Dental News

Electric Vs. Manual: Toothbrushes, Not Typewriters

June 20, 2000

Original broadcast date: February 15, 2000

A lot of you probably use or have tried electric toothbrushes or even the new ultrasound gadgets, but have you ever wondered just how good they are compared to a regular toothbrush?

I used an electric toothbrush for awhile, but got bored with it. So, I’m back to brushing manually, which is just fine, according to a review published in the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter.

The main thing to remember is to brush for a full two minutes twice a day, and don’t forget to floss. If you follow this advice, you’ll do as good a job of removing plaque and harmful bacteria as with automated gadgets.

There are some people who can benefit from using an electric toothbrush and, according to the UC Wellness Letter, you might consider one if:

–You lack the manual dexterity or have any disability that limits your ability to brush.

–You have braces; an electric brush may reach crevices you can’t otherwise clean.

–You love gadgets and would really brush longer if you had a built-in timer featured on some models.

–You are trying to encourage a child to brush and the novelty of a power tool would help.

–You scrub too vigorously with a regular brush and need a tool that will help you limit the force you can apply.

–You have a periodontal disease and your dentist advises using a power tool.

There are some drawbacks to the power toothbrushes. They’re fairly expensive, the brushes and heads can be hard to keep clean, they’re noisy and some require a special type of toothpaste you might not like.

An independent testing organization looked at convenience and user satisfaction and found the majority of people prefer the old-fashioned manual toothbrush to the high-tech variety.

Since the automated toothbrushes and ultrasound aren’t superior to manual brushing in removing plaque, I have to agree with the study’s conclusion – a plain old toothbrush is still your best bet.

Source: UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2000