Manual or electric? Is it all just opinion!

I cannot prove to you that brush A is better than brush B.  Most people seem to buy the brush that’s on offer or the one their dentist or hygienist advises.  But is one toothbrush just the same as any other?

As a medical person, I would like to be able to refer to reliable research but on the subject of your toothbrush we have to use our common sense. If you do not have gum disease, and do not have crowns and bridges, then it’s really how you use your brush that matters, and not what brush you useHowever for those people with gum disease or for people with crowns and bridges, the answer is different, IN MY OPINION!

Nowadays we talk of the “mini-scrub” brushing technique; this applies primarily to cleaning teeth using a conventional manual toothbrush. This means angling the bristles of the brush at roughly 45 degrees to the tooth surface and using what might be best described as a vibratory movement of 1-2mm and no more.  In this way the bristles are pushed in between the teeth, and under the gum margins to disturb the plaque.  However, like any technique it is “technique-sensitive”.  It is a method that works well, but only in the hands of someone who has been taught the technique correctly and who takes their time to follow the correct technique carefully.

One of the big questions that I constantly get asked is whether it is better to use a conventional manual toothbrush or an electrical toothbrush. Once again, there are several different types of electric brush available. Firstly lets consider the commonest form of electric toothbrushes, that being the round head of bristles that either rotates continuously or rotates forwards and backwards; the latter is also known as the contra-rotating brush. These clean the prominent surfaces of the teeth by friction and remove the plaque from these sites well, but the problem is that the bristles get pulled across the spaces between the teeth so quickly that they do not get right into the space to clean effectively and hence leave plaque.  For the same reason the bristles don’t get under the gum margin but instead simply run quickly over the gum margin leaving the plaque beneath undisturbed.

Manual brushing relies critically on the patient’s technique.  It must be remembered that the majority of patients brush for less than 2 minutes with no particular technique.  However, for those who want to do better then longer is definitely better and a precise “mini-scrub” technique is the way to go if you don’t want to go electric.

IN MY OPINION however, electric toothbrushes that rely on “Sonic” vibration technology is the way to go!  The high frequency vibration allows the bristles to gain access to the spaces between teeth and into the space under the gum margin so that the fine high frequency vibratory movement of the bristles causes effective disruption of the plaque in these sites.  The high frequency of vibration also encourages rapid and erratic movement in the fluid in the gum pocket beneath the gum margin that also helps to disperse the plaque creating an environment not dissimilar to a washing machine!

So finally, IN MY OPINION, I believe that the a sonic toothbrush is the best toothbrush for my patients, the majority of whom I have seen for gum disease or for the placement of dental implants with crowns and bridges.  This means that those patients have to clean to a very high standard in areas that include narrow spaces between teeth, and under gum margins in the gum pocket and around crown margins.

Contact the friendly team at NQ Surgical Dentistry today on (07) 4725 1656 or call in to see us at 183 Kings Rd, Pimlico QLD 4812

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