The dentist frowned, then exchanged glances with the dental hygienist.
“Are you using an electric toothbrush?” he asked.
It’s impossible for anyone over the age of six to walk through a pharmacy, a big box store or even a supermarket without seeing electric toothbrushes. Some of them hang on display hooks, while others look like a spas tucked into boxes, with prices to match.
Although many adults are into all the latest techno-gadgets, a certain segment of the population sighs at the idea of purchasing a new one. Clearly, this was where the conversation with the dentist was going.
Your best source of information on electric toothbrushes is most likely your family dentist. Here are some questions he or she should be able to quickly answer for you:
1. Why do I need to use an electric instead of just a manual toothbrush?
Both types of toothbrushes – manual and electric – can clean your teeth effectively if you use them properly. Ask why the condition of your mouth or teeth warrants using an electric toothbrush. Sometimes the mouth size or tooth spacing dictates which type of toothbrush works best. Beyond effectiveness, most individuals choose their toothbrushes based on ease of use, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Your budget is another consideration.
2. How important is it that the product be approved by the ADA?
The ADA Seal is to dental products with the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is to everything else. Electric toothbrushes with this seal have been evaluated by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs for effectiveness in meeting a list of guidelines and have passed the assessment. All electric models for sale are required to meet the safety requirements of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
3. Which brands do you recommend?
Some stores stock an entire aisle of electric toothbrushes. For someone making a selection for the first time, this can be overwhelming. Overall, you have a choice of throw-away models that run on small batteries, rechargeable toothbrushes with replaceable heads and elaborate products that come in what look like their own workstations. Your dentist should be able to recommend the type of bristles and product design best for your mouth. He or she should give you general guidelines on usage, including cleaning of the heads if you elect not to buy a throw-away model. Some of the brands currently available include Sonicare, Braun, Oral-B, Crest, ProfessionalCare, Waterpik Sensonic, Synchrosonic, Butler Pulse and Rota-Dent.
4. How often will I need to replace my electric toothbrush?
According to the ADA, most people replace toothbrushes every three to four months. Ask your dentist if you’ll need to replace the head of your electric toothbrush more frequently since the bristles can wear out more rapidly with some people than with others.
5. Are electric toothbrushes safe for my children?
More and more children’s electric toothbrushes appear each year. Ask when a child is old enough to use one with adult guidance. Many kids actually find that using an electric toothbrush with a colorful figure on it is fun.