It’s believed that the bristle toothbrush was invented in 1498 in China. You can bet that its first users would never have thought that centuries later, we’d have toothbrushes powered by batteries.
While some may see the use of a power toothbrush as lazy, research to date suggests that it may actually be more effective than brushing manually. A 2009 report published by the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 42 studies and found that, at least in the short term, oscillating toothbrushes were better.
Most powered toothbrushes are of this sort. When combined with the normal back and forth motion of brushing, powered toothbrushes buff and clean away more plaque than just brushing with a manual toothbrush and are no more likely to damage gum tissue.
More recently, a study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry reached a broader conclusion:
The subject group using the powered toothbrush demonstrated clinical and statistical improvement in overall plaque scores. Powered toothbrushes offer an individual the ability to brush the teeth in a way that is optimal in terms of removing plaque and improving gingival health, conferring good brushing technique on all who use them, irrespective of manual dexterity or training.
Is the additional cost of a power toothbrush worth it then?
Not necessarily. Any dentist will tell you that picking the right toothbrush is only one factor when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy. Routine and proper technique matter even more. (Here are 10 mistakes you don’t want to make.) Ultimately, the best brush is the one you use regularly.
- Brush your teeth for about two minutes. Sing a jingle in your head if it helps.
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Make a special effort to reach all of your teeth, including your back molars.
- Pay close attention to the areas where you teeth meet the gums.
- Brush your tongue to eliminate bacteria and food debris that are still in your mouth.
- Rinse your toothbrush once you are done.
Above all else, make sure you floss as well as brush, and rinse afterward. After all, brushing only cleans 60% of your teeth. Flossing helps you reach the rest of those in-between places and at the gumline.
You wouldn’t wash a little more than half your body while you shower and still consider yourself clean, right?