Electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush: Who wins the dental war?

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Does it make any difference?

Maintaining healthy oral care is a practice which has been followed from the ancient times and dates back to 3000 BC where Sumerians were known to follow this practice.

Other ancient writings which date back to the sixth century BC are the Sushruta Samhita, written in Sanskrit that has a description of oral care, oral diseases, purulent discharge of the teeth, as well as the loosening of the teeth.  The Chinese were known to use chew stick for brushing and massaging the gums.  The Hebrews had given high importance to oral hygiene and similarly, the Romans were following the practice of cleaning the teeth by using dentifrice.

One main function of the toothbrush is to get rid of the plaque and debris of food particles that may be collected between the teeth.  Generally, toothpaste is used along with the toothbrush to help in this process.  The addition of toothpaste not only removes the plaque and debris but also can vanquish bacteria that may be causing harm to the tooth.  The result is that you get strong and shiny teeth as well as relief from painful tooth decay or dental caries.

How to maintain oral hygiene?

Let us discuss some of the important points that help you maintain healthy oral hygiene.

Brush your teeth daily

Brushing the teeth every day and preferably twice a day is something that can be easily achieved.  This is in fact considered as the basic chores that a human has to follow every day for the entire life.  The biggest advantage of brushing your teeth is that you are guaranteed to have healthy oral hygiene unless affected by other external factors.


You might wonder what this is but believe me, this is one of the integral parts of oral hygiene.  Flossing does that extra job which toothbrush is not capable of doing.  Toothbrush no doubt cleans the surface of your teeth, but usually misses out the area between the teeth.  Debris and plaque that may get accumulated between the teeth can be removed with the help of flossing.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet is something which helps you maintain not only your body but also your oral hygiene.  Adding healthy foods to your diet provides you the essential nutrients that are required for having healthy teeth.  You can add lean meat such as fish and chicken to your diet which is comparatively healthier than red meat.  Similarly, add fruits and vegetables in the form of salads to fulfill your nutritional needs.

Avoid smoking

Smoking tobacco is something which you should consider restraining from at any point of your life.  No matter how well you would brush and floss your teeth, the complications associated with smoking tobacco is far higher.  Tobacco use can cause mouth cancer and the prognosis is extremely low, which means you have a very small chance of being treated.

Limit sugary beverages

Drinking sugary beverages such as sodas should be highly avoided since it can help the bacteria in the mouth to multiply at a faster rate leading to tooth decay.  Another problem with sodas is that they contain phosphorous.  Studies have claimed that consuming more amount of sodas can increase the phosphorus levels which in turn can reduce the calcium levels.  Reduction in calcium levels is not helpful for the tooth and hence limiting sodas would be a wise choice.

What are the different types of toothbrushes available?

Toothbrushes have come of ages.  Gone are the days when neem tree sticks were used by people in order to clean the teeth.  Then the manual toothbrush came into existence.  They were available in various sizes and shapes.  You had the choice of choosing between soft and hard bristles.  Few decades passed and the electric toothbrush was rolled out.

This seemed to be a technical revolution where the simplest of tasks such as brushing was made automatic.  Subsequent inventions were upgrading the electric toothbrush into sonic and ultrasonic toothbrushes and the present generation is using ionic toothbrushes.

What factors influence consumers to choose a toothbrush?

There are various factors that influence how you choose a toothbrush.  Many people depend on personal experiences to choose between different brushes.  On the other hand, there is a section of the crowd who would like to experiment with new products.  The likes and dislikes mainly depend on their behavior, culture, environment, social status, as well as psychological factors.  A consumer could bluntly neglect one the best toothbrushes just for the sake of a particular brand.

Yes, marketing plays an important role here.  You could sell one of the useless products for more amount whereas a good product would still remain unsold at the same time.  When the marketing strategies changed, they came up with new varieties in the form of flexible brushes, the way bristles were designed and so on.  After the invention of electric toothbrushes, it is now been marketed as user-friendly and more efficient but at the same time not highlighting the costs.

Electric toothbrush: An overview

It was the year 1927 when electric toothbrushes were invented.  The main purpose of inventing electric toothbrush was to remove plaque easily from the teeth with minimal effort.  By the 1960s, there was a substantial increase in the number of electric toothbrush users.  These electric toothbrushes have undergone various modifications over the years in order to make more user-friendly and reliable.

These brushes have become more compact and effective as compared to their earlier counterparts.  The different types of electric toothbrush include traditional brushes, rotating electric brushes, high frequency rotating and oscillating brushes, elliptical oscillating brushes, Rotadent brushes, Interplak brushes, and the counter-rotation assist brushes.

Advantages of an electric toothbrush

  • Due to its fully automatic feature, it motivates the user to be much more compliant.
  • It has the ability to reach the lingual surfaces of the tooth as well as the interproximal region.
  • You do not need to follow a particular technique to brush your teeth.
  • You exert less physical force as compared to manual brushes.
  • You can enable the timer which can limit your brushing duration and prevent enamel erosion.
  • Highly suitable for people with impaired dexterity.

Disadvantages of an electric toothbrush

  • These brushes are quite expensive. A traditional system would cost around $5 to $8 whereas replacement brushes can range $15 to $250 apiece and the replacements are not cheap either.
  • The amount of plaque removed is not substantially higher than the normal manual brushes.
  • You may need some time to get adjusted to the vibration caused by these brushes.
  • These brushes are definitely not eco-friendly since they use dry cell batteries and electricity.

Manual toothbrush an overview

Manual toothbrushes have been around for quite some time and there is no doubt that they are here to stay.  They have numerous designs and they come in various shapes and sizes.  They also have different verities of bristles.  You can get the regular flat bristles or choose the angled ones.  All these designs serve their purpose of removing plaques.  In fact, the American Dental Association has approved the majority of manual brushes.  Manual brushes are ideal for kids as it is important to start slowly unlike the electric brushes which come with vibrations.

Advantages of a manual toothbrush

  • Manual brushes are cost-effective and are easily available. It would cost you around $1 to $3 to buy a manual brush.
  • Manual brushes are as effective as electric brushes when it comes to plaque removal with the difference being only marginal.
  • Manual brushes are highly recommended for kids as they hardly require any supervision.

Disadvantages of a manual toothbrush

  • Manual brushes may be harsh on the gums if the bristles are hard.
  • You need to follow a particular technique so as to avoid damaging your teeth.
  • They do not have any timers and hence you may end up brushing longer than required resulting in damage to the enamel.

Tips to brush your teeth effectively

  • Choosing the right toothbrush is the most important aspect of brushing. If the brush size does not suit your mouth, you are bound to feel uncomfortable when brushing.  So it is important to make your choice right first.
  • It is highly recommended to brush at least twice a day for optimum results.
  • Always choose the soft bristles as hard bristles may harm your gums.
  • Choose a toothpaste containing fluoride which helps to make your teeth stronger.
  • Follow a particular technique of holding your brush at a 45 degrees angle and move in a circular motion.
  • Follow the same pattern and brush all the surfaces of your teeth. Remember not to overdo it by finishing your brushing within a couple of minutes.
  • Rinse your mouth and the toothbrush. Make a note to keep your brush in a secure place which is away from the toilet.
  • The next step would be flossing your teeth. This step helps you remove the remaining debris which may be stuck between the teeth.
  • You may also prefer to use mouth rinses but the brushing and flossing should never be compromised.

Bottom line

It should be noted that both manual and electric toothbrushes serve the same purpose and that is getting rid of the plaque and debris.  Electric brushes seem to perform marginally better compared to manual brushes when it comes to removing plaque, but this difference is marginal and definitely not substantial.  Now having said that the marginal difference in plaque removal comes at an exorbitant price.  The prices of electric brushes are quite high.

Even the disposable brushes are quite costly.  If you choose the reusable brushes, you again would need to spend on the replacement once in a couple of months.  On the other hand, manual brushes are cost-effective, easily available, and safer to use even for the kids.  If you see at the brighter side of electric brushes, they seem to be highly recommended for people with dexterity issues.

Since these brushes require minimal physical activity, they are highly recommended for people suffering from arthritis, etc.  Both the types of brushes have their own pros and cons.  It is you who should decide which suits you the best.

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