“Power toothbrushes make me excited!” A simple, but true statement in the dental world. Sometimes these funny little comments we make are a big “AH… HA..!” moments. It’s Thursday afternoon at Dr. Joe Gregorich Family Dental Office and I have just dismissed my last patient of the day. I said to Dr. Joe …”Power toothbrushes excite me!” Dr. Joe tried not to smile or laugh at his dental hygienist, but he also knows the passion and love I (we) have for our job and patients.
This all started while cleaning the teeth of my last patient of the day. I am discussing findings, as I notice slight bleeding in the lower left, tongue side of teeth and between a few teeth on scaling. Her past history in my notes had not shown bleeding, but healthy, pink, firm tissue with normal bone support notations. Bleeding is a concern in the dental world as it shows inflammation and dental disease. So as I notice this, I am having that discussion with the patient about the bleeding spot locations. I also asked those important questions hygienist tend to ask that are important for your dental health? How often do you brush (2x day for 2 minutes ideal)? How often do you floss (daily, preferably evenings) and do you use a mouth rinse with a fluoride? Now my patient said she was doing all of the above but my next question was my AH…HA moment. Are you using a power or manual toothbrush? Her comment was, actually four months ago my Oral B brush died and I switched to manual. Why she asked? My recommendation, buy a new power toothbrush, your manual is not getting the job done! You have bleeding today which I have not noted in your last few visits. So we went on to discuss Oral B and Sonicare toothbrushes and their benefits. Dr. Joe enters the room to do the exam and comments on our lively discussion about toothbrush models on my counter and our conversation on their benefits. After the patient leaves for the day we are talking about the information exchanges we make on a daily basis. And my comment was “Power toothbrushes make me excited”! It is the end of the day and we smile because of my comment and the crazy way simple things make us happy in the dental world. Let me share why we like power toothbrushes! Power toothbrushes have changed a lot since the first ones came out in 1959.
Why You Should Go Electric
We understand at Dr. Joe Gregorich Family Dental that correct teeth brushing remains essential to good oral health. Unfortunately, many of us rush through this exercise in order to get it done. This way a lot of destructive bacteria remains and slowly causes the formation of plaque and eventually tooth decay.
Electric toothbrushes offer a good solution to this. They are not only fun to use, but they also employ the correct brush movements that our hands often tend to disregard when we clean our teeth manually.
Studies, such as the one conducted by the “Cochrane Oral Health Group” have consistently demonstrated that the electric brushing is superior to manual brushing. The above-mentioned research shows a 21% reduction in plaque after only 3 months of using an electric toothbrush. It further claims a 6% reduction of gingivitis within a 3 month period.
By far, there is undeniable evidence that electric toothbrushes should be the preferred method.
Leading classifications of electric toothbrushes are based on the design and mechanism of their brush head action. We have the oscillating toothbrush, where the head spins around the tooth in one direction or the other in a rotary-like movement. On the other hand, there is the sonic toothbrush, which produces high vibrations from side-to-side.
Oscillating Toothbrush Head
The oscillating-rotating toothbrush is mostly developed by Oral B. They have tested and perfected the design and technology over time. Currently, the idea of this type of toothbrush is to move slowly from tooth to tooth in order for more effective cleaning.
The bristles rotation gets triggered as soon as the brush head begins to oscillate. The average Oral-B oscillating device produces between 3,000 and 7,500 rotations per minute. In addition, some models have pulsating features added. This allows for further and deeper cleaning of plaque. In comparison, a manual toothbrush moves at around 400 strokes per minute. Hardly a competition when it comes to speed and motion.
Roughly speaking, sonic toothbrushes are somewhat similar to regular ones. Their purpose is to quickly move back on forth over the exterior of the teeth in order to scrub away plaque and food debris. Where they differ, however, is the speed of movement with which they operate.
Sonic toothbrushes usually operate at around 260Hz or 260 times per second. Each vibration creates 2 brush strokes per second. So, in a minute, there are about 31,000 brush strokes, which is 10 times faster than regular electric toothbrushes. Some Phillips models have even tested at speeds exceeding 62,000 brush strokes per minute.
The notion behind to sonic system is that the high brush speed creates waves of turbulence. These waves prolong the range of brushing beyond areas that regular toothbrushes cannot reach. Furthermore, the high vibration turbulence also creates tiny bubbles from the toothpaste and water in the mouth. These bubbles further help the cleaning process by removing additional plaque formations.
The sonic action, also known as the acoustic streaming action, was first introduced in 1983. Since then it has been improved to produce up to 40,000 brush strokes per minute. At such speed, the energy waves of pressure allow the above-mentioned bubbles and fluid molecules to reach areas between the teeth that are not accessible to bristles. The action of acoustic streaming is arguably said to go some 4mm beyond the reach of regular bristles. Technically, this means that sonic toothbrushes are capable of removing plaque from beneath the gum line. We find this beneficial for promoting dental tissue health and helps decrease bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
Rotary vs Sonic
Which one is better? The short answer is, the best electric toothbrush is the one that you will use twice a day as directed. If you follow your dentist’s instructions and you brush your teeth twice a day for 2 to 3 minutes, you will see positive results.
There is research that compliments both types of power motored brushes. If we consider the amount of movement and coverage of brushing as decisive factors, then the sonic toothbrush sounds like the right choice. 12-week clinical trails show sonic type brushes reach 1/8 of an inch deeper than other rotary brushes. This reason, and the above mentioned fluid dynamics should be good enough to proclaim the sonic toothbrush as the winner.
What features to look for in your electric toothbrush?
So, you are set on buying your first vibrating toothbrush, but you are not sure what to look for. That’s fine, we all need to start somewhere. But, be advised, often times a $60 electric toothbrush can have the same core features as a $200 one. It is also quite possible that the cheaper one will outperform the more expensive one. So, let’s review some of the core elements to look for when purchasing a rotary or sonic toothbrushes.
Feature One: The Need For Speed
It does not matter how fast and coordinated your hand movement is, it will not outperform 31,000 brush strokes per minute. In this regard, manual toothbrushes are becoming obsolete. The truth is that faster movements make cleaning your teeth more effective and efficient. There is less time wasted while more plaque and bacteria are being eliminated.
The speed of the toothbrush has proven to be essential in terms of performance. Faster rotation and oscillation movements can cover larger areas of the mouth and remove more destructive bacteria. However, the speed has also proven to be an important factor in the price of the toothbrush. For this reason, sonic and ultrasonic brushes are more expensive when compared to other motor powered toothbrushes.
What is the correct way to brush!
I have included youtube tutorials on brushing techniques with power toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes. 45 degree angle with gentle placement is important for all brushes with light pressure. Also with power toothbrushes, more bacteria is removed, so we see a decrease in bacteria (plague/calculus/tarter). Pushing too hard or too long of strokes, damage gum line areas and may create root exposure. Please ask your dental professionals for correct brushing techniques. At Dr. Joe Gregorich Family Dental we also give specific recommendations for brush types for periodontal disease, children, orthodontics, implant care and hand coordination of the patient. I even have had a family that purchased the WIFI version so they could monitor their mothers brushing in the nursing home due to rampant decay experienced by dry mouth from medications and lack of brushing. This option would be great for monitoring your child’s brushing habits and times also. So look at all the options on the different toothbrushes, there may be something that benefits you or your family members.
Following are some ways to check your brushing technique!
Sonicare toothbrush technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HyL4bWOk6M
Oral B toothbrush technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUXAivWbnOw
Manual tooth brushing is 2 minutes/2 times a day using the bass technique. See following websites for information on correct brushing:
Hope you enjoyed our excitement about power toothbrushes and the dental health they promote!
Dr. Joe Gregorich, Dr. Nic Matack, and Staff
Thank you to the following websites for their information:
Dental Dorks, ADA, RDHA.