Choosing a toothbrush: electric vs. manual

Family brushing their teeth

The electric toothbrush has become quite popular over the past few years. Today, literally hundreds of electric models are available, ranging from $40 on up. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), both manual and electric toothbrushes can be effective if used properly.

There are advantages to manual toothbrushes

  • Cost and availability. The manual toothbrush is inexpensive and readily available. The cost of an electric toothbrush may be too expensive for some people, so it’s nice to know that you can do a great job brushing with a manual toothbrush.
  • Easy to travel with. It’s easier to take a manual toothbrush with you when you travel. It’s not bulky like some electric toothbrushes.
  • Puts less pressure on teeth and gums. You can feel how much pressure you’re using as you grasp the toothbrush. This helps you avoid putting too much pressure on your teeth, which can wear away at tooth enamel, causing pain, sensitivity, and an increased risk of tooth decay.

Electric toothbrushes have advantages

  • Easier to manage. An electric toothbrush can be a great alternative to a manual toothbrush, especially for older people who have less dexterity, arthritis, or other conditions that make it difficult to brush well.
  • Removes more plaque. The bristle movement of an electric toothbrush may help remove more plaque from your teeth than manual brushing.
  • Have timers. The recommended length of time for brushing is two minutes. Many electric toothbrushes have built-in timers that indicate when you have brushed long enough.
  • Pressure sensors. Some electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors that tell you if you’re brushing too hard.

Whether you choose a manual or an electric toothbrush, choose one with soft bristles. Be sure to change the bristles on the electric brush when they become worn or no longer are straight and firm

Last updated January 16, 2014

This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor.

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