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Electric Toothbrush vs Manual Toothbrush

An electric toothbrush cleans teeth and gums much better than a manual toothbrush, according to the findings of severalElectric Toothbrush studies.

There are numerous studies which demonstrate the efficacy of using an electric toothbrush as opposed to a manual toothbrush. The bottom line for good oral hygiene is the effective removal of dental plaque.

What is dental plaque?

Dental plaque is a soft white sticky substance which forms and sticks to the surface of teeth. It is made of food debris and high amounts of bacteria and a medium that they produce to help them retain on the teeth.

It is common knowledge and proven science that dental plaque is the major reason for tooth decay and adult gum disease.

So, it is essential that the plaque is removed daily, and not allowed to build up on the teeth.

A study (undertaken in 2019) which took 11 years to complete found that people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay and as a result will keep their teeth for longer, compared with those who use a manual toothbrush.1

This study has confirmed what many earlier studies have suggested that electric toothbrushes are better for oral health.

Why are electric toothbrushes better?

Well, in a nutshell they are really effective at removing plaque.

However, electrical toothbrushes are not all in the same boat.

There are those with heads that rotate in both directions, or ‘oscillating’ heads; and there are those that vibrate left and right, forward and backward.

“As the science behind the advantages of electric toothbrushes is mounting, the decision whether to invest in one becomes much easier.”

In my experience, I have found certain electric toothbrushes uncomfortable, they can cause some giddiness in some patients, as the buzzing continues in the head; but that differs from person to person.

I have also seen patients who use electric toothbrushes, yet their oral hygiene is below standard; and when reverting to manual brushes, their oral hygiene improves. So, it is about the mindset and the method used.

Does an Electric Toothbrush Damage Teeth?

If used correctly, then they should not damage the teeth. Bearing this in mind, any toothbrush: electric or manual may damage the tooth if not use properly.

That is why it is important to see your dentist regularly and to be instructed on how to clean the teeth adequately.

Do Electric Toothbrushes Remove More Plaque?

The short answer is yes. One of the primary reasons that an electric toothbrush does this is due to the consistent power delivery.

Unlike a manual toothbrush the electric toothbrush continues to deliver the same power from the second it is switched on to the moment it is switched off.

A manual toothbrush is controlled by a human arm, is less likely to keep up with that consistent power.

When something is consistent and uniform you often see improvement.

Another reason is that owning an electric toothbrush is about the mindset one has to his or her teeth. Because if you are investing in an electric toothbrush, then it is quite likely that you are concerned about your teeth and you want to give them your best.

A third reason relates to certain types of toothbrush which deliver varying motion patterns that disrupt dental plaque much more effectively than a manual toothbrush.

If you follow a good oral health routine then whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, you’ll have a healthy mouth either way. However, if you are serious about improved oral hygiene, then you need to have the right mindset and that usually leads to you to an electric toothbrush.

REFERENCES

  1. 1. ORAL HEALTH FOUNDATION (2018) ‘National Smile Month Nationwide Survey 2019’, Atomik Research, May 2019, Sample 2,003.
  2. 2. Pitchika, V, Pink, C, Völzke, H, Welk, A, Kocher, T, Holtfreter, B. Long‐term impact of powered toothbrush on oral health: 11‐year cohort study. J Clin Periodontol. 2019; 46: 713– 722. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpe.13126

6 thoughts on “Electric Toothbrush vs Manual Toothbrush”

  1. I started using an electric toothbrush on the recommendation by my dentist. I do believe they clean the gums better, but like you say, you do have to use it correctly.  And also yes, some “electric” or battery-operated toothbrushes are not the same.  They do not work like a good electric toothbrush.  Great information.  Which toothbrush are you recommending then?

    1. Thanks Leahrae for your comment.
      A good quality electric toothbrush is a good investment.

      I tend to favour the Oral-B Pro 3; as it ticks the right boxes. All the best.

  2. Hey thanks for this article!

    I always wanted a electric toothbrush. I knew they were maybe better at cleaning than a manual toothbrush, however I wasn’t aware to what extent. 

    I think I should invest in an electric toothbrush, however I’m not too big on the vibrations, they seem like they could do some damage or maybe chip away at my teeth, which is made using fillings after cracking it.

    1. Hi Sariyah,
      Thanks for your comment.

      Investing in an electric toothbrush is a good idea, which I recommend.

      Electric toothbrushes are not going to damage healthy sound teeth. However, if you have fillings or restorations which are not holding well, then they may dislodge them. In this case, it isn’t the electric toothbrush that is dislodging them; rather the fillings are due to be replaced with more adequate ones.

  3. Children seem to enjoy using electric tooth brushes. You are right to suggest that a person’s mind set is very important. Just because you buy an electric tooth brush does not guarantee excellent results, but if the child enjoys using it and even desires extra time to brush their teeth; isn’t that a good thing? I have found from my experience that my children are fascinated with electric tooth brushes and their dental check ups gave amazing results!

    1. Absolutely spot on. That’s the real benefit for children – who enjoy new toys and gadgets. And an electric toothbrush definitely adds excitement to a task that a lot of children hate.

      And coupled with the fact that some ETBs have timers to help children to get enough brushing, then it’s a win-win scenario.

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