Via the LA Times:
Your first toothbrush probably didn’t come with a user’s manual. You picked the thing up, put it in your mouth, moved it across your teeth in a vaguely up-and-down fashion, and called it good.
Old-school toothbrushes are still the norm in medicine cabinets everywhere. Dentists hand them out for free by the ton, and stores sell them for a few bucks apiece. Rotary brushes powered by AAA batteries that cost $10 are another popular option. But scan those store shelves, and you can find “sonic” toothbrushes that take oral hygiene to a new level of technological sophistication, not to mention a new stratosphere of price.
But do you really need to spend more than $100 for a decent toothbrush?
The short answer is “no.” You don’t need to spend so much on a toothbrush. A regular manual toothbrush can be very effective if used correctly. But that’s a big if.
What is the correct way to use a manual brush?
A soft-bristled hand brush is ideal, used at a 45º angle to the gum line, brushing towards the top of each tooth. Clean each tooth individually, overlapping as you move through your mouth. In front, where your dental arches narrow and curve, use the tip of your brush. The whole process should take 2 minutes and be done as soon as possible after eating.
Also check out this visual guide to brushing.
That said, there are two big reasons we think a sonic toothbrush is a worthwhile investment. Most importantly, their high-speed pulsating and oscillating actions make them much more able to thoroughly clean areas that are hard to clean well with a manual brush, especially around the gumline. They also stimulate the soft tissues of the mouth more effectively, acting as a further deterrent against gum disease.
Additionally, most models give an indication after every 30 seconds of use. This makes it easier to remember to spend a full 2 minutes brushing: 30 seconds per quadrant.
Of course, manual brushes have their own virtues. For instance, many find them easier to angle for cleaning the inner arches. Also, cleaning the tongue can be more comfortable with a manual brush.
Thus, we recommend to our clients that they use both, alternating between the two types of brushes on a regular basis.