We often get questions from patients about whether electric toothbrushes are better than old-fashioned manual ones. Are they a magic bullet for cleaner, whiter teeth? The answer is not necessarily, but they may help overcome some common hurdles to good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association confirms that both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque. The rest comes down to personal preference, budget, and motivation. But whichever type you choose, go for an ADA accepted brush, use it regularly and use it the right way to keep teeth healthy and clean.
Should I Use an Electric Toothbrush?
You can get the cleaning you need with a manual toothbrush, but there can be benefits to an electric brush. Here are a few reasons you may want to give a powered toothbrush a shot:
- Electric toothbrushes can help folks with dexterity issues like seniors and children brush more efficiently and thoroughly, according to the ADA.
- Powered brushes can help folks with braces deep clean between brackets, thanks to oscillating heads.
- Some electric toothbrushes offer a timer to help you know when you’ve reached the recommended two minutes.
- Finally, the cool factor and ease of an electric brush may encourage reluctant brushers like teens to take better care of their teeth. If an electric toothbrush gets you or your family to brush more consistently, it may be worth it.
What Kind of Electric Toothbrush is Best?
The electric toothbrush scene has exploded in recent years with more options than ever at a range of prices. Different brushes offer different types of head movement, including sonic heads that move side-to-side or round oscillating heads that run in a circular motion. Find out which type feels best in your mouth and will make you look forward to using it.
Look for the ADA seal of acceptance on both electric and manual toothbrushes. Some of the ADA approved electric lines include Philips Sonicare, Oral B, Fairywill and Quip and others, including a range of CVS drugstore brand toothbrushes. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to get a high-quality electric toothbrush, but be sure to factor replacement heads into the cost.
How Can I Get the Most Out of My Manual Toothbrush?
As ADA expert Richard Price puts it, “It’s not the brush, it’s the brusher.”
You can absolutely get as much out of your manual toothbrush as a more expensive electric brush as long as you’re doing it right. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your manual toothbrush:
- Make brushing part of your daily routine, making an effort to hit all surfaces and brushing for at least two minutes twice a day.
- Clean and store your manual toothbrush properly in an upright position in the open air to kill bacteria.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months and toss it after you’ve been sick.
What Kind of Bristles Are Best?
There are so many options for toothbrushes, both manual and electric, but we do have some general advice on bristles.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to avoid damaging the gums.
- ADA research suggests that a brush with multi-level bristles or angled bristles will do a better job at removing plaque than conventional flat-trimmed bristles.
Choosing a Toothbrush? Ask Your Dentist
If you have questions about which type of toothbrush is best for you, your family dentist is a helpful place to start. We can talk with you about your needs and give you tips on how to brush effectively, whether you choose a fancy electric toothbrush or a basic manual model. Brushing for two minutes twice a day, adding flossing to your routine and getting regular check-ups are still the most important steps you can take for healthy teeth.