Thank you so much for all the great feedback and comments regarding the first article on this subject of electric vs. manual brushing!
Now that we have established that how we brush our teeth is fundamentally more important than what tool we choose to use to brush, let’s jump into taking a closer look at several types of electric and manual toothbrushes to see how each of them functions best to help us create positive change in our oral health.
In case you haven’t read part one of this discussion, here’s a link…
Different types of electric toothbrushes
The spectrum of different devices has grown tremendously over the past 10 years. Standards in the industry are the Oral B and Sonicare brushes. Others include several offshoots using the sonic technology as well as many other less well-known brands.
The Sonicare company has done a tremendous job marketing its toothbrush to the world. In fact, in sales and marketing circles, they are recognized as one of the best companies in the world at marketing their product (not just dental product companies, one of the best in the world)! So it’s not surprising that many people love their Sonicare toothbrushes.
Here’s a bit of information you may not hear from the dentists who endorse (and sell) Sonicare toothbrushes. Having friends in the business, we have heard from many dentists who tell us that they aren’t impressed with the job that sonic brushes do to remove plaque. I don’t know if it’s that sonic style brushes just don’t clean teeth as well as their marketing departments market the brushes or if the person using the brush places too much trust in the technology to remove plaque so doesn’t use the brush as thoroughly as they might if they were using a less tech savvy brush. Needless to say, if you are happy with your sonic brush and your dentist/hygienist is giving you a thumbs up, then keep doing what you’re doing. However, if you use a sonic brush and still get mixed results, you may benefit to revisit this subject to figure out a path that will better support you to navigate to greater oral health.
We have no personal experience with the Sonicare brush other than trying it once. The fact that the micro movement of the brush head is literally opposite what the Bass brushing technique suggests has always been enough for us to look for more suitable options for our family. Besides, the electric vibration in the mouth did not feel good to us. More on this below…
The Oral B electric brush is the other industry standard. In the name of disclosure, we have had an Oral B brush for many years and have used it through the years. While everyone in our family prefers manually brushing with the Bass brushing technique and Bass toothbrush, I still every once in a while do use the Oral B to support cleaning the tooth surfaces for plaque removal. (Think the hygienist using the grit material with a rotary head tool to polish your teeth.) As I have continued to improve my diet (mainly continuing to remove sugar from my diet), the amount of plaque that I need to remove has diminished dramatically. More on our dietary approach to greater oral health in another post.
Here’s a different electric brush that we really appreciate the tool itself. However, in the same breath, we have to state that we do not like the company who produces the brush. 🙂 The name of the brush is the Rotadent brush. The design and very soft bristles are particularly good for gently sweeping along the gum line to help disrupt and disorganize the bad bugs implicated with gum disease. We consider the Rotadent the ‘go to’ brush for someone looking for an electric brush to help with existing gum disease. While the brush is great, it’s not built as robust as the Oral B. So if you choose to purchase a Rotadent, you definitely want to do so via an authorized dealer so you have their warranty in place. In other words, if you purchase a Rotadent toothbrush from amazon.com (they are there), your warranty will not be valid. Thus, why we don’t like the company at all. The company has structured their business to cater to dental offices to be authorized dealers of the brush. We have reached out to them explaining that we would love to be an authorized dealer and be able to offer you this great brush with the warranty intact. Unfortunately, they didn’t go for the idea. 🙁 So, if you have a dentist who is a rep for Rotadent and you are looking for a good electric brush, consider getting a Rotadent. Just be sure you get it from an authorized dealer so you have the warranty intact.
One note of caution…
We did receive a number of comments to our first article on this subject bringing to light the risks of EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) emitted from electric toothbrushes. One person had a meter to read EMFs and stated that their electric toothbrush sent their EMF meter very high. So, if you consider yourself more sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, you may want to keep this in mind when navigating the toothbrush question.
On a personal level, we have always been a bit cautious toward the sonic style brushes in particular for similar reasons. Call us the ‘canary in the coal mine’ if you must, but we’ve always felt that the vibration that these sonic style brushes emit to knock plaque off our teeth could cause more collateral damage than we realize. Is it possible that these sonic waves could compromise the bond of existing restorations (fillings, etc) in the mouth? Is it possible that the sonic waves could scramble other systems? Given that we are very aware of the bio-electric nature of our physical bodies (think acupuncture and the meridians of traditional Chinese medicine), having more electric waves inside the head has never felt like the right path for us.
All in all, the benefit of an electric brush can be the risk of it as well, depending on the level of awareness one applies while using the tool. You see, while an electric brush does a faster job at removing plaque due to its mechanical movement, if we brush unconsciously, this increased movement can cause faster damage too. Let’s keep in mind that one of the main causes of gum recession is brushing the teeth too hard day after day. Gum tissue likes to be massaged. It likes to be stimulated and loved on. However, it doesn’t like it when the massage turns into a torture session (ever had one of those massages? :)). We consider brushing unconsciously day after day one of the main assaults to navigating the path to our optimal oral health.
Manual toothbrushes range so much, it’s no wonder we as a culture are kind of numb when it comes to oral health. Is the handle supposed to be long? short? curved? made from recycled materials? What about the bristles? long? short? multileveled?
Here are two things we stand by when it comes to choosing a toothbrush.
First, the brush bristles should be rounded at the tip. Some toothbrushes look great but when you look under the microscope at the bristle tips, the torture potential shows itself. 🙂 The image on the left below shows the Bass toothbrush polished round bristle tips compared to the bristle tips of a cheap toothbrush on the right. Given this close-up understanding, it’s no wonder that we damage our tooth enamel and gum tissue over time brushing unconsciously with a random toothbrush.
Second, it’s never made sense to us why some brush manufacturers put colored bristles in the brush and the color is meant to fade over time ‘so you know when to change your brush’. Really? Bristles that are dyed and the color fades with use? After all, where does that color go but in our mouths! 🙁
Being in the business, we do get to try lots of different types of toothbrushes. We tend to stick with our ‘stood the test of time’ Bass brushing technique with our not very fancy Bass toothbrushes. In fact, we’ve had fun back and forth with customers who now love our Bass brushes and admitted that when they received their first Bass brushes from us wondered what dollar store we had purchased them from! (You know who you are! :))
In the end, we agree with many of the experts who contributed to the original article.
Here’s our takeaway from the original article…
“Find a brush and brushing technique that we are most comfortable with and that we can skillfully execute in a conscious way to best support our oral hygiene.” We would add our own gem to the mix… How we brush is fundamentally of greater importance than what type of brush we use.
There’re our 50 words on it! 🙂
What about you? What do you prefer when it comes to manual or electric brushes and why? What feedback have you gotten from your dentist as to how well your choice of toothbrush or brushing technique has been working for you? What have you learned along your path to greater oral health? We’re all in this together after all. We feel so blessed to engage with you in sharing our stories with one another so each of us can benefit from the lessons learned from one another.
Would you like to hear more of our perspective on any of these subjects touched on here? If so, please let us know in the comments below!! (hey, that kind of rhymed 🙂 )
We love you.
Thank you and Aloha!