Manual Vs electric toothbrushes- the experts weigh in

We all hope to set ourselves up for success when it comes to our oral health. We want that beautiful smile with sparkling white teeth, in addition to healthy gums and nice breath. But when looking at toothbrushes to buy in the supermarket, we are faced with so many different options, each of them with spectacular claims on their packaging. We’re left pondering- should we buy a manual toothbrush or should we take it up a notch with a  fancy electric toothbrush?

Electric toothbrush with spare heads

Let take a look at what the experts have to say:

A study published in the Clinical Journal of Periodontology found that electric toothbrush use not only led to less gum disease, but also a staggering 19.5% more tooth-retention than use of manual toothbrushes. A full set of sparkling white teeth is the foundation to a beautiful smile!

Do Electric toothbrushes really remove more plaque?

Electric toothbrush with different type heads

A review of studies undertaken to investigate which toothbrush is best, found that over a 3 month period using an electric toothbrush lead to 20% less plaque compared with manual toothbrushing. These figures really do start to convince us that electric toothbrushes are better for our oral health.

So why do some still buy manual toothbrushes? Well as anything health-related we have to look at individual circumstances and how a solution is implemented into an individual’s life.

Manual toothbrush pros and cons


  • Significantly cheaper than electric toothbrushes at around $5-$8
  • Easier to travel with (no charger to lug around)
  • Fun for kids with different colours that can be changed with every change of toothbrush
  • Takes up less coveted bathroom sink space


  • Relies on one’s technique at how effective plaque removal is
  • Often have a larger heads making hard-to-reach areas (like behind the lower from teeth or wisdom teeth) trickier to get into
  • No options for a built-in timer to let us know when we’ve reached our full 2 minutes of brushing
  • Difficult for elderly people or people with mobility issues to achieve the best clean

Electric toothbrush pros and cons


  • Smaller heads for harder to reach areas
  • Oscillating head takes out some of the hard work
  • Some electric toothbrushes have a handy 2 minute timer which can be a good motivator to keep brushing for the best amount of time
  • Fun for kids to use as the on-off switch, timer and vibration make it seem like a toy
  • Great for the elderly and people with neuro-muscular issues


  • More expensive than their manual counterparts starting at around $20 and can go upwards of $300
  • Need to be charged, the charger taking up some bathroom sink space and a power point
  • Harder to travel with on account of the charger

What should you be doing for your best oral health?

  • Morning and nightly toothbrushing with either a manual or electric toothbrush
  • Make sure you brush along the gum-line of every tooth, in front and behind
  • Don’t forget to scrub the biting surfaces, where plaque can hide in the grooves of your teeth
  • Move the toothbrush in little circles rather than back and forth, as this reduces the risk of enamel wear and gum recession
  • Daily flossing or using interdental brushes for the spaces in between our teeth
  • Routine dental checks and professional cleans
  • Using a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Avoiding high frequency acid or sugar consumption

Our takeaway

At your regular Active Maintenance appointments at Crows Nest Dentists, our dentists and dental hygienists can ensure your brushing technique is correct and that no areas are being missed. It’s never too late to learn a better, more refined technique or to give a new toothbrush a go. Just ask at your next appointment- we take online and phone bookings.

Family brushing their teeth
Manual VS Electric toothbrushes- the experts weigh in

Happy brushing!


1.Pitchika, V, Pink, C, Völzke, H, Welk, A, Kocher, T, Holtfreter, B. Long‐term impact of powered toothbrush on oral health: 11‐year cohort study. J Clin Periodontol. 2019; 46: 713– 722. 2.Forrest JL, Miller SA. Manual versus powered toothbrushes: a summary of the Cochrane Oral Health Group’s Systematic Review. Part II. J Dent Hyg. 2004 Spring;78(2):349-54. PMID: 15190692. Manual versus powered toothbrushes: a summary of the Cochrane Oral Health Group’s Systematic Review. Part II – PubMed (

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