Which is Better: Electric Toothbrushes or Manual Brushes?

Toothbrushes have been in use in some form for more than 5,000 years. They have been crafted with bone, wood, and ivory. The bristles of the toothbrush have been made with the stiff bristles of hogs or other animals. Hog bristles were once a prized possession! They were so expensive that entire families would share a single toothbrush. Because of the price of animal bristle, toothbrushes were long considered luxury items. However, changes in the materials from which toothbrushes are made, made them more readily available to the public.

By the twentieth century celluloid handles replaced bone, and bristles were made of synthetic fibers, usually nylon, instead of animal bristle. However, this still wasn’t enough to get people to brush their teeth daily. Up until World War II, most Americans didn’t brush their teeth, but returning soldiers, who were required to brush their teeth daily, brought the habit home with them from the war.

Today we know how important regular daily oral hygiene practices are, and we have many choices when it comes to toothbrushes. They are inexpensive, hygienic, and easily replaced, and we definitely don’t share toothbrushes anymore. Though manual brushes remain popular, in large part because of their price, more and more people are switching to electrical brushes.

But many of us don’t know if one is better than the other. The truth is that both manual and electric toothbrushes are equally effective. What’s important is how you brush your teeth. Each type of brush has advantages.

Manual Toothbrushes:

• Cost: Manual toothbrushes are inexpensive and easily accessible and therefore easily replaceable. They can be found at most stores, and dentists often give them away to patients for free.

• Portability: A manual toothbrush is slim and compact. It fits into any bag—and there will never be any problems getting a manual toothbrush past airport security!

• Pressure on teeth and gums: Using a manual toothbrush allows users to feel how much pressure they’re using when they brush their teeth, something that may not be as noticeable with an electric toothbrush. If you put too much pressure on your teeth when you brush, you can wear away tooth enamel.

• Great for kids: Once children have learned how to brush, manual toothbrushes are safe, effective, and easy for children to use

Everything you need to know about toothpaste.

Electric Toothbrushes:

• Ergonomics: The American Dental Association recommends electric toothbrushes for people who have limited mobility with their shoulders, arms, or hands. Electric toothbrushes are often easier to grip. This is important for people who have arthritis or problems with manual dexterity.

• Built-in Timers: Many electric toothbrushes have timers to make sure that you brush for a full two minutes. People using manual toothbrushes often long enough.

• Brush Strokes: Electric toothbrushes rotate anywhere from 6,000 to 30,000 strokes a minutes. So they appear to provide more bang for your buck—a person certainly can’t brush 6,000 strokes a minute. However, some people don’t like the vibration, particularly those people with sensitive teeth and gums.

• Effectiveness: People using electric toothbrushes report that they have better oral health with cleaner teeth and fewer cavities. If you have good oral hygiene habits—you brush for two minutes twice daily and floss your teeth —a manual toothbrush will be just as effective as an electric one, and certainly more inexpensive. But an electric toothbrush might be a better choice for those of us who have problems gripping the toothbrush or brushing for the right amount of time.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter what type of brush you choose to use, HOW you brush your teeth is what matters most. Any specialty, pediatric or general dentist will vouch for that!

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
or on

If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.