Which are Better: Electric or Manual Toothbrushes?

The oral care section at a typical supermarket has dozens of toothbrush options. Do you go with a shiny, new electric toothbrush or opt for a tried-and-true manual toothbrush? Does one kind clean teeth better than the other? This article will give you a rundown of the key differences between electric and manual toothbrushes, so you can select which one best fits your needs.

A Brief History of Toothbrushes

Humans had methods to keep their teeth clean way before the industrialization of toothbrushes. Archaeologists have discovered teeth cleaning mechanisms dating back to 3000 BC. People often used chew sticks, a twig with frayed ends, to clean their smiles. In the late 15th century, China developed an early form of a toothbrush with bristles made from pig hairs and a bamboo handle. Europeans were inspired by the Chinese and started making toothbrushes with horse or pig hair bristles and cattle bone handles. Nylon bristles first hit the market in 1938 and are still the most popular bristle material today. The electric toothbrush was the next major development in oral care, first becoming available in the 1950s. Electric toothbrushes were originally invented for people with limited motor skills and orthodontic patients.

The Electric Toothbrush Difference

Over 11 years of research have concluded that individuals that use an electric toothbrush generally have healthier mouths. The Journal of Clinical Periodontology reported that electric toothbrushes had 22% less gum recession, 21% less plaque build-up, and 18% less tooth decay on average.

Many patients prefer electric toothbrushes because they do most of the work for you. The motors in electric toothbrushes can move up to 30,000 brushes per minute! This powerful scrubbing removes plaque and bacteria with minimal effort from the user. Electric toothbrushes also have a built-in timer to ensure users always brush for a full two minutes.

Electric toothbrushes are a life-changing tool for individuals with limited mobility. Patients with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and developmental disabilities were able to discover newfound independence with the introduction of the electric toothbrush.

Manual Toothbrushes 

Manual toothbrushes have been a reliable tooth-cleaning tool for decades. Many patients prefer manual toothbrushes because they are affordable and available at any grocery store. While their design is much simpler than electric toothbrushes, people can still maintain optimal oral health by using their manual toothbrushes correctly.

How to Get the Most Out of a Manual Toothbrush:

  • Set a timer to ensure you brush for 2 whole minutes
  • Use a manual toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line
  • Move the brush in small circular motions diligently over each tooth

The Bottom Line 

You can achieve a squeaky clean smile with electric and manual toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes make it easier for most patients to clean their smiles effectively. However, with the proper technique, a manual toothbrush can keep your smile cavity-free. If you’re still using a manual toothbrush and are looking for an easy way to level up your smile routine, try an electric toothbrush!

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