An electric white smile

To take care of one’s teeth is first to brush them regularly to eliminate the enemy: dental plaque. With either a simple manual toothbrush or a more sophisticated electric. But do these electric models make cleaning more efficient?

  • Dental hygiene, a public health issue

Having good teeth is important for a health issue. This requires good oral hygiene. Otherwise, bacterial deposits accumulate on the teeth resulting in the appearance of caries and inflammation of the tissues around the teeth, so gingivitis, periodontitis, and risk of loosening of the teeth. And this can even have other negative effects on general health.

If teeth are a clear indicator of socio-economic disparities, the poorest are not the only ones to give up dental care. This is the paradox of our society which has chosen to focus on prevention while not allowing all the same accessibility to dental care, for lack of reimbursement by the basic health insurance.

  • A short history of brushing teeth

Before the appearance of fluorescent plastic brushes and electric brushes, how were the teeth cleaned? Elements of answer to the Dental Museum of the Faculty of Odontology of the University of Lyon.

If the Sumerians (3000 years BC) were already using toothpicks, the man first used the finger, then came up with the idea of ​​chewing pieces of stringy wood to remove what was stuck between his teeth. Soon, a variety of ointments and other powders appeared to help brushing, not to mention floss made of silk.

The first traditional toothbrush was invented by the Chinese in the late fifteenth century. In Europe, brushes of the nineteenth century are made of animal hair and have handles of wood or bone.

  • The electric toothbrush

The emergence of sophisticated electric toothbrushes dates back to the early 1960s. Today, the multiple models available in stores can be categorized into three categories. Rotating brushes have a mechanical action by their movement on the teeth. Those of the sonic type vibrate to create with the saliva and the toothpaste a hydrodynamic flow which removes the dental plaque. Finally, the brush equipped with an ultrasound chip claims a cleaning of dental plaque without the slightest mechanical movement.

What type of brush should be favored? The electric or the manual? The dentists are unanimous: it depends on each patient. The electric brush may have benefits for some at-risk patients.


  • The accessories of brushing teeth

If dental floss is still a good way to remove plaque where the toothbrush cannot reach, its use is often difficult. Professionals advise more and more another accessory that will have the same effect: the brush.

On the other hand, chewing gum, chewed by those who do not have the opportunity to brush their teeth after lunch, does not replace a real brushing.

Another product of dental prophylaxis has multiplied on the shelves of supermarkets: the mouthwash. This liquid solution does not replace the real brushing but will provide fluoride that helps fight against cavities. It is also necessary to avoid mouthwashes based on alcohol or containing dyes.

Dental professionals remain cautious about the use of this chemical, which they do not consider essential, and prefer to reserve it for a few at-risk populations such as the elderly or children undergoing orthodontic treatment.