Looking at the Pros and Cons of Your Main Oral Hygiene Tool
by MARY TOOTHMAN
They started out as twigs with frayed ends — ancient civilizations rubbed chew sticks against their teeth to clean them as far back as 3000 BC.
But by 1938, the toothbrush as we know it was invented. And the handy dental tool has evolved dramatically since then.
They come as manual brushes or electric tools. Every color in the rainbow is available — even animal print brushes can be found. There are toothbrushes with animal-shaped handles. There are hard bristle brushes, soft bristle brushes, and brushes of various shapes and sizes that can accommodate a wide variety of preferences.
We all know it is important to brush regularly and thoroughly. Tooth brushing is the basic foundation of good oral and preventative care.
But with all the options available, which brushes are best to use to maintain good oral hygiene?
Electric and manual toothbrushes each have their own benefits.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), either manual or powered toothbrushes can be effective. But what are some of the pros and cons of each? Let’s take a look to distinguish the differences.
Electric Toothbrush Pros
Electric toothbrush bristles vibrate or rotate to help remove plaque buildup from your teeth and gums. The vibration allows for more micro-movements.Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes decrease more plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes. After three months of use, plaque was reduced by 21 percent, and gingivitis by 11 percent.
Other pros of electric toothbrushes include:
- Helpful for those with limited mobility.
- A timer is built-in to electric toothbrushes, which can help users brush long enough to sufficiently remove plaque from teeth and gums.
- When the time comes for a new toothbrush, in many cases it is only necessary to replace an electric toothbrush head.
- Could lead to being more focused when brushing, and this improved the overall brushing experience, and could also improve how well teeth are cleaned.
- Can be particularly helpful for people with orthodontic appliances, such as braces, because they made brushing easier.
- Some children who otherwise are not inclined to stick with a tooth-brushing routine may be more interested when using electric toothbrushes.
Electric Toothbrush Cons
- Electric toothbrushes are much more expensive than manual ones.
- Finding the necessary replacement brush heads may be inconvenient as not all stores carry them.
- Plug-in electric toothbrushes may not be a good option for frequent travelers.
- Some dislike the vibration sensation of using electronic toothbrushes.
Manual Toothbrush Pros
- A manual toothbrush can be picked up at many stores.
- Manual brushes don’t need to be charged to function; they can be used anywhere and at any time.
- Manual toothbrushes are cost-effective and relatively inexpensive.
Manual Toothbrush Cons
- One study found that people were more likely to brush too hard if they used a manual toothbrush versus electric. Brushing too hard can harm gums and teeth.
- Using a manual toothbrush may also make it more difficult to know if users are brushing long enough for every session, because there is no built-in timer.
Dr. William Nerestant of Midtown Dental in Lakeland offered some insight into the manual versus electric comparison. “The whole objective is to brush two times per day, whether the toothbrush is manual or electric,” Nerestant says.
“The advantage of the electric is that it can be more effective at reaching hard-to-reach areas, with crowded or malpositioned teeth, also, the bristles are often softer and smaller, enabling them to penetrate deeper under the gum line to disturb the bacteria and plaque found at the base of the gum tissue.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect of this debate is that you are brushing your teeth and practicing proper oral hygiene in the first place. Whether you are using a manual or electric toothbrush ultimately comes down to preference, but that doesn’t mean each option doesn’t have their strengths and weaknesses. Consider the above pros and cons when looking for a new toothbrush and weigh the options yourself, but most importantly, keep brushing!