Are Electric Toothbrushes Actually More Effective?

by Dr. Yasaman Garakani on April 12, 2017

In today’s market, there are an increasing number of toothpastes, toothbrushes, flosses – all claiming different benefits. It can be overwhelming to choose the best option for your dental health. One of these choices falls on whether to spend a little more on an electric toothbrush or stick with a traditional, manual one. So, we break down the pros and cons of each one so you can make an informed decision.

The Traditional Toothbrush 

First, let’s be clear – the consistent, daily use of either a manual or electric toothbrush will indeed clean your teeth and gums, and improve oral health.

Moreover, there are a few benefits to using a manual toothbrush over an electric one:
  • More Control - You decide how fast to brush, how hard, and how long – meaning if you have sensitivities you can make brushing more comfortable.

  • Cheaper – A manual toothbrush is not only cheaper than an electric toothbrush, they do not use electricity either – just good old-fashioned elbow grease

  • More Compact – Manual toothbrushes are smaller, making them better for travelling.

However, there are some cons of using a manual toothbrush worth considering: 
  • Dexterity and Grip are Required – If you have problems gripping objects tightly, or reaching all the varied angles in your mouth, you may not be able to clean your teeth and gums effectively with a manual toothbrush.

  • No Timing – With a manual brush, you have to keep track of the amount of time you’re brushing by yourself (we recommend 2 minutes per session) - meaning you’re either counting in your head (which can distract you from the act of brushing effectively), or using a timing device to during your brushing.

The Electric Toothbrush

As for an electric toothbrush, there are a number of pros to consider:
  • Little Effort Involved – Other than holding the brush at a 45 degree angle and running it across your teeth and gums, brushing with an electric brush requires little dexterity or grip strength (the brush can provide 6,000 to 30,000 strokes a minute) – making it a great option for those with mobility restrictions.

  • Better Cleaning – Studies have shown that the same time spent brushing with electric brushes vs manual ones yield better plaque removal and gum cleaning.

  • Timed Brushing – Most electric toothbrushes have a built in timer that will stop rotating the brush two minutes after turning it on – meaning when it turns off, you know you’ve spent the right amount of time on your oral health.

  • More Fun – The spinning brush, electric buzz, and built in timer make an electric toothbrush a great option for children – it makes it more engaging for them over a standard brush and it’s easy to teach them to keep brushing until the brush stops. Moreover, the spinning brush ensures their teeth are receiving the vigorous cleaning their mouth requires.

However, just as with the manual brush, an electric brush has some cons as well:
  • Higher Cost – As discussed above, electric brushes are more expensive and need their heads frequently replaced for maximum effectiveness. 

  • Fragile – Although their intricate parts make electric brushes excellent at cleaning, they also make them rather fragile. A drop on the tiled bathroom floor can damage your brush – whereas you can throw a manual brush against the wall and still use it.

  • Bulky – An electric brush is also rather large when compared to a manual brush, making them less than ideal for travelling



As you can see, there are numerous reasons to choose an electric over a manual, and vice versa depending on your situation. However – for pure cleaning power, the electric brush is the better option. It is also the clear choice for children and those with mobility restrictions. But if you’re a consistent traveler diligent enough to clean your teeth properly, a manual toothbrush is the best choice for you.

If you have any questions regarding oral care, or would like to know which brush is best for you, be sure to ask you oral hygienist for their recommendation.


The Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. The Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award five years in a row (2013 – 2017) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!

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