The Great Debate: Manual or Electric Toothbrushes?

October 16, 2019

Manual and electric toothbrushesDentists and consumers alike have debated the question for years: Should I use a manual or an electric toothbrush? The simple answer is: It’s up to you! Although they have their differences, dentists have found that whichever toothbrush makes you want to brush your teeth is the one you should choose. Both take care of your oral health as long as you follow the American Dental Association’s advice of brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day.

Not sure which is best for you? Keep reading to see our top pros and cons of each so you can make the most informed choice.

Electric Toothbrush


Simple to Use: As with other modern cleaning machines like your handy washing machine and dishwasher, using an electric toothbrush is as easy as pressing a button. You can let the moving bristles do their job while holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Since the toothbrush is doing all the dirty work, you won’t have to worry about your arm getting tired. This can be especially helpful for children, elderly or disabled people.

Removes Plaque Better: Electric toothbrushes were found to remove 21% more plaque than manual bristles in this study. Those vibrating and oscillating bristles really do make a difference!

Works Well with Braces: If you have traditional braces, an electric toothbrush is a great fit. The vibrating bristles make it easier to get in between the wires to clean out any plaque that collects throughout the day.


Costly: Electric toothbrushes can cost between $20 and $200—much more than your average manual brush. That’s not even including the brush head replacements and batteries you will need to buy to maintain the device.

Breakable: Like many technological devices, electric toothbrushes don’t last forever. Fixing or replacing them costs much more than a manual toothbrush, and the timing of them breaking can be inconvenient.

Bulky: Travel junkies may want to stay away from electric toothbrushes on their journeys. With the bigger handle, extra batteries and charger, they’re far from travel friendly. They also take up more space at home which can be an issue for smaller bathrooms.

Manual Toothbrush


Manual toothbrushesInexpensive: Manual toothbrushes are easy on the wallet, some costing as little as $1. You also get a free one every time you visit the dentist!

Space Saver: Unlike their digital counterparts, manual brushes are great for travel and have no extras you need to account for. They’re great for on-the-go and will fit easily on your bathroom vanity.

Just as Effective: If you follow the recommendations of the American Dental Association of brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, a manual toothbrush is just as good at getting your teeth and gums clean.


More Work: Although your teeth can get just as clean with a manual brush, it takes considerably more effort. You will have to make sure you get into every nook and cranny and alternate your motions to achieve the same effect.

Overwhelming Options: Sometimes having too many options is a bad thing. This can be true for picking between all the manual brushes in the drugstore with their different bristle types and features. It can be harder to find one you like.

Timing Yourself: Electric toothbrushes often have a timer built-in to the device to let you know when you reach your 2 minutes of brushing time. Without a timer, you’ll have to make sure you watch the clock or use another timer to keep yourself on track.

Pick What Works for You!

Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits and downsides, you can answer the manual or electric question in a way that fits you and your lifestyle.