Manual or Electric Toothbrush?

Posted on January 9, 2012by Dr. James Khoe, D.D.S. , San Leandro Dentist

Dr. Khoe’s toothbrush recommendations: Disposable Manual vs. Electric
Dental health is positively correlated with our overall health. Research has shown that gum disease—a consequence of poor oral hygiene—is a major risk factor for heart disease and diabetes; and, the same bacterial flora in dental plaque is found in the blood stream. Needless to say, quality oral hygiene is critical. So then, what is the best toothbrush for maintaining good oral health?

Patients encounter a broad range and variety of toothbrushes in the market palace. Manual and electric toothbrush makers alike present compelling data in support of their product’s superiority. But jingles and flashy packaging aside, the difference from one toothbrush to the next is merely cosmetic. In other words, toothbrushes vary primarily in irrelevant features (e.g., color). When used properly and regularly, manual and electric toothbrushes are equally effective in removing plaque from teeth and gums.

Manual versus Electric:

The shape and size of manual toothbrushes should allow easy access to all teeth, especially the hard-to-reach back molars. The handle should be comfortable to hold and a sufficient length.

Soft, rounded-tip bristles are best. Medium to hard bristles can harm the gums, root surface, and enamel. Overly vigorous brushing can cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity.

Generally speaking, electric toothbrushes are more expensive than manual toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes require an initial cost at purchase followed by replacement costs for the removable toothbrush head.

Manual toothbrushes are easier to travel with than electric toothbrushes. However, people with reduced or impaired manual dexterity (e.g., resulting from arthritis) can benefit from electric toothbrushes.

With proper brushing technique, the manual toothbrush is just as effective as the electric toothbrush. Studies reveal no significant difference in the plaque-removal ability between these two toothbrush modes, with one exception: rotating-oscillating electric toothbrushes (the bristles rotate in one direction then reverse and rotate in the opposite direction) are more effective than other manual and electric toothbrushes with only one directional spin.

In short, the BEST toothbrush is the one you are most comfortable with. The goal of teeth-brushing is to remove harmful plaque build-up and maintain healthy gums. Properly used, both manual and electric toothbrushes can achieve this goal.