Are you taking care of your teeth? You know, flossing regularly, reading about the TikTok oil pulling trend and, most importantly, brushing your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice daily for 2 minutes using a toothbrush with soft bristles to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
The ADA also says you can keep your teeth healthy using a manual or electric toothbrush. That raises the question: Which toothbrush type should you use? There are pros and cons to using either type. Electric toothbrushes are more expensive. But they also might be more effective at removing plaque and reducing tooth decay.
Whether you're considering a move to an electric toothbrush or looking to improve how you use yours, read on to discover the benefits of these powered brushes, common mistakes and how you should be using it.
Benefits of an electric toothbrush
There are several advantages to using an electric toothbrush, like manageability and effectiveness. Here are some of the most important:
Electric toothbrushes might be more effective
Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes may more efficiently prevent tooth decay.
In 2014, the Cochrane Collaboration studied 56 clinical trials of unsupervised toothbrushing by more than 5,000 subjects, both adults and children. Researchers found that those who used an electric toothbrush for one to three months saw a reduction in plaque of 11% when compared to those who used a manual toothbrush for the same amount of time.
The study also found that those who used electric toothbrushes experienced a 21% drop in plaque after three months of use when compared to their peers who used manual toothbrushes.
Another study that followed adults for 11 years also found that participants who used an electric toothbrush had healthier teeth. The 2019 study, conducted by researchers at the University of Medicine Greifswald in Germany, found that those who used electric toothbrushes had healthier gums and kept 19% more teeth throughout the study than those who used manual brushes.
A better choice for young children
Children often struggle to effectively clean their teeth properly with a manual toothbrush. They might get bored before they've finished brushing for the recommended 2 minutes, making it easier for plaque to build on their teeth. An electric toothbrush can help. Because the heads of such brushes rotate in different directions, they provide more brushing power and can more effectively remove plaque in a shorter time. Some electric toothbrushes have built-in timers, letting younger children know when they've hit that key 2-minute mark.
More effective at removing plaque if you have braces
Do you have braces? If so, an electric toothbrush might be the better choice for your dental health. A study by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found that participants who used a manual toothbrush after getting braces were more likely to accumulate more plaque and increased risk of gingivitis than those who used electric toothbrushes.
Better at removing plaque
Your goal when brushing your teeth is to remove as much plaque as possible. That's because the bacteria in plaque eats away at your teeth's protective enamel. Your teeth are more likely to suffer decay and you are more likely to experience painful cavities if you don't remove this plaque.
Easier to use for some
An electric toothbrush might be easier to use for people with chronic pain or disabilities. That's because the brushes' rotating heads do most of the brushing. With manual toothbrushes, you have to do the brushing work yourself.
How to properly use an electric toothbrush
Ready to make the switch to a powered toothbrush? Or, are you ready to learn how to correctly use yours? Fortunately, using one of these brushes is relatively simple and will take no more work than using a manual toothbrush.
- Make sure your toothbrush is charged. Your electric toothbrush should have an indicator that lights when it is charged.
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and begin brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth. Hold the brush's rotating heads against each tooth for 2 to 5 seconds before you move onto the next.
- After brushing the outer surfaces of your teeth, move to the inside surfaces, holding your brush's rotating heads against these surfaces for two to five seconds before moving on to the next.
- Next, hold your brush's heads against the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Hold your brush against these surfaces for a few seconds each before moving on to the next tooth.
- You're not done yet. Run the rotating heads of your electric toothbrush along your gum line and on your gums. This will remove any remaining plaque in your mouth.
- As a final step, gently clean the roof of your mouth and tongue with your brush. This is a good way to remove stubborn food particles. Brushing these areas of your mouth also can help freshen your breath.
Common mistakes when using an electric toothbrush
While it's easy to use an electric toothbrush, there are still mistakes you should avoid when brushing your teeth. Here are the most common:
Not brushing long enough
Don't rush your brush. The ADA recommends that you brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day with a brush with soft bristles. Rushing this makes it more likely that you won't scrub away enough of the plaque that builds on your teeth.
Not replacing a worn toothbrush head
Don't overuse the heads of your electric toothbrush. The ADA recommends you change these heads every three to four months. If bristles on these heads are frayed or matted, you should immediately replace them, even if you've used them for less than three months.
Brushing too hard
You might be tempted to push down hard when you brush your teeth, but this can have detrimental effects on your teeth and gums. Brushing too hard can wear down your gums and teeth. That could reduce the enamel on your teeth, making them overly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures. Brushing too hard could also cause your gums to recede.
Using the wrong toothbrush
You can brush your teeth effectively with both an electric and manual toothbrush. But you will need to use the right brush. The ADA recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a long handle that allows you to reach the back of your mouth. If you want to make sure your toothbrush is up to snuff? Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Brushes approved by the American Dental Association feature a seal on their packaging.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.