Electric toothbrushes

Comment / Dr Ros Davis

There are so many fancy electric toothbrushes on the market these days, it’s only natural that people think they must be more effective at cleaning than manual ones. Studies on the topic, however, have consistently shown that both manual and electric toothbrushes are equally as effective at removing plaque on teeth.The only difference that has been proven is that electric toothbrushes are better for people who are not brushing well with a manual toothbrush – this includes some children, older people, or those with manual dexterity issues such as arthritis.

Why Are Electric Toothbrushes Better Than Manual for Poor Brushers?

There is always something more “fun” about using an electric device and many of the toothbrushes on the market have some pretty cool features. The simple addition of Spiderman or Star Wars characters can be enough to get some children to want to brush their teeth. For adults, there are some more advanced features. A number of toothbrushes have a pressure sensor which will alert the brusher if they are pressing too hard on their gums. Some have different settings such as deep clean, gum care and daily clean. A few electric toothbrushes out there even have a Bluetooth function! Of course, all of these features come at a higher cost than the good ol’ manual toothbrush.

For people with dexterity issues, the most important aspect is the rotating head, which is designed to simulate the brushing technique of “making little circles” to clean each tooth, without you having to do anything more than just hold the device. The larger handle can also make gripping the toothbrush more comfortable, especially for those struggling with fine motor skills such as people with Parkinson’s Disease.

So Should I Change to Electric?

If you have had stable oral health all your life and have been using a manual toothbrush, there is no need to change. If you think you, your child, or your elderly mother might be more motivated or more comfortable using an electric toothbrush, there is no harm in changing over. Remember - the best toothbrush is the one you will use!