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December 29th, 2011

Walk down the aisle in the pharmacy or the grocery store where the oral health care products are.  Wow, what a variety of choices just in toothbrushes.  What to buy and how to decide.  Different shapes, sizes, bristle types, etc.  So what is the proper one?
As with most things, there isn’t necessarily one choice that’s best for everyone.  But there are some reasonable guidelines.  First, the bristles on your brush should be soft polished end nylon.  Most brushes today are constructed this way and with good reason.  In many studies, it has been found that .007inch diameter polished end nylon bristles do the best job of removing plaque from around the gum line without doing damage to the soft tissues.  Those stiff bristles damage the gums and abrade the tooth surface and are best kept for detailing the car or cleaning the cracks in the garage floor.
While many people like a large head brush, a smaller head allows the bristles to get into tighter spaces and better clean in areas where teeth are crowded or overlapped.  The head size needs to be the right size for your mouth.  And what about those fancy designs with multilevel bristles?  In a recent study, it was found that a conventional simple toothbrush design was just as effective as more expensive, complex bristle design.
Most important might be to replace your brush when it’s worn.  Splayed and bent bristles do little cleaning and indicate the need for replacement.  This may come sooner for those with braces and bridge work.
Power brushes are a great option for many people.  They all use the proper bristle type and many add the advantage of a two minute timer built in.  Those who use power brushes in some studies were shown to be brushing longer.  Additionally, some brushes have colored bristles that lose their color over time.  When the color is 2/3 gone, it’s time for a new brush.

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