Electric toothbrush a snappy last-minute present

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If you're still searching for a Christmas gift for that special someone why not consider giving an electric toothbrush?

It's something a person can appreciate using every day and can help keep their teeth looking their best.

But how would you choose one? There seem to be so many choices.

You have probably noticed that lately, there has been a barrage of advertising for different electric toothbrushes and from the questions we get people aren't sure if they work better than the old-fashioned handheld brushes, the most effective way to use one and of course, which brand is best.

From the dental professional's perspective electric toothbrushes definitely provide significant advantages and remove more plaque than the classic handheld style.

There are three basic varieties of electric brush types: round brushes that spin; traditional shaped brushes that vibrate, such as the Sonicare; and round brushes that both spin and vibrate, such as the Oral-B Triumph.

The two leading brands are Sonicare and Oral B, with a third very effective brush available only through dental offices, the Rotadent.

A good brush will have a two-minute timer, no-fuss rechargeable battery and a handle you can easily grip.

The Oral B Triumph and the Sonicare have multiple speed settings so you can dial in your comfort level.

Speaking of comfort, use the soft blue brush head with the Oral B -- the stiffer yellow head feels like you're using a weed whacker to clean your teeth.

Use the soft head with no toothpaste as the extra strokes with an electric toothbrush combined with the abrasives in tooth paste could mean more wear along the gum line of your teeth.

Clean the inside of the lower teeth for the first 30 seconds, as this area usually sees the least toothbrush time, then the outside of the lower teeth for the next 30 seconds. Then follow the same pattern with the top teeth.

Follow the two-minute use of the brush by brushing your tongue with a regular toothbrush and toothpaste to remove lurking halitosis bacteria and make your breath smell minty fresh.

Be sure to use something to clean between your teeth such as floss, a Waterpik or little brushes, as not even an electric brush can properly remove bacteria from in between the teeth.

So which of these three electric toothbrushes is best? For people with fragile, receding gum tissue the Rotadent is the best as it has the softest bristles.

For everyone else I think the choice is the Oral B Triumph or the Sonicare.

Consumer Reports recently gave Oral-B a slight edge over the Sonicare but ultimately the best brush is the one you'll use twice a day. These brushes can be found at most major retailers, pharmacies and at Costco. Dental offices will also often stock their favorite brand, too.

These brushes make an excellent Christmas gift and if you need more information in selecting one, ask your dentist or hygienist what they recommend.

Dr. Eric Gustavsen practices dentistry at Southpoint Dental Center, 1129 S. Second Ave. More information on his practice can be found at www.southpointdentalcenter.com.

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