Is there a difference between manual and electric toothbrushes?

I am often asked if there is a difference between electric and manual toothbrushes. The answer is: yes, but only sometimes.

This probably isn’t a great help to everyone, but let me explain. You can do a good job (i.e. remove all the plaque) with either a manual brush or an electric brush. Its all about your technique. However, it is EASIER to do a good job with an electric toothbrush. This is why we give our patients an electric toothbrush when they start full treatment with braces!

I work in a general dental practice too – I see many patients who are doing a fine job with their manual brush. In these situations I never recommend an electric toothbrush – there just isn’t the point.

These are the situations where electric toothbrushes can help:

  • Kids who need extra motivation
  • For someone, despite all the effort, cannot adequately remove all the plaque
  • For anyone without the motor skills or dexterity to hold a manual brush
  • When its difficult to clean – such as having braces

How do you brush with an electric toothbrush?

We recommend using an electric toothbrush with an oscillating head. The brush head rotates and does the ‘brushing’ for you. Therefore, all you need to do is hold the brush on the tooth, making sure it is held in a way which cleans the gum line. Do individual tooth one at a time until all teeth are brushed.