Are Electric Toothbrushes Worth It?

An electric toothbrush and manual toothbrush

By asking this question, we assume you want to know the value of an electric toothbrush. Considering the difference in cost between electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes, this is a reasonable inquiry. We hope to convince you that electric toothbrushes are, indeed, worth the extra expense.

What Advantages do Electric Toothbrushes Have over Manual Toothbrushes?

There are only a few advantages of using an electric toothbrush, but they are heavily weighted when it comes to dental health and smile appearance.

Better Plaque Removal

The research behind this is interesting. You can actually find some studies that show equal effectiveness in plaque removal with both electric and manual toothbrushes. Other studies, often funded by toothbrush manufacturers, show significant differences between the two as far as plaque removal. When we can find research to support both sides of an argument, then we fall back on personal experience.

As dental professionals, we see hundreds of people every six months, and we evaluate their ability to remove plaque. How well is each person cleaning his own teeth? One thing is clear: those who use electric toothbrushes show consistently better plaque removal than those who use manual toothbrushes. We also see a noteworthy difference when someone switches from a manual toothbrush to an electric one.

The reason for the discrepancy in real life versus what we see in research could be based on technique. Because an electric toothbrush performs the appropriate movement for you, all you have to do is make sure the bristles touch the teeth. Using a manual toothbrush properly requires much more effort.

Better Removal of Stains

Toothpaste spelling "white"
Without a doubt, electric toothbrushes can whiten your teeth better than manual toothbrushes.

The fast action movement of the bristles in an electric toothbrush show greater ability to remove superficial stains from the surface of the teeth. When you combine an electric toothbrush with a whitening toothpaste, the results are noticeable. The bristle movement combined with the mild abrasive ness of the whitening toothpaste works to polish away stains that collect on the surface of enamel. This is wonderful for people who frequently drink coffee, tea, or red wine and notice a general dingy appearance to the teeth. It also helps with staining from tobacco use.

How Does this Validate the Extra Expense?

By removing dental plaque more effectively, using an electric toothbrush lowers your risk for dental diseases like cavities and gum disease. A lower risk means a reduced need for expensive dental treatment. For example, the average electric toothbrush costs between $50-100. If you get one cavity and require a dental filling, the cost is approximately $200. Imagine the value in terms of the dental treatment you are not paying for.

Patients who use electric toothbrushes also spend less on whitening their teeth. Electric toothbrushes help you maintain a whiter smile for longer than a manual toothbrush does. This means you are buying fewer refills of whitening gel or purchasing less over-the-counter whitening products.

Who Will Benefit Most from an Electric Toothbrushes?

While the advantages apply to all people, there are some who struggle with plaque removal using a manual toothbrush alone. In these cases, an electric toothbrush is a necessity for great oral health. These generally apply to those with physical limitations.

  • Arthritis in the hands
  • Physical disability affecting ability to perform fine motor skills
  • Elderly
  • Young children
Young man using electric toothbrush
Everyone who has an interest in improved dental hygiene can benefit from getting an electric toothbrush.

Aside from these groups, anyone who finds professional teeth cleanings painful or very uncomfortable should consider using an electric toothbrush. Because they remove plaque better than a manual toothbrush, they typically lead to reduced tartar (or calculus) buildup. This translates into less “scraping” during your dental cleaning. Because there is less plaque and tartar, there will also be less inflammation in your gums, so the cleaning itself causes less tenderness in the gums. Our dental hygienists frequently not a drastic change in the length of time for a cleaning and the patient’s level of comfort once they switch from a manual to an electric toothbrush.

What Kind of Electric Toothbrush Should You Buy?

Your dentist or hygienist may have specific recommendations for you based on your particular needs. In general, any electric toothbrush is better than any manual toothbrush. Some have really fancy features that make them more user-friendly. You can’t go wrong with a Phillips Sonicare or an Oral B Sonic Complete. Both show similar effectiveness at plaque removal. There are many other brands on the market today, and most show good plaque removal ability.

The important thing about using an electric toothbrush is making sure it touches all of the exposed surfaces of your teeth. Electric toothbrushes are great at removing plaque, but they only work when they come into physical contact with the tooth. If you “miss a spot” with your brushing, the electric toothbrush won’t be as effective.

More Questions about Electric Toothbrushes?

Call today to schedule a visit with our dentists or dental hygienists. They can answer any question you have about electric toothbrushes and help you select the one that is best for you.