Manual vs Electric toothbrushes

by: Sandy Johnson, RDH, BA

We’ve all seen the commercials for power toothbrushes, usually featuring scenes of seemingly impenetrable plaque being scrubbed away with little effort. But is the electric toothbrush all it’s cracked up to be? Does it really clean your teeth better than manual brushing? The answer is not a simple one. Like anything else, there are pros and cons with each option, and there is no one-size-fits-all toothbrush for everyone.

Electric toothbrushes have a lot of great feature that make them an attractive choice. Many have built in timers to help you know how long to brush, and the moving bristles and/or sonic waves can help break up plaque. The down side is that they can be expensive, and the ongoing cost of replacement heads can pile up. Be sure you know what you are getting into. Keep in mind, regularly replaced manual toothbrushes will do a better job of cleaning your teeth than worn out electric heads.

Manual toothbrushes are tried and true, and can work just fine if used properly. Technique is especially important with manual toothbrushes, because you have to do all the work. Many people develop bad habits, simply swabbing the toothbrush around for a few moments. Don’t just passively brush, pay attention. Avoid “spacing out” while brushing, taking care to clean all the surfaces.

So which toothbrush is best for you? The one that you will use frequently, and effectively. And don’t forget, no matter which toothbrush you decide to use, daily flossing and regular dental visits are still a must to keep your mouth healthy. Have questions? Stop in and ask your oral hygienist during your next dental visit.

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