We live in a time when almost everything is smart. Thanks to technological advances, there are now smarter devices than ever before in great variety. These include smart lamps, smart fans, smart faucets, and even smart electric toothbrushes. This also results in constant comparisons between electric and manual toothbrushes. So it’s better to put that to rest once and for all.

electric vs manual toothbrush

While most of us believe that electric toothbrushes are an invention of the modern age, this is actually not the case. The first electric toothbrush was introduced back in 1954. And yes, the comparison between electric and manual toothbrushes goes back to the birth of the oldest electric toothbrush, as you may have guessed.

The early years were an easy victory for the regular toothbrush. But thanks to technological advances, electric brushes have caught up and become more affordable and accessible than ever before. This makes many of us wonder: Is a manual toothbrush still better than an electric one? Grab your brush and toothpaste, as we are about to find the answer!

Electric vs Manual Toothbrush: Main Differences

The main difference between electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes is the way they clean teeth. Electric toothbrushes use a motor to move the bristles back and forth or in a circular motion, which can help remove plaque and bacteria more effectively than a manual toothbrush. Some electric toothbrushes also have additional features, such as a timer or pressure sensor to help you brush for the recommended two minutes and apply the right amount of pressure.

Another difference between them is cost. Electric toothbrushes tend to be more expensive than manual toothbrushes, although the price can vary by model. Electric toothbrushes also require batteries or need to be charged, while manual toothbrushes do not.

The ease of use also differs. Electric toothbrushes may be easier to use for some people since they don’t require as much manual dexterity. A manual toothbrush, on the other hand, does not require batteries or charging.

How to find the right brush for you?

While most of us sleepily brush our teeth in the morning, we have not paid attention to how much importance we need to place on those brushes. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right toothbrush. These include:

  • Head size: although many think “bigger is better,” it is always better to choose a small brush head, as it can reach almost every corner of the mouth, allowing for better cleaning.
  • Firmness of bristles: no, you should not use a brush with firm bristles to clean your teeth. While there is a misconception that the harder a brush’s bristles are, the better it can clean, this is not true. This is not claimed by us but by dentists. You can ask any dentist to confirm this.
  • Bristle design: it has been shown that brushes with different bristle sizes compared to brushes with the same bristle size can be very useful in getting into deeper interdental spaces.
  • Handle comfort: whether it’s a traditional brush or an electric brush, a good brush handle affects the way you brush your teeth. If you feel uncomfortable holding the brush, you are more likely to complain about how poorly the brush feels in your hand than how poorly it cleans your teeth.

Now that you know what to look for when choosing a brush let’s also look at what to always look for when brushing. Because this will come in handy when you choose one after comparing a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush:

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes.
  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line to remove plaque above and just below the gum line.
  • Gently move the toothbrush back and forth in short strokes.
  • Apply only gentle pressure to reduce the risk of gum injury.

The good old normal toothbrush!

normal toothbrush - electric vs manual toothbrush

Since the earliest form of the toothbrush dates back to 3000 B.C., these old boys can safely be called good old friends. While we humans often love to improve things we use in everyday life, the toothbrush is something that may not have undergone much innovation.

Yes, there is the smart electric toothbrush, but it is better to think of it as an immigrant from the modern era. To help you answer the question of whether a manual toothbrush is better than an electric toothbrush, let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a regular (manual) toothbrush.

Benefits of Manual toothbrush:

  • Accessible: you forgot or lost your brush while traveling? No need to worry. You can get a manual toothbrush almost anywhere. Be it at a grocery store, gas station, or pharmacy. And if you are someone who likes to forget things, keep this point in mind.
  • Affordable: since manual toothbrushes do not have fancy features like “smart” or “electric”, they are inexpensive. A regular toothbrush only ever costs a few dollars.
  • Variety of options: Since the manual toothbrush has been with us for quite some time, it has the advantage of having gone through many refinements. For example, today, there are brushes with different head designs, support for multi-step or angled bristles, and different intensities of bristle brushes.

Disadvatanges of Manual Toothbrush:

  • May hurt teeth and gums: Although we’ve been using a regular toothbrush for centuries, many of us still don’t know how to brush properly. And so many hurt their teeth and gums by brushing too hard. Many people over 30 years old have problems with gum recession, thanks to their poor brushing habits.
  • No time limit: Since regular toothbrushes don’t have a timer (if they do, it’s an electric brush), many of us don’t know how long we should brush per side of the mouth or how long we should brush in total. However, this problem can be solved by setting a timer on your smartphone, watch, or smart speaker.

The cool new electric toothbrush!

electric toothbrush - electric vs manual toothbrush
Electric toothbrush front of mirror in bath

The electric brush may be new to the party, but he’s got all the cool tricks up his sleeve to get the attention of all the party guests. So instead of talking about this new guy in town, let us look at the pros and cons of an electric toothbrush.

Benefits of using an electric Toothbrush:

  • Easier to use: Like most electric and smart devices, the electric brush is designed to make your life easier. It is especially useful for the elderly, people with disabilities, children, or those who wear braces, as you can adjust the pressure of the vibration.
  • Built-in timers: A timer helps you brush your teeth only for as long as you want.
  • Different head movements: While manual brushes come with different brush heads, electric brushes offer different head movements, such as side-to-side, circular, or even oscillating.
  • Safe for gums: since some electric toothbrushes also have smart connectivity, they help you avoid hurting your gums or enamel but promote overall oral health.
  • Improved tooth brushing pattern: According to studies, electric toothbrush users seem to have a more concentrated and focused toothbrushing pattern than users who use a manual toothbrush. The main reason is that the electric toothbrush provides you with more data about your brushing and helps you brush.
  • App support: this is one of the biggest assets of an electric toothbrush. Many of them have an accompanying app that gives you information like your brushing patterns and advises users on improving their brushes.
Image: OralB

Disadvantages of electric toothbrush

  • Expensive: You may have guessed it already. Given the features it offers, electric toothbrushes also come with a hefty price tag. Typically, electric brushes cost between $15 and $250 per brush. And replacement brush heads cost extra, which also costs more than a regular toothbrush.
  • Availability issues: electric toothbrushes are becoming more popular, but it’s still difficult to find them in local stores. And finding the right replacement brush heads is another problem. You can buy them on the official website or an e-commerce website, but that’s not always helpful when you are traveling. So the best option is to stock up.
  • Convenience issues: plug-in versions are not the best companion if you travel a lot. Battery devices are the best option here, but with battery devices, you have to throw away the old batteries, which is bad for the environment.
  • Vibration is not for everyone: Not everyone is a fan of everything, and that goes for vibration in electric brushes as well. Some are even bothered by the extra saliva produced by the vibration.

Electric vs Manual toothbrush: And the winner is…

The answer may surprise you, but both are good in their own way, and if you know how to brush your teeth properly, you can continue to use a manual toothbrush. Easy accessibility is an added benefit. Meanwhile, electric brushes are good for those who want to monitor and improve their brushing style.

They are also useful for those who wear braces or have difficulty brushing their teeth. According to some studies, electric brushes are slightly better than manual brushes in terms of cleaning plaque. So, to sum up, an electric toothbrush is better than a manual toothbrush, but only by a slight margin.

What to look for in an electric toothbrush?

Now, if you decide to buy an electric toothbrush after comparing, there are some things you should consider before buying. All the points we reviewed when looking for the right toothbrush apply here as well, and here are some additional points to consider:

  • Type: There are two types of electric toothbrushes: oscillating (rotatory) toothbrushes and sonic toothbrushes. While oscillating toothbrushes have a round head and oscillate back and forth, sonic toothbrushes emit high-frequency vibrations to clean your teeth. Just like electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes, there are debates about which of the two is best, and the results they provide are more or less the same, with more studies slightly favoring oscillating electric toothbrushes. They may also be your choice if you have sensitive gums.
  • Brush strokes per minute (BPM): the principle here is the more, the better. The higher the BPM, the more effective it is at removing plaque and bacteria. While oscillating-rotating toothbrushes have a BPM of about 1,300 to 8,800, sonic toothbrushes have a BPM of 24,000 to 30,000 or even more. However, if you have gum problems or have recently had a dental procedure, it is better to use the low-speed brush. Many electric toothbrushes offer the ability to adjust the BPM.
  • Timer: Since it is best to brush your teeth for 2 minutes, a timer is always an advantage. Most electric toothbrushes on the market have a built-in timer, but some of the cheaper ones do not.
  • Waterproof: we all know why our electric toothbrushes should be waterproof. While most are splash-proof, it’s good to make sure before you buy.
  • Pressure sensor: Although this feature is limited to premium electric toothbrushes, if your brush has such a sensor, you will be warned if you apply too much pressure to your teeth while brushing.
  • Rechargeable battery or disposable battery: There are two types of electric toothbrushes, one with rechargeable batteries and one with disposable batteries. While most electric toothbrush models are rechargeable and offer better value in the long run, disposable models are more practical if you do not have a convenient place to charge them./li>
  • Charging method: Rechargeable toothbrushes also come in two types of charging methods: inductive and USB. With the inductive method, you need to place the toothbrush in a special charging station, while with USB charging, you can charge it through any supported USB port.

Electrical or Manual Toothbrush: Tips to take care of your teeth

Now that we have compared electric toothbrushes to manual toothbrushes and gotten the results, let us look at how you can take care of your teeth:

  • Floss at least once a day: it is best to floss after brushing your teeth, as this will also remove plaque left between your teeth and on your gums after brushing.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day: you may have heard this since childhood, but it’s true: it’s always good to brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes with the right brush. And we have helped you find the right manual and electric brush.
  • Use toothpaste with fluoride: Fluoride has been shown to help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
  • Eat healthy: Make sure you eat a healthy diet, as it will help protect you from gum disease.
  • Visit your dentist for check-ups: It is recommended to have a check-up with your dentist from time to time.

Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?

Some of you may have expected it, and some of you may not. But it does not make much difference which toothbrush you choose. According to many studies, both provide almost the same result, but it also depends on how you use your toothbrush.

If you know you can not brush well and need the detailed help and analysis of a smart toothbrush; then the electric toothbrush seems like a safe choice. And if you are one of those users who are confident in their brushing abilities, you can stick with manual toothbrushes. So which one is your choice?

FAQs about electric vs manual toothbrush

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It is recommended to change your toothbrush or electric brush head every 3 to 4 months. This time period is when bristles are still effective while having minimal bacteria accumulation.

According to a new study, electric toothbrushes clean teeth and gums better than manual toothbrushes. In comparison with manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes help people maintain healthier gums, fewer cavities, and longer tooth life.

It has been shown that the electric toothbrush will not damage the teeth or gums, with a number of studies supporting this claim. In fact, it is proven to be more beneficial for those who aren't aware of the right brushing techniques and want to be guided by the technology.

Of course, you can use an electric brush daily but with some caution. Till the time you get used to it, make sure you check the data provided by the app connected to your smart toothbrush to understand the right way to use it and make appropriate changes if required.

Electric toothbrushes are pretty much similar to manual ones and require frequent changes in the heads. During everyday use, the bristles will wear down, potentially causing enamel abrasion. This is true with manual brushes too. So keep a tab on the bristles and change the brush head frequently.

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