The practice of oral hygiene hasn't changed much over the years, but with our increasing understanding of ergonomics, simple toothbrushes are being reinvented. But do they make a difference to tooth cleaning? Toothbrushes have evolved over the years – evidence of this is clear at any store isle today. Ergonomics – or the science of increasing ease and efficiency of product use – has influenced the modern toothbrush by making it easier to handle and installing bristles that can get teeth cleaner.
There are now electric ergonomic toothbrushes, which manufacturers claim to last longer and help you get the best brushing angle while massaging the gums. The heads come in different shapes – some models have convex-shaped bristles to clean lower front teeth and hard-to-reach places in the mouth like the upper molars.
Who should use ergonomic toothbrushes?
Apart from the increased comfort while handling, ergonomic toothbrushes don't make much difference to an adult compared with regular brushes. However, children, who have yet to develop the manual dexterity required for proper brushing, would benefit greatly from these brushes. They can also be used by adults with physical disabilities that limit their manual dexterity, such as those who have suffered strokes or Parkinson's disease patients. However, people who are ineffective brushers could also benefit from the ease these brushes give.
No toothbrush is a replacement for good oral hygiene
Having said the above, it is worth mentioning that how you brush your teeth has greater impact than what you brush with. Dentists recommend brushing teeth thrice a day, after mealtimes, using up-down strokes and including the lips and tongue to prevent plaque build-up. However, work schedules make noontime brushing almost impossible. You can xylitol gum or rinse with mouthwash in lieu of brushing after lunch. In addition, flossing at least once daily is recommended to reach in between the teeth, where no toothbrush can access.
Dentists recommend brushing for a minimum of two full minutes, taking care to thoroughly reach every area of the mouth without over-scrubbing. This can cause the enamel to be worn away resulting in gum and tooth sensitivity. A soft-bristled toothbrush rather than hard or medium bristles should be used.
Regardless of your choice of brush, it should be replaced regularly – as soon as the bristles are too worn to brush effectively. If you're worried about the cleanliness of your toothbrush between brushings, you can get a brush sanitizer, which uses UV light to kill germs on the brush.