I admit that I am one of those old peeps that don’t like change. I feel safe and familiar with routine and new phones and new technology scare me. Seriously. Even Facebook scares me. But now that I have figured out how to post articles, it is a lot less creepy than it seems!
So I was left with mixed feelings when I was invited to be a key opinion leader at a leading toothbrush manufacturer’s launch of their new electric toothbrush. I couldn’t just diss the toothbrush because it is (gasp!) powered by electricity and works at the touch of a button. Plus I am such a stickler for hard work, it actually feels weird that I don’t have to do much work to brush my teeth. Like… the electric toothbrush is for lazy people, right?
So it was with trepidation when I first used that darn electric toothbrush I was supposed to evaluate to brush my teeth. I cringed when I turned it on. Then I realised that it was actually really, really comfortable! The oscillating action was a lot gentler than I thought and my teeth felt really clean afterwards. Can I say that it’s almost idiot-proof and so easy to use?
The brush even has a cool Bluetooth function that connects with your smartphone which then tells you which part of your mouth still needs brushing so you don’t miss a spot! Something that would totally appeal to techies out there.
But enough of what I think. What does science say about brushing with a manual toothbrush vs an electric one? In 2014, the Cochrane Oral Health Group -- a group of dentists charged with publishing summaries of the best available evidence – looked at this issue. It concluded that, over three months, using an electric brush was associated with a 21% reduction in plaque and an 11% reduction in gum inflammation compared with manual brushing. Good news for lazy people out there!
One note of caution though: Most Asians have really thin gums so be careful about brushing too rigorously. I personally use the sensitive brush head range when I use the electric toothbrush to prevent gum recession. I don’t want brush my precious gums away!
That is not to say manual toothbrushes don’t work. They work very well -- when used properly. They can also remove plaque readily when the technique is right. I personally recommend the Bass technique as it is really easy to follow and cleans both the teeth and gum margins at the same time.
Choose a toothbrush with a small head and super soft bristles and hold the toothbrush bristles against your gum line at a 45-degree angle towards your gums. For the upper teeth, this means pointing it 45 degrees upwards and for the lower teeth, 45 degrees downwards. Using short horizontal strokes or tiny circular movements, “jiggle” the brush against the teeth you are cleaning. Do this for about 20 strokes and then move on to the next tooth. Do this for both the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth. This technique is really easy once you get used to it.
So the verdict? I would take that great leap forward and start brushing with an electric toothbrush if you feel like being lazy and want to put in minimal effort while having clean teeth! Otherwise, just stick to your good ole’ manual toothbrush and brush the right way!