4220 Sergeant Rd., Ste. 100, Sioux City IA 51106
Dona W. Prince, DDS

Electric vs. Manual: Which Tooth Brush Is Best?

  • By Dona Prince
  • 13 May, 2015

Over the past decade, the popularity of electric toothbrushes has skyrocketed. They’re often touted as a quick and easy way to achieve a superior clean, but are electric toothbrushes really better than traditional manual brushes? New findings weigh the benefits of both methods of dental care and highlight a best choice in the battle of the brushes.

Cost

The cost of traditional toothbrushes tends to be so low that they often serve as freebies at dentists’ offices, while electric brushes can require users to spend over three times as much. Manual toothbrushes are not all created equal, though. Some may offer simply basic functionality, while others increasingly come with their own set of bells and whistles.

Brushes with special features can cost a small fortune, but at the end of the day, all brushes, whether manual or electric, need to be replaced after a certain amount of use. Ultimately, electric brushes cost more in the long run, but applying coupons, discounts, or deals can make the price difference smaller.

Portability and Ease

Even with special features, manual toothbrushes simply require toothpaste and a little elbow grease in order to work. They are portable and can be packed into an overnight bag for easy use. Kids and adults alike can operate them with little trouble.

Electric toothbrushes, as their name suggests, require regular recharging and electrical power in order to function. They’re still portable, but they may need a charger for use throughout a long trip. Since electric toothbrushes do most of the work for the user, they are a great option for those with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as those with limited arm, shoulder, or hand mobility.

Frequency of Use

Whether users favor a manual or an electric brush, the recommended brushing frequency is the same: twice per day, unless told otherwise by a dental professional. The time required for each use, however, is not the same for both types of brushes. Since electric toothbrushes produce up to 30,000 brushstrokes per minute, electric users can clean their teeth much more quickly. Electric toothbrush users can even set custom timers on their devices to ensure that they brush for an appropriate amount of time.

Dental Health

While cost, portability, and time are all viable factors to weigh when making a purchase, the ultimate test to evaluate the benefits of manual and electric toothbrushes comes in the form of dental health. Research has shown that using one kind of electric toothbrush provides distinct benefits when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Of all the kinds of brushes available, according to the Cochrane Oral Health Group, only electric toothbrushes that feature a rotating oscillating head can lead to measurably better dental health. Those that simply offer electric pulses or mimic manual brushes in appearance but include additional battery-powered features have not been shown to lead to better dental health.

For now, rest assured that using either an electric brush with a rotating oscillating head or a regular manual toothbrush can lead you down the road to clean teeth. Be sure to brush consistently, change your brush frequently, and visit your dentist for regular checkups.