Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual one?

May 01, 2019 by Dr. Andrew Smyth  •  Original Post

You know the dilemma — it’s time to choose a new toothbrush, but which one? Is it best to fork out for a swish electric one, or would a standard brush do the same for less?

And what about the battery-powered toothbrush?

Well, firstly, let’s clear that last question up — the battery-powered toothbrushes are not the same as the rechargeable electric ones that offer a lot more power. The ones that take AA batteries may offer a little extra cleaning, but are much more similar to a manual brush.

Manual toothbrush versus electric toothbrush

The good thing about the manual toothbrush is that it comes in a larger variety than many of the electric toothbrushes and you tend to get more options including large, standard or small heads with soft, medium or hard bristles along with a handy tongue cleaning option.

Some people dislike electric toothbrushes because they feel they aren’t as flexible as a smaller, lighter manual toothbrush that’s easy to move around. Manual toothbrushes are also considerably cheaper and that goes in their favour.

However, you’ll find that many dentists recommend electric toothbrushes, mainly because they do offer quite a few additional benefits and do a lot of the work for you.

Centre for Dentistry’s Dr. Nalin Karunaratne, from the Sainsbury’s South Kensington Cromwell Road Practice, says: “The electric toothbrush is constantly rotating and cleaning as you move it over your teeth. It’s this additional action which effectively shifts away more of the food and drink debris left in your mouth after eating.”

“Electric toothbrushes can use a combination of oscillating, pulsating or wave-like motions and rotate at a far higher speed, providing a deeper, cleaner feel without intense effort.  They can even help get rid of surface stains.

“Another thing to think about is that many people unknowingly press too hard on their gums and this action can brush away at both the tooth’s surface and the delicate gum area, leading to increased sensitivity. Some modern electric toothbrushes have built-in sensors, which will flash red or stop working, if you impart too much force, which is useful. A lot of the electric toothbrushes also have built-in timers,” Dr Nalin adds.

Can kids use an electric toothbrush?

Sometimes a smaller, lighter manual brush that you can control easily is good for children when they first start off, but electric toothbrushes can make life easier for those with limited hand coordination — like children. Some kids are much more inspired by the fast moving, buzzing traits of the electric toothbrush, which can make brushing fun. Many manufacturers state that their electric toothbrushes can be used from the age of 4 upwards, so always check before you buy. Children under 8 should be accompanied while brushing.

Prevention is better than cure

No matter what choice you do make, electric or manual, the important thing to remember is that you are brushing correctly — thoroughly for two minutes, twice a day and make sure you have regular checkups. It really comes down to what you want from your toothbrush and what specific needs you have…For example, if you are wearing braces, have gum disease or a tendency to brush too hard, or struggle to brush your teeth, then the electric variety may help.

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York Dental Clinic is a Fredericton, NB based dental clinic.

We're a full time family-based Fredericton dentist office offering all aspects of dentistry. Our dental practice offers personal attention, commitment to excellence and a no-nonsense approach to oral health. Our number one priority is your comfort and satisfaction. Your individual needs are always considered and your choices always respected.