Oral hygiene is very important for the elderly. But, unfortunately, it is often underestimated and overlooked. Sub-optimal oral hygiene can lead to or aggravate a number of health conditions among the elderly.
In this article, we will discuss about the importance of oral hygiene, how electric toothbrushes help in maintaining oral hygiene and we will go onto review some of the best electric toothbrushes for the elderly that you may look to buy.
Electric Toothbrushes for the Elderly
While practicing good oral hygiene is vital for the elderly, certain conditions like arthritis or progressive challenges in mobility restrict them from maintaining oral hygiene.
In these conditions, it is easy to ignore the activities of brushing or flossing. Another problem that may prevent them from brushing is musculoskeletal disorders which lead to shaky hands or tremors.
Or simply, general forgetfulness, in which case they do not even remember whether they have brushed or not. If you are a caregiver to the elderly, you must emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene regularly and make them understand that it is a basic necessity. You must ensure that the daily oral hygiene routine is being adhered to.
Why Senior Oral Health is Important to Maintain?
Most dentists recommend brushing twice daily along with flossing. However, if it is difficult to achieve this frequency, you, as a care giver, must ensure that your loved one is brushing at least once daily and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once.
Any lesser frequency than this may bring with it a plethora of health conditions that you would like to avoid. Apart from bad breadth, bad oral hygiene often increases the chances of gum disease, tooth loss and a dry mouth.
Seniors are prone to quick build up of plaque on teeth if oral hygiene is neglected and the main reason for that is progressively lesser secretion of saliva as we age. On the other hand, good oral hygiene decreases the risk of some fatal diseases like pneumonia, cancer and heart diseases.
How Does an Electric Toothbrush Help the Elderly?
Traditional toothbrushes and brushing techniques require more effort to brush. Consequently, there is higher risk of not brushing as thoroughly as required and the inability to reach the harder-to-reach teeth and areas in the mouth.
An electric toothbrush can do the job of up and down movement of the bristles very efficiently with some brushes reaching over 50000 strokes per minute. Therefore, all you need to do is take the brush to all corners of your mouth and you end up with a more thorough and deeper cleaning experience.
Electric toothbrushes are also particularly helpful in cases where the elderly have lost partial or complete mobility and cannot brush on their own. It makes the task of the caregiver much easier and results in a much better cleaning experience for the cared for elderly person.
Here we have a video on how to use an electric toothbrush correctly.
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What to Consider Before Buying an Electric Toothbrush
- Brushing mechanism: Some brushes work on a spinning action, others try to simulate traditional brushing movement by vibration of the bristles. You must choose the option that works for you the best.
- Brushing timer: Some brushes come with timers that can be set for the time you prefer to brush, for example 3 minutes. There may be options where you can set it to remind you when it is time to switch to the upper or lower set of teeth, within the overall brushing time. These options are generally available in high end variants of electric toothbrushes.
- Battery or electric: It is best to buy an electric rechargeable toothbrush with a charging dock, rather than one which operates on a separately inserted battery. The former option is much more convenient and rechargeable batteries last long.
- Brush Stalk or Grip: it is important for the elderly to have a convenient hold or grip on the brush. Accordingly, it should not be too thin or too thick for comfort.
- Setting for sensitivity of teeth: A few toothbrushes, generally more expensive options, have high end settings for a gentler or massaging experience, depending on whether you are suffering from sensitive teeth or bleeding gums.
- Budget: Electric toothbrushes come in wide range of prices and you need to strike a balance between the features essential to you and the price of the brush. Some brushes come with extra replacement heads and are priced accordingly. You should keep that in mind while comparing prices.
#1 Oral-B Pro 1000 Cross Action Electric Toothbrush
The oral-b electric toothbrush is an extremely popular device and comes with a cross action head that cleans by rotation movements.
The brush handle can support a wide range of heads from Oral – including the FlossAction, Precision Clean, 3D White & Sensitive Gum Care, each head more suited to a specific dental makeup.
The smaller head efficiently reaches the hard to reach parts of the mouth and wisdom tooth and makes for a cleaner experience. While some users may find the 30-second timer and vibrating indicator a bit annoying, it is a great way for seniors to understand how long to brush.
However, the brush does not automatically stop once the 2-minute timer is done, instead it buzzes again and continues working. This may sometimes confuse the elderly and they may lose track of the time period that they have been brushing for.
Available in four colors, the device lets you choose the color that matches your personality best. The investment in one of these products makes more sense when you can switch heads and use the same handle for multiple users in your family.
There is a chance that mold might grow at the junction where the head attaches to the handle of the toothbrush as it is wet for longer periods of time. This is, however, a common problem with electric toothbrushes, and to prevent this, you must take care to rinse the head thoroughly with water after using every couple of times.
- Compatible with a variety of oral-b brush heads for better flexibility and customizability
- Equipped with pressure sensor to let you know if you have been brushing too hard
- 2-minute timer; the brush vibrates to let you know that you have been brushing for 2 minutes; In between it vibrates every 30 seconds so that you can move to a different part of your mouth. This feature is helpful for the absent-minded elderly
- Battery lasts for 7 days on full recharge – assuming twice a day 2 min brushing
- Endorsed by American Dental Association (ADA)
- Has only one mode of brushing – the daily clean mode. No sensitive mode of brushing.
- Takes longer time to fully recharge, approximately 22 hours
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#2 Philips Sonicare HX6810/50 Protective Clean Toothbrush
The Sonicare protective clean brush from Philips is also very popular amongst electric toothbrushes and uses the sonic technology to recreate the traditional brushing movements.
The device generates up to 31,000 brush strokes per minute and is technology heavy with QuadPacer, Smartimer, Easy-start and BrushSync that provide a comfortable and thoroughly clean brushing experience that can be comparable to a visit to the dentist.
The device has a really long battery life of 14 days, assuming you are brushing twice a day. One aspect that sets this model apart is the BrushSync feature which uses a light indicator to alert you to replace your brush head after it has run its course.
For the elderly who are not initiated with an electric toothbrush, it has the option of easy-start to let you slowly get used to the motor movements; however, if you have already been using it for some time, you have the option of disabling the easy-start option and use it at full throttle right from the first day.
- Pressure sensor alerts you if you have been pressing the brush too hard to the teeth
- Brush head replacement reminder (BrushSync) for optimal brushing experience
- Brushing timer set at 2 minutes along with QuadPacer technology which vibrates every 30 seconds to let you know how long you have been brushing a specific set of teeth
- Long battery life of 14 days
- Option for easy-start when you are new to using electric brush. Slowly and gradually increase brushing power over first 14 brushing instances.
- Easy to hold handle
- Accepted by the American Dental Association
- No special mode of cleaning for sensitive teeth; Users with sensitive teeth can find the toothbrush movements quite intense
- Automatically shuts off after 2 minutes; Can get annoying if you want to brush for longer
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#3 Sonic Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush by Dnsly
The Dnsly electric toothbrush is a very cost-effective solution to a multi-modal brushing experience. The brush supports five modes of cleaning including sensitive, polishing, and massage.
The device uses the sonic technology to generate up to 40,000 brushing strokes per minute for a deep clean experience. It has the auto-timer option of brushing for 2 minutes – 30 seconds for each quadrant of teeth – an shuts off automatically after 2 minutes, which is very helpful for forgetful elderly people who often get confused with how much time they have been bushing for.
It has a really long battery life of 30 days – assuming brushing twice a day for 2 minutes. While the product comes with 3 replacement brush heads, some users have complained that the bristles wear out faster than competitor products and hence you may need to incur head replacement cost more frequently.
The package also comprises of an interdental brush head which is suitable for cleaning between your teeth where normal bristles cannot reach. All considered, this is really a good cost effective solution for the elderly who would want to use an electric toothbrush but also run on a tight budget.
- Long battery life of 30 days, assuming twice a day brushing
- Comparatively low charging times of 4 hours; any USB enabled device can be used for charging
- 5 modes of brushing lets you customize your brushing experience; very helpful for seniors with sensitive teeth or bleeding gums
- Comes with 3 replacement brush heads
- The blue bristles at the end of the head indicate useful life of head
- Waterproof and can be used to brush in the shower
- Good value for money
- The outer bristles of the head are longer and you need to put pressure for the middle bristles to be in contact with your teeth. May not be comfortable with sensitive teeth.
- The head may wear out too quickly compared to other products
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#4 Deep Sweep 1000 Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
The deep sweep brush from Oral-B works by vibrating side to side (more like manual brushing movements) and also by pulsating for a clean brushing experience.
The brush head looks a lot like traditional manual brushes with 3 bristle zones, and the device is equipped with pressure sensor and brushing timer.
However, this device has only one brushing mode, which is daily clean, and may not be suitable for the elderly with sensitive teeth and gum problems. Having said that, the handle is standard and can fit an array of Oral-B brush heads, depending upon oral health.
If you suffer from any dental condition you must invest in a different product which is more suited to you. The brush takes a long time to recharge fully – over 20 hours.
This brush is suitable for people who have the propensity to get annoyed with the smaller round brush heads, which require you to adjust position more frequently for cleaning your entire set of teeth.
While these are waterproof devices, you should still take care to not use them in the shower as much as possible and always rinse it after use.
- Timer option to brush for 2 minutes, with alerts to change teeth quadrant after every 30 minutes
- Has the pressure sensor and auto alerts you in case you have been brushing too hard
- Compatible with multiple head types from Oral-B
- The brush handle is slimmer than similar products and easy to hold
- Works in only one mode: daily clean; may not be suitable for sensitive teeth
- Comes with only one brush head which may be disappointing considering the price
- Takes over 20 hours to fully recharge
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#5 Electric Toothbrush Powerful Sonic Cleaning by Fairywill
This is an extremely popular electric toothbrush that uses sonic technology to generate up to 40,000 brush strokes per minute and provides a much cleaner experience when compared to manual brushing.
It has 5 brushing modes, including modes for sensitive teeth and gum care which are particularly relevant for older users. The package includes 3 brush heads which makes this toothbrush one of the most cost-effective options among electric toothbrushes.
The product weighs only 55 grams and is suitable for arthritic patients as well. The Du Pont nylon bristles are durable and last as much as manual toothbrushes, reducing the maintenance cost of replacing brush heads frequently.
The brush head is of the ideal size – smaller than manual toothbrushes and larger than the rounded heads of electrical toothbrushes that some people may find as too small. It lasts for a full month on a full charge and comes with a toothbrush cover to avoid contact with dust and dirt.
- Has 5 cleaning modes for a more personalized and comfortable experience
- Long battery life of 30 days on full charge; Takes only 4 hours to fully charge
- Timer option for 2-minute ideal brushing, along with reminder every 30 seconds to change teeth quadrant
- Indicator bristles with fading color to signal it is time to change brush head
- Comes with 3 replacement brush heads
- Good value for money
- Product accepted by the American Dental Association
- Vibrations may be felt on the hand and may not be restricted to the brush head
- You may need to buy heads more frequently as bristles may become unusable too quickly; however, this depends upon your usage pattern.
#6 Phillips Sonicare Diamond Clean Electric Toothbrush
This is one of the most advanced and expensive electric toothbrushes that is available in the market and is packed with all the latest technologies. The brush can be used in any of the modes of clean, deep clean, white, and gum health.
The accompanying app (available for both android and iPhones) provides coaching on oral hygiene and helps in maintaining optimal oral health. At just over a couple of hundred dollars, however, this device is not cheap and may be out of budget for seniors.
A standout feature of this device is that it can be charged by simply putting it inside the cup that comes with the product – this is really helpful for the elderly with forgetfulness.
Each brush head has an embedded chip on it which makes the replacement cost of the brush high as well, however, the chip allows the brush to automatically configure the brushing experience as per your oral health.
One brush handle can be used with different heads by multiple people, however, you need different versions of the app installed on different devices for it to work for all users. Overall, users have strongly recommended the product, provided you have the budget for it.
- Very comfortable and customizable experience with 3 brushing intensities and 4 brushing modes
- Easy and comprehensive oral hygiene can be maintained with the help of the accompanying app
- Option to monitor brush head effectiveness. It is time to replace brush head when relevant icon on the brush handle lights up
- Comes with 3 replacement brush heads
- Available in 3 colors
- Comes with the smart glass charger
- On the expensive side and may be out of budget for most seniors
- Some people may find uploading brushing data on the app to be too intrusive on privacy
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The mouth is the gateway to the body, and it pays to keep it clean and as bacteria and fungus-free as possible. It significantly reduces the risks of some serious diseases in the elderly.
If you are a caregiver to a senior, by all means, you should invest in an electric toothbrush which makes the job of oral care easier by many notches, especially in older mobility-challenged patients.