A common question patients ask is “which is the best toothbrush: a manual or electric ?”

Like most things, it depends. We have listed some of the major advantages of each kind of toothbrush to provide some insight into what kind is the best for your mouth.

Advantages of an electric toothbrush:

• Most electric toothbrushes have a timer that is based on quadrants in the mouth. Each quadrant of teeth is given 30-45 seconds until the toothbrush “buzzes” telling you to move on to the next one. The electric toothbrush holds you more accountable to brushing for the recommended full 2-3 minutes.
• Electric toothbrushes are great for those with limited manual dexterity. A manual toothbrush requires accurate manipulation of the brush head to clean all teeth adequately, whereas an electric toothbrush does the work for you. Many elderly patients, those with special needs, or even young children who cannot move their hands the way they need to effectively manipulate a manual toothbrush can benefit from an electric toothbrush.
• Electric toothbrushes either vibrate or rotate at a high speed so you’re getting more strokes per minute than can be achieved by hand, which can remove more plaque when used correctly. Also, most electric toothbrushes have sensors that help avoid damage to enamel and gums.
• Children may be more motivated to use a “fun” electric toothbrush more than a manual one. Some varieties even play music to help your child know how long to brush.

Advantages of a manual toothbrush:

• Cost is the number one advantage of a manual toothbrush. Many electric toothbrushes can cost upwards of $100 to get the initial motor. Replacement brush heads for electric toothbrushes are also more expensive than a manual toothbrush.
• Manual toothbrushes offer more options on brush types such as soft bristles, rounded tips, ergonomically designed handles, angled brush heads, gum stimulators, and tongue cleaners.
• Manual toothbrushes don’t have any batteries that require charging before they can be used and aren’t as bulky. They are certainly easier for you to take them with you when traveling.

Toothbrush Conclusions

According to research, the American Dental Hygienists Association and the American Dental Association state that both electric and manual toothbrushes can effectively clean your teeth and gums. When it comes down to it, it’s not so much about the brush, it’s more about the brusher. The best toothbrush for you is going to be the one you’re most likely to use and use well. Regardless of which type of toothbrush you choose here are some important brushing guidelines to follow:
• Pick a toothbrush that’s the right size for your mouth.
• Avoid hard bristles that can irritate your gums.
• Use a fluoride toothpaste.
• Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gums.
• Gently brush all tooth surfaces for 2-3 minutes
• Rinse your toothbrush and store it upright to air dry
• Floss once per day
• Mouth rinses are optional and shouldn’t replace flossing or brushing.

Don’t forget to clean your toothbrush!