When it comes to toothbrush options, there is definitely a wide variety! Choices range from your basic, good ol' manual $2 brush to the fanciest electric brush that you have to sell the family dog to pay for! What's hot, what's not, and what is worth selling Spike for...
Toothbrushes: The Basics
This is what comes to mind for most people when they think of a toothbrush. These typically have plastic handles with synthetic fiber bristles that come in varying levels of firmness. Many new ecofriendly options made of wood or bamboo are becoming more popular if you are looking for a brush that doesn't contain plastic. Most manual brushes range from $1-$8 and can be found just about anywhere. These will get the job done if you are very diligent, but you really need to be mindful about brushing for a full two minutes and not going overboard with the elbow grease which can cause damage to gums and teeth. We never recommend using anything other than a soft bristle brush. Medium or firm bristles will cause damage to gums and teeth.
Pros: inexpensive, easily accessible, several sizes and shapes to fit your personal preferences, many design and color options
Cons: no timer to keep you on task, increased risk for damage caused by brushing too hard, only able to clean where the bristles can reach
Electric brushes come in all shapes and sizes. This is one area where we feel like you often get what you pay for. That being said, don't sell Spike just yet! Not everyone needs the fanciest options with all of the bells and whistles. You can usually find great brushes at reasonable prices. Electric brushes can be split into battery operated and rechargeable/electric options.
Battery operated brushes are typically found right along side the manual toothbrushes at the store. The Crest Spinbrush and Oral B Gum Care Brush are two popular options. These brushes use AA or AAA battery power to vibrate the brush and give a little extra ump to your brushing power.
Most battery operated options cost between $5-$25 and most allow for battery replacement as needed. The vibration can help remove plaque in hard to reach places, which makes this a step up from a traditional manual brush. unfortunately, they don't quite provide the same level of clean that a rechargeable brush can.
Rechargeable brushes are considered the Cadillac of toothbrush-land. Many new options come and go on the market, but Oral B and Sonicare are mainstays. Both companies make great toothbrushes that plug in to recharge but there are a few main differences.
Oral B uses vibration and rotation and has a small round head to reach tight spaces. Sonicare has an oval shaped head and uses soundwave technology to vibrate the toothpaste and saliva between your teeth and into nooks and crannies that can't be reached by the bristles themselves. Both companies offer different models with varying levels of upgraded features (such as UV light sanitizers, tongue cleaners, pressure sensors to prevent you from brushing too hard, smart phone app integration, multiple brush settings to accommodate sensitivity or orthodontic appliances, and extra charging devices). Sonicare and Oral B both plug in to recharge once a week (or so).
Sonicare and Oral B both require replacement brush heads 2-4 times a year. These cost between $8-20 per head depending on what you choose. A basic Sonicare without all of the bells and whistles costs around $50. A basic Oral B brush costs around $30. Both basic models will give you extra cleaning power, the ability to reach spaces that cannot be reached with a manual brush, and a timer to keep you brushing for two minutes. A Sonicare Diamond Clean system that comes with every possible upgraded feature runs between $250-$300. The top of the line Oral B Genius 8000 runs around $150. Both brushes rank similarly in clinical trials when it comes to plaque removal and overall oral health. Our dental hygienists at Brosy Family tend to favor the Sonicare brand as they feel that they see cleaner, healthier smiles in patients who use them. See the links below to learn more about Oral B and Sonicare models.
Pros: lower gum disease and cavity rate, cleaner teeth, less damage to gums, more effective
Cons: higher cost, have to recharge
So what's it worth?
When used correctly, an electric brush will definitely outperform any manual brush and provide you with the safest, healthiest cleaning experience. A battery operated option is great for toddlers or people not wanting to spend a bit more for a higher quality rechargeable brush, but it doesn't come with the cleaning technology that higher end options offer.
A rechargeable brush is the way to go! A cleaner, healthier mouth means an overall healthier body, lower decay rates, healthier gums, and less money out of your pocket in the long run. If you are someone who is motivated by all of the fancy features and they will inspire you to reach triple gold star levels of oral health, then it may be worth the extra dough (sorry Spike!) to go for the top of the line. If you aren't extra motivated by all of the fanciness but still love the healthy, squeeky-clean feel that a rechargeable electric brush provides, a basic $30-50 model will make your dreams come true.
Learn more about electric options here: