Toothbrush: Electric or Manual?

Thinking about buying your mom/sister/friend a brand-new toothbrush for the holidays? One of the most common patient Qs is, “should I be using an electric toothbrush?” For whatever reason, people tend to be reluctant over switching from the type of toothbrush their grandparents used and want to be completely sure before making the switch. Let’s explore the pros/cons of the new-age electric toothbrush:

PROS: Many oral health providers recommend that although a manual toothbrush is better than nothing, the electric version will do a better job reducing gingivitis and plaque. Says Sara Thiel, Registered Dental Hygienist and co-founder of CE Zoom, “I can typically tell when somebody uses an electric toothbrush versus a manual toothbrush just by looking at their oral health. The gums look amazing, and I don’t have to do a lot during the appointment.” The electric brush does all the work, and many have a feature that lets patients know if they’re brushing too hard and possibly hurting the gums. They also feature a timer that ensures the full, two-minute brush. Sabrina Hanimov, a hygienist at Premier Dental Associates, also approves; “The many oscillations of the electric brush, whether it be the Sonicare or Oral-B, penetrate underneath the gums and remove more plaque than manual brushes.” Of course, elderly patients with poor dexterity also benefit from the electric brush as they have poorer control of their hands, and orthodontists testify that teens with braces can better clean under the brackets with the electric toothbrush.

CONS: While there aren’t many cons to an electric toothbrush, the manual version may provide some benefits. They are travel-friendly, inexpensive, and they also come in a variety of different bristles, handles, and shapes. Catherine C., another Premier Dental hygienist, says she prefers the manual toothbrush; “Over the years, I’ve developed good habits in terms of my brushing method, time of brushing, and it becomes brainless after a while. I’m happy with my oral hygiene and I’d rather not switch and change things.”

CONCLUSION: It definitely can’t hurt to change over to electric, but you should ask your dentist/hygienist for instructions on how to use that particular toothbrush. Most studies say the electrics do a better job removing plaque and bacteria. That said, if your hygienist says you’re doing fine with manual, there’s no need to change. If your oral hygiene needs improvement, consider the investment. Most importantly, come into Premier Dental for bi-yearly cleanings!

*Contributed by Dr. Steven Ritholtz