Electric toothbrush vs. manual

Electric Toothbrushes

Does an electric toothbrush work better than a manual toothbrush? Does a food processor work better than a chef’s knife? Does an electric car buffer work better than a towel? Yes!

My patients regularly ask me if I recommend using an electric toothbrush, and I always say yes. If you don’t like having your teeth scaled (a nicer term than “scraped”), you would be wise to consider using an electric toothbrush. I notice my patients who use an electric brush generally have healthier gums, cleaner teeth, and require less time for their professional cleanings than people who use a manual brush. I’m not saying you can’t do a great job with a manual brush, but at over 100 brush strokes per second, it is much easier to do a great job with an electric toothbrush.

The people who really benefit from using an electric toothbrush are elderly people with limited hand dexterity, children, and people with braces. It is also great for people with gum disease, periodontal disease, and receded gums. That covers just about everyone, doesn’t it?

People want to know how to choose the right brush at the right price. I hope some of the following points will be helpful if you are in the market for an electric toothbrush:

Quality Counts – Many people have tried an inexpensive, low-quality electric toothbrush with unimpressive results. You will probably have to spend fifty dollars or more for a quality electric brush. Select a brush that sits on a charging base which plugs into an electrical outlet. I do not recommend brushes with removable alkaline batteries; as the batteries wear down, your brush will move slower every day.

Consider replacement cost of the brush head – Most electric toothbrushes will have a removable, disposable, toothbrush head that may last 3-6 months. The harder you press when you brush, the faster the brush head will wear out. It is best to keep light contact when brushing the teeth and gums, and let the brush do all the work.

When the bristles wear out, you will throw away just the brush head and purchase a new one to attach to your toothbrush handle. Before purchasing your electric brush, price the replacement brush heads so you aren’t surprised at this cost of maintenance. Hint…check at Costco to get very competitive prices on replacement heads!

Consider the size of the head of the toothbrush – If you have a small mouth, or have children, make sure you can use a small brush head with the electric brush.

Chose a simple brush. Why pay more for a toothbrush with seven different cleaning settings? I haven’t found a use for the large variety of cleaning speeds, so at the most, I would look for a brush with a high speed and a more gentle slow speed setting.

Some brushes even offer Bluetooth connectivity, which allows your phone to track how much you brush, so you can show this “report card” to your hygienist at your next cleaning. This is great if it helps you brush better. However, added features may not be worth the added cost to you.

Most grocery stores and drug stores sell electric toothbrushes. Many dental offices do, too. As we get enter the holiday season, you may notice stores offering sale prices on electric brushes, so this is a great time of year to be shopping for a new brush. You may not think an electric toothbrush is a great Christmas gift, but believe me – if you start using one, your dental hygienist will be overjoyed!


Kim Glover is a dental hygienist at Broadway Family Dental Care, which can be found online at www.bwaydental.com.