Electric toothbrushes are becoming ubiquitous — and for good reason. In 2015, Consumer Reports analyzed 56 different studies to conclude that electric toothbrushes are indeed more effective than a regular toothbrush. The report outlines that electric models reduce plaque by 21 percent after three months of use while a manual toothbrush only removes 11 percent.
An Oral-B study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association backs up these claims. More than 16,000 patients were given an electric toothbrush and instructed to use it exclusively. After continued use, dental professionals monitored the patient’s oral health and found that 80 percent saw improvements thanks to an electric toothbrush.
Electric toothbrushes first popped up in the 1960s. Today sales are increasing all day long. Popularity of electric toothbrushes is growing outside the US as well. In fact, Western Europe (especially France, Germany and Italy) accounts for 79 percent of global electric toothbrush growth. Even with a higher price tag, people are seeing the benefits and going electric. Did you know they even make electric toothbrushes for kids? The built-in timer is especially helpful for littles.
Beyond giving you healthy teeth, using an electric toothbrush can improve the appearance of your teeth! Judging by the explosion of cosmetic dentistry procedures and treatments, people care about what their teeth look like more than ever.
Electric toothbrushes have a slew of other benefits:
- They prevent you from brushing too hard – saving your gums and enamel.
- They have a large handle that creates ease of use for patients with dexterity or disabilities.
- Many electric toothbrushes have built-in timers to help you brush for the dentist-recommended 2 minutes.
- Using an electric toothbrush is better for the environment because they use less plastic. The amount of plastic used in one traditional toothbrush equals more than 14 replacement heads on an electric toothbrush.
While using an electric toothbrush might seem self-explanatory, there are helpful suggestions and tips you might not be familiar with.
ONE | watch your pressure
The average electric toothbrush oscillates somewhere between 6,000 to 30,000 strokes per minute. Those oscillating heads are doing the work for you, which means you don’t need to apply much pressure at all. Think about simply guiding the bristles as opposed to doing the scrubbing yourself.
Too much pressure can cause gum recession and wear your electric toothbrush out quickly.
TWO | one tooth at a time
With a regular toothbrush, you are cleaning two or three teeth at a time because of the shape and length of the brush. But with many electric toothbrushes, you get to focus on one tooth at a time before moving onto the next. Be sure to get the front, back, top and the grooves near the adjacent tooth.
THREE | focus on the 4 quadrants
Think of your mouth as having 4 distinct sections: top, bottom, left and right. Focus on each quadrant for 30 seconds. Within each quadrant, start with outside of your tooth and then work your way inside to clean the back of your teeth and then the top where you chew your food.
Many electric models have a timer built in to let you know when it’s time to shift to the next quadrant.
FOUR | go for the gumline
The gum line is where plaque and bacteria love to settle, which is why you should focus on these areas. Using a 45-degree angle will give you the perfect slant to clean your teeth and gums as much as possible without adding an undue pressure.
FIVE | use less toothpaste
One of the benefits of an electric toothbrush is that you will probably find that you use less toothpaste because of the smaller head design. But be sure to wait until you have your toothbrush in your mouth before you hit on or else all of those oscillating bristles with propel your toothpaste all over your bathroom mirror!
SIX | don’t forget to brush your tongue
Just like with a manual toothbrush, don’t forget about your tongue! It’s a major breeding ground for bacteria and rinsing isn’t enough to break up that biofilm according to Healthline.
Plus, brushing your tongue can help you fight bad breath.
SEVEN | replace brush head regularly
The American Dental Association advises that toothbrushes should be switched out every three months. This advice is the same no matter whether you have a manual toothbrush or an electric model. You should also replace the head if you have been ill as the germs may be lingering in your bristles and you don’t want to risk being exposed once again.
Many heads have color indicators letting you know when it’s time to make the switch. If you have no idea when the last time you replaced your head was, take a good look at the bristles. If they are splayed or frayed, it’s probably time. But be aware that sometimes worn-out looking bristles are actually a sign of aggressive brushing.
EIGHT | Remember to recharge.
One of the easiest ways to make sure your electric toothbrush is always charged and ready to go is to keep the charger on your bathroom counter and have that be its resting spot. And don’t forget to rinse off your toothbrush and any remaining toothpaste/debris after you are done.
Two of the most common electric toothbrushes, the Philips Sonicare and the Oral B Electric toothbrush, take between 22 to 24 hours to be fully recharge. You can begin using them before they are fully charged though.
If your electric toothbrush is dead and you have no time to charge it, just use it as you would a normal toothbrush and be sure to charge it up for your next use.