Nothing can be simpler than brushing your teeth, right? It would seem that way until you’re in the toothbrush aisle at your favorite store and are overwhelmed by options. So, for everyone who thinks they know everything there is about teeth cleaning, you could probably benefit from brushing up on the daily duty of maintaining those pearly whites.
“First and foremost, be aware that the old go-to brush you’ve been using for a while probably isn’t doing you any good,” says Maryam Mohsenzadeh, DDS, dental director of the Children’s Mobile Dental Clinic at Queen of the Valley Medical Center. “Most brushes need to be replaced when they show wear and tear or every three months. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you've had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that may lead to reinfection. That means you’re most likely ready for a new toothbrush right now.”
Even with a brand new brush, some whiteners aren’t worth it. Learn why you shouldn’t brush your teeth with activated charcoal.
Ready to get a better brush? Here are the basics you need to know:
- The name of the game is removing plaque and most dentists agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for doing the job.
- Head shape is very important when selecting your tool of choice. Mouths vary by shape and size, so be sure that your toothbrush bristles comfortably get to your back molars. Generally, small-headed brushes are preferable, since they can better reach around most mouths, including those often-neglected back teeth.
- Go for comfort. You can go non-slip handle or flexible neck, tapered or rectangular head, or rippled, flat or dome-shaped bristles. It’s all about picking what is most comfortable for you so that you brush longer.
- Don’t cheap-out. This is a tool you put in your mouth at least twice a day to ensure your oral and physical health. It’s worth investing in the right device.
- Don’t cheap out on babies, either. Babies need baby toothbrushes because of their small mouths, and children need toothbrushes with smaller heads than adults. Getting them the right-sized brush will put them on the road to good dental health for years.
Now, what about going electric? There are some purists who are diehard manual toothbrush users, which can be just as effective as long as they follow a thorough 2-minute brushing routine. However, as we age, arthritis and other issues may make it harder to grip the brush and clean completely.
If you prefer to go electric, make the investment into a good device. Rechargeables tend to be better than disposables. Look for great new features such as:
- Two-minute timer — This feature is terrific for ensuring you’re brushing for the recommended length of time.
- Long-lasting battery life — If you travel a lot, you’ll want to ensure power lasts for several days before needing a recharge.
- Compatible with multiple toothbrush heads — The rechargeables typically give you a range of bristles that best suit your individual health needs, including sensitive, floss action, and care for braces.
- Quadpacers— This nifty feature alerts you when you’ve brushed for 30 second intervals, so you know to brush all quadrants of your mouth equally.
- Pressure sensor — A pressure sensor stops you from brushing too hard, which can cause wear and tear on teeth.
- UV sanitizer — UV sanitizers help zap germs on your toothbrush.
- ADA Seal of Acceptance — You’ll always want to look for approval from the American Dental Association (ADA), which tests toothbrushes to ensure safety and effective cleaning.
So, now that you know what it takes to brush well, take a look at your old stand-by. If it’s a bit ragged, treat yourself to a brand new brush. It may be just what you need to give you added confidence each morning.
The Children’s Mobile Dental Clinic, founded by Queen of the Valley Medical Center and its partners, provides basic preventive care and restorative dental services to low-income families in Napa County. To learn more, click here.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.