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Savvy Senior: Easy-to-use dental care products for older people

Dear Savvy Senior: I have arthritis and hand tremors that affect my grip strength and make brushing my teeth difficult. I’ve read that electric toothbrushes can help. Can you make any recommendations for seniors? — Arthritic Alice

Dear Alice: For seniors who suffer from arthritis or have other hand weaknesses or tremors, an electric toothbrush is often a good solution for keeping their teeth clean. At the push of a button, an electric toothbrush will do everything to do the cleaning for you, and most come with a wide, slightly weighted handle and rubberized grip that make them easier and more comfortable to hold.

How to choose

With dozens of different electric toothbrushes on the market, here are several points to consider:

Cost: The cost of electric toothbrushes will range from $10 for a model with replaceable AA batteries to more than $200 for some models with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, multiple brushing modes, smartphone integrations and other features.

Brushing action: Brush heads tend to be either “spinning” (they rotate very fast in one direction, then the other, and bristles may pulsate in and out) or “sonic” (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, get an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer — most have them. Some brushes will even split the two minutes into four 30-second intervals and will notify you when it’s time to switch to a different quadrant of your mouth.

Extra features: Most higher-priced electric brushes come with extra features such as cleaning modes, pressure sensors, a charge-level display and more. There are even toothbrushes that connect to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to track brushing habits.

Best electric toothbrushes

According to Consumer Reports, the top electric toothbrushes for 2024 are the Oral-B iO 7 Series ($150); Oral B Genius X 10000 ($200); Bruush Electric Toothbrushes ($95); and the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 ($120). And the top rated low-cost electric toothbrush is the Brightline 86700 ($30).

Easier flossing tools

If flossing has become challenging, a good alternative to traditional string floss are floss picks. These are disposable plastic-handle tools that have floss threaded onto them, which makes them easier to hold and use.

Some other flossing products to consider that are easy on the hands are the WaterPik Power Flosser ($15), which gently vibrates to dislodge embedded food particles between your teeth. Or consider a water flosser, which uses high-pressured pulsating water to remove food particles and plaque and will stimulate your gums in the process.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

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