West Office: 865-966-7441    North Office: 865-688-4112

Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Toothbrush

Patients are asking if we recommend a power (or ‘electric’) toothbrush over an ordinary toothbrush.

Let’s talk about the benefits and downsides of both options. We’ll answer questions like “Do electric brushes clean my teeth more effectively?” and “Are they worth the money?” Then we’ll give you our final recommendation.

Electric Toothbrush

Advantages of an electric toothbrush

  • Electric Toothbrushes often have timers and pressure indicators on them

Many electric toothbrushes have timers on them that let the user know when they have been brushing for two minutes (the recommended amount of time to brush). This is a great benefit for our patients because it is easy to slack on brushing when rushing out the door in the morning or at the end of a busy day. Some electric toothbrush models even are equipped with a pressure indicator light that lets our patients know when they are brushing too hard and might be damaging their gums and tooth enamel.

  • Electric toothbrushes do most of the work

Yes, another technology gadget to make your life a little easier. Just move that brush from tooth to tooth and the power of the brush movement does all the hard work of cleaning your teeth. Electric toothbrushes generally do clean the teeth more effectively. To give you an idea, an electric brush does about 30,000 strokes per minute while a manual averages 200 strokes per minute. So if you are spending 2 minutes brushing, it’s obvious the electric toothbrush will be working harder at removing the plaque. (But don’t worry, even with all that power electric toothbrushes are still very gentle on the gums.)

Power toothbrushes are also very helpful for people who may have trouble effectively brushing with a manual toothbrush because of a muscular disorder, arthritis, or lack of dexterity. In these cases, an electric toothbrush can be extra beneficial.

  • Children often feel like an electric toothbrush makes brushing more fun

Give your child a toothbrush that lights up and vibrates, or rotates around in their mouth, and you’re sure to get a smile and excitement when it comes time to brush his or her teeth. Most kids like electric toothbrushes.

For older children with braces, having an electric toothbrush is great to help ensure the investment you are putting into their orthodontics reaps the best results. If children with braces don’t brush correctly, they can end up with white marks visible on their teeth after their brackets are removed. An electric toothbrush can more easily get to those hard to reach places in the mouth.

  • An electric toothbrush usually removes more plaque than a manual toothbrush

The reason this is a significant benefit is because plaque buildup on the teeth is the primary cause of gingivitis (inflammation of the gum) and when left untreated can lead to periodontitis (severe inflammation of the gums). Plaque buildup and gum disease are the main causes of tooth loss – so they are very important to avoid!

Cochrane Oral Health Group conducted a review to assess the effects of using an electric (or “powered”) toothbrush compared with using a manual toothbrush for maintaining oral health. The key results showed that with the power toothbrush there was an 11% reduction in plaque at 1 to 3 months of use and 21% reduction after 3 months of use.

The Downsides to Electric Toothbrushes

  • Electric toothbrushes require electricity and space

Electric toothbrushes are more challenging to travel with, take up more space on the bathroom counter, and require and electric outlet (unless you are using a battery powered brush).

  • The extra expense of electric toothbrushes

Although there are numerous types of electric toothbrushes available to purchase, they range in price and function, they are still several times more expensive than a manual toothbrush, and are often considered more of a luxury item. So it is worth the extra expense? Devoted electric toothbrush users would say “yes!”. Once you get used to the way it makes your teeth feel and the added ease of the power toothbrush, you might not want to return to a manual toothbrush. Like most electronic advancements, they are more expensive but the user usually feels the benefits are worth the expense.

Manual toothbrush

Advantages of a Manual Toothbrush

  • Inexpensive

Manual toothbrushes are free (if you come to Chesney Dentistry for your regular cleanings) or cost about $5. Compared to the more substantial initial investment of the electric brush, and ongoing expense of brush heads, this can be a significant factor.

  • Travel friendly

They are easy to throw in your bag and brush on the go. And they’re easy to replace if lost. They are small and convenient and do a good job cleaning your teeth just as effectively and thoroughly if you are diligent in brushing (and flossing) properly.

The Downsides to Manual Toothbrushes

  • Require more concentration

They do require a bit more effort than the electric toothbrush

  • May not remove as much plaque

As we mentioned above the electric toothbrushes do tend to do a better job removing plaque from some of the hard to reach places of teeth.

Boy comparing manual and electric toothbrushes

Chesney Dentistry Recommendation

There have been consumer reports that have said the electric and manual toothbrushes are equally effective as long as you are thoroughly brushing for 2 minutes 2 times per day.

If you take the time and effort, making sure to reach all areas of your mouth, to brush correctly all you really need is a good soft-brushed ordinary toothbrush.

There are certain circumstances where our team at Chesney Dentistry will recommend using an electric toothbrush, but for most patients, it is mainly a matter of your personal preference.
Whether you choose electric or manual, just be sure you are getting all the surfaces of all your teeth – without excessive brushing. Believe it or not, too much brushing or too much pressure while brushing, can be a bad thing and can cause receded gums or abrade (scrape or wear away) the enamel, so it’s important to find a good balance. We’re here to help you with that and will let you know how you’re doing at every dental check-up.

If you are interested in purchasing an electric toothbrush we have some available at both our West and North Knoxville locations. We are always happy to talk with you about what we recommend and can even send you home with one at your next dental appointment.

No matter which toothbrush you choose – electric or manual – making the necessary investment of time and finances in your smile will help assure a lifelong, healthy, and beautiful smile.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

West Knoxville: 865-966-7441
North Knoxville: 865-688-4112

-Chesney Dentistry