Does the patient prefer manual or electric?
As long as good technique is used and the patient spends adequate amounts of time (2 minutes) on either then both the manual toothbrush and the electric toothbrush are equally effective. In previous studies there is no significant difference between electric and manual toothbrushes in their ability to remove plaque and prevent gum disease. But there was one study that suggested electric toothbrushes with oscillating and rotating bristles were more effective than manual toothbrushes.
Does cost matter?
Electric toothbrushes are more costly than manual toothbrushes. The American Dental Association recommends that you change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. For Electric toothbrushes, this will require you to purchase a new head, which can range from $10-30 dollars. Although the electric one can be more costly, sometimes having something new and fancy can motivate a patient to be more proactive in using it. Then the patient will have healthier teeth and can reduce costs in dental bills in the long run!
What is suitable for the patient to use?
Ask if the patient has trouble holding a manual brush or if they have any medical conditions such as arthritis, this can make it difficult to use a manual brush correctly. If that is the case, an electric toothbrush is ideal for them. Some people do not like the vibrations that the electric brush gives off when turned on. The average person only brushes for 30 seconds instead of the 2 minutes recommended by the ADA. Another reason electric toothbrushes may be preferred is because they are equipped with a self-timer that beeps every 30 seconds and stays on for the full 2 minutes.
Soft or hard bristles?
Certain brushes will indicate soft bristles on the front. According to the American Dental Association, it is recommended that patients of all ages use soft bristle toothbrushes. Softer bristles are gentler on the gums and can prevent damage if brushing too vigorously.
American Dental Association.http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/toothbrushes.aspx.Accessed on: June 6, 2013.
American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/sections/professionalResources/pdfs/ADA_PatientSmart_Brushing.pdf. Accessed on: June 6, 2013.
Posted by: Heather Nguyen, PharmD. Candidate 2014