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Manual Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush

Updated: Aug 1


Have you ever wondered whether you should use an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush? When taking care of your oral health and teaching your kids the fundamentals of a healthy smile, you want to pick the tool that gives your teeth and gums the most benefit. You also want to find ways to excite kids about properly caring for their teeth.



Electric Toothbrush

PROS:

  • More effective at cleaning teeth and gums. Multiple studies have shown that because electric toothbrushes provide the brushing action for you, they are more effective at cleaning teeth and gums, preventing tooth decay, and reducing plaque and gingivitis.

  • Easier for people with mobility issues, such as carpal tunnel, arthritis, or developmental disabilities.

  • Built in timers. Some electric toothbrushes have timers to help you keep track of how long to properly brush.

  • May be less waste. Replacing the head of an electric toothbrush is less waste than replacing an entire manual toothbrush.

  • Better for braces. It can be difficult to brush around the orthodontic appliances in the mouth and electric toothbrushes can help clean some of the hard-to-reach spots.

  • Fun for kids. If your kid is not interested in brushing their teeth, an electric toothbrush can help re-engage them in the process.


CONS:

  • More expensive. Electric toothbrushes range between $15 to $250 per brush, plus the cost of replacement heads and batteries.

  • More vibration. Not everyone likes the vibrating feeling the electric toothbrush makes in their mouth.

  • Can be messy. Because of the vibrating movement of the toothbrush, it can move more saliva and toothpaste around, which can potentially be messy.

  • Can be less convenient. If you travel and need to plug your toothbrush in, the electric toothbrush can be less convenient when travelling internationally.


Manual Toothbrush

PROS:

  • Proven. Manual toothbrushes are proven tools that have been around for decades and are effective at cleaning teeth, removing plaque, and preventing cavities.

  • Accessible. You can find manual toothbrushes at almost any grocery store, gas station, dollar store, or pharmacy.

  • Affordable. Manual toothbrushes are easier on the budget, typically costing between $1 and $5.


CONS:

  • Brushing too hard or incorrectly. Some studies have found that people tend to brush too hard with manual toothbrushes, which is bad for teeth and gums. Or they move the toothbrush incorrectly, instead of in a circular motion, which misses areas on the teeth and cause plaque to build up.

  • Harder to grasp. With little ones, a manual toothbrush can be harder for them to grasp, which means it can be harder for them to move the toothbrush on their teeth properly. They need larger toothbrush handles with soft bristles.

  • No built-in timer. With a manual toothbrush, there isn’t a built-in timer, so it can be harder to know how long you’ve been brushing.


The bottom line? The toothbrush that you and your kids feel most comfortable with and helps you and them keep up on brushing your teeth twice a day, per day is the right one. And remember, the ADA recommends replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months. Happy brushing!


Sources: Healthline, DentalHealth, OralB, Consumer Reports, Mayo Clinic

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