Electric Toothbrush vs. Traditional Toothbrush

A young boy holding both a traditional toothbrush and an electric toothbrush.

Life can be hectic and sometimes visiting the dentist is the last thing on your mind. All the same, don’t neglect to keep up with your oral health. Your mouth and wallet will thank you! As you wait to get back in for a check-up, we recommend that you do something that you probably have not done since your last visit: update your toothbrush. It is recommended that you switch out your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months due to bristle wear and tear. When selecting a new toothbrush, we are often asked whether electric toothbrushes are better than the traditional, manual toothbrush that we give to patients after each visit. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of each!

Electric Toothbrush

Pros: A recent study suggests that electric toothbrushes actually do a better job at cleaning teeth and gums than traditional brushes. Researchers performed an 11-year study on a large group of adults and found that those that used an electric toothbrush (with two sets of bristles rotating in opposite directions) had 18% less tooth decay (cavities) and 22% less gum recession (characteristic of periodontal disease). An important feature that sets electric toothbrushes apart and can explain these results is the built-in timer. It’s recommended that you brush your teeth in soft, circular motions for 2 minutes, twice a day, and having an electric toothbrush with bristles that automatically rotate and a timer for 2 minutes makes this easy to do. Many electric toothbrushes also come with multiple heads which makes them easy to change out once the bristles start to wear.
Cons: Perhaps the greatest negative to buying an electric toothbrush is the cost. Some high-end electric toothbrushes can run over $200, which may be too steep a price when you can get a manual one for cheap or even for free. That said, here are several options on the market that can fit any budget. Another problem with electric toothbrushes is that they need to be charged, so forgetting your charger on a road trip can be problematic. However, most electric toothbrushes can hold a charge for up to 5 to 12 days of brushes.

Traditional Toothbrush

Pros: Unlike most electric toothbrushes, traditional toothbrushes are extremely affordable. Most dentists send their patients home with a new one after each check-up. They are also known to be just as effective as electric toothbrushes at removing plaque and bacteria, when they are used correctly. They also don’t need to be charged, so they are ideal for travel.
Cons: When traditional toothbrushes are not used correctly, they can be less effective at removing plaque and bacteria. It’s easy to apply too much pressure to gums and teeth when using a traditional toothbrush. Over-brushing gums can cause them to hurt and to recede, exposing the sensitive nerve area of your tooth. Brushing too hard on your teeth can also break down the enamel and lead to sensitivity to cold. And brushing your teeth in side-to-side motions does not effectively remove bacteria, as it can hide under the gums and in between teeth. However, all of these issues can be dealt with when applying proper tooth brushing techniques and using a fluoride toothpaste. The next time you’re in the office, ask your hygienist for more tips and tricks on how to use a traditional toothbrush correctly.

Traditional toothbrushes can be just as effective at removing bacteria as electric toothbrushes. When deciding which would be best for you, it comes down to technique and what you’re willing to pay. If you don’t want to time yourself while brushing or think about the technique, then maybe an electric toothbrush is your best option. Otherwise, your trusty traditional toothbrush works just fine.

If you have questions about your toothbrush, stop by our office. We have some of the top toothbrushes and would be happy to help you select the one that works best for you.