Are Electric Toothbrushes Better Than Manual Ones? A Dentist Weighs In

Spoiler alert: There's a clear answer.

Electric toothbrushes used to be a sort of anomaly back in the day, but now, it's strange to visit someone's house and find they're actually using a manual brush. Today electric toothbrushes are packed with features and capabilities that go beyond "vibrating" the bristles. You can find electric toothbrushes that are soft on gums, toothbrushes that have built-in LED whitening lights, and so much more. Expensive Electric Toothbrush

Are Electric Toothbrushes Better Than Manual Ones? A Dentist Weighs In

But do you really need an electric toothbrush with all the bells and whistles in order to have the healthiest mouth possible? Shape spoke with Dr. Lisa Creaven, dentist and co-founder of Made by Dentists to find out.

The key to great oral health is prevention, says Dr. Creaven. The most expensive part of dental care is treatment for an acquired disease and sticking to a regular brushing and flossing schedule and getting regular checkups at the dentist will greatly reduce your chances of something serious happening.

"Sonic toothbrushes or electric toothbrushes are proven to be a smarter way to brush your teeth, while causing less recession and trauma to the gums," says Dr. Creaven. "The better your oral care routine is, the less treatment you'll end up needing."

Dentists agree that overall, electric toothbrushes are superior to manual ones. "Because electric brushes have a rotation, they essentially force the toothpaste in more difficult-to-reach areas, which is where cavities start," says Dr. Creaven. "Using an electric toothbrush can be much smoother on gums, causing less erosion on your teeth. It also causes less trauma to your teeth or gums, by getting more action out of your toothpaste from between each tooth and round gum line."

The cost of electric toothbrushes greatly varies, depending on what features you're looking for. You can get a basic, rechargeable brush for around $30, while other sonic electric brushes use more brush strokes per second and have multiple cleaning features for around $100.

"I personally think when buying an electric toothbrush, it's an investment and you have to spend a certain amount," says Dr. Creaven. "It's something that should last you years. The toothbrushes that are $30 and electric, aren't comparable to a sonic toothbrush as far as quality," she says. In comparison, you can grab a manual brush for around $3 to $7.

Of course, it's important to consult your own personal dentist who's well acquainted with your health concerns before you choose an electric toothbrush. Your dentist can help provide more insight on which type of toothbrush to get, depending on your health needs.

One of the latest electric toothbrush innovations is the sonic toothbrush, which delivers powerful vibrations and brush strokes, with some models even reaching up to 48,000 brush stroke vibrations per minute. This is the type of toothbrush Dr. Creaven recommends most to her clients. "The great thing about electric toothbrushes is that it actually removes the human error aspect of brushing your teeth," she explains. "Because a lot of these toothbrushes have pressure sensors and timers, it removes the element of making a mistake. I rarely see someone make mistakes with a sonic toothbrush compared to a manual toothbrush." A mistake might qualify as brushing too roughly or not brushing for long enough.

The main difference between a rotary electric toothbrush and a sonic electric brush is the number of vibrations per second. "If you're worried about the sensitivity of your gums, we would generally recommend a sonic toothbrush," says Dr. Creaven. "I always suggest looking at the level of vibrations and size of the head when purchasing an electric toothbrush. A smaller head will work much harder on your teeth, if it's larger it's very, very difficult to get to your back teeth, which is the most important area to get to," she adds.

While electric toothbrushes may be more costly than manual brushes, you will save money over time by investing in a brush that you will only need to buy replacement heads for. Plus, you'll cut down on plastic waste by eliminating the use of a new hard plastic toothbrush every three months.

But perhaps the best reason to invest in an electric toothbrush is the health benefits. As Dr. Creaven pointed out, electric toothbrushes take out the human error that you might exhibit while brushing with a manual brush. You have a better chance of covering all corners of your mouth and gums with an electric toothbrush, which will greatly reduce the need for further (expensive!) dental attention later on.

No matter what type of toothbrush you choose, brushing and flossing twice per day will greatly reduce your risk for oral diseases and complicated dental issues such as root canals. Staying on top of brushing and flossing, regardless of the type of toothbrush you use, is the most important thing you can do for your oral health.

Are Electric Toothbrushes Better Than Manual Ones? A Dentist Weighs In

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