Brushing Basics

Toothbrushes of different colors and shapes

Brush every day – keep the dentist away!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Time to replace that old toothbrush! But there are so many types – WHICH one is best?

Muhammad Kashif from the University of the Punjab, Pakistan, wanted to know. He and colleagues recruited thirty millennials and asked them to NOT brush for twenty-four hours. The volunteers then used one of four toothbrush designs. One had bristles that were flat and even. Another’s dipped down in the middle. A third zig-zagged like shark teeth. The last one — criss-cross… applesauce?

Kashif found that while all toothbrushes remove plaque, the criss-cross design was the LEAST effective. That toothbrush removed only about thirty percent of the plaque. Other designs removed a little over half! Why the difference?

Kashif thinks the angles of the criss-cross design actually REDUCE the force of brushing. That means less plaque gets scraped off — and maybe more cavities!

Sometimes simpler is just…better. So when brooding over what brush to buy, don’t overthink it. Just don’t double-cross yourself!

Reference: Kashif, M. (2014). Efficacy of Tooth Brushes of Different Bristles Design in Plaque Removal. Journal of Dental Health, Oral Disorders & Therapy, 1(1).