Electric vs. Regular: Which Toothbrush Is Better?

Many people are interested in and asking about electric toothbrushes. I do recommend them, but with the following observations...Read More

Updated on


Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B
electric vs. regular toothbrush which should I use
Electric toothbrushes remove more plaque given the same amount of time as a manual toothbrush – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to switch.

Given the same amount of time, the electric toothbrush will be more effective at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush. That doesn’t mean that a regular toothbrush can’t perform similarly and perform well. It can, but it will take more time and effort on your part.

Children especially benefit from the use of an electric toothbrush. I heartily recommend that your children learn how to use the Oral-B Braun electric toothbrush. Their use of an electric toothbrush almost makes up for their lack of skill and motivation. It’s also easier to brush your child’s teeth using an electric toothbrush.

For smokers and those wanting to remove teeth staining, an electric toothbrush is very effective.

The downside to using an electric toothbrush is that you must replace the heads as often as you do a manual toothbrush, which will mean an increase in the cost of brushing your teeth. Replacing the heads every four to six weeks at a cost of ten to fifteen dollars each can become quite an investment for a family.

My greatest concern involving electric toothbrushes is the size of the toothbrush head. Spinning and vibrating these heads ultimately leads to bulk, and bulk will always lead to missed areas in the mouth. Remember, smaller is better when applied to any toothbrush, manual or electric.

The quality of the bristle (how polished it is at its end) is even more important when considering an electric toothbrush. Since the electric toothbrush will be spinning or vibrating those bristles faster than would be possible with a manual toothbrush, you better hope you are using the highest quality and softest bristle available.

My current standard is the Oral B P-30 (that’s a manual toothbrush). It’s old-fashioned and low tech. I like it for its size and for its low abrasion. I replace it every three weeks. I do use many other types of toothbrushes for testing purposes and I do occasionally use an electric toothbrush. My wife and children use the Oral B Braun electric toothbrush and it works very well for them (except I’m the one cleaning the splattered toothpaste on the mirror). I like the Sonic Care, but find that the head is too big to effectively clean all areas of the mouth. To palliate this flaw, one could use it in conjunction with a small manual toothbrush.

Learn More: Bleeding Gums: What It Means and When to See Your Dentist