Dental Advise |4 min read

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes

Almost 5000 years ago, the first toothbrush was born. According to the American Dental Association, a “chew stick,” or a twig with a frayed end would suffice for cleaning teeth and removing debris was the earliest form of a toothbrush. Because this was inefficient (though resourceful) the toothbrush was recreated many times. From animal bones to wood, the toothbrush went through quite the metamorphosis.  Finally, in 1938 the toothbrush as we know it was created, thus ending the whole splinters in your teeth thing.

The manual toothbrush was the lone cleaner on the streets until in 1960; the electric toothbrush was created. Manual’s less quiet counterpart won the hearts of many, including dentists across the nation. Even though the electric toothbrush has been around for over 50 years, though, the question remains- is the electric toothbrush worth the money, or is it just as effective to continue brushing with a manual toothbrush? Read on to find out the winner in the electric vs. manual brawl.

Round 1 – Options

Manual toothbrushes have been known to have the most options regarding bristles, heads, and colors. You have the ability to choose between hundreds of different styles to suit your needs. Sizes of heads depend on the size of your mouth and teeth and bristle hardness is typically chosen between medium soft and soft depending on your gums, teeth and mouth sensitivity. Consult with a dentist before choosing what you think is right for you.

A general misconception with electric toothbrushes is that there aren’t many options for buyers to choose from in order to customize their brush. However, popular brush companies such as Oral-B and Philips Sonicare have created plenty of options so for you to pick for your new toothbrush. With different head sizes and bristle hardness, the modern-day electric toothbrush can offer you almost as many options (aside from color) as the manual toothbrush. Even still, the electric toothbrush wins this round by allowing buyers to switch out heads, rather than buy a new brush like a manual toothbrush would, if bristles or shape needs to be adjusted.

Round 2 – Teeth Cleaning Ability

The cleaning ability of either toothbrush can only be measured by its ability to remove plaque from even the deepest crevasses of the mouth. Most dentists believe that if you understand the proper brushing form (2 minutes, short back and forth strokes, not scrubbing but lightly brushing) and can use it, a manual toothbrush is perfectly fine. A manual brush does have the ability to thoroughly clean a mouth if used by a person who knows how. However, plenty of dentists recommend an electric toothbrush because many people struggle with the proper brushing technique.

Electric brushes take the guesswork out of tooth brushing. Almost all electric toothbrushes come with a two-minute timer setting that immediately shuts off once your two minutes are complete. The movement of the electric toothbrush also eliminates plaque more effectively for even the most toothbrush-challenged buyer. According to Cochrane, an unbiased and educational research entity, evidence found that using an electric toothbrush cleaned up plaque and reduced the presence of plaque in the mouth by 21% after three months of use.

Round 3 – Pricing

A simple, no bells and whistles manual toothbrush can cost as little as $1 depending on where you are buying it, but a simple upgrade of a battery-powered, vibrating manual toothbrush can cost anywhere from $5 – $25 depending on the brand. Dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush every 3 months to maintain its effectiveness, so on average with a manual toothbrush, you will spend at least $4 per year per person for a toothbrush in its simplest form, to about $60 per year per person for an average costing battery powered toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes have heads that switch in and out. However, these heads are not much different than the head of a manual toothbrush. The advantage is that the entire family can use one manual toothbrush with each person having their own head to change in and out. The average cost of an electric toothbrush which includes a charger station and depending on the model, different settings, and multiple brush heads can cost anywhere from $20 – $200. An electric toothbrush (not including the brush head) is said to last years. The head of the brush should be changed every 3 months just like a manual toothbrush and with a cost of $2 – $25 to replace the head (depending on if you buy a single or multi-pack) the average cost will have you at about $52 per year per person.

The winner? Undecided. If your concern is cost efficiency, you may want to stick to a manual brush. If you are aren’t the best at brushing, try an electric brush. The most important thing is that you are practicing good oral care and brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each.

If you’d like recommendations based on your mouth, come see the team at West Chester Dental Arts and ask which toothbrush will help make your mouth its healthiest yet!