What toothbrush should I use: manual or automatic?|
Commentary by Capt. R Nathan Fife
42nd Aeromedical-Dental Squadron
7/13/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- It has been nearly three months since your last dental cleaning and it is time to replace the freebie toothbrush your dental technician/hygienist gave you. While in the store looking for a toothbrush you are inundated with options, both automatic and manual.
To help decide, think about what you want your toothbrush to do and how it is used.
A toothbrush cleans your teeth and stimulates your gums. The proper way to use a toothbrush is by making small circular motions at a 45-degree angle directed between your teeth and gums, allowing the bristles to sweep below the gumline.
Light pressure, enough to turn your gums slightly white, should be used with a extra-soft toothbrush, whose bristles are limber enough to reliably get into the depressions around teeth. Too much pressure deforms the bristles making them less likely to reach all surfaces and can lead to increased wear of the teeth.
Manual toothbrushes are very effective in getting plaque off of your teeth when used properly. It is the gold standard of dental cleaning utensils. They are economical and portable. The light weight of a manual brush makes it easier to control the amount of pressure used.
Automatic toothbrushes are more efficient. These toothbrushes tend to be easier to hold and they do some of the work for you. You still need to constantly change the angle of the brush's head to contact as much tooth surface as possible but the primary motion of scrubbing is done for you. Also, the vibration from an automatic toothbrush does a great job of stimulating the gums which can help ultimately strengthen them. One downside to this is that the automatic vibration may be uncomfortable for some.
Properly cleaning your teeth takes about two minutes. If you can be focused in that two minutes and make the proper brush strokes throughout your whole mouth, a manual toothbrush may be the best choice for you. If you tend to get complacent and just go through the motion of brushing an automatic toothbrush may, in the long run, keep your teeth cleaner.
When deciding to buy an electric or manual toothbrush, the decision boils down to each user's preference for comfort and convenience. The best choice for your next toothbrush is one that you will actually use effectively daily.
In addition to brushing, you should also floss daily.