Managing Wellness

Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual: Which is Right for You?

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Posted by July 25, 2016

Did you know that the American Dental Association (ADA) maintains that both electric and manual toothbrushes can be equally effective when used properly? According to the American Journal of Dentistry, over the past few years more and more dentists are recommending electric toothbrushes to improve oral hygiene. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of an electric toothbrush vs. manual to determine whether an electric toothbrush might be right for you.

Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual: The Differences

There are a number of key differences between electric and manual toothbrushes. Considering the potential advantages of an electric toothbrush may help you choose the toothbrush that is best for your teeth and lifestyle.

Effectiveness. Studies show that electric toothbrushes can clean your teeth and reduce plaque and gingivitis more effectively than manual toothbrushes, reports the Cochrane Oral Health Group.

User-friendliness. Electric toothbrushes deliver more brush strokes per minute but require little movement of your arms or hands since the brushing motion is performed by the toothbrush. The ADA notes the larger electronic toothbrush handle also makes gripping easier than the thin plastic handle of a manual toothbrush. As a result, electric toothbrushes may be easier to use for children and those suffering from conditions such as arthritis or who have limited hand or arm mobility.

Pressure. Unlike manual toothbrushes, some electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors. These control the toothbrush speed and provide a safeguard against applying too much pressure while brushing, which can increase the risk of permanently damaging the protective layer on your teeth and harming your gums, notes the ADA.

Angle. Unlike manual toothbrushes that should be positioned at a 45-degree angle, the rule of thumb for an electric toothbrush is to position the bristle tips flat against the tooth and gum line so the motion of the brush motor can help the bristles get into the area where the tooth and gum line meet.

Power. An electric toothbrush is equipped with a recharging base that plugs into a wall outlet. Most can run for one to three weeks between charges.

Timer. Most electric toothbrushes come with a built-in timer to help you brush for the prescribed time — usually two minutes.

Cost. While the typical cost of a manual toothbrush is only a few dollars, an electric toothbrush can cost considerably more depending on the unit and brand. Most electric toothbrushes cost between $50 and $150, with additional brush heads — which should be replaced every three months — ranging from $5 to $10.

Choosing the Best Electric Toothbrush for You

With so many electric toothbrush options on the market today, deciding which one is right for you can be overwhelming. Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice:

Types. There are two main types of electric toothbrushes: oscillation/rotation and side-to-side sonic. A study in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that both types are effective but each works differently to successfully remove stains and plaque. The oscillation/rotation brush head spins a quarter-turn one direction, then a quarter-turn the other, while the side-to-side sonic brush head vibrates and moves side-to-side.

Features. Some electric toothbrushes are made with special built-in features like battery indicator lights, timers, pressure sensors and power modes for deep cleaning, whitening and sensitive teeth. Other options may include noise-reducing features and a storage case.

Brush heads. Many models of brush heads are available to address specific oral health needs. Options include heads for cleaning, whitening and polishing, as well as ones for sensitive teeth and even kid sizes, so you can choose the brush head that is right for you.

What You Should Know Before Switching to an Electric Toothbrush

While electric toothbrushes have been shown to have beneficial oral hygiene results, simply using an electric toothbrush doesn’t guarantee healthy teeth and gums. It’s still important to brush regularly and properly to maintain your oral health.

Before switching from a manual to an electric toothbrush, it’s important to understand how to use the new toothbrush. Since the shape of the toothbrush head can be different on an electric toothbrush, you should learn the correct brushing technique and the proper positioning of the toothbrush bristles inside your mouth.

Whether you choose a manual or an electric toothbrush, choose one that best fits you and your lifestyle.

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