In consultation hours, specialists, including a general practitioner, dentist, oncologist and sexologist/urologist, answer a reader‘s medical question every week. This week: electric brushing, or good old by hand?
My dentist advises me to use an electric toothbrush. Is that really better than a manual toothbrush?
In order to clean your teeth properly, you need to brush for at least two minutes. Most people only do this for 45 seconds! With a manual toothbrush, you can get your teeth clean as long as you brush properly and long enough. This requires good motor skills. This is not easy. The electric toothbrush helps to make the right brushing movement. All you have to do is place the brush in the right place. Scientific research also shows that the electric toothbrush removes more plaque than the manual toothbrush in the same brushing time.
Most electric toothbrushes have a timer or display that indicates the time. This makes it easier to see if you’ve been brushing for two minutes. These two minutes are important not only for removing plaque, but also for the effect of fluoride on teeth.
It is also sometimes thought that by brushing hard (pushing harder with the brush) more plaque is removed. Nothing could be further from the truth: the harder you brush, the less plaque you remove. You can also damage your gums if you brush too hard. The electric brushes often have a pressure indicator. They indicate if you brush too hard (a red light or they stop brushing). In addition, over the past twenty years a lot of different research has been done assessing the safety of oscillating rotary brushing. Based on this, it can be stated with great certainty that oscillating rotating electric toothbrushes are just as safe as manual toothbrushes.
Both with an electric brush with rotating brush and a sonic brush (moves back and forth) you can make a good cleaning movement. With the rotating electric brush you can also partially get between the teeth. This helps, but using toothpicks or brushes every day is also part of good dental cleaning.
With the right instructions, electric brushes are superior to manual toothbrushes at the same brushing time.
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