Should You Switch to an Electric Toothbrush?

This summer, I switched from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush. After 19 years of manual tooth-brushing labor, I went from my Oral-B soft bristle toothbrush to a light pink Philips Sonicare Protective Clean 4100 electric toothbrush.

This was no easy decision. I spent about a month researching the pros and cons of using an electric toothbrush, trying to decide if I should spend over a $100 on a toothbrush when I would typically spend about $10 for a value pack. After finishing my Invisalign treatment, I decided I wanted to try an electric toothbrush. It was time to up my dental hygiene and protect my newly straightened teeth. Eventually, I decided to bite the bullet and buy the toothbrush encased in a security tag — something I never expected to experience while purchasing a toothbrush.

Now, let’s talk dental hygiene. We all have to floss and brush consistently to avoid bacterial build up in our mouths. Not brushing, flossing and rinsing every day leads to tooth decay. So what’s the most effective way to brush away that bacteria? That’s where we get into the electric versus manual toothbrush debate.

An electric toothbrush has bristles that circulate or vibrate unlike manual toothbrushes. The American Dental Association has a list of electric toothbrushes that have its seal of approval.

Some of the pros of electric toothbrushes include:

  • They do most of the hard work involved with brushing. Electric toothbrushes circulate the bristles for you, so your only job is to glide the toothbrush against your teeth.

  • They can accurately time how long you brush each quadrant of your mouth.

  • They have sensitivity sensors to make sure you are not brushing too hard. According to WebMD, brushing too hard is one of the top mistakes people make.

  • The electric body of the toothbrush lasts for a long time, and you can get a protective/warranty plan.

Some of the cons of electric toothbrushes include: 

  • The hefty price point.

  • You have to make sure that your toothbrush is charged. Otherwise, it’s just like any other manual toothbrush for three times the price. 

  • Traveling with an electric toothbrush adds bulk because of the thickness of the brush and needing to bring the charger.

We’re all used to using manual toothbrushes. There are no bells and whistles — it’s just you and the bristles. An important aspect of using manual brushes is making sure you’re brushing thoroughly and effectively.

Some of the pros of a manual toothbrush include:

  • The price! Manual toothbrushes are significantly cheaper than electric toothbrushes.

  • They work just as well as electric toothbrushes if you’re brushing correctly (not brushing too hard, getting every part of your mouth and going at the correct angle).

  • You probably already own one and are used to it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Some cons of a manual toothbrush include:

  • It gets really easy to brush for too little time, meaning you don’t get as good as a cleaning. Electric toothbrushes time your brush for two minutes to make sure you get a thorough cleaning.

  • People who have trouble with mobility may have more trouble with the extra work that manual toothbrushes involve.

My consensus?

Although having an electric toothbrush is nice, it definitely is not a necessity. My switch from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush has made me more excited to brush my teeth (weird, I know). However, you can still get the same effects by employing the right brushing methods with a typical toothbrush. Personally, I enjoy my electric toothbrush, so if you have the means to get one, I think it’s worth the money. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and how confident you are in your own tooth-brushing abilities.

Regardless, the most important thing is having a consistent dental hygiene routine. Dentist visits and procedures can get costly, so keep up with preventative care. Make sure you are consistently and effectively brushing, flossing and rinsing at least twice a day — this is way more important than what type of toothbrush you use.