The concept of ergonomics has resulted in a reinvention of the simple toothbrush — but can the new toothbrushes really make a difference?
The practice of brushing your teeth hasn’t changed much since 1938, the year that the modern toothbrush was introduced. But the toothbrush itself has evolved quite a bit.
Stroll through the oral health aisle at your local drugstore and you may be surprised by the number of toothbrush styles available and the claims made by manufacturers about the effectiveness of their toothbrushes.
The key, toothbrush manufacturers say, is ergonomics — the science of improving the ease and efficiency with which people use products. So-called ergonomic toothbrushes sport specially designed handles or brush heads to help get teeth cleaner.
Whether manual or electric, these ergonomic toothbrush designs are marketed with the promise that their shape can help you perfect the proper brushing angle and feel more comfortable during the brushing process. Some are even said to brush teeth and massage gums simultaneously — and last much longer than run-of-the-mill toothbrushes.
Do these promises hold up? According to dentist Catrise Austin, DDS, of VIP Smiles in New York City, the handles of ergonomic toothbrushes are often lighter and include grips to help people hold their brushes more easily. The heads serve different functions, too — the bristles on some models form a convex shape to help clean the lower front teeth. “They’re designed to make brushing easier, especially in the most difficult-to-clean areas of the mouth, like the lower front teeth or the upper back molars,” Dr. Austin explains.
Ergonomic vs. Regular Brushes
Despite the comfort factor, using an ergonomic toothbrush is not a guarantee of good oral health. Most adults won’t see major benefits from them as compared to ordinary toothbrushes. “If you know how to use a normal, regular toothbrush, the advantages won’t be extremely significant,” Austin says.
People who may benefit from an ergonomic toothbrush include children who have not yet developed the manual dexterity needed to brush properly and adults who have physical limitations, such as people who have had strokes or those with Parkinson’s disease. “They could also help people who are just not effective brushers, so they can get to areas they can’t easily reach,” says Austin.
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Courtesy of Everyday Health
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