Toothbrushes are the first line of defense against dental decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease, but due to claims of advertising, many people are unsure of which one to buy.
There are two types: manual and mechanical. Manual toothbrushes originated in the 1600’s, but it wasn’t until 1938 that the nylon-bristled brushes we use today were invented. Mechanical toothbrushes were created in the mid-1900’s, and in 1987, the rotary electrical brush was developed. Research shows that there is no conclusive evidence that one is better than the other in normal situations.
In the last 10 years, there has been a drastic increase in the number of mechanical toothbrushes purchased. This can mainly be contributed to an increased awareness through advertising, advanced technology, and the idea of trying something new and fun. Studies have been performed to determine if manual or mechanical toothbrushes are superior in cleaning teeth and gums. The bulk of this research was from the Cochrane Collaboration Study from 1966 – 2002. Results showed that brushes with a rotation oscillation action removed more plaque and reduced gingivitis more efficiently than manual brushes. No other mechanical brush proved superior to manual brushes. These experts concluded that more studies with stricter guidelines and greater standardization of design are needed to verify these findings.
So which toothbrush should I buy?
Since the research shows that there is no difference in cleaning efficiency, the simple answer to this is that people should buy the toothbrush for which they feel the most comfortable using. A person with a manual dexterity issue, such as arthritis, should consider a mechanical brush because it may be easier to maneuver. Also, children may prefer a mechanical brush because it makes brushing more fun. There are many to choose from, and it comes down to personal preference on which one to get. You should always get soft (or extra soft) bristled brushes, change brushes every three months, and look for the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Acceptance.
Remember, it’s the workman not the tool!