Monday, May 23, 2011

What Is the Best Tooth Brush to Buy?

There are two kinds of brushes: manual brushes and power brushes.
Sonicare Flexcare
Of the power brushes there are those requiring batteries and those with rechargeable stands. The head movement of the battery operated brushes (those you buy at Target for $6-$7) is not very effective. Look for a brush with its own rechargeable stand.  We recommend the higher end brushes: Sonicare or Oral-B.  The price runs about $90.00. The Sonicare has the conventional style brush head, long and thin. The Oral-B has a small, round head. Both are good brushes. It’s just a matter of preference regarding the brush head. The bristles in both the Sonicare and Oral-B are soft enough to prevent them causing recession. However, remember that when using a power brush not to push too hard against the teeth while brushing. Let the brush do the work.

Of the manual brushes the most important factor to consider is the bristle type: soft or medium. Using a medium bristle brush can cause “root exposure”. This occurs when the gum has receded below the normal level exposing the root of the tooth. Exposed root can cause sensitivity to cold and air and is also susceptible to decay as the root is much softer than enamel. Recession occurs during brushing. (There are also other causes of recession but we will not discuss them at this time).  When brushing in a circular motion the stiff medium bristle pushes the gum down instead passing over the gum the way a softer bristle will do. It is for the health of the gum that we recommend soft bristle brushes, not for the sake of the enamel. The enamel is not harmed in anyway by a medium bristle, but, as I said, the gum is. Root exposure is very common and in most cases not to worry about. The more severe root exposure is usually caused by factors other than brushing incorrectly. Sometimes we recommend that a person use an extra soft bristle brush to help reduce the occurrence of further recession. 

So, when buying a brush always buy soft bristle. The shape of the bristles is a matter of personal preference.  Some like a longer bristle at the tip of the brush to reach those difficult areas behind the back molars. Look for a brush that is comfortable in the hand, one that gives you a good grip. A few very good OTC brushes are: Colgate 360, oral-B, and the Butler Gum and last but not least "Nimbus Microfine".  We have been supplying our patients with Nimbus Microfine tooth brushes for the last year or so and we have received great feedback from almost everyone. 
Nimbus Unique Design
The unique design of Nimbus bristles provide for a thorough plaque removal while using an extra soft material.  Nimbus is not available in stores yet but you can directly order it from their website.  Also keep in mind to change your Nimbus every other month or so as extra fine bristles tend to lose their shape more rapidly than other types and need to be replaced more frequently.  The only time that we recommend a medium bristle brush is when we see teeth with very deep grooves and well defined anatomy on the chewing surface.  If you have teeth with deep grooves you may want to consider having a medium bristle brush just for the chewing surfaces.  So before or after you are done brushing with your normal soft brush, grab the medium brush and just brush the chewing surfaces with that.  you don’t even need to wet the brush or to use toothpaste for that, dry brush would get better into the depth of the grooves and would clean out all the debris. 

People often ask which is better, power or manual. The answer, both are equally good. The difference is not in the brush but in the time spent brushing.  People tend to brush longer with a power brush because it has a 2 minute timer.  But brushing for 2 minutes with a manual brush will yield the same clean, healthy mouth. Purchase a new brush when the bristles of your old brush are starting to flare out. The bristles need to be straight and intact so that they can clean deeply the groves and crevices around the teeth.