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Manual or Electric? Choosing the Right Toothbrush

Manual or Electric? Choosing the Right Toothbrush

Choosing a toothbrush these days can be somewhat overwhelming. You may find yourself wondering whether that hi-tech electric toothbrush on the shelf is better than the manual kind you’ve always used. Here we break down the basics for you.

What a Brush Actually Does:

Essentially, the purpose of a toothbrush is to remove plaque, stimulate gums and maintain good oral hygiene. But the effectiveness isn’t solely based on the type of toothbrush you use. There are a number of other factors that are equally important, including your brushing technique, how often you brush and the length of time you spend brushing. And this is where the features of manual and electric toothbrushes come into play. While manual toothbrushes are portable, inexpensive and easy to use, they require the user to provide all of the brushing action. Electric toothbrushes, while considerably more expensive and complex to use, only require the user to guide the brush along the surface, while the brush itself uses electric power to vibrate, pulsate and oscillate, getting hard-to reach places.

However, electric brushes do not offer a clinically significant advantage compared with manual brushes. Considerable research has failed to demonstrate any significant clinical differences in overall cleaning efficacy between the two types of brushes. The decision really comes down to each individual’s needs and motor capabilities. People with mental or physical disabilities or who require caregivers to provide oral hygiene are better served with electric or battery-powered brushes. People who tend to be lazy brushers or who don’t spend enough
time brushing can also benefit from powered brushes.


Pros of Electric and Manual Toothbrushes:

Okay, now that we have discussed the purpose of a toothbrush, it’s time to compare the pros of both types of toothbrush. Count the number of statements that applies to you, and see are you more manual or electric?

Electric features:

  • Pressure sensors to signal when brushing is too hard
  • Timers to help keep track of how long you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth
  • Digital reminders for when to replace your brush head
  • Oscillating-rotating or sonic technology
  • Multiple brush-head compatibility, so you can choose which kind of bristle design you prefer.

Manual features:

  • Criss-crossed, extra-long or multi-level bristles
  • Textured bristles
  • Cupped bristle design for whitening benefits
  • Gum stimulators
  • Tongue-cleaner pads.

Did You Know?

Whether you choose to go electric or stay maual, here are some things you need to know:

  • Both standard toothbrushes and electric brush heads should be replaced every three months or when the bristles are no longer straight and firm.
  • The recommended brushing time with a manual toothbrush is two minutes, two to three times each day.
  • Plaque accumulates everywhere in the mouth, not just on the teeth and gums, so it’s important to buy a brush with a built-in tongue and tissue cleaner, to clean the whole mouth.
  • Some of the latest innovations for manual toothbrushes include: Ergonomically shaped handles that are more comfortable to hold and cause less muscle fatigue during routine use than regular handles.
  • Angled heads and multi-tapered bristles, which help overcome incorrect brush positioning and clean more effectively between teeth and under the gum line.
  • Many people buy a brush in which the head is too large for their mouths, especially for children.
    Brushes with smaller heads actually clean more thoroughly and reach more areas of the teeth, gums and tissues than those with larger heads.

A Better Look At The Toothbrush!

Toothbrush design and materials have evolved over the centuries. The one we know and use today was invented in 1938; made of nylon-bristle. But how were people brushing their teeth many thousand years ago? Early forms of the toothbrush have existed for nearly 5000 years. Ancient civilizations removed food with a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end that was rubbed against the teeth. During the last century or so, toothbrushes were crafted with bone, wood or ivory handles that held the stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals.


There are two types of toothbrushes: manual and powered/electric. The size and shape of the brush are made to fit your mouth comfortably, allowing you to reach all areas easily. I will always offer suggestions about which type is suitable for your needs. No matter what type of toothbrush you choose, the American Dental Association recommends that you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to clean your teeth thoroughly and to provide fluoride protection against decay.

powered toothbrush

Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean teeth. People who have difficulty using a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush easier to use. For children, for example, brushing with a powered toothbrush is more fun, especially because it’s easy and does not require a lot of effort. Grownups, on the other hand, need to exercise a little more! Whether you decide to go manual or powered, choose a toothbrush that you like and find easy to use so that you’ll use it twice a day to thoroughly clean all of your teeth.

child teeth

Rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and dirt. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow it to air dry until using it again. If more than one toothbrush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separated.

Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment, such as a closed container, is more likely to cause the growth of microorganisms than is the open air.

brush in cup

Toothbrushes need to be replaced every three to four months. That is because the bristles become frayed and worn out and will lose their effectiveness. Toothbrushes wear more rapidly depending on factors unique to each patient. Check toothbrushes often for worn bristles and replace them more frequently if needed. Children’s toothbrushes may need to be replaced more frequently than adults’ toothbrushes.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter Weekend and always feel free to ask any questions!