I have arthritis in my hands that affects my grip strength and dexterity and makes brushing my teeth difficult. I have read that electric powered toothbrushes help make the job easier. Can you provide any tips or recommendations on what to get?
For individuals who suffer from arthritis or have other hand weaknesses, an electric toothbrush is a great solution to keep your teeth clean. At the push of a button, an electric toothbrush will do the cleaning for you. Most come with a wide handle and rubberized grip to make it easier and more comfortable to grip.
How to Choose
With dozens of different electric toothbrushes on the market today, here are several key points you will need to consider to help you choose:
- Cost: The cost of electric toothbrushes will range from $15 up to around $300. As such, you will need to determine how much you are willing to spend.
- Brushing action: Brush heads tend to be either "spinning," meaning that they rotate quickly in one direction then in the other direction with bristles that may pulsate in and out, or "sonic," meaning they vibrate side to side. Both methods are effective and a matter of personal preference.
- Electric versus battery: Choose a brush with a built-in rechargeable battery and an electric charging station. They are much more convenient and cost effective than toothbrushes that use replaceable batteries.
- Brushing timer: Since most dentists recommend brushing for two minutes (and most adults brush less than 60 seconds), get a power toothbrush with a built-in timer. Some brushes will even split the two minutes onto four 30-second intervals and will notify you when it is time to switch to a different quadrant of your mouth.
- Extra features: Many higher-priced electric brushes come with various settings such as sensitive (gentler cleaning) or massage (gum stimulation), a charge-level display and other features. There are even "smart" toothbrushes on the market that connect to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to track brushing habits.
Top Electric Toothbrushes
While there are many makes and models of electric toothbrushes to choose from, two of the best-selling, top-rated products to consider are the Oral B Pro 1000 (spinning brush head) and the Philips Sonicare Series (vibrating brush head). Both are simple, very effective at removing plaque and reasonably priced at around $50. They also both offer two-minute timers, rechargeable batteries and a range of brush heads to meet your needs.
Easier Flossing Products
If flossing is difficult too, a good alternative to traditional string floss is a floss pick. Floss picks are disposable plastic-handle tools that have floss threaded onto them, making them easier to hold and use. DenTek, Oral-B and others sell packages for a few dollars. Also, check out the Reach Access Flosser, which comes with a toothbrush-like handle for a better reach.
There are other flossing devices to consider that are easy on the hands. Power flossers gently vibrate to dislodge embedded food particles between your teeth. Water flossers use high-pressured pulsating water to remove food particles and plaque and stimulate your gums in the process. All of these dental care products can be found at your local pharmacy or retailer that sells personal care items or online.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.