Electric vs. Manual Toothbrush: How to Choose

If you ask most dentists their opinion on which kind of toothbrush you should be using, the most common answer is whichever toothbrush you’re more likely to use regularly. If you’re considering buying a loved one an electric toothbrush for Christmas, you may be wondering whether they’re really better than manual toothbrushes.

If you’re on the fence about purchasing an electric toothbrush, take a look at the advice below on electric vs. manual toothbrushes. While either type of brush will get the job done, there a few differences to consider.

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrush

Technically, electric toothbrushes win out. Cochrane did a review of literature which looked at 56 studies to compare toothbrushes. According to their study, after three months of use, powered toothbrushes resulted in a 21% reduction in plaque. For people with gingivitis, three months of electric toothbrush use resulted in a 11% reduction1.

With that said, using a manual toothbrush doesn’t mean your teeth are covered in plaque. Brushing twice daily and flossing once daily will still help maintain your pearly white teeth.

Proper Teeth-Brushing Time

We all know that we’re supposed to be brushing our teeth for two full minutes. For those of us that use manual toothbrushes, this is more of a guideline than a strict rule. You can make sure that you’re brushing for two full minutes by using an electric toothbrush that has a built-in timer, or by using a stopwatch while you use a normal brush. Electric toothbrushes will also often buzz at each 30 second mark which will help make sure you’re getting even coverage.

Price of Electric Toothbrush

With some of the most popular reviews and recommendations by other dentists, a Sonicare Electric toothbrush brand is our recommendation as a great starting place for switching to an electric toothbrush. It’s reasonably priced, and manufactured by a reputable brand. The price range of electric toothbrushes range from $10 for battery-powered toothbrushes up to $200 for a high-end power toothbrush.

Once you pay for an electric toothbrush, replacing the brush heads becomes about the same price as a normal toothbrush. Electric toothbrush heads are usually $4 to $6 dollars each, similar to some manual toothbrushes.

Physical Limitations and Electric Toothbrushes

If you have physical limitations like arthritis or mobility issues, an electric toothbrush is a smart way to clean your teeth. If your physical limitations limit you in any way while cleaning your teeth, talk to your dentist to get a few more helpful tips about what you can do to get around the problem.

Dental care gifts make great for presents—typically unexpected but exceedingly useful. Now that you know a little more about electric vs. manual toothbrushes, and with Christmas coming up, consider gifting a teeth whitening treatment or an electric toothbrush to brighten the smile of your loved ones.


1. Yaacob M, Worthington HV, Deacon SA, Deery C, Walmsley A, Robinson PG, Glenny A. Powered versus manual toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD002281. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002281.pub3

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