Are Electric Toothbrushes Really Better than Regular Toothbrushes?

May 16, 2018

The short answer is yes.

This blog is the long answer.  Many people are hesitant to invest in an electric toothbrush.  For some, it seems too expensive.  For others, it is simply difficult to change a lifelong habit.  Almost every electric toothbrush user will tell you that once you switch, you will never want to go back to using a regular toothbrush!

What is an Electric Toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush is a toothbrush with electrically powered movement of the bristles.  Some move in a circular motion, and others use a back-and-forth or up-and-down motion.  They typically consist of three different parts: a replaceable brush head (available in different shapes for your preference), a base containing the battery and power control, and a charging station.  Most electric toothbrushes run on a rechargeable battery, and there are a few models containing AA or AAA batteries that you can replace.

How is an Electric Toothbrush Better than a Regular Toothbrush?

The purpose of a toothbrush is to remove plaque and food debris from the surfaces of teeth.  In theory, a manual toothbrush can remove plaque as well as an electric toothbrush when used perfectly.  The problem is that very few people brush perfectly.

Electric toothbrushes make up for the imperfect way people brush their teeth by doing the majority of the hard work.  The motion of the bristles created by an electric toothbrush will effectively remove plaque and food debris as soon as it makes contact.  With an electric toothbrush, all you have to do is touch it to the tooth, and it does all the work for you.

Research studies have proven over and over again that an electric toothbrush shows greater cleaning effectiveness than a manual toothbrush.  This means it is better at removing plaque.

Better plaque removal = cleaner teeth.

Cleaner teeth = healthier teeth.

Who Should Use an Electric Toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush is beneficial to everyone!  We all need clean teeth.  However, there are certain groups of people who are in greater need for help in removing plaque, and they will find even more benefits in using electric toothbrushes.  All of the categories shown below include people who struggle with the manual dexterity required for effective brushing.  When maneuvering a toothbrush is difficult, an electric toothbrush makes a significant difference in someone’s ability to clean his teeth.

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Special needs
  • Arthritis in the hands or other physical disabilities

How to Use an Electric Toothbrush

When used properly, an electric toothbrush will effectively remove plaque and food debris from the teeth.  There are a few guidelines to using an electric toothbrush in the correct way.

  1. Wet the toothbrush bristles, and apply a small amount of toothpaste.
  2. Insert the toothbrush into your mouth and lightly close your lips before turning the toothbrush on. Otherwise, you’ll make a big mess.
  3. Slowly move the toothbrush over the surface of each tooth in your mouth, ensuring that the bristles lightly touch the gums and that you reach all three accessible surfaces of each tooth (cheek-side, tongue-side, and biting surface). Your hands only need a gentle guiding motion on the toothbrush.  No scrubbing or rotating motions are necessary.
  4. Turn the electric toothbrush off before removing it from your mouth to avoid a messy spray of saliva, toothpaste and water.

As with a manual toothbrush, the electric toothbrush only cleans the surfaces that it touches.

How to Care For an Electric Toothbrush

The bristles on an electric toothbrush will wear out in the same way they do on a manual toothbrush.  Replace your electric toothbrush heads every 3 months.

As with anything exposed to moisture, the base and charging station can become moldy or mildew over time.  It is important to regularly clean the base and the charging station.  Use a cleaning solution that contains vinegar or bleach to clean them and dry completely before reassembling.

Which Electric Toothbrush is Best?

Some brands are better than others are.  It is important to remember that any electric toothbrush is better than all manual toothbrushes.  Each dental professional will have her own unique opinion on which brand is the best.  Ask Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or your dental hygienist about which brand they think would be best for you when you see them at your next professional cleaning.