Electric toothbrush FAQs
Do dentists recommend Oral-B or sonicare?
Oral-B and Philips’s sonicare are two of the most widely recommended toothbrush brands by dentists, but there’s no industry consensus on which electric toothbrush is best. Dentists recommend a wide range of electric toothbrushes, and depending on which brand you ask you’ll get a different answer.
One thing almost every dentist agrees on, however, is that electric toothbrushes are better at cleaning than manual toothbrushes. Even more important than the type of brush you use is practicing good dental hygiene habits: brushing regularly and for the dentist-recommended two minutes, reaching all parts of the mouth, and flossing.
Are round head electric toothbrushes better?
Round head electric toothbrushes oscillate thousands of times per minute, enough to efficiently remove plaque, bacteria and debris while brushing. A sonic or ultrasonic toothbrush, which is more likely to have a standard-shaped head, pulses tens of thousands of times per minute to break down and dislodge plaque, bacteria and debris.
There’s not a whole lot of evidence that sonic and ultrasonic toothbrushes are more effective than standard electric toothbrushes at cleaning teeth, but on paper the newer technology packs more vibrations per second and could help remove plaque more quickly.
Are electric toothbrushes better than manual toothbrushes?
Research shows that electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning teeth and protecting from gum disease if they are used properly and for the recommended time. That’s because the vibration of the bristles works extra hard to remove plaque from your teeth and reduce the risk of inflammation of the gums. Oscillating (rotating) and sonic (vibrates at very high speeds and frequencies) electric toothbrushes have been found to work even harder.
Electric toothbrushes often have extra features that are also significant. A built-in timer, for example, can help ensure you brush your teeth long enough. Some toothbrushes even connect to your phone to bring you personalised brushing advice.
Some people report being more focused when cleaning their teeth with an electric toothbrush and kids tend to find them more fun – especially if there are associated child-friendly apps involved. People with braces can also find it easier to keep their teeth clean with an electric toothbrush.
But electric toothbrushes are more pricey than manual ones and finding replacement heads isn’t always easy. It’s also worth noting that not everyone likes the feeling of using them.
Can electric toothbrushes be bad for your teeth?
Brushing too hard and fast with an electric toothbrush can permanently damage teeth enamel and cause gum recession. But electric toothbrushes can only damage teeth and gums in this way if excess pressure is applied, so always make sure you allow the movement of the toothbrush to do all the hard work.
Top features to look for in an electric toothbrush
- Brushing timer – This will help to make sure your teeth are brushed for the dentist-recommended time of two minutes. Some electric toothbrushes are programmed to be on for just two minutes, while others will alert you by beeping or vibrating when it’s time to stop.
- Brushing modes – Some brushes, often those that are more expensive, come with a range of brushing modes, which are designed to tailor your electronic toothbrush to your cleaning needs, for example, if you have sensitive teeth, you can opt for a more gentle setting.
- Pressure sensor – Pressing too hard against your teeth can cause harm to your gums, so some electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors to alert you when you’re pushing too hard.
- Mobile apps – A range of electric toothbrushes have Bluetooth meaning they can connect to your phone via an app, doing so gives you additional data on how you brush your tooth. With some apps, such as Oral B, you’ll receive real-time feedback, as well as tips and instructions.
How to use an electric toothbrush properly
Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line. Move the brush gently back and forth, with a circular movement over the front, back and top of your teeth. Don’t scrub, especially along the gum line, and use floss for harder-to-reach areas between the teeth. Some toothbrushes also allow you to brush your tongue to avoid cavity-causing bacteria.
You should spend at least two minutes using this technique, spending 30 seconds on each section of your mouth – upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left. Repeat both morning and night.
How to clean an electric toothbrush
To make sure your electric toothbrush stands the test of time, we’d recommend cleaning it regularly. Rinse the toothbrush head and electric body after every use to remove toothpaste build-up and excess grime. A cotton bud can also be used to reach harder areas, such as the base, or a damp cloth for tougher debris.
How long do electric toothbrushes last?
The average electric toothbrush lasts three to five years. Many electric toothbrushes come with a two-year warranty. But you will need to change the heads more frequently – the general advice is at least every three months. Some of the newer electric toothbrush heads have colour change indicators to alert you when it needs replacing.
Are electric toothbrushes eco-friendly and can they be recycled?
Yes and no. Yes, because when it’s time for a new toothbrush, you only have to replace the head. No, because they are still made of plastic and after their lifespan, they have to go to landfill. Although toothbrush heads are not generally recyclable, it’s worth noting that because electric toothbrushes last longer, you don’t have to replace them as often as manual ones. What’s more, the heads are a lot smaller than a whole manual toothbrush, leading to less plastic waste overall.
But there’s nothing to stop you from recycling batteries and cables, and a growing number of brands are offering recycling services. Colgate’s oral care recycling programme accepts the whole toothbrush, packaging and all. To use the service, take your unwanted products to one of the drop-off locations across the UK. You can find the full list of collection bins here.
The verdict: Electric toothbrushes
If you want an electric toothbrush that isn’t too expensive and is relatively cheap to buy replacement heads for, we recommend the Oral-B Pro 3. Its oscillating brush head features a powerful cleaning action and can easily get into those hard to reach spots, while the 360-degree pressure sensor ensures you’re brushing safely.
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