Despite the variety and advancements in toothbrushes today, people don’t brush long enough to get the best results, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.
“Since many people brush during the morning or at night with the radio on, I tell my patients to brush for one song,” says Luke Matranga, DDS, one of the Academy’s past presidents. “That’s about three minutes — the right amount of time to get the best results from brushing.”
The modern toothbrush has changed a lot since it was invented in China in 1000 A.D. with bristles made from horse hair. Today, they come in fashion colors with angled heads, raised bristles that change color with use. But the mechanical and physical improvements of toothbrushes are not effective unless they are used correctly.
“People will swear that they’ve brushed three to four minutes, but the average person brushes for less than a minute. This is not long enough to search all areas of the mouth and scrub off cavity causing bacteria,” says Dr. Matranga.
Generally, a toothbrush should have a long, wide handle with soft bristles. Be sure to brush on both sides of the teeth and the tongue. Change toothbrushes every three to four months before their bristles become frayed. Also toss the toothbrush after an illness to avoid harmful bacteria harbored in the bristles.
Electric toothbrushes are a great option for those who have limited dexterity, such as older people or arthritis suffers, and are effective for people with braces since the rotating heads can clean hard-to-reach areas.