Brushing your teeth is incredibly important to maintaining your oral health but which is better, a manual or an electric toothbrush?

The battle of electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush is often one of personal preference and you’ll likely get a different answer from each person. The good news is that the American Dental Association (ADA) has found that both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective at removing oral plaque that causes decay and disease. They both work but each of them has its own pros and cons.

Pros of Electric Toothbrushes

  • • Helps with limited mobility
  • • More effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes
  • • Helps you time your brushing with built-in timers
  • • May produce less waste
  • • Fun for kids and adults alike

Cons of Electric Toothbrushes

  • • Can be expensive
  • • Finding replacement heads can be difficult
  • • Battery-powered models can create additional waste and cost
  • • Some people don’t like the feeling

Pros of Manual Toothbrushes

  • • Available from almost every store
  • • Very affordable
  • • Effective at removing plaque

Cons of Manual Toothbrushes

  • • Some studies show they remove less plaque than electric toothbrushes
  • • Some people tend to brush too hard with manual toothbrushes which can damage the teeth and gums
  • • Can be problematic for people with limited mobility
  • • No built-in timer

What Does The Research Say?

There are some studies that attempt to determine which is better, electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush. Studies conducted by Cochrane found that electric toothbrushes reduced dental plaque and the gum inflammation characteristic of gingivitis more effectively than manual toothbrushes. Studies were conducted in 2014 over a three-month period, with electric brushing reducing plaque by 21 percent and gingivitis by 11 percent.

Electric toothbrush users in more than half of these studies had toothbrushes with rotating, oscillating heads. They rotate swiftly in one direction and then reverse the direction of rotation automatically. Additional studies involved sonic toothbrushes with vibrating brushes while others involved brushes that move from side to side, as well as those that move in different directions. As you can see, not all electric toothbrushes are made alike so it would be helpful to know which works best. Unfortunately, the researchers did not attempt to quantify results based on the specific type of brush used by study participants.

Personal Preference

Personal preference plays a large part in this comparison and it is worth noting that dentists don’t often recommend people trade in their manual toothbrushes for electric ones unless they have arthritis, have dexterity problems, or need some help with their brushing technique after already attempting to improve it. If you don’t currently have gingivitis, it probably matters less which kind of toothbrush you choose.

The debate between electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush is ultimately one of personal preference. The best toothbrush for you is one that you’re going to use and have a good brushing technique with. If you choose to use an electric toothbrush, make sure it’s comfortable to hold and easy to use. It is also important to make sure you replace the head as the manufacturer suggests to ensure the toothbrush continues working effectively. Whether you decide to use an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush, remember that what matters most is daily brushing with good technique and flossing.