Is an Electric Toothbrush Better Than a Manual Toothbrush?

Dentists often get asked questions about whether an electric toothbrush is better than a manual toothbrush, especially because the research online regarding this topic is often mixed and/or unclear. The official position of the American Dental Association (ADA) is that both electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes work equally well, depending on the patient’s brushing technique and the texture of the bristles (soft is best). Though the measured difference is marginal, some researchers still insist that electric toothbrushes do a better job at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. Nevertheless, no matter what toothbrush you are using, it’s always better to use a toothbrush than to not use one, and to use it the proper way.

Main Differences Between Electric Toothbrushes vs. Manual Toothbrushes

For the most part, there is one major difference between the aforementioned toothbrush types: the need for electricity! Manual toothbrushes require zero electricity while an electric toothbrush is usually battery-operated and/or rechargeable. The following include some other major differences between the two:

Electric Manual
Either vibrate, spin, or vibrate and spin Tend to require more physical effort as the bristles don’t rotate or move by themselves
Some include a timer to ensure you brush for a full two minutes Brushes come in different bristle patterns (zig-zag design or flat, even blunt-cut design) and textures (soft-medium bristles)
Usually have a removable brush head, body tends to be bulkier and heavier than a manual Lightweight, thinner, more ergonomic design
More costly Less expensive

The Research

Studies that have been conducted to compare electric toothbrushes with manual toothbrushes have had mixed findings. A study published by the Cochrane Library (2014) reported that patients that used an electric toothbrush had a “21% reduction in plaque after three months,” and an
“11% reduction in gingivitis,” when compared with patients using a manual toothbrush. Yet, the difference is considered to be too small to conclude that an electric toothbrush is truly “more effective” and “better” than a manual toothbrush.

The Verdict

Due to the lack of strong enough evidence suggesting electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque, both kinds of toothbrushes are considered equivalent in effectiveness. Whether or not you choose to purchase an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush, the act of physically using a soft-bristled toothbrush and using it the right way are the most important takeaways. As a refresher, the best way to use your toothbrush for optimal dental health is to brush the back, front and biting surfaces of the teeth at a 45-degree angle for two minutes, twice a day, every day. Lastly, don’t forget to floss daily!

Advanced DDS is a premiere dental practice in Garden City, NY where our team of experienced dentists provide exceptional care. Schedule your dental consultation today at 516-825-1100.

electric toothbrush comparison to manual toothbrush infographic

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