The need for an electric toothbrush

THE electric (powered) toothbrush was commercially introduced around the 1960s. Initially, it was designed with only back and forth brushing actions. However, as technology evolved, the electric toothbrush was subsequently incorporated with higher frequency rotary action brushes together with vibration mode.

Why do we need to use this kind of brush? Many studies have been conducted to compare the effectiveness between manual versus powered toothbrushes. The results show that powered toothbrushes are able to reduce plaque accumulation and gingivitis.

Therefore, gingival and oral health may improve in both the short and long term.

Who needs to use the electric toothbrush? Generally, it is advisable for everyone to use this kind of brush.

However, there are several groups who really need it. Children know how to brush their teeth, however the technique and pressure applied is insufficient to effectively remove plaque on the tooth surface.

Geriatrics (aged more than 65 years old) commonly have chronic medical problems which affect their manual dexterity and oral selfcare. Therefore, geriatric patients or their caretakers just need to simply manoeuvre the electric toothbrush to all tooth surfaces in order to clean them.

People with disabilities such as incomplete or missing fingers, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, handicapped due to accidents and other hand problems may also benefit from using the electric toothbrush.

How do you choose the correct toothbrush? There are many bands producing electric toothbrushes. However, there are factors that need to be considered before purchasing one.

The first one is your budget. The cost of a powered toothbrush may vary, from RM20 to RM800 depending on the brand, design, accessories as well as power source.

The second factor is design. Toothbrushes are designed for different target groups, such as for kids, adults, and people with disabilities. The brush with special characters from cartoons and multi-colored lights is the best choice for kids as it will motivate them to use it regularly.

Some brands produce ones with special handles for people with disabilities so it is easy for them to grip and hold the brush comfortably.

The third factor is accessories. Several brands produce the electric toothbrush with interchangeable brush heads so it can easily be replaced in the future. In terms of power source, people can choose either the brush with a built-in rechargeable battery or the one that uses regular AAA size batteries.

The fourth factor is the mode of action. The action of the electric toothbrush depends on the brush head design. The ones with circular-shaped heads usually act in an oscillating and pulsating manner. The others with normal brush heads usually provide stroke movement.

The one with an oscillating and pulsating movement is better at removing plaque on tooth surfaces.

Do not forget to change the brush once it has worn down. On top of that, always go for regular check-ups with your dentist to keep your teeth healthy.

*The writer is a prosthodontist and assistant professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia Kuantan campus.

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