Frequently asked questions about electric toothbrushes
Do I need an electric toothbrush?
The evidence, and the expert advice, says yes. The Telegraph caught up with dentist Dr Toby Edwards-Lunn, who helped pen a detailed guide on how best to brush teeth, and he was unequivocal on the benefits of going electric.
“This day and age the technology is so good, you don’t need to put any elbow grease into it. The brush does it for us,” said Dr Edwards-Lunn. “From the age of six to 96, all my patients are aided by using an electric toothbrush.”
Simply switching to an electric toothbrush cannot guarantee healthy teeth. A good toothpaste, brushing technique, brushing at the right time and flossing are all crucial too. But an electric toothbrush is certainly a good start.
Will electric toothbrushes help with gum disease?
“Patients who use electric toothbrushes are a lot less likely to suffer from gum disease,” says Dr Edwards-Lunn, co-founder of Dr Heff’s Remarkable Mints, a sugar-free mint that helps protect teeth from tooth decay and acid attacks throughout the day. “Unfortunately, gum disease is a multifactoral disease. Just having an electric toothbrush doesn’t mean you won’t get it. But it will mean the risk is much reduced. The most important thing is removing the plaque.”
And with more than half of patients the dentist sees having a high plaque score – even those who brush twice a day –moving to an electric option will certainly help.
Will electric toothbrushes help with receding gums?
“Gums recede for lots of reasons. Patients can be susceptible to it, or they can sometimes brush too hard. They can have past problems with gum disease, which could have caused it. And they can have a thin biotype of gum, where it’s a genetic thing.
“Because an electric toothbrush does the work for you, and will hopefully tell you when you’re pushing too hard, it can help protect against further recession.”
Will electric toothbrushes whiten my teeth?
“There’s a common misconception with whitening teeth. All the on-shelf products won’t whiten your teeth, they will reduce the amount of stain on your teeth. You’ve got extrinsic stains, which are on the outside of the teeth, from food, drinks and cigarettes.
“Intrinsic stains are down to age or genetics. Tooth whitening in the dental surgery affects intrinsic stains. By using an electric toothbrush you are going to reduce the likelihood of putting on extrinsic stains, but will not remove the stain once they’re already in .”
Can electric toothbrushes damage my teeth?
“Yes. If you’re pushing too hard, or you are timing your brush incorrectly. For instance, on a night out you probably will be putting acidic and sweet things around your teeth. You’ll probably damage your teeth by brushing them. After something sweet or acidic leave it for about 45 minutes.”
The same goes for breakfast, where acidic things like fruit can soften the outer surface, and immediate brushing would be harmful. As for scratching the teeth, as long as you don’t push too hard, you should be all right.