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Do Electric Toothbrushes Damage Teeth?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Gemma Wheeler

(GDC Number: 259369)

Do Electric Toothbrushes Damage Teeth

This is a very common question and one that is often misunderstood.

The short and to the point answer, is NO, an electric toothbrush does not cause damage to the teeth or the enamel (under normal circumstances).

If you want to know more and understand why they do not cause damage and how it is believed that they do, then read on.

This question of the electric toothbrush doing damage to the teeth is similar and in fact linked to the question of “do electric toothbrushes cause gum recession?” Which I have already answered on our site.

Do Electric Toothbrushes Damage Teeth? 1

The resulting answer is essentially the same.  The electric toothbrush does not cause damage to the teeth or to the gums, with many studies, in fact, showing how overall the electric toothbrush is better for the teeth and gums.  

study by Annette Weigand in 2012 actually compared manual and electric brushes and found that manual brushes were more abrasive to the teeth and gums.

Cochrane also conducted research that demonstrated the benefits of electric toothbrushes, showing up to a 21% improvement in the resulting oral health.

When most people have only ever known a manual toothbrush there is every right to be sceptical about a product you have not tried or used before, especially when newspaper articles like this in the Daily Mail are titled “Bleeding gums, eroded enamel and even fillings falling out – how your electric toothbrush can DESTROY your teeth.” 

Daily Mail headline suggesting toothbrushes destroy teeth

The reality is that in the western world there is a lot of research going on as well as a large number of different bodies within the dental and healthcare industry that would step in and issue appropriate advice if an electric toothbrush was so damaging.

The story in the Daily Mail tells the tale of Natasha who ended up with receding gums as a result of using an electric toothbrush.

Now it was not obvious, until you read on,  that the conclusion to the article was Natasha was likely over-brushing and using the wrong technique, as a result damaging her teeth and gums.

The toothbrush was doing what it was supposed to but user/human error was really what led to the gum recession in this instance.

She was brushing too often and using too much force or pressure as she did.

Dentists agree that over brushing or brushing too hard will damage the teeth and gums if continued for long periods of time.  A couple of weeks over-brushing is not a big issue, but go months or years and yes it will appear as if the electric toothbrush is responsible for the damage to the mouth.

Canine teeth being brushed with electric toothbrush

You might now see the link between the question of electric toothbrushes and gum recession.

Professor Addy’s 2003 study concluded “There is no evidence to indicate that electric and manual toothbrushes differ in effects on soft and hard tissues. It is only under, over or abusive use or when combined with erosion that significant harm may be thus caused. In normal use, it must be concluded that the benefits of tooth brushing far out-way the potential harm”.

We reached out to practicing dentist Dr. Deepak Songra – GDC Number: 68552 and he advised us:

“In my professional opinion I strongly recommend the use of an electric toothbrush over a manual and do not believe the electric toothbrush itself causes gum recession and only affects the gums if the patient presses too hard while using it, or moves it around too much while pressing hard at the same time. Therefore gum recession can be influenced only by HOW the patient uses the brush and not by the electric brush itself. If anything the electric toothbrushes can help with reducing the amount of recession occurring over time especially if it has a pressure sensor on it.”

An electric toothbrush need only skim the surface of the teeth, it does a lot of the hard work, you don’t have to.

You actually need a different technique to a manual toothbrush.

We explain the right technique in our guide how to clean your teeth properly.

Many modern brushes are equipped with pressure sensors that alert you when you are brushing too hard and the more capable brushes do now have apps that work on your smartphone to give real-time feedback on the clean and how you can improve, telling you where you are getting right and wrong to ensure long term you have good oral health. For a more detailed look at these features, see our toothbrush buying guide post.

The choice of whether you use an electric toothbrush or not is yours.  A manual brush is perfectly adequate, but there are some benefits to an electric toothbrush.

More important than manual or electric is regular brushing with the right technique and a good toothpaste, not to mention at least an annual checkup with a dentist.

About Jon Love

Jon is a leading voice on electric toothbrushes and has been quoted by mainstream media publications for his opinions and expertise.

Having handled & tested hundreds of products there really is very little he does not know about them.

Passionate about business and helping others, Jon has been involved in various online enterprises since the early 2000s.

After spending 12 years in consumer technology, it was in 2014 that he focused his attention on dental health, having experienced first-hand the challenge of choosing a new toothbrush.

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5 thoughts on “Do Electric Toothbrushes Damage Teeth?”

  1. “A study by Annette Weigand in 2012 actually compared manual and electric brushes and found that manual brushes were more abrasive to the teeth and gums.”
    Pointing out also this study states: “Average brushing force of the manual toothbrush was significantly higher than for the sonic toothbrushes.”

    This study did a comparison with brushing force being equal:
    “Abrasions of dentin were higher in power toothbrushes compared to manual toothbrushes. The highest dentin loss was observed using a sonic power toothbrush and the lowest using the rippled-shaped manual toothbrush.”

  2. I think that an electric brush does cause significant damaged to those teeth that that have been crowned. I used an eclectic brush to clean my crowned tooth. I was not supposed to put much pressure on my tooth while using the electric brush. But I did nonetheless, and that caused my crown to slightly change its position. If you do that to normal tooth, it will be still fine. But with crowned tooth, the vibrating motion of the electric brush can cause the crown to slightly move or be improbably placed on the root canaled tooth . Once that happens, a severe toothache begins and seeing a dentist becomes necessary. I have gone back to traditional brush, which is easier to control, and I do not recommend using an electric brush on treated teeth, whether they have been filed, rooted canaled, or crowned. Only use that with normal teeth.

    • Luckily for me I’ve had no problems using an electric toothbrush having crowns/implants and dental bonding. My molars are either crowned or implants and my front top teeth have composite bonding applied to them and I’ve been using an electric toothbrush for 5 years and had no problems.

  3. What if you have a lot of enamel lost really bad teeth is the electric toothbrush still beneficial I could have just make the enamel loss worse

    • Hi Gene.

      If used correctly, the use of the electric toothbrush should not make it worse. It should help keep your teeth nice and clean and prevent the enamel loss getting worse (subject to the cause of loss in the first place).

      It would be advisable to make sure you are using a soft bristled brush head.

      It may also be advisable to speak to your densits about the best oral care programme in your particular circumstances.

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