So does it all “boil down” to just what your preference might be or is one type of toothbrush actually “better” than the other?
First let’s explore what is available.
As with many “everyday” products we use, toothbrushes go through annual model changes. Toothbrush manufacturers stay busy developing the “latest” model that just might have the right feel in your hands, the right look and feel in your mouth. One of the latest models from Oral B has a cantilevered head that is designed to absorb the extra pressure some “hard brushes” use, thus mitigating some of the damage to tooth structure caused by too much brushing pressure. A pretty neat idea.
There are three key elements involved in using a manual toothbrush that determine effectiveness. By “effectiveness” I mean how much of the total plaque accumulation is removed from the surfaces of the teeth without tooth damage once you are finished brushing.
Key element #1 is time devoted to the process. The “gold standard” is 2 minutes (if you have a full set of teeth). So it should not be a “fast and furious” process where the idea is to just get done, but rather a slower deliberate process focused on doing a thorough job, in much the same way as I observe my wife applying make - up!
Key element number two is technique. A circular or elliptical pattern of brushing has been shown conclusively to do a better job of removing plaque while at the same time avoiding tooth damage observed when the “back and forth sawing” type pattern is used.
Number three is the use of a “soft” bristled brush and for those “Type A” personalities even “extra soft”.
For the most part, the style or shape of the brush head turns out to be personal preference since observing the key elements above will assure effective plaque removal.
There are basically two types:
Battery Powered - These brushes typically have limited features and have a circular rotating head. They use AA batteries and are quite inexpensive. A battery powered brush can be very effective at removing plaque and is a good place to start if you are contemplating moving away from your manual brush.
Rechargeable Electric - These are the “gold standard” when it comes to current toothbrush technology. They are available in different price ranges with different features. The better ones use an oscillating-rotating kind of action such that all one needs to do is simply guide the brush head along the tooth surfaces for effective plaque removal. Other interesting features include:
- Numerous brushing modes specialized for sensitive teeth, whitening benefits or gum-massaging action
- Pressure sensors to signal when you’re brushing too hard
- Timers to help you keep track of how long you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth
- Digital reminders to replace your brush head
- Oscillating-rotating or sonic technology
- Multiple brush head compatibility so you can choose which kind of bristle design you prefer.
So, back to the question which is best- power or manual?
Well, independent studies have shown that rechargeable electric brushes remove plaque better than manual brushes. However, a manual toothbrush, properly used and when the three key elements, referred to earlier, are observed will do an adequate job.
Well, Doc (you might ask). Which do you use? A fair question.
I use both! Not at the same time of course! Right now I use an Oral B with the cantilevered head manual brush and Oral B Triumph 5000.
Ask us about toothbrushes anytime and we will kindly offer our advice.