Ivan Rodriguez Gelfenstein (Sponsored by). Oral health is an essential element of general health and well-being. Oral health problems in adults include gum disease, untreated tooth decay, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Besides drinking fluoridated water, individuals should brush their teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, along with flossing daily. These two oral hygiene practices help remove dental plaque, a sticky film with living microbes that attach to the mouth’s surfaces and may eventually lead to dental problems.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing with a toothbrush with soft bristles, which you should replace every three to four months, or when the bristles become visibly frayed or matted. As long as the product has earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance, you can use either manual or electric toothbrushes. While electric toothbrushes are as effective as manual toothbrushes for removing plaque, manual toothbrushes are easier to use, and as such are suitable for people with disabilities, elderly individuals, children, or anyone with dexterity problems or dental appliances, such as braces.
There are a variety of electric toothbrushes on the market. Typically, they are divided into three categories: oscillating rotary toothbrushes, sonic toothbrushes, and ultrasonic toothbrushes. Oscillating rotary toothbrushes have small circular heads that clean each tooth with a back-and-forth rotational movement. Some models using oscillating rotary systems also feature pulsing and vibrating to dislodge more plaque.
On the other hand, the vibrating head of a sonic toothbrush uses a side-to-side movement at high speed to clean teeth. Currently, sonic toothbrushes offer frequencies of 50,000 movements per minute or more.
Meanwhile, ultrasonic toothbrushes do not rely on physical motion but on ultrasound, a high-frequency vibration that removes plaque and food debris. Unlike sonic toothbrushes, which produce an audible hum, ultrasonic toothbrushes generate waves at a frequency beyond human hearing; operating frequencies go from 20 kHz up to 10 MHz–or over 1.2 billion movements per minute. According to a 2020 article published by Dentistry Journal, electric toothbrushes that combine ultrasonic and sonic actions are likely to have the best effect on oral health.
Additionally, some electric toothbrushes come with built-in timers to guide you through brushing. For optimal plaque removal, ADA recommends brushing for two minutes or 30 seconds per mouth section. Some electric toothbrush models beep or buzz by the end of the two-minute mark or every 30 seconds, which allows you to spend an equal amount of time brushing each quadrant of the mouth. Some brushes also come with a pressure sensor that activates when you use excessive pressure when brushing, which may cause abrasion and damage gums.
Moreover, high-end models also called smart toothbrushes, coach users to develop better brushing habits by using a Bluetooth connection and built-in sensors that send data to a smartphone app.
Typically, the app that comes with a smart toothbrush provides information such as mouth mapping, multiple cleaning modes, and brushing analytics, which tell you the areas and specific teeth neglected during brushing. In addition, some options may feature a plaque detecting mechanism, which indicates if there is still plaque after brushing.
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