Manual or Electric Toothbrush: Which one you should choose?

Dental Home Oral Care

Do you remember the days when the biggest decision you had to make when buying a toothbrush was soft, medium, or hard bristles? These days there are many types, from simple toothbrushes to costly electric versions. The question is: Are the electric / power brushes worth the extra cost?
Regular toothbrushes will serve their purpose as long as you use them correctly. Many of us, however don’t brush for recommended two minutes or get to every tooth.
This is where a little extra power comes handy. An electric toothbrush covers a bigger area faster, so you clean more surfaces in the same amount of time. When we brush by hand, on average, we make about three hundred strokes per minute. Compare that with the thousands, even tens of thousands of strokes per minute an electric toothbrush makes.

Here are some of the pros of using electric toothbrushes:

  • One recent study showed people who use them had less plaque and gum disease.
  • Electric toothbrushes are easier to use especially for those who have difficulty using their hands. Further, children may think that electric ones are more fun and easier to use.
  • For those with braces, they can clean in and around the metal parts.
  • And for those lazy brushers out there, an electric toothbrush is a good option as you likely are not removing enough plaque with a manual toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes have their drawbacks as well.

  • They can be costly. Regular toothbrushes cost a few dollars. An electric toothbrush can cost you as much as $150. Don’t forget those replacement brush heads. These need to be replaced as often as manual brushes. It is easy for the costs to add up.
  • They are often bigger and bulkier, which makes them harder to take with you.
  • There are a few categories of electric toothbrushes, depending on how the brush moves:
    • Rotary: The head moves in a circular motion at 3,000 to 7,500 strokes per minute. A toothbrush where the head alternates directions is called rotation oscillation.
    • Sonic: These use a side-to-side motion at a speed at about 10 times that of a rotary brush — about 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
    • Ultrasonic: The fast side-to-side motion creates vibrations that dislodge plaque.
    • Ionic: The brush head doesn’t move. A low electric current in the bristles attracts plaque.

So, which one is preferred? At this time there isn’t enough research to say for sure.

Let’s say you’ve decided to go with an electric toothbrush, how much should you spend? Disposable battery-operated brushes cost about $6 to $15, while rechargeable electric versions range from $40 to more than $150. Some versions come with travel cases and built-in sensors that signal when you’re brushing too hard. Others have built-in timers that beep every 30 seconds for 2 minutes to let you know it’s time to move on to a different part of your mouth. High-tech versions even have Bluetooth technology that sends data on your brushing habits to your phone. As a parent, this can come in handy when monitoring your children’s oral hygiene. As with anything else, you pay extra for the bells and whistles.

No matter which kind you choose, look for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal on the package. This means that the toothbrush has been reviewed to make sure that it’s safe and effective. In summary, how you use that toothbrush is more important than the toothbrush itself. It is important to brush with soft bristles and a fluoride toothpaste for 2 minutes, twice a day.

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