Electric vs. manual toothbrushes: Which should you choose?

Proper brushing is key to good oral health. Find out which kind of toothbrush, electric or manual, will work best for you

Electric vs. manual toothbrushes: Which should you choose?

A good, old-fashioned manual toothbrush has been proven time and time again that it’s the right tool for the job, but in recent years, the power toothbrush has become a serious contender. Since both types of toothbrushes are designed to be used to promote good oral health, the one you choose to keep your teeth clean will depend on your personal preferences.

Plaque-removing abilities

The purpose of a toothbrush is to remove plaque and to stimulate the gums to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. When power toothbrushes were first introduced to the market, there really wasn’t much of a difference between manual toothbrushes and power toothbrushes and their ability to remove plaque. Today, as the design and technology of power toothbrushes has evolved, some models have been clinically proven to remove significantly more plaque than a traditional toothbrush, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Brushing technique

Brushing your teeth isn’t complicated, but there is a right and wrong way. When using a manual toothbrush, brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth, starting at the gum line. Using a gentle circular motion, move your brush up and down each tooth.

A toothbrush that is the right size and shape for your mouth will allow you to reach all the way to your back teeth. An advantage to the brush heads of a power toothbrush is that they’re significantly smaller than that of a manual toothbrush. This allows you to be able to reach those awkward angles at the back of your mouth more easily.

When using a power toothbrush to clean your teeth, your technique depends on which model you’re using. Technology varies: some models clean by oscillating-rotating, vibrating or using sonic technology.

Whichever model you choose, be sure to read the instruction manual to ensure you’re using the toothbrush properly. Since the power toothbrush does more of the work for you than a manual toothbrush, you need to be cautious that you’re brushing correctly to prevent damaging your gums and wearing away the tooth enamel.

The Canadian Dental Association recommends brushing for two to three minutes to ensure your teeth are clean. Some power toothbrushes have a built-in timer that will vibrate abruptly or beep when you’ve finished brushing for three minutes. Other models are designed to signal when you’ve finished cleaning each quadrant of your mouth during a three-minute cycle. For people who are impatient when it comes to brushing, these timers can help make sure the teeth are being cleaned for the appropriate time. If you’re a gadget junkie, there are even power toothbrushes on the market that have a wireless display that provides while-you-brush feedback to promote optimal brushing habits.

Ease of use

The design of a manual toothbrush couldn’t be simpler. It’s the perfect shape and length, and it’s easy for most people to use. But for those who lack manual dexterity or the ability to direct the toothbrush in the correct motion, a power toothbrush can help.

Compared to a manual toothbrush, a power toothbrush certainly is heavier. Most models range in weight from 6 to 14 oz, because of the weight of the batteries. Even electric models have a rechargeable battery that needs to be charged on a regular basis. The advantage to a power toothbrush is that the unit does most of the work. You still need to guide the toothbrush to ensure each individual tooth is being cleaned, but the brushing motion is done by the power toothbrush itself.

Cost comparison

When it comes to cost, a traditional manual toothbrush is still the most inexpensive choice. Manual toothbrushes can range in price from $2 to $8, depending on the brand, comfort grip and other features designed to make your oral care routine more effective and enjoyable.

Of course a power toothbrush is more expensive than a manual toothbrush, but there is a wide variety available. The power toothbrush market is quite diverse, and models range in price from $20 to $200. When it comes to effectiveness, a higher price tag does not necessarily mean a better performance. Although you may appreciate extra features like timers and displays on some models, the cheaper power toothbrushes don’t necessarily perform any differently than their expensive counterparts.

When purchasing a power toothbrush, you’ll normally receive one or two brush heads with your purchase, but be aware that the heads don’t last forever. Depending on what model you’ve purchased, additional brush heads can be quite expensive, ranging in price from $5 to $10. Whichever toothbrush you choose, you still need to replace it regularly to ensure your oral hygiene routine is begin effective to keep your teeth clean. Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every few months or when the bristles are no longer straight and firm.

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