The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”.  A toothbrush is only effective if it is used properly by its owner.  Although the idea of a self-propelled toothbrush is appealing, dental technology has yet to advance to this point.  Ergonomic toothbrushes can improve the working relationship between “toothbrush” and “brusher” in several ways.

Ergonomics is defined as the science of improving the ease and efficiency with which people use products. A simpler way to explain this is to say that ergonomic products are designed around our body. This practice allows us to put less strain on our bodies when using a product.  An ergonomic keyboard is an example that most of us are familiar with.

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Just as an ergonomic keyboard is designed to allow more natural hand, finger and arm movements, an ergonomic toothbrush is designed to make brushing easier.  The ADA recommends brushing at least twice a day for two minutes.  Ergonomic toothbrushes can make this process easier in several ways.  They have lighter handles with grips, and both the handles and heads are designed to fit your hands and your mouth.

Ergonomically designed brush heads allow you to reach areas of your mouth which are difficult to clean using a traditional brush head.  Ergonomic brush heads also contain bristles of different lengths to provide better cleaning between teeth.  Ergonomic handles give you a more natural grip which allows you to have more control over your brushing.  Lighter handles and reduced vibration of electric toothbrushes make the two minutes of brushing more comfortable.

Some manufacturers of ergonomic toothbrushes have made the claim that their brush heads last longer than traditional toothbrushes, so they don’t need to be replaced as often.  Toothbrushes need to be replaced every three months, or when the bristles wear out and begin to fray.  If you are wearing out your bristles every two months, you may want to consider using an ergonomic toothbrush.

Although some ergonomic toothbrushes display the ADA seal, the ADA has yet to weigh in on ergonomic toothbrushes.  The ADA seal addresses the effectiveness of cavity prevention, gingivitis reduction, and brush safety.  The ADA seal DOES NOT guarantee that ergonomic toothbrushes effectively do a better job at cleaning than traditional toothbrushes.  Ergonomic toothbrushes that bear the ADA seal are toothbrushes which have been proven to effectively fight cavities and gingivitis, with a differently designed handle/head.

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Ergonomic toothbrushes are a good choice for toddlers who don’t yet have the fine motor coordination needed to use a traditional toothbrush.  Individuals with medical conditions such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia often experience pain while brushing.  An ergonomic toothbrush could make brushing less painful, and allow brushing for the required two minutes.  Individuals with neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or stroke may also benefit from ergonomically designed toothbrushes.

If you are currently able to thoroughly brush for two minutes, then an ergonomic toothbrush probably won’t improve your smile. However, if your brushing is limited due to pain or coordination difficulties, an ergonomic toothbrush may be a better choice.