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Is it worth investing in an electric toothbrush?

Unless you’re a stranger to television, you will be familiar with the many advertisements promoting electric toothbrushes. Most of which claim to have huge benefits for your oral health and promise a brighter, whiter smile. But are they really what they are made out to be? Is it worth making the switch and investing in an electric toothbrush? Scientists conducting research for the Oral Health Foundation, the UK’s leading oral health charity and a globally recognised leader in the field, have now published the official findings of a groundbreaking project that has taken over 11 years to complete. We take a closer look at what they found.

A brief history of the electric toothbrush

If somebody asked you which year the electric toothbrush was invented, what would you guess? The invention actually dates back to 1926, when the earliest model was first produced in the USA. It was not until the 1950’s, however, that the electric toothbrush started to become a popular household item. Unlike today’s designs, it needed to be plugged in during use and ran at mains voltage!

The real beginning of the modern day electric toothbrush was when General Electric introduced a rechargeable, battery powered model to the market in 1961. It was in the 1980’s, as a result of the Gillette group acquiring the Oral-B brand to go along Braun that sales of electric toothbrushes really began to take off in the UK.

Electric toothbrushes in numbers

Although there have been smaller research into the topic, this latest study is the most comprehensive of its kind. Among the key findings it was discovered that:

  • Less the one in two (49%) British adults currently use an electric toothbrush
  • Almost two thirds (63%) of electric toothbrush users say that more effective cleaning is their reason behind the switch
  • More than a third (34%) of users have been persuaded to buy one because of the advice of a dentist 
  • Around one in nine (13%) people have received an electric toothbrush as a gift.

What are the benefits of an electric toothbrush?

The research team concluded that scientists found people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay and also keep their teeth for longer, compared with those who use a manual toothbrush. So why is using an electric toothbrush so much better for your oral health? Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, explains – 

“Health experts have been speaking about the benefits of electric toothbrushes for many years. This latest piece of evidence is one of the strongest and clearest yet. Electric toothbrushes are better for our oral health.

“Electric toothbrushes, especially those with heads that rotate in both directions, or ‘oscillating’ heads, are really effective at removing plaque. This helps keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.

“As the science behind the advantages of electric toothbrushes is mounting, the decision of whether to invest in one becomes much easier.”

Supporting these findings, researchers from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found that electric toothbrushes resulted in 22% less gum recession and 18% less tooth decay over the 11-year period.

The importance of a good oral hygiene regime

Regardless of whether you prefer to use a manual or electric toothbrush, there is no substitute for having a good oral hygiene routine. This is a sentiment that was echoed by Dr. Carter.

“Whether you’re using a manual or electric toothbrush you should be brushing for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste. Also, a good oral health routine would not be complete without using an interdental brush or floss once a day.

“If you follow a good oral health routine then whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, you’ll have a healthy mouth either way.”

Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist

Ultimately, this completely unbiased research has shown that an electric toothbrush can offer genuine benefits as part of a broader oral health routine. However, the best way to get accurate, honest advice on how to keep your teeth and gums in the best possible condition is your dentist. They, together with the dental hygienist, will be more than happy to help you take care of your teeth. For personalised, expert advice, don’t hesitate to ask.

At the multi-award winning Stella Maris Dental Practice in West Bromwich, we’ve been helping our patients to enjoy healthy mouths and beautiful looking teeth for over 32 years. To book an appointment now or to enquire about becoming a member, call us today on 0121 588 4541.


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