Are Electric Toothbrushes Better Than Manual Brushing?

Dental professionals may not advise the same thing for a certain condition, but there’s one thing they all agree on: brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is the most significant step you can take for improving your oral health. This helps get rid of bacteria that cause plaque, which, when built up, causes tooth decay and gum disease. According to the American Dental Association, both manual and electric toothbrushes effectively remove oral plaque that causes tooth decay and disease.

Since electric toothbrushes were invented and sold in the market, the debate has raged over whether electric toothbrushes do a better job at cleaning teeth than manual brushes. It also made people think whether one type is safer than the other for the teeth and gums.

Manual toothbrushes are still the most commonly used type of toothbrush in the market. But power brushes have become more popular today as both age and income increase.

So, are battery-powered toothbrushes good? Are they really better than manual toothbrushes? Here are the pros and cons of both types of toothbrushes:

Electric toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes come in two major types: rechargeable and non-rechargeable. Technically, all of them are battery-powered because they use either a built-in, rechargeable battery or a disposable battery. Usually, electric toothbrushes powered with AA or AAA batteries are cheaper than those with built-in batteries.

An electric toothbrush takes a manual toothbrush and turns it up a notch. It increases the number of brush strokes you can make as compared with when you use a manual toothbrush.


More effective at removing plaque

A review of studies has shown that electric toothbrushes generally decrease more plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes. These studies have also demonstrated that oscillating or rotating toothbrushes seem to work better than vibrating toothbrushes.

Less work for people with limited mobility

For people with limited dexterity like the elderly, people with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or developmental disabilities, a toothbrush that makes a motion on its own is a big help in keeping oral health in check.

Improves focus while brushing

A study found that people where more focused on brushing their teeth when using an electric toothbrush. This improves the overall brushing experience, which helps improve how well you clean your teeth.

Comes with built-in timers

Dentists agree that one must brush for a minimum of two minutes, but many people fail to make it to the full 120 seconds. There are many electric toothbrushes with built-in two-minute timers to ensure that we brush to the full time necessary for the freshest clean. However, not all battery-powered brushes have this feature.

Fun for children

Most kids are not interested in brushing their teeth – and they love eating candy and sugary treats. If it’s hard for you to get your child brushing, you may try an electric toothbrush. It adds some fun to an otherwise boring activity, so you can help them set good oral habits. There are some battery-powered brushes specially designed for kids, with a fun design or can play a fun song as a timer. Some even have blinking lights.

Improves oral health for people with orthodontic work

For people with orthodontic appliances like braces, it can be hard to remove everything that gets in between the nook and crannies of the braces and in between teeth using a manual toothbrush. With an electric toothbrush, you can clean them better, thus improving your oral health.

Causes less waste

When it’s time for a new toothbrush, you only need to replace the head where the bristles are. This means you become less wasteful than throwing away a full toothbrush. However, there are single-use battery toothbrushes that have to be replaced entirely when it’s time to do so.



While electric toothbrushes may not be as expensive as it was when it first became popular, they may still be a larger investment than the old-fashioned, manual toothbrush. Prices range anywhere from $15 to $250 or even higher. Totally disposable battery-powered brushes cost $5 to $8 plus the cost of batteries. Meanwhile, you can buy a manual toothbrush for as low as a dollar to $3. A $10 manual toothbrush is already expensive.


If you just have switched to a rechargeable electric toothbrush and you’re a busy person, remembering to put your toothbrush on the charging port when needed may be a difficult habit to get into. And if you’re using a battery-operated toothbrush, you must always keep a replacement battery handy. Otherwise, you will have to use your electric toothbrush in an old-fashioned way.


Many electric toothbrushes are built pretty well, but when it’s dropped on a hard surface from a high altitude, it can be significantly damaged, deeming it useless. Needless to say, you have to be extra careful when handling an electric toothbrush compared to when you’re using a manual toothbrush.

Finding replacement brush heads may not be easy

As with manual toothbrushes, you need to replace the brush heads when the bristles are worn out. Finding the right and compatible replacement brush heads may not always be easy or convenient, since not all stores carry them. You may surely find one online, but it’s not a good option if you need a new head right away. You can stock up to have enough to last you for a whole year, but that adds up to the upfront cost.

Can be messy

The electric toothbrush’s vibrating or oscillating movement creates more saliva movement in the mouth, which can make brushing messy.

Manual toothbrush

Manual toothbrushes are very common and have been around for a long time. While they don’t have the bells and whistles found in electric brushes, they are still an effective tool for gum cleaning and oral health maintenance.



You can easily buy a manual toothbrush at any grocery store, dollar store, pharmacy, gas station, or convenience store. So when something comes up, and you can’t go home, you can always brush wherever you are because a manual toothbrush can be easily bought anywhere. And when you need to stay in a hotel, it comes available as a complimentary item for your stay.

Plenty of options

Manual toothbrushes come in a variety of forms with different types of bristles, sizes, materials, designs, and colors. You can easily choose what’s great for you.


A traditional toothbrush costs a fraction of the electric one, typically ranging from $1 to $10.

No batteries or charging

Besides having a toothpaste with you, there’s nothing else you need to check or remember when using manual toothbrushes.


Effective only when you use proper technique

With manual toothbrushes, brushing only becomes thorough and effective when you spend the right amount of time, and when you brush with the correct technique.

May lead you to brush too hard

A study has found that people are more likely to brush too hard when using a manual toothbrush, as compared to using electric. This may cause your teeth and gums to hurt.


An electric toothbrush beats manual toothbrushes in a lot of ways if you’re not counting the cost. It performs better and removes plaque faster and easier than a manual brush. However, if you’re brushing your teeth properly and you’re doing it at least two minutes at a time using your manual toothbrush, there’s no need to switch.