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What Is a Suction Toothbrush?

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  • Written By: T. M. Robertson
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 April 2014
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A suction toothbrush is a special type of toothbrush often used on medical patients unable to maintain proper oral hygiene on their own. The suction toothbrush itself can be purchased with a head made of either bristles or a swab; this head is then attached via a hose to a vacuum. The vacuum provides the power to suck away any debris and particles freed during the brushing process. Studies have shown that regular use has lasting health benefits.

The head of the suction toothbrush can be made of either bristles or a swab. Bristles will provide a more intense and thorough cleaning, while swabs offer a gentler cleaning option for those with sensitivities. One end of the hose is connected to the handle of the toothbrush, and the other end to a special vacuum device. While the vacuum is turned on, the suction can be controlled by opening and closing a valve located either on the handle or at its base, where it connects to the hose. As the teeth are brushed, any plaque and other debris are suctioned away out of the mouth of the patient.

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One major problem for patients with poor oral hygiene is they become more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia. Studies have concluded that when patients in long-term facilities use suction toothbrushes on a regular basis, their rates of pneumonia significantly decreased compared to the rest of the general population. In addition, suction toothbrushes also help eliminate unhealthy levels of plaque and bacteria that are the primary causes of periodontal disease. The toothbrushes are also easy to maintain, as many are sold as one-time disposables that can simply be thrown away after each use.

Using a suction toothbrush isn't only beneficial to medical patients. The toothbrushes are also widely used by disabled people, along with anyone else that has a difficult time getting around or keeping up with regular oral maintenance. For those who have difficulty swallowing, using a suction toothbrush may be the only option available for brushing their teeth and eliminating excess saliva. Many different brands and models of suction toothbrushes are sold, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some primary things to look for are the variety of different heads available, the cost of continuing use, and the ability to control the amount of suction power used.

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