The earliest recorded use of the bristle toothbrush was during the Tang dynasty in China (years 619-907). Before that, early man used a variety of materials for their oral hygiene needs. From various excavations all over the world, there is increasing evidence that tree twigs, animal bones and even porcupine quills were used by mankind’s early ancestors to “brush” their teeth.
The first electric toothbrush originated in Switzerland in 1954. It was brought to America just five years later, and has since increased in use and popularity not only in North America, but all over the world.
There are three main advantages of using an electric toothbrush. First, there is less of a tendency on the part of the brusher to brush too hard since the toothbrush does all work. It also reduces the horizontal scrubbing motions that manual brushers tend to engage in, which can cause abrasion.
Second, since very little effort is required from someone using an this kind of toothbrush, there is a tendency to brush longer. Longer brushing time, at least two minutes, has always been recommended by dentists as part of good oral hygiene.
Finally, for brushers with limited manual dexterity (such as young children), this toothbrush does have the advantage over a regular toothbrush because all brushers have to do is hold the electric toothbrush properly. Electric toothbrushes can also help in accessing hard-to-reach rear teeth.
One of the disadvantages of electric toothbrushes is of course, their price tag. Depending on the brand and the built-in features, some toothbrushes can cost as much as 10 to 12 times more than regular toothbrushes. The bristle heads also need to be replaced as often as regular toothbrushes. Both need to be replaced every two to three months, depending on usage and the extent of the wear and tear on the bristles.
Moreover, these toothbrushes can break or get damaged when dropped or submerged in water. Although they are portable, these toothbrushes are not as easy as regular toothbrushes to travel with because of their size and bulk.
Most studies and dental professional agree that it is the proper brushing technique and the length of time spent brushing one’s teeth that makes a real difference. Just like any tool, the electric toothbrush is only as effective as the person using it. Ultimately, the tug-of-war between electric toothbrushes and regular ones is settled by personal preference.