Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?

If you want bright white teeth, healthy gums and minty-fresh breath, brushing your teeth is a twice-daily necessity. But have you ever wondered if you could be doing it, well, better? In other words, is your cheap and cheerful manual toothbrush cutting the mustard, or would upgrading to an electric toothbrush (or a high-tech sonic version) save you unwanted dentist trips – and maybe even money – in the long run?

Like most things in life, both toothbrush options have their pros and cons. However, in our humble opinion (and the opinion of the dental industry), there is one clear winner. Read on to find out once and for all – is an electric toothbrush better than the manual version, or is it all just marketing spin?

Electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush

electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush

Cheap, portable and disposable, there’s no denying that a manual toothbrush is convenient. Small and lightweight, low-tech toothbrushes are super easy to travel with, and affordable to replace if you’re always leaving things behind at your Airbnb. But how good are they at cleaning your teeth, really?

While they vary in quality and features, a standard manual toothbrush can do a pretty good job of cleaning your teeth – provided you have the right technique. According to the Australian Dental Association, this involves brushing systematically for a minimum of two minutes, “starting at the back of your mouth with the toothbrush bristle at the gum line on a 45° angle, brushing gently in a circular motion.” Care should be taken to brush carefully along the inner, outer and chewing surfaces, before brushing the tongue to remove bad-breath-causing bacteria.

While that might sound simple enough, dental problems can arise when people cut corners or use the wrong technique. Shaggy-dog toothbrush? Overly aggressive brushing is another problem, with many people brushing to the point of gum recession.

The solution to these issues? The electric toothbrush.

Powered by electricity or batteries, an electric toothbrush is a lifesaver for slapdash brushers as it does most of the hard work for you. With vibrating or rotating bristles, an electric toothbrush cleans the teeth and removes plaque (a bacteria-based film that accumulates above and below the gum line), without putting excess manual pressure on your gums. What’s more, many also have an in-built timer, so you’ll know if you’re skimping on your brushing time.

But does the additional initial outlay for a more expensive electric toothbrush equal a healthier, happier mouth? Research suggests so.

One comprehensive 11-year study into the long-term impact of powered toothbrush use, published in 2019, found that those who opted for an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay and reduced tooth loss. All pretty compelling reasons to choose an electric toothbrush, don’t you agree?

While removing odour-causing food particles and preventing stains are part of your toothbrush’s job, its main, most important purpose is to remove plaque. And, as a rule, electric toothbrushes have been found to be more effective at doing so.

In a statement on the Oral Health Foundation website, Chief Executive Dr Nigel Carter OBE states, “Electric toothbrushes, especially those with heads that rotate in both directions, or 'oscillating' heads, are really effective at removing plaque. This helps keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.”

While electric toothbrushes are a great option for anyone, they can be particularly beneficial for those with gum recession, arthritis or wrist and hand issues.

What about a sonic toothbrush?

What’s even better than the best electric toothbrush? A high-powered sonic toothbrush. The latest advance in teeth cleaning, sonic toothbrushes work like their predecessors, which vibrate thousands of times per minute to send plaque, food particles and bacteria packing. However, they vibrate up to 10 times faster, at a rate of around 30,000 strokes per minute. 

What’s more, these high-frequency sonic vibrations have the added advantage of sending fluid into areas bristles can’t reach – between the teeth and under the gums. As a result, sonic toothbrushes deliver an ultra-deep, thorough clean that can’t be matched by a regular electric or manual toothbrush.

AW’s Sonic Electric Toothbrush

Vibrating at 24,000 brush strokes a minute, the Advanced Whitening Sonic Electric Toothbrush is a sonic toothbrush that’s super powerful, but not to the point of irritating sensitive teeth. Battery-operated, cordless and portable, it’s as travel-ready as a manual toothbrush – just make sure you don’t leave it at your Airbnb!

For everyday dental care choose the Normal mode, or switch to the more intensive Massage mode and watch those coffee stains fade away. With a built-in 2-minute timer and 30 second alerts that prompt you to move on to a new quadrant of your mouth, it’s the easy way to achieve a dental-chair clean from the comfort of your home.

Next-Level Dental Care