Are electric toothbrushes really better?

February 6, 2018

Are electric toothbrushes really better?

3 reasons to consider upgrading your toothbrush

Many of us have been using a regular manual toothbrush since as long as we can remember, and together with regular professional cleanings, we feel pretty good about how we’re doing (or honestly, maybe we don’t think much about our toothbrushes at all). Sure, you see the ads on TV telling you that an electric toothbrush is the better choice, but is it really? And if the answer is yes – why? Here are 3 reasons to rethink your toothbrush.

1. Your teeth will be cleaner – really

So first things first – if all other things are equal, does an electric toothbrush actually do a better job of cleaning your teeth vs a manual brush? The short answer is yes. The longer answer has to do with why, and there are several reasons.

Cleans areas that otherwise get missed
First, an electric toothbrush cleans hard-to-reach places that your manual toothbrush often misses. This is because the rotating head on an electric toothbrush creates equal pressure on all of the bristles, all of the time. An electric toothbrush also does a much better job in ensuring that the bristles of the toothbrush reach all surfaces of your teeth, and the speed of the rotation means that it covers this area quickly, before you move on. That means you tend to miss less plaque and tartar than when using a manual toothbrush. 

Hundreds vs thousands of strokes per minute
Speaking of speed, consider this: when you brush by hand, you make about 300 strokes per minute, but when you use an electric toothbrush, you are looking at thousands or even tens of thousands of strokes per minute, depending on the model. That’s a pretty substantial increase in efficiency.

2. It can help you with timing

Maybe you’re rushing off to work, or maybe you just really want to go to bed after a long day – either way, many of us don’t brush for the full recommended two minutes of time.

Many electric toothbrushes come with timers
Depending on the brand and how much you want to spend, an electric toothbrush can help you with this. Some have timers that will indicate when you’ve reached the two minute mark, and others go a step further with four 30-second timers that tell you when to switch to the next quadrant! These timers can really help to ensure that you’re covering your full mouth, and brushing for long enough. These timers can be especially helpful for children, and many brands make electric toothbrushes specifically designed for kids.

3. It does the work for you

Some of us have the opposite problem of being a little lazy with our brushing – some people actually get a little too intense about a good cleaning. Even with a normal pressure, our dominant hand can affect which side of the mouth gets more attention. Turns out, going electric can help with these problems too.

The right amount of pressure
An electric toothbrush literally does the work for you. So for those who tend to brush too aggressively and apply too much pressure – which can damage your teeth and cause your gums to recede – the electric toothbrush will eliminate this problem as long as you remember to let the toothbrush do the work and resist the temptation to apply extra pressure or add a lot of brushing motion. The rotating head has this covered, so you can just relax.

Equal pressure on both sides
Something else you’ve likely never considered is that, depending on which is your dominant hand, you’re probably brushing more thoroughly (or too aggressively) on one side of your mouth over the other. An electric toothbrush will keep things even, so that both sides are equally clean and one side isn’t getting worn down.

The final verdict

With all of the above taken into account, there’s a pretty good case to be made for swapping your manual toothbrush for an electric version. There are many brands available with various optional features and different price points, and your dentist will be happy to talk to you about the options and make recommendations. You’ll end up with cleaner, healthier teeth and gums that will cause you less issues in the future – a pretty solid reason to invest in going electric.

Read our Cavity Guide to learn more about why proper brushing is so important, and check out our information on Diet and Dental Health to learn about how what you eat can impact your teeth and your brushing habits.