Electric vs. Manual Toothbrush

Sep 25, 2022 | Blog Posts

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth is the foundation of good oral hygiene and dental disease prevention. According to the American Dental Association, electric and manual toothbrushes effectively remove oral plaque that causes decay and disease.[1] But between electric vs. manual toothbrush, which is better?

Electric and manual toothbrushes each have their benefits. Learn the pros and cons of each.

Electric Toothbrush Benefits

Electric toothbrushes vibrate or rotate to remove plaque buildup from your teeth and gums.

  • They’re more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. According to a study, plaque was reduced by 21% and gingivitis by 11%.[2]
  • They’re easier for some people to use. The toothbrush does a lot of the work, which is helpful for people with limited mobility caused by arthritis, developmental disabilities, carpal tunnel, or other conditions.
  • They may have a built-in timer to ensure you’re spending the right amount of time brushing.
  • They may cause less waste. When it’s time to get a new toothbrush, you only have to replace the electric toothbrush head instead of the entire manual toothbrush.
  • One study indicates that people are more focused when brushing using an electric toothbrush, which improves the overall brushing experience and could improve how well you clean your teeth.[3]
  • They may be more effective for people with orthodontic appliances. One study found that electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning appliances like braces.

Electric Toothbrush Downsides

Electric toothbrushes are an excellent toothbrush for your oral health, but they do come with a few cons:

  • They’re more expensive than manual toothbrushes. Depending on your brush, it may cost anywhere from $15 to $250 per brush. The replacement brush heads typically come in packs of multiples and cost anywhere from $10 to $45. Disposable electric toothbrushes cost $5 to $8, plus the cost of batteries.
  • Finding replacement brush heads isn’t always easy, either. There’s no standard brush head, so you must find the right one for your toothbrush brand and type. Online ordering is an option, but that’s not helpful if you need to get a new head immediately.
  • Plug-in versions are often preferred to battery-powered toothbrushes, but they’re not portable. You’ll need a backup toothbrush for travel in this case.

Manual Toothbrush Benefits

Manual toothbrushes have been the standard for a while. They may not be as techy as electric toothbrushes, but with the right techniques, they’re effective for cleaning your tooth and preventing gingivitis. Here are some benefits:

  • They’re accessible. You can find a manual toothbrush at a pharmacy, grocery store, department store, gas station – virtually anywhere. They don’t need to be plugged in or charged to function.
  • Manual toothbrushes are more cost-effective than electric toothbrushes. You can buy them for just a few dollars, allowing you to stock up on toothbrushes at a low cost.

Manual Toothbrush Downsides

Despite manual toothbrushes being the go-to for a long time, they do have some downsides:

  • One study found that people are more likely to brush too hard if they use a manual toothbrush vs. an electric toothbrush. This can harm the gums and teeth.
  • Manual toothbrushes don’t have a built-in timer, so you may not realize if you’re brushing too long or too quickly.

Electric Toothbrush vs. a Manual Toothbrush for Kids

The best toothbrush for a kid is the one they’ll use. Neither a manual nor an electric toothbrush is necessarily better, and they share the same pros and cons. A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head is ideal for kids, whether manual or electric.

If a toddler or child can use an electric toothbrush independently, it’s fine for them to do so. You should always supervise young children when brushing their teeth, however.

How Often to Replace Your Toothbrush

Whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, it’s important to replace it regularly. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months. If your toothbrush looks frayed or you were sick while using it, you should replace it sooner.

Manual toothbrushes need to be replaced in their entirety. Electric toothbrushes may have a removable head that you can replace, which is typically less expensive than the whole toothbrush. However, some electric toothbrushes are disposable and must be replaced more often.

If possible, stock up on replacement manual toothbrushes or replacement heads for your whole family. This will help in a bind if you need to replace your toothbrush or can’t find suitable replacements.

Schedule an Appointment with Albion Family Dental

When it comes to manual vs. electric toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes have a slight edge. But ultimately, the better choice is the one you’ll feel more comfortable using.

Brushing your teeth is only part of maintaining your oral health. You also need regular checkups and cleanings from a dentist like Albion Family Dental. Contact us today for a personal evaluation and recommendations from our general dentist! 585-589-9044



[1] https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/toothbrushes

[2] https://www.cochrane.org/CD002281/ORAL_poweredelectric-toothbrushes-compared-to-manual-toothbrushes-for-maintaining-oral-health

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26054186/