Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes – What Type of Dental Pro are you?

Author: Dr. Paul Massari
Dr. Paul Massari

Dr. Paul Massari

Dr. Paul Massari is an Italian dentist living in Milan, Italy. He is currently running a website here about electric toothbrushes and contributing to other online projects, while helping local dentists improve their online presence.
03.24.14 / 8:48 am

While commercials boast the superiority of electric toothbrushes and push consumers to get out and buy one, where dentists generally do not get the chance to shed some light on the topic unless speaking directly with patients in the operatory.

But what’s the right answer: manual or electric?

As dentists, educating patients is of the utmost importance. I decided to dig deeper into the subject and ask this exact question to different experts in the industry to gain a general idea of what dentists and hygienists really think. I didn’t expect so many different opinions, but after the responses started rolling in, it proved that no one had a concrete answer. What I did end up with was a myriad of different points of view that all took differing factors into consideration. Let’s dig deeper into the results.

The Results

Below in this picture, you will find the main points that were made in defense of both manual and electric toothbrushes.

To read the full article by Dr. Paul Massari click here: The Electric vs Manual Toothbrush Debate – 16 Experts Add Their Insight

 Electric v. Manual Toothbrushes

So … Manual or Electric?

The general opinion tends to show that manual toothbrushes are great if used the right way. There’s no need to get an electric toothbrush if you already brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes, with the right technique.  Another positive thing about the good old manual brush is that it’s cheaper and doesn’t require the maintenance of a battery or replacement head. It is basic yet effective, if you are brushing correctly, but not everyone sticks to the right timing and technique. That is where electric models come into play.

Electric toothbrushes boast many different advantages.  

  1. They take the guesswork out of brushing. These models seem to be less technique-sensitive doing the work for the patient, making it easier for them to brush their teeth correctly.
  2. Patients are more motivated. With built-in timers, it’s becomes easy to brush for the proper amount of time. This especially comes in handy for children.
  3. They remove more plaque. Another point our experts mentioned is that in their opinion, electric models remove more plaque compared to their counterparts, due to the constant vibrations and oscillations.

Other experts also underlined the fact that electric models have a pressure sensor, which is particularly useful in preventing gum recession. These models are especially useful for patients with orthodontic braces in need of the extra help maintaining their oral hygiene as well as the older population in which dexterity is decreased and brushing becomes a burden.

But with the pros also comes the cons.

  1. The brush heads can be harsher on your teeth and gums. A light touch is recommended; let the toothbrush do its work.
  2. The price is higher compared to manuals.
  3. They can do more damage than good if used the wrong way.

Focus on the technique

Before we focus too much on the model, let’s remember that the correct brushing technique still remains the most important thing.

In fact, another good point brought up by one of the experts was that it’s more important to see how conscientious a patient is while brushing, instead of focusing on the model used. If a patient is not using the right technique and is not brushing for the recommended time all is lost and they may be causing more damage than good to their overall dental hygiene.

Educating your patients

The majority of the experts I interviewed, in fact, do recommend electric brushes, or at least find these models to be more effective in one way or another. It’s very easy for patients to go out and get an electric toothbrush, without consulting their dentist first, so why not educate them before they make the decision?

Commercials can be misleading, and you, as a dental professional, can tell whether your patient may or may not need an electric toothbrush. Communicating the advantages and disadvantages of both manual and electric toothbrushes could help the patient make the right decisions for their personal needs.

So what do you think? Are Electric Toothbrushes better than Manuals?  What are you recommending to your patients? Let us know and comment below!

Dr. Paul Massari

Dr. Paul Massari

Dr. Paul Massari is an Italian dentist living in Milan, Italy. He is currently running a website here about electric toothbrushes and contributing to other online projects, while helping local dentists improve their online presence.

12 responses to “Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes – What Type of Dental Pro are you?”

  1. I like using manual toothbrushes, it is cheaper than electric one and it is also effective with correct way. Mastering right mehtod, manual toothbrushes are affordable to most of people.

  2. Dr.Paul You are absolutely right about the fact that brushing technique still is the key to having pearly whites for a life time period. It is the job of a dentist to help the patients understand their requirement as far as the brushing is concerned. Great post keep them coming.


  3. I agree with Dan on this issue. I us manual and it works for me. I guess what important is to get out patients to start brushing their teeth regularly then can choose between manual or electric.

  4. This is a really interesting post Paul. I’ve always wondered myself as I have used both. I guess there is no concrete answer. The importance lies upon the correct method of brushing your teeth. I suppose for those who struggle to get the technique right with a manual brush, and electric one would be beneficial. You don’t have to remember to charge a manual brush but both types require changing for time to time. Do all electric brushes come with timers now? You can brush too hard with both brushes because it all depends on the pressure applied,

  5. I strongly recommend using electric toothbrushes, better cleaning experience and eventually less plaque, cavities and toothaches. many people just don’t know the real benefits compared to manual ones, that’s why they still have to switch.Do you think that powered toothbrushes will overcome manual ones in the near future? i think so.

  6. I have no idea why anyone still uses a manual brush. I bought one about 4 years back. It’s still going strong – so if you look at the cost of it spread out it’s miniscual – and way way cheaper than extra dentist trips! From the moment I started using it my teeth felt so much cleaner… plus due to the timer I know I always brush for about the right amount of time. A year back I bought a second one to go in my travel case. It never made it into the case. Instead I now use the second one such that the battery charging is never an issue. When the first one runs out of charge I move on to the second one and recharge the first one. I get a good 2-3 weeks out of each one before it needs recharging.

    I also use the Philips Air Floss now. The juries still out on whether this is sufficient to replace flossing but I much prefer it. It’s a little expenseive but hey you only get one set of teeth… and dentists are expensive!

    • Amen to Chris’s post. I have RA and I struggled to use a manual toothbrush for years. I don’t know why I was never encouraged to purchase an electic toothbrush by my hygenist or dentist. I use a Sonicare now and it has made a huge difference.

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