Dental Diaries: A new toothbrush

2012 10 09 14 00 55 783 Sheri Doniger 2012 70

There is nothing like the feel of a new toothbrush. The fresh bristles really do what they are supposed to do, and the gingiva truly appreciates it. Regardless if you use a manual or power brush, the feel of a new brush is much different than one that is past its prime.

Why would I wax poetically about a toothbrush? Something most of us give out to our patients on a daily basis? The same oral care device we stress our patient's use device twice a day? The only one we are almost guaranteed they will use (well, better odds than flossing)? The very device we advise them to change every three months or after a bout with the cold or flu?

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

Why? Because I recently realized that I, too, fell into the forgetfulness trap. It suddenly dawned on me that I seriously could not remember when I last replaced my own toothbrush. I know it's been more than four months, possibly more than six months. It doesn't seem to matter that I mention it several times a day to my patients, the potential damage old toothbrush bristles do the tooth and gingiva. I just plain forgot. No different than our patients? Probably not, but I should have known better or realized it sooner.

Is this the typical "shoemaker's shoes" dilemma? Possibly. I am sure everyone goes for regular preventive services with their hygienist or a dentist friend. We may not be as diligent in six-month recare appointments, but we DO floss every day, right? We are, after all, models of oral health behavior for our patients. Yes, we may still have dental decay and restorative needs, but aside from our professional skills, we may also have years of hereditary to combat.

So I am now happily using my new toothbrush. I know I will visit one of the toothbrush booths at the ADA Annual Session this week and grab a different one for my travel bag. It's a great opportunity to see what else is out there, to change up what we normally recommend. Many of us are so brand loyal that we never change a product we have ordered in our offices forever since dental school. It is always good to check out the other brands to see if a change in style or something that would better accommodate our patients' needs is available.

I will be more diligent in changing the brush next time. Maybe autoshipment every three months to my house will be a better reminder. Until then, a memo in my smartphone will have to do.

Happy brushing!

Sheri Suggests: Philips Sonicare AirFloss

The Sonicare AirFloss
The Sonicare AirFloss. Image courtesy of Philips.

OK, we have all tried to get our patients to floss. We have cajoled, threatened, and shown them the clinical data indicating the link between periodontal disease and diabetes.

For the patient who truly hates to floss, Philips Sonicare has created a tool that delivers a microburst of air and water droplets that disrupts the biofilm. By adding 1 teaspoon of mouthwash or water to the reservoir and aiming the tip interproximally, the microburst technology blasts between the teeth to dislodge plaque and material alba.

This is great for our ortho patients and flossing phobes, and tech-savvy patients will love it too. Philips says that studies have shown the AirFloss removes 98% more plaque biofilm between teeth than manual brushing alone. In addition, patients report it is easier to access the distal portions of their mouths and is easier to use than floss. Easier to use translates into better compliance.

"Philips Sonicare AirFloss is a breakthrough cleaning device that uses advanced air and microdroplet technology for an easier way to clean interproximally," said Gail Stoops RDH, BSDH, Philips Consumer Lifestyle senior manager of professional relations for North America. "AirFloss cleans between all teeth in just 60 seconds and it is proven to be safe and gentle on teeth and gums."

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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