Manual Vs. Electric Toothbrush


It can often be confusing to know which toothbrush to use, especially when choosing between an electric or manual toothbrush. When used correctly, both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque from your teeth.

No matter which type of brush you use the bristles eventually become frayed and worn, so remember to replace the toothbrush or brush head every three months to keep your toothbrush in tip-top condition.

A recent Systematic Review concluded that an electric toothbrush is more effective in adults than a manual toothbrush with respect to plaque removal [1]. However, Manual Toothbrushes are still found to be effective in removing large amounts of plaque [2].

The motions of the electric toothbrush can assist with the cleaning, without out as much need for a precise brushing technique. Brushing technique is often the most important factor in many studies that have compared both toothbrush modalities. With an electric toothbrush, you need only point the head of the toothbrush towards the gum line and let the electric toothbrush do the work for you. 

A rechargeable electric toothbrush appeals to all ages. Kids are attracted to the bright colours, which can help motivate them to be interested in brushing. 

There are a range of toothbrushes now that can connect to an app on your phone that map where you have brushed within the oral cavity. This can be great for keeping track of your own brushing technique, or any children that might need a little more motivation.

Many electric toothbrushes also have an inbuilt pressure sensors that alert you if you are pressing too hard on your gums. This can be a great feature, as brushing too hard can contribute to excessive enamel abrasion and gum recession.

Now, this does not mean the manual toothbrush is obsolete. Infact, we give all our patients a hygiene pack with a manual toothbrush at each check-up and clean appointment. A manual toothbrush with a good brushing technique (stay tuned for our future blog post on brushing techniques!) is VERY effective. Manual toothbrushes are great to travel with, cheap, and can give a feeling of control over your brushing. Most importantly, it is better to use a manual toothbrush, than no toothbrush at all!

Choosing a toothbrush with a small head will help you to get better access to your whole mouth. Soft bristles are also recommended, as these are kinder to your gums.
Finally, no matter what toothbrush you decide to use, it is important to choose a toothpaste that’s fluoridated. Fluoride helps to harden tooth enamel – reducing your risk of decay.

Pick a low-fluoride version for children under six years of age, using only a tiny smear (about the size of a grain of rice) when they’re under 3-years old.

Happy Brushing!!



[1] Elkerbout, T. , Slot, D. , Rosema, N. and Van der Weijden, G. (2019), How effective is a powered toothbrush as compared to a manual toothbrush? ‐A Systematic Review and meta‐analysis of single brushing exercises‐. Int J Dent Hygiene. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/idh.12401

[2] Kurtz, B, Reise, M, Klukowska, M, Grender, JM, Timm, H, Sigusch, BW. A randomized clinical trial comparing plaque removal efficacy of an oscillating–rotating power toothbrush to a manual toothbrush by multiple examiners. Int J Dent Hygiene 14, 2016; 278– 283 DOI: 10.1111/idh.12225