Dental Cleaning and Toothbrush Basics

A good toothbrush is an essential tool for daily dental care and good dental hygiene. Not long ago, toothbrushes were all rather standard in design. Now they are available in a dazzling array of colors, sizes and styles, angled heads, tufted bristles, powered by hand, electricity, or sonic waves.

When selecting a toothbrush for your teeth, always look for the American Dental Association's (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This is awarded only to products meeting stringent testing for safety and effectiveness. Claims made by dental care products must be accurate for what they say, as well as imply, to receive the ADA Seal.

Manual Dental Cleaning

Choose a brush with soft, polished bristles and rounded ends, comfortable in both size and shape that allows you to reach every tooth. Hard bristles can injure your gums.

For good dental health replace your toothbrush every three to four months or earlier if the bristles are frayed. Some brushes are designed with replacement indicators to help remind you when a new brush is needed.

Old, worn out toothbrushes don't achieve desirable results and may also hold harmful bacteria that can cause gum disease. It's also recommended that you replace your toothbrush after an illness. Children's toothbrushes may need to be replaced more often due to wear.

Electric Toothbrushes

There are a variety of powered brushes featuring different speeds, bristle rotations, and head sizes. Products vary and the manufacturer's instructions must be carefully followed. Check with your dentist to make sure you're using the brush correctly. Use a light touch and slow movements for maximum tooth cleaning effectiveness.

Electric toothbrushes offer convenience for the disabled and elderly with limited manual dexterity. Children under ten years old should be supervised.

Sonic Toothbrushes

With this new dental care technology, sonic waves remove plaque bacteria without actually having to touch it. Through the motion of sound waves, these toothbrushes are able to sweep away plaque in hard to reach places, between teeth, and below the gumline.

The sonic wave technology is gentle on teeth, even sensitive ones. These toothbrushes also have proven effective in reversing gum disease, shrinking periodontal pockets, and removing tough stains like coffee, tea, or tobacco.

If you have any questions about choosing a toothbrush for your preventative dentistry needs, consult your dentist. Whichever toothbrush you select, use it at least twice a day, as part of a good dental health care program.

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO