Electric Vs. Manual Toothbrushes

010It’s the 21st Century and everything is becoming power operated, wireless, and more improved it seems. One of the latest and greatest in over-the-counter dental products is the electric toothbrush. People everywhere are asking: Is it better? Is it worth the cost? Should I switch over? While a lot of information out their might just be opinions, we’ll try to give you the cold, hard facts, the pros and cons and just let you decide for yourself which is better for you.

Does One Clean Better Than the Other?

In order to really break down whether one cleans better than the other, we need to first understand WHAT needs to be cleaned and HOW. Studies have shown that brushing your teeth only cleans 70% of the tooth surface on average. It’s still necessary to floss, obviously, but everyone brushes their teeth differently. What really is the deciding factor is how good of a job the operator does in the first place. Using a manual brush or an electric brush, it’s important to get all surfaces of the tooth and to angle the bristles 90 degrees to gently massage the gum line. If any of those areas are missed, it doesn’t matter which brush you use, plaque will remain on your teeth and irritate your gums causing Gingivitis. In more aggressive cases when plaque is constantly missed, becoming tartar, and is never cleaned off, Periodontitis can occur.

Another factor to consider is the motivation of the operator. According to WebMD, especially in young kids, the technological factor of electronic toothbrushes makes brushing your teeth more enjoyable. Some electric brushes, like the Sonicare Spinbrush, have stickers, super hero images, and some even play music! Being able to inspire kids to ENJOY brushing can make them brush every day.

The same can even go for adults, though. Electric toothbrushes like the Oral-B come with personal timers and pressure gauges that tell you when you are brushing too hard. Indicators like this can help people with recessions from brushing too hard to lighten their strokes and those who don’t brush long enough to improve their ability to clean their teeth properly.

What are the Pros and Cons?

Of course both products are going to have pros and cons and that opinion may differ from person to person. Instead of giving them a label, we will let you decide. Here’s a rundown on each brush:


  • No batteries necessary
  • Come in widely available colors, shapes, sizes, bristles, etc
  • Travel easily
  • Flexible handles that allow for more angles and manual dexterity
  • CHEAP! You can buy multiple brushes or single brushes at a time. Often given for free by dental professionals.


  • Batteries included or rechargeable
  • Some come with a variety of head shapes and sizes that are interchangeable and replaceable
  • Need to be charged. However, batteries often last for hundreds of hours and come with simple charger.
  • Uses Oscillating and/or Sonic technology that helps with cleaning all surfaces of the teeth. Good for those without good dexterity.
  • More Expensive. You get what you pay for! Meaning: If you spend a little more, you can get all the bells and whistles.

What Do The Stats Say?

According to a study of adults switching to an electric toothbrush, in the first 3 months, there was 11% less plaque on their teeth and 6% less people with gingivitis. After 6 months, the percentages improved even more from there. What made those changes is hard to say. Was it the motivation of the brusher, their skill-set improved, or was it the toothbrush? It’s hard to say.

Going back to logistics of cleaning teeth, being sure to get every surface of the tooth cleaned is what is essential. You can manually brush the plaque off your teeth for a fraction of the cost or you can allow for the power-operated, oscillating head to work its magic while you do little more than move the brush across the tooth surface. The choice is yours. Just get those teeth cleaned!

For more questions about electric toothbrushes or to schedule a teeth cleaning today, call our office at (208) 402-1040.