Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes
So which is better for your dental hygiene -- in a study of the electric vs. manual toothbrush? Keep in mind that studies published in both the American Journal of Dentistry and the British
Dental Journal agree that electric or powered toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque and reducing gingivitis than manual ones.
Other studies have concluded that this is true, both in the short and long term. This is because powered toothbrushes not only move bristles at a much faster speed than you could achieve manually (humans usually do about 300 strokes per minute), they also remove plaque more evenly in hard-to-reach places, such as between teeth and on back molars. Currently, the American Dental Association(link is external) (ADA) recommends powered toothbrushes, particularly for people with manual dexterity problems or other physical limitations (such as arthritis) that might make it difficult to use manual toothbrushes. They may also help in the battle to get your children to brush, since some of them are kid-friendly: the toothbrush handle may come in the shape of a racing car or a mermaid or a cell phone, and its color may resemble army camouflage.
In the studies of electric vs. manual toothbrushes, powered toothbrushes generally fall into one of two categories: electric and sonic. Sonic toothbrushes produce about 30 to 40 thousand strokes per minute, while electric brushes make about 3,000 to 7,500 brushing motions per minute. None of this means, however, that the manual toothbrush is obsolete — rather, it means that most people in studies do a better job of cleaning of their teeth with an electric toothbrush. No matter which kind of toothbrush you use, it is recommended that you follow proper brushing technique. The ADA suggests that you:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
- Brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Use short, gentle back and forth strokes
- Brush all surfaces of each tooth (including the inside surfaces near the tongue)
- Brush your tongue
As you know, electric toothbrushes can be pricey, so you might want to check with your SEDA dental professional first if you are thinking of buying one. If your professional thinks you're doing a great job with the classic model, consider skipping the latest techno-brush (with built-in pressure sensor and timer), and investing some of the money you save on floss.