Manual Vs Electric Toothbrush: Which One Should You Choose?

We all know the importance of brushing your teeth for dental health. But where there is a difference in opinion is if an electric tooth provides superior brushing. The American Dental Association says either manual or powered toothbrushes can be effective at removing plaque — in fact, they offer a seal of acceptance for either toothbrush, so you know which ones pass their standards. If you are considering replacing your manual toothbrush with its electric counterpart, here's what you need to know.

Electric toothbrushes are the preferred option for many, especially for those who have issues with dexterity, like disabled people, the elderly or children. Electric toothbrushes can also be easier for those trying to brush around braces or dental appliances. They use head movements like oscillation, circular, ultrasonic, or side-to-side. 

Some studies have shown that electric toothbrushes are even better at getting rid of plaque, as well as causing a reduction in gingivitis (via Consumer Reports).  However, electric toothbrushes are definitely more expensive than the traditional manual toothbrush. They also can be too powerful for your teeth, affecting the dentin — so it is important to let the electric toothbrush do the work for you and not supplement with additional force. 

How to choose the best toothbrush for you

Manual toothbrushes are the tried and true method that has been used for what seems like an eternity. While maybe not appearing as fancy as electric toothbrushes, there are some different selections for manual toothbrushes. A review found that multi-level bristles or angled bristles are better at removing plaque than the conventional, flat-trimmed bristled toothbrushes, according to the American Dental Association.

There is also the amount of waste to be considered, as with a manual toothbrush you would be typically tossing an entire toothbrush vs just the electric replacement head. But there are more eco-friendly options for manual toothbrushes now, however, you will still want to ensure they are ADA-approved (via Consumer Reports).

So should you upgrade your toothbrush? It depends on your personal preference — there are perks to both electric and manual toothbrushes. No matter what you choose, be sure to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush — but not brushing aggressively. And don't forget to replace those toothbrushes every three to four months, as they can harbor bacteria.