Are Electric Toothbrushes Really Better?
Electric vs manual, which one is better?
Large oral care companies slap slogans and spend truckloads of money for you to think that electric toothbrushes are better. This simply isn’t true. If a manual toothbrush is used correctly and with intent, it can clean just as well as any electric model on the market.
whichever you use, most people brush their teeth on autopilot without any consideration to what they’re doing. When you brush are you thinking about angles and position, or are you thinking about getting your kids out the door for the school? 70 percent of people brush like this. So, it’s no surprise that 70 percent of people have gum disease.
The problem is not the brush, it’s the brusher.
For most of us, brushing is taught at an early age where just getting the brush in the mouth can be an exercise in futility. Our parents taught us up and down and circle methods in an effort to build habits, but not based on best practices. We develop muscle memory and carry these bad habits into our adult lives. This is where the disconnect happens, and where I spend most of my time; re-educating patients on proper brushing techniques. However, occasionally I do recommend silly circles, for people who are over-aggressive, show signs of gum recession or toothbrush abrasion.
Electric vs. manual
The American Dental Association endorses the Bass Method. This is because research has proven it’s the best way to brush. A study on dental students showed no difference between a sonic toothbrush and a garden variety manual toothbrush. Why? Because dental students don’t brush on autopilot. When brushing, the dental student can see the teeth with the mind’s eye. This is what you should be doing as well.
The Bass Method requires placing the bristles 45 degrees to the gum line and brushing with short back and forth strokes. This ensures that the bristles penetrate below the gum line into the sulcus (a small pocket just below the gum line). This is where gingivitis and gum disease starts. If you keep this area clean, you will be golden.
Electric toothbrushes bypass this precision with brute force. Now to be clear, I’m not saying that electric brushes don’t work, because they do, and in some cases, are preferred. However, I can’t justify the expense and battery hassle if all that’s really needed is modifying the brush angle and tweaking the thought process. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.
Electric toothbrushes unwittingly provide a false sense of security.
I frequently diagnose gingivitis and periodontitis on patients who say, “but wait I use an electric brush”, where my response is, “well it’s not working for you, let me show you a better way”. A big toothbrush company used to have a slogan’ “brush like a dentist”. I agree with this completely, however, to brush like a dentist, you must first “Think like a Dentist”. Electric toothbrushes don’t make good teeth; just good technique.
Thus, Floss your teeth. If your gums bleed or the floss stinks, you need to change your brushing technique and this will require changing the way you THINK about brushing. Gingivitis can cause heart disease and diabetes. An early indicator that you are at risk for gum disease is bleeding gums. Therefore, If you are up to the challenge I recommend the MD Brush. It will force you to brush 45 degrees to the gum line until it becomes second nature.
I recommend an Electric Toothbrush for the following.
• Conditions that affect mental or physical dexterity
• Teenagers with orthodontics
All others I teach the Bass Method with a good manual toothbrush
MIKE DAVIDSON – MAVERICK DENTAL HYGIENIST AND CEO MD BRUSH