Electric vs Manual Toothbrushes

Is the investment in an electric toothbrush essential when it comes to your oral hygiene?

We believe both the electric and manual toothbrush can be effective at removing plaque, once used correctly. There are pros and cons to both toothbrushes, so here is some information to take into account when deciding on what toothbrush to use.

Pros and Cons of an Electric Toothbrush

Pros ✔️

  • There is a higher compliance rate with electric toothbrushes. This is usually due to the timer feature on an electric toothbrush, which tells you how long you have been brushing for. The optimum time for brushing your teeth is 2 minutes.
  • Ease of use – electric toothbrushes originally came out to help those with limited dexterity, such as the elderly, and those with arthritis. For those that find it difficult to clean all areas of the mouth due to limitations, the electric toothbrush could be the one for you.
  • Electric toothbrushes come with varying speeds. This should help reduce the pressure placed on your teeth and gums, which in the long run can cause damage. Some electric toothbrushes even let you know if you are applying too much pressure.
  • Having difficulties getting your kids to brush their teeth? Electric toothbrushes for kids can be a fun way to brush, again helping with compliance.
  • With electric toothbrushes, only the head needs to be replaced. This reduces the amount of plastic waste, which is a huge issue we are facing today.

Cons ❌

  • Electric toothbrushes are a lot more expensive than a manual toothbrush. Along with the initial cost of the toothbrush, you also need to replace the toothbrush head every 3 months.
  • Electric toothbrushes have to be charged, so you need to ensure that your toothbrush is ready to go morning and evening… you don’t want to mess up your perfect oral hygiene routine by missing out on a brush.

We recommend staying away from electric toothbrushes that rotate only. Our top recommendation for an electric toothbrush is the Philips Sonicare.

Pros and Cons of a Manual Toothbrush

Pros ✔️

  • Less expensive – a manual toothbrush is definitely the cheaper option of the two. If used correctly, it can be just as efficient as the electric toothbrush.
  • More control – when using a manual toothbrush you have full control over the amount of pressure you are applying to your teeth. People who are confidant that they are brushing their teeth correctly, may prefer this level of control.
  • All you need is your toothbrush and toothpaste. There is no added worry about the batteries running out, or needing to charge it before your next brush.
  • Bamboo manual toothbrushes are now available to help with the plastic crisis we are facing today.

Cons ❌

  • Lower compliance – unlike the electric toothbrush, your manual toothbrush does not time how long you brush for. So unless you are using your own timer, we find that people are not brushing their teeth long enough when using a manual toothbrush.
  • No guidance – you are working on your own with a manual toothbrush. You must ensure you are using the toothbrush correctly. Are you removing all plaque and cleaning the teeth efficiently? Your dentist will be able to advise you on this, to ensure you are brushing your teeth correctly. Be sure to ask them the next time you visit.
  • We have found that those who have an aggressive toothbrushing habit tend to lapse back into a hard brushing habit with a manual toothbrush compared to an electric one. Too much pressure put on the teeth and gums can be damaging.

If you are happy to take full responsibility for your oral hygiene routine, including the time you brush, and the level of pressure you put on your teeth, the manual toothbrush could be the one for you. We recommend the manual toothbrush from Nimbus Dental. We are currently testing bamboo manual toothbrushes, so will let you know our recommendations on these soon.

New research has been published looking into Electric vs Manual Toothbrushes

A recent study was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. This study investigated the association between using an electric toothbrush, and its effect on periodontitis, caries, and number of teeth. Over 2,000 people were examined over 11 years. The results of this study are very interesting showing that overall, electric toothbrush users experienced 20% less tooth loss during follow-up than manual toothbrush users. 

‘Our study shows electric toothbrushes are most beneficial in maintaining good oral health and are linked with slower progression of periodontal disease.’

Study Author Dr Vinay Pitchika

When participants were divided into groups according to the severity of periodontitis, the association between electric toothbrushing and tooth retention was significant only in those with no/mild periodontitis.

Further findings from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, found that electric toothbrushes resulted in 22% less gum recession and 18% less tooth decay over the 11-year period. However, there was no association between electric toothbrush usage and dental caries.

Although this study is swaying towards the electric toothbrush, if you have a good oral hygiene routine, whether using a manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush, you’ll have a healthy mouth.

They type of toothbrush you decide to go for will be a personal choice, and will depend on how compliant you are with your routine. Your dentist should be able to recommend a toothbrush that fits in with your needs and lifestyle. If you have any questions on this, please get in touch with us!

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