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Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Toothbrush: Which Is Better?
In an 11-year research study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, researchers found that people who use an electric toothbrush experience 22% less gum recession and 18% less tooth decay than those who use a manual toothbrush.
If these stats aren’t enough to convince you and you’re still wondering “Should I use an electric or manual toothbrush?”, discover which toothbrush is right for you below!
- Why are electric toothbrushes more effective than manual toothbrushes?
- What’s the difference between rechargeable electric toothbrush and battery powered toothbrush?
- Pros and cons of electric toothbrushes
- Pros and cons of manual toothbrushes
- Should kids use electric toothbrushes?
- Who are electric toothbrushes most suitable for?
- Oral hygiene
- Final verdict
Why are electric toothbrushes more effective than manual toothbrushes?
The purpose of brushing your teeth twice daily is to prevent cavities by removing plaque from the teeth, which is the transparent film of bacteria that coats the tooth surface. Brushing and flossing also helps stimulate the gums, promoting gum health and preventing gum disease.
The main reason that electric toothbrushes are better at preventing tooth decay and gum recession is that they do most of the work for you, with the movement and power of the rotating brush head loosening the plaque. This means that the quality of your brushing relies less on a perfect technique, requiring less effort while providing more effective results.
It’s important to emphasise the importance of choosing a brush that has a rotating head. A study published in the Journal of Dentistry discovered that electric toothbrushes were more effective than manual toothbrushes, though only the ones with an automatic alternating or rotating action. There was no difference in effectiveness between electric toothbrushes with non-rotating heads compared to manual toothbrushes.
What’s the difference between a rechargeable electric toothbrush and battery powered toothbrush?
A rechargeable electric toothbrush is one that is recharged via a wall outlet. They can use oscillating (rotating) heads or sonic technology, and the brush heads are replaced every 3 months (or after you’ve been sick) while keeping the handle.
Battery powered toothbrushes are used similarly to manual toothbrushes, requiring you to move them back and forth along the teeth and gums, as opposed to the brush head doing the work as is the case with an electric toothbrush.
They’re powered by a AA battery and remove more plaque than a manual brush due to the vibration. They are cheaper than rechargeable electric toothbrushes.
Pros and cons of electric toothbrushes
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of electric toothbrushes:
Electric toothbrush benefits:
- Require less effort for the best cleaning results due to rotating motion of brush head
- Small heads are better at reaching difficult areas at the back of the teeth
- Many electric toothbrushes feature a built-in timer to ensure you brush your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes
- Electric toothbrushes are increasingly featuring the latest technology, such as Oral-B who uses the power of AI and their app so you can even find out which teeth you’re missing and if you’re applying too much pressure in certain spots. Brushing your teeth too hard can wear down the tooth enamel
- The variety of speeds of many electric toothbrushes is beneficial for people with sensitive teeth and gums
- Brush heads replacements are usually quite affordable, with a variety of types on offer to suit your specific dental health needs
- Bigger handles are easier to use by those with limited dexterity
Electric toothbrush drawbacks
- The initial cost of a rechargeable electric toothbrush is higher than a standard manual toothbrush
- Electric toothbrushes may be more inconvenient for those who travel a lot where power points may not be always readily available, such as camping etc.
- Electric toothbrushes are therefore not as energy efficient as manual toothbrushes as they rely on power to charge (although not a great amount)
Pros and cons of manual toothbrushes
Manual toothbrush benefits:
- Cheaper than electric toothbrushes
- Smaller and easier to take anywhere, especially when there’s no power
- Variety of toothbrush styles, bristles softness and head sizes
- More eco-friendly options available, eg. bamboo toothbrushes
Manual toothbrush drawbacks
- More effort and focus is needed on correct technique to remove plaque
- Easier to accidentally brush too hard
- Smaller handles can be more difficult to use by those with arthritis or similar issues
Should kids use electric toothbrushes?
The answer to the question “Which toothbrush is better for kids?” is, whichever one they’ll be more inclined to actually use! This is why it’s a good idea to let your child try both electric and manual kids’ toothbrushes to see what they’re most comfortable with, and also let them pick their toothbrush themselves so it will be one that they’re happy to use every day.
Often, children may like the motion of electric toothbrushes and find them fun and exciting, especially if they play music or they feature their favourite character. Other kids might feel an electric toothbrush is uncomfortable or loud, or prefer the back and forth action of using a manual toothbrush. Manual toothbrushes also come in a wide range of colours and character themes, so even if this is the case, your child will still be able to find one that interests them!
Children are more likely to develop and maintain good dental hygiene routines when they enjoy brushing their teeth. It’s also important to book a check up and clean with a children’s dentist every 6 months so they can take a look at your child’s teeth and ensure they’re brushing their teeth correctly.
Who are electric toothbrushes best for?
Electric toothbrushes are especially an effective choice for those who have arthritis or other issues of the hand which limit their dexterity. Electric toothbrushes usually have a bigger handle, making them easier to hold, and also require less intricate movement in brushing technique as the brush does the work for you.
Regardless of the preference of toothbrush, the best way to keep your teeth in their top shape and prevent further dental treatment is to maintain good oral hygiene habits by:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day using the correct technique
- Flossing daily to remove plaque between your teeth
- Visiting your dentist every 6 months for a check-up and clean
Some other oral health tips:
- Choose a soft bristled toothbrush instead of a medium or hard brush, as it causes less abrasion to your enamel
- Replace your manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months or after you’ve been sick
- Clean your tongue to remove plaque that holds bacteria and can lead to bad breath
With the correct brushing technique, both manual and electric toothbrushes are both adequate at removing plaque, but electric toothbrushes with oscillating heads are the best for cleaning and protecting teeth from gum disease.
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