Modern toothbrushes can do far more than just clean your teeth and freshen your breath. Some premium electric toothbrushes not only time your brushing to ensure that you keep cleaning for the full 2 minutes but also warn you if you are pressing the brush against your teeth too hard, potentially damaging teeth or gums.

But most people still use a traditional manual toothbrush instead of a powered device. According to a recent report, only 36 percent of adults say they use an electric toothbrush. These devices are more popular among older age groups and people with higher incomes, however: about half of people 55 and older with annual incomes of $75,000 or more prefer using an electric toothbrush over a manual one.

Ever since the advent of the electric toothbrush—battery-operated devices whose bristles vibrate or rotate rapidly—in the 1960s, debate has raged over whether powered or manual toothbrushes do a better job at cleaning teeth, and whether one type is safer than another for your teeth and gums.

There are, of course, cost differences between electric and manual toothbrushes. You can buy a manual toothbrush for less than a dollar, and basic powered models—which run on replaceable batteries—can be had for less than $10. Those with rechargeable batteries (for which a single charge lasts anywhere from a few days to several weeks) start as low as $20. But you can spend more than $250 for a high-end “smart” electric toothbrush that syncs with an app on your phone and offers recommendations on improving your brushing technique.

Which should you choose? Dental experts point out that each has its pros and cons, and that personal preferences and factors such as your age and general health might play a role in which kind of toothbrush is best for you. Whichever you use, dentists agree that brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, is the most effective step you can take for oral health. This helps get rid of bacteria that causes plaque, a sticky, germy film that adheres to teeth. When plaque builds up, it can cause tooth decay as well as gum disease.

Here’s what to know and how to decide what’s right for keeping your pearly whites strong, clean, and cavity-free.

Do Electric Toothbrushes Clean Better?

One of the more comprehensive analyses of the topic—a 2014 review of studies by the independent Cochrane Collaboration—gave powered toothbrushes a slight edge at cleaning away plaque. The researchers looked at 56 clinical trials of unsupervised tooth-brushing by more than 5,000 adults and children, and found that study subjects who used a powered toothbrush showed an 11 percent reduction in plaque at one to three months, and a 21 percent reduction after three months or more, compared with those who used a manual toothbrush. They also found that users of electric toothbrushes had a 6 percent reduction in gingivitis (gum disease) at one to three months and an 11 percent reduction after three months or longer. In addition, the researchers found that oscillating powered toothbrushes (which have a small round head that rotates quickly in one direction and then the other) were slightly better at reducing plaque than sonic electric toothbrushes (which have an oval head that moves or vibrates rapidly from side to side). But the study authors say more research is needed to confirm that finding.

A German study published in 2019 in the journal Clinical Periodontology also found that electric toothbrushes were more effective for gum health. Here, researchers followed 2,819 adults over 11 years, determined that using a powered toothbrush reduced the progression of periodontal disease. Plus, electric toothbrush users had healthier gums overall and retained 19 percent more teeth over the study period than those using a manual toothbrush.

That said, “You can brush very effectively with a manual toothbrush,” says Matt Messina, DDS, a consumer adviser with the American Dental Association (ADA). “If you get good checkups and your dentist is confident you’re doing a thorough job, you don’t need to change from a manual brush.”

There are a lot of studies in favor of both sonic pulse technology and rotating-oscillating. But as it turns out, there’s very little scientific evidence which technology is in fact more effective. Opinions are divided, and experts can’t seem to reach an agreement. One thing professionals agree on, however, is that an electric toothbrush is more beneficial than a manual toothbrush.

Can an Electric Toothbrush Hurt Your Teeth?

Electric toothbrushes can be very, well, powerful, which explains why they can do such a thorough job on plaque. But too much power may also be potentially problematic. A 2017 study published in a major journal found that electric toothbrushes were more likely than manual to abrade dentin—the tissue directly below the tooth’s enamel, which can become exposed when enamel wears away or gums recede. Abrasions to the dentin increase tooth sensitivity and can hike cavity risks. For the study, researchers took dentin samples from teeth and then used a machine that simulated the effects of eight-and-a-half years of brushing. They found that sonic toothbrushes caused the most abrasion to the dentin, followed by oscillating, and that manual toothbrushes—especially those with rippled bristles—created the least. Another simulated brushing study, this one published in 2013 in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations, had somewhat different results. It found that manual and electric toothbrushes had similar effects on intact enamel, but that on worn enamel, manual toothbrushing abraded dentin more.

But there’s an important caveat: In this study, the manual brushing simulation used a lot more force than the powered brush simulation. And experts say that brushing too forcefully with any kind of toothbrush may increase the likelihood of gum recession and damaged tooth enamel. In fact, a gentle touch with a soft-bristled toothbrush—whether manual or electric—is the safest bet. According to one expert, “It doesn’t take much force to brush away bacteria and food particles”. And that may be especially important to keep in mind with electric toothbrushes. “When you brush with a powered toothbrush, you don’t really have to do anything because the rotating or vibrating head does the work for you.”

What’s in a Toothbrush?

When you’re deciding on a toothbrush, consider the basics first. Both electric and manual toothbrushes come in a variety of head sizes and bristle configurations, including bristles that are clustered, angled, or rippled in various ways. Some studies have shown that tapered or angled bristles are slightly more effective at reducing plaque than flat brushes..

Whether you opt for a manual or an electric toothbrush, choose one with soft bristles. Bristles that are too hard are more likely to cause damage to gums and enamel.

When in doubt, it’s wise to check to see whether a toothbrush has earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That indicates that it’s been independently tested, and that it safely and effectively removes plaque and reduces gingivitis.”

If you’re thinking about an electric toothbrush, one feature to consider is a 2-minute timer. According to the ADA, most people brush for an average of only about 45 seconds, so a timer may encourage you to brush longer. (Certain manual toothbrushes also have this feature or light up after 2 minutes of use.) Some electric models have a quadrant timer that buzzes every 30 seconds to remind you to move on to another area of your mouth.

An electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor may be beneficial for people who tend to brush too aggressively. Some models sense if you’re pushing too hard and respond by stopping the bristles from moving until you lighten your touch.

Electric toothbrushes may also yield better results for certain groups, experts say. For instance, older adults, especially those with arthritis, might not have the dexterity to maneuver a manual toothbrush effectively. Powered brushes not only do much of the work for you, but the larger handles are easier to hold.

Youngsters may benefit from them for the same reasons. Plus, some electric toothbrushes made specifically for kids play music or connect to timer apps to encourage longer brushing sessions—although whether or not that actually inspires children to brush for the recommended 2 minutes hasn’t been studied. (The ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that parents supervise kids’ brushing until they’re about 7 or 8 and say that kids who can routinely tie their own shoes can also brush their own teeth, with a manual or an electric toothbrush.)

An electric toothbrush can also be a boon for anyone with braces. It’s much easier to get around all the brackets and wires than with a manual brush. Some powered products even have heads specifically designed to clean thoroughly around and between braces.

Use the Best Toothbrushing Technique

Whether you choose a basic toothbrush or one with all the bells and whistles, the way you brush is key. The correct technique can be used with a powered or manual toothbrush. People who do a good job can do a good job with either.”

To get the most out of every toothbrushing session:

Hold the toothbrush at the proper angle. The biggest mistake most people make is holding their toothbrush at 90 degrees, which cleans the teeth but not the gums. Bacteria grow in the space between the teeth and gums, and in order to disrupt it, you need to use the bristles at a 45-degree angle and get them below the gum line.

Brush two teeth at a time. Work your way methodically around your mouth, focusing your attention on two teeth at a time. If you’re using a powered brush, just set it on those two teeth and let it do its thing, then move on to the next two.

Be thorough. Regardless of what type of brush you use, you still have to make sure the bristles touch every surface of every tooth. Clean the front and back sides of all your teeth, top and bottom, including the sharp edges. You also need to get the toothbrush behind your back teeth. For good measure, use your toothbrush to go over the surface of your tongue, to reduce bacteria and prevent bad breath.

Use the right touch. There’s a fine line between doing a good job and overdoing it. If you’re concerned that you’re brushing too hard, try this trick: Instead of grasping the toothbrush in your fist, hold it with just your fingertips. It doesn’t allow you to put as much pressure on your gums. And know the signs of overly aggressive brushing: tooth sensitivity, bleeding or irritated gums, receding gums, and splayed toothbrush bristles.

Replace your toothbrush regularly. You’ll need to break out a new toothbrush—or a new brush head for an electric toothbrush—every three to four months. If you notice the bristles are frayed or splaying open, it’s definitely time for a new one. Splayed bristles can no longer effectively get under the gum line.

Last, consider this: Plastic toothbrushes create a lot of trash—of the type that doesn’t break down easily. With electric models, you’re typically tossing a little less plastic because it’s only the brush head that’s replaced regularly. However, some manufacturers now offer manual toothbrushes with replaceable heads. And some companies make manual toothbrushes from sustainable bamboo, compostable bio-plastic, or cellulose (plastic generated from wood)—though these aren’t necessarily ADA-approved.



  1. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in internet explorer, would check this?IE still is the market leader and a good portion of people will miss your wonderful writing due to this problem.

    1. Thanks for the note. Unfortunately, I am technically challenged and can provide no real insight.
      If you, or any of my followers, come across any answers, please let me know.

  2. I simply needed to thank you very much once more. I am not sure the things that I might have accomplished without the tactics shown by you over such area of interest. It had become a real scary situation in my circumstances, nevertheless observing your skilled mode you resolved it took me to cry over gladness. I am grateful for your support and then wish you realize what a great job you have been getting into instructing other individuals via your blog post. Probably you’ve never come across all of us.

  3. Wow, fantastic weblog format! How long have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance easy. The entire look of your website is fantastic, let alone the content material!

  4. Awsome info and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you guys have any ideea where to get some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for giving everyone an extremely special chance to check tips from this web site. It can be very pleasant and as well , jam-packed with amusement for me personally and my office co-workers to search your website at minimum 3 times per week to see the latest secrets you will have. And lastly, we’re usually fascinated concerning the brilliant advice served by you. Some 1 areas in this article are in reality the most suitable I’ve had.

  6. Very good blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any tips? Cheers!

  7. Great article. It is unfortunate that over the last several years, the travel industry has had to handle terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, bird flu, swine flu, as well as the first ever real global economic collapse. Through all this the industry has really proven to be solid, resilient in addition to dynamic, obtaining new strategies to deal with trouble. There are always fresh troubles and chance to which the marketplace must yet again adapt and react.

  8. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this web site. I am hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a great example of it.

  9. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  10. you are really a just right webmaster. The site loading pace is incredible. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a magnificent job on this subject!

  11. Thanks for another wonderful article. Where else could anyone get that type of information in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

  12. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  13. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I抣l be subscribing for your feed and I hope you write once more very soon!

  14. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no backup.

  15. Hello! I want to give you a thumbs up for the excellent information you post, I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I really enjoy browsing your blog posts. Thank you for your persistence and
    In-depth information provided by you. It’s nice to see a blog every once in a while.

  16. I’m writing on this topic these days, safetoto, but I have stopped writing because there is no reference material. Then I accidentally found your article. I can refer to a variety of materials, so I think the work I was preparing will work! Thank you for your efforts.

  17. I’m writing on this topic these days, casino online, but I have stopped writing because there is no reference material. Then I accidentally found your article. I can refer to a variety of materials, so I think the work I was preparing will work! Thank you for your efforts.

  18. I really enjoy reading your blog posts. You thank you for taking the time and effort to put together this informative article. Once again I find myself spending way too much time reading and commenting.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top