Electric or manual, both toothbrushes are designed to help remove plaque, bacteria and debris from our teeth and gums to help keep them clean and healthy.
Are electric toothbrushes better?
So, getting straight to the point then of whether an electric brush is better or not.
The short answer is YES, and electric toothbrush IS better than a manual toothbrush when it comes to effectively cleaning your teeth.
Although, a manual brush is perfectly adequate, if used correctly.
However, I am sure you want to know a little more and understand why this is. Along with perhaps understanding why many still advise just stick with a regular manual toothbrush.
A brief history of the toothbrush
Yet, despite centuries of existence, it was not until the 1800’s that they became commonplace as medical sciences evolved to understand the benefits and manufacturing processes matured to allow for mass production.
Today, they are a part of our lives from a very early age. You more than likely recall your parents nagging you to brush your teeth. Perhaps you are you that nagging parent?!
Advice from the Canadian, American Dental Association, British Dental Association, and the NHS all agree that brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes is important. (Canadian, NHS & American Dental Association)
With such a global stance on this approach, the first advice any dental professional will give in regards to improving your oral health is this.
As such, brushing your teeth twice a day with a toothbrush be that manual or electric is most important, not what type of brush.
Dentists would rather you brush twice a day with a manual brush than brush once a day with an electric one.
Despite thousands of years of history to the toothbrush, it is within the last century that the electric toothbrush has been introduced, thanks to the invention of, you guessed it, electricity.
Benefits of an electric toothbrush
My article on the benefits of electric toothbrushes goes into much greater detail on each benefit, but the key reasons why opting for an electric toothbrush is worth considering is as follows.
- Consistent power delivery for a dentist like clean
- Can remove up to 100% more plaque than a manual brush
- Reduces tooth decay and improves gum health
- Can help eliminate bad breath
- Timers and pacers to encourage a 2 minute clean
- Various cleaning modes
- Different brush heads – Differing styles to achieve differing results
- Fading bristles – Reminding you when to change your brush head
- Value added features – Travel cases, apps & more
- Fun and engaging – Reduces the boredom to ensure a proper clean
- Internal or removable batteries – 5 days to 6 months battery life
- Relatively low lifetime cost
- Confidence – Cleaner, healthier teeth boost your self satisfaction
Whilst electric toothbrushes offer consistent power delivery and a host of features that can improve how effective our tooth brushing regime is, nothing can actually beat regular cleaning, with the right technique.
Professor Damien Walmsley is the British Dental Associations Scientific Adviser and he says: ‘Independent research has found there is a 21 percent reduction in plaque for those assessed three months after switching to a powered brush rather than if they had simply stuck with a manual brush.’ (This Money)
More recently an impressive 11 year study, undertaken by Pitchika et al assesed the long term effects of the power toothbrush. The results from the 2,819 participants was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontolgy. If we ignore the clinical jargon, the study found that long term use of an electric toothbrush reduces means healthier teeth and gums and an increased number of teeth retained compared to those using a manual toothbrush.
Despite this, simply brushing your teeth correctly is one of the best things you can do.
And it is this stance, of focusing on brushing regularly, with the right approach, rather than focusing on a manual or electric toothbrush, that the Canadian Dental Association takes. It offers a seal program to both manual and electric toothbrushes.
Naturally, there are some negatives to owning or acquiring an electric toothbrush, notably:
- Initial cost – More expensive than a manual brush
- Short battery life and need to re-charge
- Cost of replacement heads – Equivalent to the cost of a manual brush
- Not always travel friendly – Varying support for voltages and protection to handles and heads when traveling
Whether the benefits outweigh the negatives is up to you to decide.
Electric toothbrush vs manual argument concluded
Clinical studies and the Scientific Adviser to the British Dental Association amongst others agree that electric toothbrushes are better.
I have heard first hand how many who have switched have noticed improvements.
Just $50 can get you a capable electric toothbrush, will you be switching?
Whilst simply cleaning your teeth regularly and properly with any brush is the most important thing, the benefits an electric toothbrush offers can really help your oral hygiene routine long term.