At Summer Dental in Las Vegas, our dentists are often asked how to choose the most basic tool of oral hygiene, the toothbrush. Picking a toothbrush can be as challenging as choosing a paint color, and there seems to be just as many choices.
If you have visited the dental section of the grocery store lately, you know what we’re talking about. There are brushes with bristles of varying lengths, brushes that massage your gums, and brushes that change color when they are used up. (If we had to rate them purely on their fun factor, we would choose the Spiderman brush.)
Some toothbrush manufacturers claim their brushes freshen your breath or remove stains from your teeth. How do you choose the best one?
One important factor is the firmness of the bristles. Hard bristles may be more effective for cleaning burnt steak off a grill or hard water deposits off a shower floor. However, this does not hold true for your teeth. Medium and firm brushes can harm your gums. Soft and extra-soft bristles are plenty stiff enough to clean plaque, food particles, and surface stains from your teeth. Soft bristles also offer more flexibility for hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
After having dental work or oral surgery, especially anything involving soft tissue grafts, make sure that you use an extra-soft brush and be careful!
When deciding on a toothbrush for a child, make sure the brush feels comfortable in his or her hand. If the size and angle feel awkward, the child will be less likely to use it long enough to clean all areas of the mouth. Children do not necessarily need a child-sized toothbrush. Some kids can manage an adult size brush better than a short, narrow child-size brush. If you are unsure, ask your dentist.
What about the electric types and water-shooters? Some individuals like the feeling of pulsing bristles or a mini-squirt gun shooting away at the plaque. People with arthritis or other movement-inhibiting conditions can benefit from powered brushes which take some strain off hands and arm muscles.
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