How do electric toothbrushes stand up against good old-fashioned manual brushing? We went to the experts to find out.
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
“The idea of a toothbrush is to remove plaque and to stimulate the gums,” explains John Ictech-Cassis, DDS, DMD, clinical associate professor at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. “Most toothbrushes will keep the teeth clean if you know how to use them.”
Manual Toothbrushes: A Classic Route to Good Dental Care
“There are many advantages to the manual toothbrush,” says Dr. Ictech-Cassis. “We’ve been using this toothbrush for many years. It has a good track record.” Advantages include:
- Cost and availability. “It’s inexpensive and accessible,” says Ictech-Cassis. “This is the toothbrush that the majority of dentists give away.” Electric toothbrushes may simply be too expensive for many people, so it’s nice to know that you can do a great job brushing with a manual toothbrush.
- Easy to travel with. “It’s easy to take a manual toothbrush with you when you travel. It’s not bulky like an electric toothbrush,” says Ictech-Cassis. You’ll be less likely to let your good dental care habits lapse on vacation with a toothbrush that you can easily bring along, he adds.
- Puts less pressure on teeth and gums. “You can feel [how much pressure you’re using] as you grasp the toothbrush,” Ictech-Cassis notes. “This helps you to avoid putting too much pressure on your teeth. With an electrical model you can’t feel that as well.” Placing too much pressure on your teeth can wear away at the tooth enamel, causing pain, sensitivity, and an increased risk of tooth decay.
- Good for kids. Even young children can use manual brushes safely and effectively once they’ve learned how, Ictech-Cassis points out.
Electric Toothbrushes: Recommended in Some Cases
Nevertheless, Ictech-Cassis admits that there are some situations where an electric toothbrush has clear advantages.