If you read the “how to Brush” post on manual brushes, then you know you need to choose a soft bristled brush and employ a circular motion in order optimally clean your teeth. Well…for the consideration of this post – power toothbrushes – we are going to throw that out the window.
That’s right. Forget about traditional brushing wisdom when it comes to power brushes. This is a whole different animal.
There are many power brushes on the market these days from different companies, all with their own unique marketing ploy and their unique bells and whistles. However, there are only two general categories of power brushes – spinners and shakers. That is to say, you have your circular, rotating brushes and your vibrating (sonic) brushes.
My personal preference is the sonic brush because (although the effectiveness of such claims are inconclusive) they offer at least the potential to clean beyond the reach of the bristle. Whereas rotating brushes are definitely limited to cleaning only where the bristle can physically contact the tooth structure. This is a debated topic and not really the purpose of this post.
Regardless of the power brush you prefer, studies show that they will ALWAYS outperform manual brushing when used properly. So rest assured, whatever power brush you have is better than even the best soft bristled manual brush out there.
Now that we have established that power brushing is the preferred method for optimal cleanliness, let’s discuss technique.
Step 1: incline the toothbrush so that the bristles are pointed toward the gums at a 45 degree angle (same as manual brushing).
Step 2: DO NOT use any type of cleaning motion! Once the bristles are oriented properly, you only need to move the brush head in order to position it on to the next tooth. You aren’t required to use any type of cleaning motion – in fact, that will only impede the proper functionality of a power brush. Simply allow the brush to stay properly oriented on the tooth for sufficient time (about 4 seconds per surface) and then move to the next tooth (different than manual brushing).
NOTE: with power brushing, it is best to think of your movement in terms of cleaning “one-tooth-at-a-time”, even if the brush head is wide enough to cover two teeth or more.
Step 3: maintain a light – medium-light pressure throughout the entire brushing period. It is acceptable with power brushing to use a slight “lifting” motion when moving the brush from tooth-to-tooth. This might be helpful in reducing the risk of gum recession due to improper pressure. Some modern power brushes have a safety feature that automatically pauses the sequence if increased pressure is applied (similar to manual brushing).
Step 4: brush for at least 2 minutes (same as manual brushing). Most modern power brushes are programmed to turn off after 2 minutes or will have an alarm set to provide an alert at 30 second intervals, which is great for helping you track brushing time.
Step 5: rinse and spit : )