Should I Use an Electric Toothbrush?

avatarby Dr. Kim OkamuraLast updated Sep 25, 2017Category: Blog

Close-up Of A Woman In Bathrobe Brushing Teeth

Your toothbrush is on its last legs – the bristles are splayed side to side, and the blue indicator stripe has all but disappeared. So do you just grab another regular toothbrush from the drugstore, or is it time for something more advanced?

If you’ve never used an electric toothbrush, you probably have some questions about whether it’s something you should try out. And before you randomly grab a brush, it’s worth exploring the answers. Check in with Dr. Okamura at your next exam for personalized recommendations – and start doing some research at home with the help of our post below.

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes: Pros and Cons

We’ll spoil the answer right now: the choice of manual vs. electric toothbrush really depends on the individual patient. There have not been conclusive studies that indicate that electric toothbrushes necessarily¬†work better than manual toothbrushes. But what they do accomplish is make it easier for subpar oral hygiene to remove more plaque – more on that below.

Overall, the main pros and cons of electric toothbrushes include:

Pros:

  • Easy to use – Patients with arthritis or other mobility issues find electric toothbrushes much easier to use properly. The moving bristles help remove plaque when the patient isn’t able to brush manually in a thorough fashion.
  • Effectiveness – Like we mentioned, a manual toothbrush can be just as effective as an electric toothbrush. But a powered brush takes away room for human error, which looms large with oral hygiene. If you’re not typically brushing every surface of your teeth for long enough, an electric brush will do better to remove plaque and help prevent cavities and periodontal disease. An Oral-B study found that using a powered brush improved oral health for more than 80% of the 16,000 patients, which is definitely telling.

Cons:

  • Cost – Electric brushes cost significantly more than manual toothbrushes. They also need to be charged regularly
  • Difficulty traveling – Electric toothbrushes are trickier to travel with than manual brushes for a few reasons, including their size and the need to charge them (which can be even more difficult if you’re traveling internationally and dealing with a different outlet than those in the U.S.).
  • Difficulty replacing heads – You still need to replace your electric toothbrush heads regularly – and making sure that you have the appropriate new heads on hand requires a bit more planning than just grabbing a new brush off the drugstore shelf.

So Which Option is Best for Me?

It comes down to your personal oral hygiene. Brushing results depend on how the brush is used. If you do just fine with a manual toothbrush, and do not typically have cavities and do not have a history of gum disease, there’s no reason to change your oral hygiene routine.

But if you tend to struggle with thorough brushing, an electric toothbrush could be a huge help.

There are certain groups that experience more pronounced benefits from electric brushes. Those with arthritis or other mobility-related conditions appreciate the reduced amount of physical motion necessary to achieve excellent brushing.

Many children also prefer electric toothbrushes because they’re more fun to use. If your child tends to balk at brushing, finding an electric brush that features a character or colors they love and gets their teeth clean with less work could be a great step.

 

How Do I Choose the Right Electric Toothbrush?

There aren’t any definitive studies that show that one brand or kind of toothbrush is universally “better” than others. It really comes down to your personal preferences. Consider which powered toothbrush meets your expectations in terms of cost and convenience and comfort. Some features to consider include:

  • Appearance – Looks matter! Your electric toothbrush is going to be on display in your bathroom and you want it to be at the very least innocuous.
  • Grip – The brush should be comfortable to hold and to use. If it’s awkward, that’s going to discount the other benefits you should be getting from going electric.
  • Power levels – Some brushes have a variety of power levels and speeds. Depending on your dental needs, your dentist might recommend one over another.
  • Charging time – Make sure the brush you choose will be fully charged when you need it to be.

There are other add-ons that some brushes boast, too – like a brushing timer, different heads, and a wide variety of designs. If you’re not sure where to start, talking to your dentist is definitely the best step.

Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush, you should be comfortable that you have all the tools you need to succeed in your oral hygiene at home. If you ever feel like you’re missing something, or are struggling to keep your teeth clean, our team is here to help – simply get in touch.

Seattle General Dentistry | General Dentist Seattle | Seattle General Dentist
Dr. Kim Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.
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