbrushes

April is Oral Health month. As a dental hygienist I feel the need to share as much oral health information with as many people as possible, so this week I will do a few posts on the topic. I hope you all enjoy and learn something new!

I’ve already done a few posts related to dentistry. If you’ve missed them, be sure to check them out!

I like to think that I practice very conservative dentistry. I don’t use super fancy lasers available and never recommend products to patients just for the sake of promoting a brand. It’s just not my thing. I also rarely suggest something for a general population. Though we all have teeth that need proper care and maintenance, other than the standard ”brush and floss” I usually have individual plans for each patient. The only other thing I can think of that I would recommend for the general public is electric toothbrushes.

Why Electric?

Simply put, unless you’re brushing your teeth by perfect textbook technique (Yes, there is a proper technique) electric brushes are more effective than manual brushes. Few people care to put the effort into brushing their teeth as properly as they should. The electric toothbrush has proven over and over to remove more plaque/food/debris than manual toothbrushes.

What Type?

When looking for an electric toothbrush you want a head that is soft or ideally, extra soft, round and one that oscillates rather than vibrates back and forth. Like this:

Source: OralB

Source: OralB

Studies have shown, brushes that oscillate (spin in circles) are more effective than vibrating only brushes. Quite honestly, since I’m offering unsolicited advice, this is the only electric toothbrush type you should buy. If your prefer the other types that’s fine too but you’d probably be just as fine with a normal manual brush, save your money.

Gold Standard

The gold standard of electric toothbrushes would have to be the Oral B Triumph. At a pretty price of well over $100 you’re looking at an investment. Trying to maintain my honesty, though this is a fantastic product, I just can’t recommend anyone spend that money when the same company produces my personal favorite and most recommended, the Oral-B Vitality.

The Vitality is rechargeable and uses the same heads as the Triumph…sort of seems like a no brainer huh? You have to be careful as some ”electric” brushes don’t even have batteries you change, once it dies you have to throw it out! For about $20 you can buy the Vitality with a few choice of head options (I prefer and recommend the ”sensitive” or ultra soft head for anyone), and you can buy refills.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

I try to price dental products wherever I go so I can recommend the cheaper places for my patients. The best prices I find in store for electric toothbrushes and replacement heads are Walmart and Costco, sometimes Amazon is good too but I find them to be hit and miss.

Anyone Can Use Electric Toothbrushes 

A lot of people think because they have crowns, bridges, implants that they can’t use an electric brush, that it may somehow damage the porcelain or gold work. The opposite is true. If you want to prolong the length of your restoration using an electric brush will help maintain your tissues better and more effectively clean your restoration.

As you can see from the above picture, the Vitality even has an ortho option for those with braces.

When I have a patient who uses an electric brush it’s usually quite obvious. If I suspect one of my patients use an electric brush I ask and my hunch is almost always right. Sometimes electric brushes are used because kids think they’re cool or guys think they’re a neat gadget, I don’t care why you choose to use one, if it works for you and is the motivation you need to brush your teeth all the power to you!

Finally, while we are on the topic of toothbrushes, there is a neat summary video from mojohealth containing ten tips for maintaining your oral health.