Should You Invest in Electric Toothbrushes and Water Flossers?

Author: Jeff Salmeri

Are electric toothbrushes, water flossers, and other electric dental tools better than manual devices? Not always. Electric toothbrushes and water flossers are frequently recommended by dentists, but they aren’t always necessary. Let's explore what options are best for you.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes make it easier to brush your teeth. If you have a dexterity issue or arthritis, you may not be able to brush effectively enough, which can eventually cause cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Electric toothbrushes make the process of brushing quite easy: you just turn it on, hold it against your teeth, and it does the job for you.

The core problem of an electric toothbrush lies in the issue of over brushing. When you brush your teeth, you're trying to remove bacteria and film from the surface of your teeth. Brush a little too hard, and you start damaging the protective surface of your teeth—the enamel. If you wear down your enamel, then you become more likely to experience cavities, rather than less.

Using an electric toothbrush makes it harder to control how fast or how hard you're brushing your teeth, which means that you're more likely to experience issues of over brushing.

Dental Flossing vs. Water Flossing

Flossing is used to clean out the areas between your teeth and gums. With dental flossing, you manually agitate this area using a thin string. With water flossing, pressurized water is used to clean out this area. Both mechanically do the same thing, but water flossing is considered to be much easier for those who don't have the dexterity (or the patience) to use traditional floss.

But is it as effective? According to the Mayo Clinic, it really isn't. While it does help with cleaning between your teeth and keeping your gums healthy, it's not as effective at removing harmful bacteria and build up between your gums and teeth. It's better than nothing, but it is never going to be as good as manually cleaning your teeth.

That being said, often the choice isn't between dental flossing and water flossing, but between water flossing and nothing at all. If you find yourself going without flossing altogether, then a water flosser is still going to be a good addition to your dental health.

Not All Electric Toothbrushes and Flossers Are Made the Same

When electric toothbrushes and water flossers first became available, they were essentially at-home medical devices that had a significant amount of quality control and technology behind them. As they became more popular, cheaper ones started flooding the market. Today, these home dental tools are found in virtually any grocery store. That's great in some ways, but dangerous in others.

Having more electric toothbrushes and water flossers available means that it's easier to get a good one for a good price. However, it also means that some are just not safe to regularly use. A very cheap electric toothbrush could cause more damage than good, and a cheap water flosser could be borderline ineffective.

Regardless of whether electric toothbrushes or water flossers are "good" for your teeth, you should always follow a dentist's recommendation regarding which brand and model to get. Otherwise, you could run the risk of getting something that's harmful for your teeth and gums.

The Bottom Line

If you're currently having issues effectively brushing or flossing your teeth, then an electric toothbrush or water flosser (recommended by your dentist) can absolutely help. They will be able to bridge the gap between what you're currently doing and what you should be doing, especially if you have dexterity issues that prevent you from brushing or flossing effectively.

On the other hand, if you can brush and floss your teeth on your own (and just haven't developed the habit), regular manual brushing and flossing is usually preferred. Either way, what's important is that you do something. There are also many other easy ways to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Are you interested in the potential benefits of electric toothbrushes or water flossing? Ask us during your next visit if these home dental tools could be right for you. 

Posted in: Dental Health and Wellness | General and Family Dentistry