Can’t Decide Which Toothbrush to Use?

Walking down the convenient store isle attempting to find the right toothbrush for yourself can be a very daunting task if you are not familiar with all the choices out there! One of the most frequent questions asked to any dentist is whether to use a manual or an electric toothbrush. The American Dental Association concluded that a manual toothbrush can be just as effective as an electric toothbrush depending on the individual’s oral cleaning habits. The key to proper oral health and decay prevention is in the patients brushing technique and brushing frequency. When choosing the right toothbrush it is important for you to look at the pros and cons of each, and pick the right device that fits with your brushing patterns and overall lifestyle.

Electric Toothbrushes

What is an electric toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush or a powered toothbrush is one that is rechargeable from some sort of base wall unit or that is battery operated. It requires you to change the brush head (instead of the entire brush) every three to six months and the heads come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The brush head will rotate, oscillate or vibrate depending on the type of toothbrush you prefer.


  • The powered devices can help someone who has motor disabilities or arthritis (easier on the joints by not moving the brush as much).
  • Have varying features, including modes for whitening, sensitive teeth and massaging your gums. Some also include alerts that you need to replace your brush head or that your time is finished for the cleaning session.
  • Opposite direction rotation gets rid of plaque easier and more efficiently.
  • The smaller head makes it easier for the electric toothbrush to reach into smaller areas (areas around braces and also your back molars).
  • Since you don’t have to brush as hard with an electric toothbrush, you are also less likely to injure your gums or cheeks.


  • Cost - toothbrush starter kits are generally $50 to $75.
  • Hard to find the right brush if you have sensitive teeth. With the rotation or oscillation of the head, it sometimes can be too irritating for sensitive teeth.
  • Less suitable for travel. The bulky charger can sometimes be too large to fit into a regular sized pocket.


Manual Toothbrush

What is a manual toothbrush?

A manual toothbrush is one that requires no battery or electric power, and it moved across the surfaces of your teeth by using your arms and hands.


  • Inexpensive, good brushes start between $4 to $5 and we give them away for free!
  • Accessible, you can find them easily at any grocery or convenient store.
  • Manual toothbrushes are easier to travel with.
  • They put less pressure on your teeth and gums (hello sensitive teeth!).
  • Easy to use for kids, if showed the proper techniques to use.


  • In order to achieve the same clean as an electric toothbrush you have to be more careful about the way you brush.
  • Fewer attachments to reach certain areas of your mouth.
  • No alerts to tell you that you have been brushing for enough time.
  • Awkward areas are harder to reach because manual brushes tend to have a bigger brush head and harder to maneuver around tight areas.


The Doc’s Conclusion

When it comes to deciding which toothbrush is best for you, it is really a matter of patient preference, oral hygiene habits, and what will be the most convenient to use. To get the maximum use out of your toothbrush and to keep up to date with your oral hygiene, make sure to practice the brushing techniques listed below and also follow up with routine cleanings and exams.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, after meals if you can!
  • Make sure you are brushing for a full 2 minutes (just sing your favorite song in your head when you brush!).
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • When brushing against your gums keep the brush at a 45 degree angle and use soft motions.
  • Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
  • Make sure to clean your toothbrush after each use and replace every 3-4 months.