Using a toothbrush is one of the essential morning and evening routines and is necessary for oral care and hygiene. While most people have used a traditional manual toothbrush, electric toothbrushes have also become a staple in many oral care routines. While dentists approve of both manual and electric toothbrushes, these types have pros and cons, which we’ll discuss at length here. We’ll also try to provide an answer to the question of which is better: a manual or an electric toothbrush.
Manual Toothbrush: Features, Pros & Cons
Most people worldwide use a manual toothbrush, as it is readily available everywhere, is easy to use, and is way cheaper than electric toothbrushes. While there is no need for electricity to use a manual toothbrush (you can brush your teeth in the middle of a forest with a manual toothbrush), their design limits the usable area, as it is hard to reach the back teeth.
As a rule of thumb, opt for a manual toothbrush with medium bristles, as the hard-bristled brushes can damage the teeth’s surface, and the soft-bristled brushes are not recommended, as they can’t effectively clean the teeth and are only recommended for people with sensitive gums.
Manual Toothbrush Pros
- Inexpensive – the average cost for a manual toothbrush is less than £5
- Available everywhere – manual toothbrushes are sold in stores and pharmacies worldwide
- Portable – you can carry your manual toothbrush everywhere, as it fits in a pocket.
- Manual operation – they don’t use batteries to work, don’t contribute to battery waste, and don’t require electricity to work
Manual Toothbrush Cons
- More abrasive bristles compared to electric brushes – there are manual toothbrushes with stiff bristles that, when used too vigorously, will cause damage without the user being aware of it. Most modern electric toothbrushes have warning alarms reminding you that you have applied too much pressure
- Can’t clean the hard-to-reach spots – with a large head, it’s challenging to reach the back teeth for proper cleaning. However, if you opt for a manual toothbrush with a compact design and use it properly, you can have the same result
- Adds to plastic waste – it is recommended you replace your toothbrush once every three months, and plenty of toothbrushes end up in landfills that add to the already burdening plastic waste
- Some people can’t use a manual toothbrush –some people, like older people, people with arthritis, or other health issues, can’t use a manual toothbrush.
Electric Toothbrush: Features, Pros & Cons
Electric toothbrushes use an electric motor that rotates the brush head and cleans the teeth with small circular motions. The electric toothbrush has a compact head design that better reaches the back teeth and cleans them more thoroughly. Also, some more advanced models have a timer that reminds you of the 2-minute recommended brushing time.
Electric Toothbrush Features
The manual toothbrush is powered by the manual movement of the user’s hand, and it is very little to it. On the other hand, the electric toothbrush comes with a multitude of features which we’ll touch upon here:
- Oscillating & rotating toothbrush: these electric toothbrushes have bristles moving in small circles, removing the accumulated plaque from all sides of the teeth. Most of them move with about 7,000 brush strokes a minute, which explains their effectiveness over manual toothbrushes.
- Ultrasonic & sonic toothbrush: these toothbrushes provide speeds of up to 5000 brush strokes a minute and combine vibrations that move the head backward and forward, allowing you to get everything that could be stuck in between your teeth. These are not recommended for people with sensitive teeth and sensitive gums.
- Brush head design: the brush head is the business end of the electric toothbrush, and it comes with various designs and features. The brush heads on electric toothbrushes also come in various sensitivities like soft, medium, or extra soft; they also have various designs for small kids and adults.
- Special features: Different electric toothbrushes have different features and extras. Some have a built-in timer that tracks your brushing time. Others have different settings for the different teeth in your mouth; some have modes for different effects like polishing or high-speed whitening.
Electric Toothbrush Pros
- Helps reduce plaque – the electric toothbrush’s head design is more compact and helps reach and clean all the teeth better, which leads to better oral hygiene, less tooth loss, and gum disease
- Better gum health – many patients who’ve used electric toothbrushes have reported having less bleeding from the gums as opposed to using manual toothbrushes
- Additional features – some electric toothbrushes have advanced features like smartphone apps, sensors, and timers to track brushing time, pressure on the teeth, and overall oral health
- A better option for kids – a study has shown that kids like using electric toothbrushes better than using manual toothbrushes, and this helps them maintain better oral hygiene
- A better option for older people – electric toothbrushes are recommended for senior citizens because they have mechanical brushing action that helps them keep their teeth clean without awkward movements.
Electric Toothbrush Cons
- Expensive – many electric toothbrushes come in two parts: the body with the electric mechanism and battery and the brush heads. The average cost of a quality electric toothbrush is about £200, with the brush heads costing about £10 to £20, so the expense rises significantly
- Noisy – electric toothbrushes have a whirring sound from the electric motor and are noisier than manual toothbrushes
- Abrasive for gums – the electric toothbrush can be abrasive to people with sensitive gums, and too much pressure can damage the tissue.
Which Is Better?
When used correctly, electric and manual toothbrushes clean your teeth effectively. By some estimates, electric toothbrushes are easier to use and more efficiently remove plaque; on the other hand, manual toothbrushes are way less expensive and readily available everywhere.
When to Replace a Toothbrush?
We also feel it is important to talk about when it is time to replace a toothbrush. A manual can be easily exchanged for a new one, but an electric one usually comes with a limited number of brush heads, and you may have to order replacements. Here are some things that point that your toothbrush needs replacing:
- The bristles are splaying on the sides: this is a sign that your toothbrush needs replacing as the splayed bristles are less effective in cleaning your teeth and can even require more pressure to clean your teeth, effectively causing you harm.
- The bristles are falling from the brush: a sign of a poor-quality toothbrush or an old and worn toothbrush that should not be used anymore and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
- The handle is bent or feels flimsy: low-quality toothbrushes can weaken with prolonged use, and more vigorous brushing of your teeth can bend the handle. It will not allow you to thoroughly brush your teeth, as a bent toothbrush doesn’t let you have even pressure or good handling when brushing your teeth.
The Bottom Line: Regular Brushing of the Teeth Is Vital for Oral Health
And no matter the type of toothbrush you choose, the important thing is to know how to use it and use it regularly – brushing your teeth twice a day using small, circular motions will help reduce plaque buildup on your teeth and can help prevent gum disease. We’ve presented all the facts above, and it is up to you to select the type of brush that would suit you best, as long as you remember to use it regularly.