|The ancient Chinese get credit for the first
toothbrush, made of hog hair bristles attached to a bamboo handle. Today,
there are literally hundreds of varieties to choose from (none with hog
hair), all designed for one purpose—to remove plaque from the surface of
your teeth, preventing tooth decay and gum disease and keeping your smile
Most of us still use "manual" toothbrushes with nylon bristles and a plastic handle, but electric models, with brush heads that rotate several thousand times a minute, are increasing in popularity. Whichever type of toothbrush you prefer, remember to brush at least twice daily for two to three minutes.
How to choose a Toothbrush
The best toothbrush is one you'll use regularly. Here are some key features to consider as you make your choice:
Bristles can range from extra-soft to soft, medium, or firm. Softer is better: Rigorous brushing with firm bristles can damage your gums. If your gums are especially sensitive, use a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles.
Most manufacturers use polished nylon bristles, which can be rounded and softened. Natural bristle brushes are also available, though most dentists don't recommend them because they tend to retain more oral bacteria than synthetic bristle toothbrushes do.
Whether your toothbrush has two, three, or four rows of bristles, most now feature rippled bristle lengths for deep between-teeth cleaning. Longer outer bristles remove plaque along your gum line. Shorter inner bristles sweep away plaque and debris, and more rows make a more efficient toothbrush.
Some "smart" toothbrushes like Oral-B have blue indicator dye on their bristles. When the dye wears off, it's time to replace your toothbrush.
Your toothbrush head should fit into your mouth easily to reach your back teeth. Luckily, there's a head size for every mouth.
Straight brushes are the norm, but other shapes promise better flexibility and reach:
Electric brushes use small motors to rotate bristle heads thousands of times faster than humanly possible. The latest advance, the Sonicare toothbrush, uses a microprocessor to create a super high-speed bristle motion, which in turn creates sound waves that help dislodge plaque.
Whether electrics clean better than regular manual brushing is a subject of dispute. But consider the following:
How to use a Toothbrush
The American Dental Association suggests these steps for home dental hygiene:
|Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by a licensed physician. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication.|