Toothbrushes: Traditional or High Tech?

Parents usually ask which toothbrush their child should use - the traditional variety or the newer, high tech, electronic variety. Both are effective in cleaning teeth thoroughly and you should use the toothbrush that entices the child to brush. In either case, brushing time should last about 2 minutes.

Manual toothbrush

The positive aspects of using a manual tooth brush are many and include:

  • The quality of the bristles can be matched to the gingiva (gums), with soft bristles most suit- able for sensitive gums.
  • Available in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, some with logo of cartoon characters. All designed to make your child want to brush.
  • Travel friendly - batteries or charging outlets are not needed and does not break when dropped.
  • Inexpensive.

The negative aspects of using a manual toothbrush are few, and include:

  • Brushing is more laborious with a manual, as compared to an electric, toothbrush.
  • Brushing time must be estimated.

Electric high tech toothbrush

The positive aspects of using an electric toothbrush include:

  • Toothbrushes have a built in timer that stops brushing after 2 minutes, eliminating the guess- work of evaluating brushing time.
  • The “tickling” sensation may be more child-friendly, changing brushing from a chore to a game. Many kids like the vibrations, although some do not.
  • Some studies suggest that an electronic toothbrush with a rotating-oscillating head (i.e., the bristles rotate in one direction and then switch and rotate in the opposite direction), or a head that uses ultrasonic pulses to move the bristles, may be more effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis (gum disease) than a manual toothbrush.
  • Cool apps, such as games, personal brushing coaching, and tracking your brushing activity may engage children to brush more thoroughly.

The negative aspects of using an electric toothbrush are practical, rather than dental, issues and include:

  • Some young children may not like the vibrations.
  • Requires charging or batteries.
  • Toothbrush may be damaged when dropped.
  • Inconvenient when traveling and costly.

General information when using either a manual or an electric toothbrush:

  • When cleaning teeth, the bristles should be angled 45° towards the gum line, allowing one row of bristle tips to slip slightly under the gums.
  • Brushing should only take about 2 minutes.
  • Brush at least twice a day (with braces, brush after every meal and clean around the braces).
  • Toothbrushes and brush heads of electric toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or when bristles have frayed.
  • Flossing is an excellent adjunct to proper brushing and, if performed correctly, will not only remove food particles from between the teeth but can also scrape off plaque.