Choosing a Toothbrush
Have you ever stood in the dental products aisle in the store and wondered what to choose? In the book The Paradox of Choice, author Barry Schwartz discusses how we as consumers enjoy having options. However, too many choices can be overwhelming and lead to ‘paralysis by analysis.’ Let’s simplify your decision making so you can get on with your shopping list!
A toothbrush should be replaced about every three months, or when its bristles begin to splay outward as they are no longer effective. If this is happening to your brush within the first couple months, it’s likely a sign of brushing too hard. This is true for both manual and powered toothbrushes. Aggressive brushing over the long-term can wear away delicate gum tissues and tooth structure. Powered brushes sometimes contain a sensor to signal excessive pressure. If it’s been suggested that you brush too hard, using a pencil-style grip can help reduce the pressure.
The shapes of teeth are curved and they are relatively small, so think ‘detail cleaning’ and choose a brush with a smaller head that can be maneuvered easily around all areas of a mouth. Bristles should be soft as medium or firm bristles can damage gums and teeth. While tooth enamel is tough, it needs to last a lifetime. If you had a new car with a shiny paint job and clear coat finish, you probably wouldn’t use a hard brush to clean it. A softer brush is more than adequate to remove the plaque from our teeth and doing so is more dependent on using adequate time and technique.
Many toothbrushes have bristles in varying heights, angles, colors and different materials. These are not necessarily better for performance. The toothbrush handle should be comfortable and easy to hold. Young children or adults with hand dexterity problems may have an easier time with a thicker handle.
Powered toothbrushes are often recommended as they can improve dental checkups. They generally have a smaller brush head and a timer that promotes brushing long enough, usually two minutes. Using them requires different technique than a manual brush. As the bristles oscillate or vibrate and do the work, simply holding them along the tooth and gumline for a few seconds on each tooth surface allows the bristles to clean the area. Move them slowly to the next couple of teeth, and repeat until all tooth surfaces are clean.
Finally, if you’ve had a cold, flu or other upper respiratory illness, it’s a good idea to disinfect or replace your brush. Some powered brushes have a UV brush disinfectant built into the base. Brushes can also be disinfected by running them through a kitchen dishwasher with a heated cycle. Hopefully these tips will help you in your choices the next time you’re at the store. Or, if you’re in the neighborhood stop in and ask for one, we’ll give you one of our favorites!
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