Ottawa, Ontario – Do you know how to choose the right toothbrush to keep your mouth healthy? There are so many options from which to choose – electric, manual, and so many brands of each. Dr. Pamela Li, an Ottawa cosmetic dentist, offers her top picks and explains what you should look for in a toothbrush.
“It’s best to look for a brush that has a small head so that it can be moved around your mouth more easily,” says Dr. Li, who is also a general dentist, serving patients of all ages. “Be sure the bristles are soft and that it fits comfortably in your hand.”
Dr. Li prefers electric toothbrushes. It is important to remember that electric toothbrushes are not the same as battery-powered ones. A battery-powered toothbrush is similar to a manual brush, but a battery makes it vibrate slightly, allowing you to clean a bit better than with a standard brush. An electric brush, on the other hand, will be rechargeable and will come with many different features. They can oscillate, vibrate, rotate or even use sonic technology to guarantee the best cleaning for your teeth. Features may include special modes for sensitive teeth, to massage your gums, or for whitening. Some models even have pressure sensors to alert you when you brush too hard, or reminders to alert you when you should replace the head of the brush.
To maintain the best dental care, Dr. Li recommends SoniCare and Oral B electric brushes. She explains that, as with most other things, you get what you pay for. While these brands may be more expensive, they are also the best to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. The good news is, while the initial investment may seem like a lot, they might actually save you money in the long run because they don’t need to be replaced as often as manual brushes.
Dr. Li also recommends the use of a waterpik, especially for patients who have braces or bridges. Also referred to as an oral irrigator, a waterpik uses a stream of pulsating water to remove food debris and plaque from between the teeth and below the gum line. It is very effective in flushing out debris around braces and bridges.
Other products that can help remove plaque include the Proxabrush and Softpicks. The Proxabrush is a specially designed brush system that can access hard to reach places between the teeth that tooth brushing alone may miss. It can be used on natural teeth, as well as around crowns, bridges, dental implants and orthodontic appliances. Likewise, a Softpick can dislodge food from between teeth, remove plaque and massage the gums. And for that hard to reach place in the back of your mouth behind your last tooth, there is the Sulcabrush. Invented by a Canadian dentist, this specialized brush can not only effectively clean the back of your last tooth, it can also easily get in between teeth to remove plaque build-up.
There are some patients who may have special needs requiring their toothbrush to be adapted so it can be handled better. For patients who have difficulty controlling their hands, arm or shoulder movements, Dr. Li offers a few ideas on how to adapt their standard toothbrush.
- The handle of the brush can be enlarged using a bicycle grip or other like material to allow the patient a bigger surface to grip.
- Use a rod to lengthen the toothbrush.
- If the patient has problems gripping, attach the brush to the hand using Velcro straps or a hand brace.
- Buy a brush whose handle can be bent to allow a better holding surface.
No matter what type of toothbrush you use, it is important to properly care for it. Toothbrushes should be allowed to dry in between uses. Bacteria grows in moisture, so a wet toothbrush can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Because of this, brushes should never be covered as this won’t allow them to ever fully dry.
Wash your brush thoroughly after each use, and be sure to wash your hands before brushing to remove any bacteria that could move from your hands to the brush.
Always store your toothbrush upright and never share a toothbrush with anyone, including family members. Bacteria can jump from one toothbrush to another, so never store brushes touching each other.
Replace your manual toothbrush every three months, or immediately following an illness. While the chances of becoming sick from a toothbrush are slim, continuing to use the same brush after an illness may transfer those germs back to you.
If you’re worried about bacteria growth on your toothbrush, there are several products on the market that claim to kill germs. There are sprays, rinses and UV light products that can eliminate the number of germs on your brush.
But perhaps most important is to use your brush, floss, and other products properly and often.
“Always brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day,” says Dr. Li, whose dental clinic is located in downtown Ottawa. “This can prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but only if you are also brushing and flossing properly.”
Brush for two to three minutes a day, avoiding scrubbing too hard. If you are too rough with your teeth, you can start to break down the enamel that is the protective layer of the tooth. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle, brushing gently in short strokes from the gum line to the top of the tooth. Brush all surfaces of the tooth, paying special attention to reach all of the crevices on the chewing surface. And don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and help freshen your breath. Tongue scrapers are also effective in cleaning the surface of your tongue.
If you have question about which toothbrush is right for you, or have concerns about proper brushing and flossing technique, call Dr. Li’s office for advice. She and her staff can assist you with all of your dental questions. And remember to maintain regular, twice-yearly appointments with Dr. Li to ensure your mouth is healthy.
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