Which is better, an electric or manual toothbrush? People frequently debate this question. Electric toothbrushes are commonly thought to be more effective but there are times when manual toothbrushes have their advantages.
Pros and Cons of Electric Toothbrushes
“Studies published in both the American Journal of Dentistry and the British Dental Journal agree that electric or powered toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis than manual ones,” reports Go Ask Alice.
One of the reasons this is thought to be true is that electric toothbrushes move their bristles at a much faster rate (3,000-7,500 brushing motions per minute) compared to manual toothbrushes (300 strokes per a minute).
Sonic toothbrushes, another type of powered toothbrush can move at a rate of about 30-40 thousand strokes per minute. Powered toothbrushes are able to remove plaque more evenly in hard-to-reach places, such as between teeth and on back molars.
Electric toothbrushes are also helpful for those with physical limitations such as those with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and any other painful or movement-restricting conditions.
Electric toothbrushes often have timers in them that make it easier to brush for the two minutes we are told is the right amount of time to spend.
One of the major drawbacks of electric toothbrushes is their cost.
Inexpensive spin-type electric toothbrushes costing $5-$25 are powered by non-rechargeable AA batteries which are less pricey. However, rechargeable power toothbrushes can cost $20-$200 depending on the type, plus the toothbrushes themselves need to be changed when worn out. (2)
Pros and Cons of Manual Toothbrushes
The cost of a manual toothbrush is certainly less than an electric toothbrush. Manual toothbrushes also come in a variety of bristle hardness offering soft, medium and hard bristles, and with an assortment of heads that fit different-sized mouths.
You can also feel how hard you brush your teeth with a manual toothbrush so that you don’t use too much pressure or over-brush your gums, which can be irritating.
Manual toothbrushes are easier to travel with, especially since you don’t need to wait for them to charge. They come in many cheery colors, which can be attractive for kids.
The real issue gets down to whether you brush your teeth well enough using a manual toothbrush to avoid developing dental decay.
Regardless of What Type of Toothbrush You Use:
- Brush with good technique for about two minutes, twice a day.
- Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Brush with an up-and-down motion and use short strokes if using a manual toothbrush.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Always rinse your toothbrush and let it air dry.
- Keep your toothbrush away from the toilet area to prevent contamination from germs.
- Get a new toothbrush every three or four months.
1) Electric vs. manual toothbrushes. Go Ask Alice. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
2) Electric Toothbrush Cost. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
3) Manual Vs. Electric Toothbrushes. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
4) 10 Toothbrush Mistakes -- and How to Fix Them. WebMD. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
5) Choosing a Toothbrush: Manual vs. Electric. Everyday Health. Retrieved Feb 6, 2015.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in women’s health care and quality of care issues.
Edited by Jody Smith