Are You Using The Right Toothbrush?

woman holding toothbrushThey may all have bristles and handles, but all toothbrushes are not created equal. The same way each person’s teeth and mouth are different, it’s important to choose the right toothbrush for YOUR dental needs. Having the right tool in hand (literally) is necessary to keep your teeth gleaming white, and to prevent disease causing inflammation and bacteria.

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In May 2000, the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on oral health, Oral Health in America, called attention to the “silent epidemic” of dental and oral diseases that burdens millions of children and adults throughout the United States, especially economically-stressed, minority communities.

Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults and neglecting your oral health is linked to everything from heart disease to dementia. Use the tips below to “brush up” on your toothbrush anatomy and invest in a better brush. It could be a tooth-saving and life-saving buy!

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Size

Unless you’re buying a small, travel-size toothbrush, the size of brushes pretty much look the same, right? However, larger brush heads can be tricky to reach those hard-to-reach spots in the back of the mouth, and miss plaque between the teeth. California-based dentist Ruchi Sahota, DDS says you’ll know you’ve found the right size head “if it can fit comfortably clean all the way around your last molar.”

Shape

Which is better? The traditional manual brush with the square head, or an electric brush with the round, rotating head? If you’re using the correct brushing technique, many dentists say they can both be effective. However, a three-month review by the healthcare nonprofit the Cochrane Collaboration found that brushes with round, rotating heads (like those used during professional cleanings) removed 11 percent more plaque. Some dentists recommend that people with narrow jaws use a brush that’s tapered at the head. Ask your dentist for their professional recommendation based on your teeth.

Handle

These days, toothbrushes come with all types of fancy ridges and designs for comfort and cuteness. You may find them easier to hold, but otherwise, they really don’t affect how well you brush, says Kimberly Harms, DDS, a dentist and adviser for the American Dental Association.

Bristles

Soft, medium and hard are the usual options, but you should go with soft or extra soft if available. “Many people mistakenly believe that hard-bristle brushes do a more thorough job, but the opposite is true,” Harms says. Hard bristles don’t bend well and a 2011 study in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who brushed with stiffer bristles experienced more gum bleeding (Note: bleeding gums are ALWAYS a sign you need to see your dentist).

 

Visit the BlackDoctor.org Dental Health center for more articles and tips.