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Electric Toothbrush or Manual? 🧐

One of the most common questions we get asked is, "Should I use a manual toothbrush or an electric?"

Before we dive in, here's a fun fact: The last time we surveyed our team, most of us actually used manual toothbrushes. Second fun fact: Most of us owned both manual and electric at the time of question and some of us actually had multiple electric options.

Sooooo, at the risk of sounding very dental-office-like, our answer is: "It's not necessarily what you use but how you use it that matters."




Did we...did we just hear a collective groan from our readers? LOL, ok! We get it: not everyone is as obsessed about teeth as we are. So here are the pros and cons of each (in no particular order).

Electric Toothbrush - Pros

  • Some of them have oscillating heads that mimic our professional equipment.

  • Some come with timers, so you know how long you should brush in each dental quadrant.

  • Most are designed to be gentle enough for your dental restorations (like crowns, bridges, etc)

  • Some electric brushes tell you when you're brushing with too much pressure - so you know when to ease off.

  • Some are programmed to tell you when you should be replacing your brush head.

  • Can be easier to use than manual brushes - for example, in cases of arthritis. Or if you have braces on.

  • Some are sold with a charging cup - so it doubles as a rinse cup and the charger.

  • Some play a 2-minute song, which helps children enjoy brushing more and at the same time, it tells them when they're done brushing.

  • Some connect to apps on your phone, so you can track data, etc.

  • Most have different settings - e.g. ones for sensitive teeth, etc. So it's not hard to find something that you'll like.

  • Some of the bigger companies allow for a trial period. That is: buy it, try it out for X-number of days and if you don't like it, you can return it to the manufacturer and get your money back. Not having ever tried this, we have no idea how easily this is done, nor can we tell you which of these companies offer this in Canada. Rest assured, we did see at least one company offer this for Canadians).

Electric Toothbrush - Cons

  • Needs charging - which we might neglect, especially if we're charging all of our other smart devices!

  • The initial purchase of the electric toothbrush is more expensive than manual toothbrushes. Factor in how long it lasts over your lifetime, if you ever need to replace it (if it breaks down, for example) and also take into consideration the cost of replacement brush heads...and it still may be more expensive in the long run.

  • People tend to think they can skimp on time spent brushing when using electric - unfortunately, you would still need to brush for 2 minutes...and floss after.

  • Most often, they're bulkier than manual toothbrushes - so it might be more awkward to travel with.

  • Usually heavier in weight than manual toothbrushes. For most of us, it should be fine, but if there's any weakness in the hands, then electric brushes may not be an option.

  • May be less environmentally-friendly when compared to manual toothbrushes. Even though you're only replacing the brush head every 3 months (rather than an entire toothbrush every 3 months (as in the case of manual brushes)), at the end of its life, it'll be electronic waste - so the batteries would be considered hazardous materials and the entire unit will be more complicated to dispose of.

Manual Toothbrush - Pros

  • More affordable than electric toothbrushes.

  • With proper technique, it can be as effective as electric. (Book your Oral Hygiene Instruction appointment now!)

  • Easier to bring for travels - no need to worry about charging, missing brush heads/brush bases, etc

  • Doesn't require charging beforehand (so you can use it during power outages).

  • Greater selection of designs/models. Probably not the most important factor to take into consideration but if a cutesy, cartoony brush can get a kid interested in oral care and into daily dental routines, then part of the battle is over. At the same time, high-tech brushes may appeal to other kids instead - so you'd really have to gauge them (and yes, there are kid-friendly electric brushes as well!).

  • Easy and inexpensive to replace - you don't have to look for a specific brush head to fit your specific base, or if you're in another country, any replacement will do, etc

Manual Toothbrush - Cons

  • May require greater level of manual dexterity - for example, it might be more difficult to use in the case of people living with pain, arthritis, and/or disabilities, just to name a few.

  • They don't come with special features - and some of them really are useful. For example, one study found that people tend to brush with greater force when using manual toothbrushes - so it could be beneficial to have that feedback from an electric brush.

So, as they say...the best toothbrush for you may just be the one you use, LOL. And it is especially the case, when it's used properly. Don't be afraid to ask for an Oral Hygiene Instruction appointment - (416) 226-6688 - it can really help to improve home care and reduce the occurrence of decay.

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