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 September 23, 2003
House & Home
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Toothbrush Test
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Morning and night we brush, and brush...hoping to brush food and plaque away...but do we? . There are so many toothbrushes out there...one dollar, five dollars, fifteen, even one hundred and more. They have flat bristles, some are shaped, they're blue, green, long, short, soft, hard, they even spin and oscillate...oh my! So which brush does the best job?

Providence dentist Mahra Rubinstein says it's not the size, shape, color or even claim of the brush that will get your teeth the cleanest. She says that's all just "packaging and marketing."

So what about the ever-trusted American Dental Association "Seal of Approval?" Does that make a difference? Rubinstein says, "it doesn't mean a thing."

Eyewitness news contacted the ADA to ask about how brushes get their approval. While they do test for safety and effectiveness, not all brushes out there are looked at by the ADA. As a matter of fact, the American Dental Association admits that the seal program is "strictly voluntary." They go on to say that "manufacturers commit significant resources to evaluate, test, and market products under the seal program."

Rubinstein says the operator has complete control when it comes to clean teeth. First, you need to chose a brush.

--Size and Texture--

Our dentist tells us size and texture are important.

Mahra Rubinstein/Dentist "The general rule of thumb for a toothbrush head is to have it be no bigger than an inch by a half and inch."

Rubinstein points out that some of the less expensive electric brushes...like this Crest spin brush...are too big to get into the crevices and clean effectively. As far as texture goes...always go soft.

Mahra Rubinstein "The harder toothbrush can actually brush away the gums."


This dentist tells us, if you're using a manual toothbrush, technique is important.

Mahra Rubinstein "A 45-degree angle, towards the gum line..."

With a manual toothbrush, proper technique and flossing, you can achieve the same plaque-free outcome as with an expensive electric. But this dentist believes results prove otherwise.

Mahra Rubinstein "In my experience, when you see patients you have a lot less bleeding, a lot less tartar build-up."

--The two minute drill--

The other factor in clean teeth is the time you spend. Our dentist says the recommendation is at least two minutes. A manual brush will work, but again here, the electric helps achieve better results.

Mahra Rubinstein "They have timers on them - so you have no choice but to brush for two minutes."

And unlike your wrist, these brushes work at 30-40 thousand brush strokes per minute, cleaning a lot more effectively.

Both Oral-b and Sonicare have different models of powered toothbrushes. Oral-b's will run you 50 to 100 dollars depending on where you shop and which model you chose. Sonicare is considered the "Cadillac" of powered brushes, they run between 80 and 130 dollars.

For more information on the ADA and toothbrushes, log on to the ADA web site.

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