Looking for a new toothbrush every time your old one gets frayed often involves combing through supermarket shelves loaded with a multitude of toothbrush colours, types and brands.
Making a decision on the right toothbrush to buy can get quite confusing with the numerous types of toothbrushes in the market. But there are also those individuals who simply pick up the first toothbrush they see, without considering its use and functionality.
However, for effective dental care, it’s important to select a toothbrush based on several important factors and individualised to your needs. Here are some things you should consider when choosing a toothbrush:
Size of brush head: The size of the head of your toothbrush is important as it can affect the quality of your brushing. Although brush heads come in many sizes, small-headed brushes effectively reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach molars.
When it comes to the handle, it’s best not to go by aesthetic features such as colour and design. You want to make sure the handle fits comfortably in your hand so you can get a good grip to brush your teeth effectively. It should be easy to manoeuvre and preferably have a non-slip surface.
Look for a seal of approval: Dental associations and well recognised professional bodies such as the British Dietetic Association (BDA) or American Dental Association (ADA) carry out their own research into the effectiveness of toothbrushes, so buying one that has a stamped seal of approval gives you peace of mind that the brush conforms to the highest standards.
Select the best type of bristles: Toothbrush bristles, whether manual or electric, are usually made of nylon bristles that come in a soft, medium and hard variety. You might think that a hard-bristled toothbrush would be best for cleaning your teeth efficiently. However, most dental professionals recommend soft to medium strength bristles as the hard variety can cause your gums to recede if too much pressure is applied. Also, you run the risk of damaging your tooth enamel if you over-zealously brush with hard bristles.
As long as you effectively brush your teeth for two minutes, a soft or medium bristled toothbrush should suffice.
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Is manual or an electric toothbrush better?
According to studies carried out by the Cochrane Review in the UK and by the ADA, both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective at removing oral plaque that causes decay and gum disease. Provided you spend two minutes each time you brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, however, research and studies show electric toothbrushes to be far superior to their manual counterparts are plaque removal efficacy.
A powered toothbrush also helps if you:
- Have limited mobility
- Tend to brush too vigorously as they have pressure sensors that warn you of the damage that may be caused
- Need assistance to help you brush for the gold-standard 2-minutes (electric toothbrushes come with a built-in timer)
How often should you replace your toothbrush?
According to the ADA, all toothbrushes need to be replaced every three to four months. However, you may need to replace it sooner if it begins to show signs of wear-and-tear.
If a manual toothbrush is what you use, you will need to entirely replace it with a new one. With an electric toothbrush, you may only need to replace the removable head.
It’s important to change toothbrushes after recovering from a cold. Failure to do so might lead to reinfection from the collection of germs on your brush’s bristles. Besides brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily, dental cleanings every six months are key to preventing tooth decay and gum disease.