Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes

Author: Shannon Sutton, RDH

Which one should you use? With all of the choices on the market, it can be hard to decide. I am going to go over some of the pros and cons of electric and manual toothbrushes so you can decide which one is right for you.

First, I will go over the long used manual toothbrush. Some people do great with a manual toothbrush and you can too if using correct techniques but here is a breakdown of the pros and cons to using one.

-Very affordable ranging anywhere from $1-$10, making manual toothbrushes the most affordable option.

-Readily available at grocery stores, gas stations, etc. It is easy to find a manual toothbrush making it easier to replace every 3 months as recommended.

-No batteries, charging or accessories needed like electric toothbrushes.

-It is easy to brush too hard or incorrectly. If you don’t use the correct technique with manual toothbrushes you can cause damage to your teeth and gums. And you need to make sure your toothbrush is soft to avoid further damage. Most dental professionals recommend the modified bass or Fones (circular) brushing techniques. If you are unsure of how to use one of these techniques, here is a link of video instruction for each.
1. Modified Bass https://youtu.be/HoRrWfhBhOE
2. Circular https://youtu.be/wpNaJcK3C0M

-There is no timer on a manual toothbrush so most people do not spend the recommended 2 minute time brushing. You need to brush at least 2 minutes to ensure that your full mouth receives the adequate amount of plaque removal.

Next, I will discuss the pros and cons of electric toothbrushes. Most dental professionals will recommend an electric toothbrush for those that use a manual toothbrush correctly and still have plaque build up on their teeth.

-You cannot physically do with a manual toothbrush what you can with an electric. Whether sonic or oscillating, your looking at thousands of movements per minute depending on which type you get. This results in a better overall reduction of plaque and gingivitis.

-You usually only need to change out the toothbrush head vs the entire toothbrush every 3 months, which results in less waste.

-Most electric toothbrushes have timers that don’t stop the toothbrush action until the recommended 2 minutes brushing time is complete. Some even pause at 30 second intervals to let you know to move to another area of your mouth.

-Some electric toothbrushes can be very expensive. The prices range from $15 to over $200 for an electric toothbrush.

-Finding replacement heads is always another issue. You can usually save money buying multipacks but you have to find ones that fit your specific toothbrush. Replacement heads should be changed every 3 months or whenever you have been sick.

-Can be damaging to teeth and gums if not used correctly. Using too much pressure or using a scrubbing action is not recommended for an electric toothbrush. Higher end electric toothbrushes haves sensors or stoppers to keep you from using too much pressure.

-Batteries and/or chargers- either may be needed to keep your toothbrush charged. Batteries require additional money invested.

The best toothbrush is one you will use 2 times a day for 2 minutes with proper techniques to avoid damage and to remove the optimal amount of plaque. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find what is right for you so listen to the recommendations of your dental hygienist at your next dental cleaning as they can help steer you in the right direction. I hope that this information helps make it a little easier to decide which is best for you in the future.