There’s more than one smart way to brush your teeth.
But is there a clear better way? One of the great dental debates is manual toothbrushes vs. electric toothbrushes. One is a trusted, reliable, proven tooth cleaner. One is a technologically advanced cleaning method that provides in-depth and thorough tooth care.
As the American Dental Association (ADA) notes, both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective at removing oral plaque that causes decay and disease. Both have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
But which method offers a superior clean?
Benefits of Electric Toothbrushes
No. 1 Plaque Fighter
When it comes to fighting plaque, there’s no contest in this matchup. Advantage: Electric Toothbrushes.
Electric toothbrushes use vibrating or rotating bristles to help lift plaque buildup from teeth and gums. The vibration offers micromovements every time you move your toothbrush across your teeth.
As reported by Healthline, numerous studies have shown electric toothbrushes do lower plaque and gingivitis levels better than manual toothbrushes. After three months of use, oscilating (rotating) toothbrushes cut plaque levels by 21 percent and gingivitis by 11 percent.
A Brush for All People
For people with limited mobility, electric toothbrushes are a convenient, easy way to clean teeth. Electric toothbrushes ease the toothbrushing process for people with carpal tunnel, arthritis or developmental disabilities. For brushers with tender gums, electric brushes do not harm gums or enamel.
The 2-Minute Brush
Electric toothbrushes with built-in timers take the guessing game out of brushing and give brushers an exact time on their brushing, Following the 2-Minute Brushing Rule has never been easier than with an electric toothbrush.
Less Waste, More Focus
Instead of throwing away a manual toothbrush every 3-4 months, you only have to replace a head with electric toothbrushes. Studies have also found people are more focused when brushing electronically. This clearer brushing vision can improve the brushing experience and how well you brush your teeth.
Plus, electric toothbrushes are more engaging and fun for kids to use, which can help develop healthy habits.
Disadvantages of Electric Brushing
Electric toothbrushes are an investment. Prices range anywhere from $15-$250 per brush. Replacement brush head packs cost between $10 and $45 on average. Totally disposable electic toothbrushes cost $5 to $8 plus the cost of batteries.
Less Convenient to Purchase Replacements
Finding the right replacement brush isn’t as easy as picking up your mouth size Oral-B manual brush at the local supermarket. Finding the right replacement brush heads can be sometimes be a challenge since not all stores carry them. Purchasing online is your best bet, but not the best option for people who need a new head right away.
Not Always A Perfect Match
For seniors, electric toothbrushes may not be a surefire plaque remover. Studies have shown electric toothbrushes don’t deliver significant superior plaque reduction for seniors than oral brushes. For seniors living on a budget, they might not be worth the investment. Electric toothbrushes are also less eco-friendly than manual brushes.
Advantages of Manual Toothbrushes
Manual toothbrushes are classic, dependable tooth cleaners. What they lack in bells and whistles, they make up for reliability. They are a time-tested proven tool for cleaning your teeth and preventing gingivitis.
Accessibility & Affordability
Manual toothbrushes are available virtually anywhere in America, from grocery stores to gas stations, dollar stores or pharmacies. They don’t need to be charged before use and can be used easily on the go, anywhere at any time.
Plus, you usually only have to put aside $1 to $3 for the most cost-effective cleaning tool in oral health. That’s one-third of the cost you will spend on an electric toothbrush.
The Downside of Manual Toothbrushing
Risks of Overbrushing
Studies have shown people are more likely to brush too hard while using manual toothbrushes vs, electric brushes. Brushing too aggressively can damage gums and teeth. Plus, while offering 6,000-30,000 effortless strokes per minute, manual brushes are no convenience match for electric toothbrushes.
Tough to Time
There’s no stop watch on a manual toothbrush, which makes it difficult to know if you’re brushing long enough.
Which Brush is Best for You?
In the end, the electric vs. manual toothbrush debate is a matter of personal preference and brush performance. As Oral-B.com notes, “If you’re looking for the best and easiest way to take care of your teeth, (electric brushes are) worth researching. Unlike a manual brush an electric brush does the work for you.
Consumer Reports gives electric toothbrushes a slight performance edge over manual brushes.
For kids, the ease, feel and fun of an electric toothbrush may make it the best route for them to develop strong brushing habits.
“It can be a big power struggle getting children to brush their teeth,” Eileen Hermiston, RDH, a pediatric dental hygienist at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, said. “If you can inspire enthusiasm in children with power toothbrushes, daily toothbrushing becomes easier.”
For strong, daily brushers with good cavity records, there’s no need to fix what obviously isn’t broke, argues Kimberly Harms, DDS, an ADA consumer advisor and a Farmington, Minn.-based dentist.
“If you are a wonderful brusher and a wonderful flosser, then the manual brushes are just great,” Harms said.
The best way to discover for certain which proven brushing method is best for you? Try them both and decide for yourself. Also, discuss your options with your dental team at your next appointment.