Manual Toothbrushes Vs. Electric Toothbrushes

A zoomed-in image of a woman that has a red manual toothbrush in one hand and a blue electric toothbrush in the other hand. The look on her face suggests she is trying to decide between the two toothbrushes.

You see some people with electric toothbrushes, while others have regular brushes. What’s the difference? Is electric better than a manual? Many studies compare these two tools for cleaning your teeth, and there are many pros to both methods. Use this information to decide between using a manual toothbrush or if electric toothbrushes are right for you!


Brushing Your Teeth

How often do you brush your teeth? Studies show that people aren’t brushing their teeth enough or at all during the day. Your toothbrush is something that should be used several times a day. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day. A survey conducted by Yahoo found that only 44% of men and 37% of women brush their teeth twice a day. However, many do actually brush at least once a day. Separate studies found that only about 1 in 3 millennials are brushing their teeth once a day, which isn’t even the recommended twice-a-day benchmark.


If you skip brushing your teeth, you put yourself at risk for oral health diseases. These types of diseases—specifically gum disease and tooth decay—are the “chronic, prevalent disease[s]” that Americans face. The culprit? Poor eating habits and not enough brushing and flossing. When you eat, sugars in your foods and drinks will mix with mouth bacteria when you chew. Instead of being swallowed, sugar and bacteria will mix to create a sticky film called plaque.


That plaque will stick to your teeth instead of going down your throat. Once those substances mix, it creates plaque that is acidic. That acidic plaque will then start to break up minerals in your teeth, causing decay and gums that bleed, become red and swollen and that recede. The key to avoiding these issues that lead to tooth loss is to brush your teeth several times a day. That starts with choosing the right toothbrush.


A black background that has various types of toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes all in a row.

Manual Toothbrushes: What to Know

Did you know that the toothbrushes we use today weren’t invented until 1938? That is when nylon bristles were first made by a company called Dupont de Nemours. Before that time, various materials—including real hair—were used as bristles for brushing the teeth. Now, the bristles are still made from nylon material in many manual toothbrushes, even though there are newer designs made for toothbrushes every day.


To put it simply, you should choose a toothbrush from a trusted brand (like Colgate, OralB, GUM, REACH, DenTek, Crest, Phillips, etc.). Choose one that fits the size of your mouth, as they come in sizes for infants, toddlers, children, and adults. Manual brushes will also come with bristles made to be “soft” or “hard”. Most people will want to choose the “soft” kinds of toothbrushes so the bristles don’t take off any tooth enamel. There are even small rubber brushes that fit over a parent’s finger for gently brushing infant gums and teeth. Manual toothbrushes will get your teeth clean if you follow good oral hygiene methods (found below).


Are Electric Toothbrushes Better?

Electric toothbrushes are becoming more and more popular. Why? Studies show that electric toothbrushes can get your teeth cleaner than manual ones in some cases. A study conducted by the organization Cochrane took 56 separate studies between manual and electric toothbrushes. They found that electric toothbrushes were more effective at helping avoid oral health diseases. They reduced tooth decay 21% more and gum disease 11% more than manual toothbrushes.


Many professionals state, however, that manual toothbrushes are just as good as electric toothbrushes if you use both brushes correctly. That means if you are cleaning your teeth thoroughly, both can do just as well at brushing your teeth. Electric toothbrushes, however, have the added advantage of using electricity to super-power the brush head. This can help some patients get a better clean if they don’t brush a full 2 minutes. Electric toothbrushes have heads that vibrate (to lift plaque better), rotate (instead of you doing it) and that oscillate (moving back and forth). You can get more done with electric toothbrushes in a short amount of time. However, if you are great with oral hygiene habits, either type of toothbrush will be equally beneficial.


A woman that is laughing while she looks in a bathroom mirror. She has an electric toothbrush in her hand.

Correct Tooth Brushing Techniques

Did you know that there are recommendations set for how you should brush your teeth? You don’t want to simply run your toothbrush under water and then brush for 10 seconds (and yes, some people do that and call it good for the day). There are techniques that have been studied to see what works well for avoiding oral health diseases. Here are some of the recommendations we can give you for brushing your teeth:

  • Always use toothpaste when brushing. You want to choose a trusted brand (so no dollar store brands) that is enhanced with fluoride to help make your teeth stronger. Look for the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance of your toothpaste so that you know you are getting a product that has been tested for effectiveness and safety.
  • Wet your toothbrush before or after applying toothpaste.
  • Make sure that you brush your teeth in various directions, going in circles as well as back-and-forth, making sure you cover all tooth surfaces.
  • Brush for at least 2 minutes, twice a day. You can brush after every meal if you want to reduce your risk for oral health diseases even more.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth for 20-30 minutes after drinking or eating products with citric acid (fruits, juice, lemonade) or carbonic acid (anything carbonated). The acids in those products can take off some of your tooth enamel if you brush too soon.


These are a few tips to get you started on your brushing. Incorporating them into your day, every day, can make your oral health much better over time. Don’t forget to also come in for professional dental cleanings and exams. Here, we can help you with even more tips for brushing and for knowing what products are the best. Call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies at (970) 223-8425!