July 19, 2006
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Electric Toothbrushes Provide Many Options for Consumers
The electric toothbrush has come a long way over the years.
But the question remains, do power brushes provide advantages manual brushes do not? The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) would like to help consumers evaluate their options.
"Both manual and powered brushes are capable of doing a good job," said Dr. Bill Weaver, a PDA member dentist from Brookville. "It is the manipulation of the brush and the important soft bristles that determine the quality of the cleaning. Individual preference will determine which type to use."
It is true, not all power brushes are created equal. Some toothbrushes, including sonic toothbrushes and oscillating/pulsating electric toothbrushes offer advantages over the electric toothbrushes of decades past.
"The Sonicare®" is unique, in that the bristle tips move at a high rate of speed," said Dr. Weaver.
Sonic toothbrushes are capable of producing more than 30,000 brush strokes per minute, greatly eclipsing the 300 or so strokes per minute generated by hand brushing.
The vibration produced by the sonic brush creates energy through the saliva. The result is the formation of waves of pressure and minute bubbles pushed against a tooth's surface, dislodging plaque in hard to reach areas such as between teeth and below the gum line.
While sonic toothbrushes are a recent, advanced form of the powered brush, there are other excellent options available for lower prices. The recent generations of conventional electric toothbrushes, the "rotary" brushes, have also made great advances.
While encompassing a number of different individual designs, rotary electric toothbrushes are all similar in that they each have a set of rotating bristles moving in opposite directions. These brushes can generate between 3,000 and 7,500 brush strokes per minute. Rotary brushes comprise a large percentage of the electric toothbrushes currently in the marketplace, both high-end and low-cost models. The difference between sonic toothbrushes and rotary toothbrushes is that there is no disruption of dental plaque beyond where the bristles actually touch.
Combined oscillating and pulsating motion brushes, such as the Braun Oral B 3D® model are capable of oscillating back and forth at a rate of 7,600 brush strokes per minute. The pulsating action creates movements somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 pulses per minute.
Toothbrush choice is as much about personal preference as anything else. Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth. Many people, however, find that brushing with a power toothbrush is more "fun." Some models are kid-friendly, either cartoon themed or taking the shape of a racing car or mermaid.
"A powered brush can also be very beneficial for individuals with reduced arm strength or impaired muscle control," said Dr. Weaver."
About the Pennsylvania
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA’s mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. Learn more about PDA.