Manual versus Electric

Manual vs. Electric

Is Your Toothbrush Just a Matter of Preference?

Introduced as a household item in the United States during the 1950s, the electric toothbrush has undergone many improvements since its invention. Of course, you can buy a decent manual toothbrush for about a dollar, so is the additional cost of an electric toothbrush really worth it?

The Cochrane Oral Health Group conducted a large review of electric toothbrush studies in 2005. Researchers examined results from 29 different experiments, involving over 2500 patients. These were the primary findings:

  • Electric toothbrushes do remove more plaque (up to seventeen percent) and generally lead to healthier gums.
  • Models with a rotation oscillation action gave the best improvements over manual toothbrushes.

What is “rotation oscillation”? That’s when the toothbrush bristles actually move in circles, instead of just up and down. Many oscillating electric toothbrushes also add other action, and some even include irrigating functions, like a water flosser.

Of course, 2005 is over a decade ago. Since that time, other studies have also been completed. While it should be kept in mind that electric toothbrush manufacturers sponsor many of these experiments, the earlier findings continue to be supported by most new studies. Plaque growth is reduced and the signs of gum disease are lessened when patients use electric toothbrushes, instead of manual toothbrushes.

Another significant advantage with many electric toothbrushes is that they come with a two-minute timer. Two minutes is the minimum amount of time recommended for each toothbrushing session. Many patients do not even come close to this threshold when they use a manual toothbrush, so simply providing a timer improves the oral care of many clients using electric toothbrushes.

Understandably, if you have a small bathroom, an electric toothbrush set may not fit on the washbasin or anywhere else. There are a number of different designs, from simple handheld brushes to units that attach to the wall. If you want to use an electric toothbrush, the vast marketplace for this item may provide the model you need to make it work with a small space.

To summarize, the best electric toothbrush uses a rotating oscillating action. With that, you want a toothbrush with a two-minute timer built in. And while your hand cannot duplicate the numerous motions of an electric toothbrush over two minutes, you can brush your teeth with an oscillating action, and set a two-minute alarm, if you brush your teeth with a manual toothbrush.

For more information about electric toothbrushes and recommendations, talk to the dentists and hygienists at the Marconi Dental Group or visit the related pages of our blog. And remember that the most important thing, no matter what your instrument of choice, is to brush your teeth twice daily at a minimum!

Video Overview: Manual versus Electric Toothbrush

This video shows you the differences between a manual and an electric toothbrush for removing plaque and preventing tooth decay.

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