Should I use an electric or manual toothbrush?
No ambiguity here: even an entry-level electric beats a manual. “Power toothbrushes can remove up to twice the plaque and really help to improve your gum health in the longer term,” says Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation.
The two main types are the oscillating-rotating brush (Oral-B has a wide range) and the sonic brush (Philips Sonicare is the leading brand). The latter has the benefit of a faster brushing motion, but it doesn’t really matter which you choose, says Dr Nyree Whitley, group clinical director of the dental-care provider, the key point is minimising the need for manual dexterity: “It can be quite challenging to put the toothbrush at 45 degrees, get circular motions and the right amount of pressure on the tooth.”
How long should I brush for?
Two minutes – though most of us do not come close to that. The average time spent brushing is 43 seconds, says Carter. He suggests parents should get kids used to brushing for two minutes, even if their smaller mouths can be done in less time, as “that’s the habit they’re going to keep for life.” The Oral Health Foundation’s advice is to start as soon as the first teeth appear, with a children’s brush, and supervise until the age of seven.
Another advantage an electric toothbrush has over a manual is that many now come with timers or apps that connect to your brush via Bluetooth to monitor and tell you how long you spend brushing. That means having your phone to hand every time you brush, but let’s be real: it’s never far away anyway.
Coverage also matters. The more hi-tech electric toothbrushes, such as the Oral-B iO series, use artificial intelligence (or “3D teeth tracking”) to ensure that all areas of your mouth get equal attention. The latest model retails for a mind-boggling £500, although they can usually be found discounted to half that price, advises Carter. I try to imagine circumstances where I would spend £250 on a toothbrush, and can’t. Just make sure you pay equal attention to the inner, outer and biting surfaces of every tooth.
Is it hygienic to brush my teeth in the shower?
This issue was raised on Reddit’s No Stupid Questions forum. A man’s girlfriend called him weird for brushing his teeth in the shower, out of some vaguely articulated sanitary concern. He said it was a “normal thing most people do”.
The response from Reddit was mostly along the lines of: why would it be weird? “I mean, I’m still going to stand there for a while blankly staring into the void, may as well brush my teeth,” was the top-voted comment.
My dental professionals respond with similar bemusement. “Certainly don’t utilise the toothbrush as a loofah at the same time – but, it’s fine,” says Whitley. Carter agrees: “I don’t think it matters where you brush.”
I say, if you’re hung up on your