Waters Family Dentistry

What is the difference between a power and a manual toothbrush?

For years, the manual toothbrush has been the primary oral hygiene tool for removing plaque on a daily basis. Manual toothbrushes play an important role and can still do the job. However, with the evolution of the power toothbrush, many patients are choosing this alternative.

For most of us, brushing has become so routine we don’t give it much thought. The result is that many times we short-change our brushing time. We may be thinking about our “to-do” list and not pay attention to which teeth we have brushed or how long we brush in each area. Power brushes can greatly assist by providing audible beeps that prompt you to move your brush. They also have built-in timers that brush for a standard two minutes. With some brands, you can even customize the length or amount of vibration in your brushing sessions.

Power brushes can also be an advantage for getting children engaged in brushing. There is an “entertainment” factor, and the built-in timers help establish healthy habits. Regardless of which type of brush is used, parents should be supervising their children while they are brushing until they are age seven. This is to make sure they don’t miss the hard to reach spots like the inside surfaces of teeth near the tongue or the back molars.

Mechanical brushes vary in their mode of action; some vibrate, and others oscillate or spin. Sonicare is the brand we recommend in our office. It offers up to 31,000 vibrating strokes per minute. Beyond the mechanical cleaning of the brush, a secondary cleansing action occurs when the speed of the bristles disrupts the plaque. Studies have shown that power brushes can remove up to seven times more plaque than traditional manual toothbrushes.

For patients who have dexterity issues due to carpal tunnel, arthritis or stroke, the power brush requires less strength and movement from the wrist and elbow. It is also beneficial for orthodontic patients to clean around their braces effectively.

Whether you choose a manual or power toothbrush, it is important to angle your bristles at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline. At your next appointment with our hygienist, we can review your oral hygiene technique and discuss any areas in your mouth that may need additional care.

To schedule your dental cleaning appointment, please call our office at (308) 382-1734, and we will find a convenient time that works with your schedule.