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Electric or manual toothbrush – which is best for a healthy mouth?

Electric or manual toothbrush – which is best for a healthy mouth?

Electric toothbrushes are more popular than ever, but they can be expensive, and do they really clean your teeth better than manual toothbrushes? We take a look at the pros and cons of both to help you choose the right brush for you.

Electric toothbrushes: pros

Electric toothbrushes have built-in timers, and most have alerts which prompt you to move to the next section of your mouth. As the majority of people under-estimate the two minutes they’re supposed to brush, electric toothbrushes can help stay you on track

Electric toothbrushes brush your teeth at anything between 6,000 and 30,000 strokes per minute. This means, if used correctly, brushing with an electric toothbrush can be more thorough and efficient than a manual toothbrush

They usually have smaller heads, making it easier to reach the tight corners at the back of your mouth, and between teeth, than a manual toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes come in a wide range of designs – and new styles are appearing all the time. Brightly-coloured or cartoon-themed toothbrushes for kids can help make the tooth-brushing routine more fun, and so encourage good oral hygiene from an early age

If you have any difficulties holding a toothbrush – if you struggle with dexterity or grip – an electric toothbrush does most of the work for you. You need to guide the toothbrush along your teeth, but the brushing action is taken care of.

Electric toothbrushes: cons

Although electric toothbrushes are cheaper and more easily available than ever before, they’re still much more expensive than manual ones. You’ll need to include the additional cost of replacing heads, too, just as often as you’d change a manual toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes can be bulky, are heavier to hold, and take up more space in your bathroom. You’ll need to charge them every few days, which could be inconvenient if you travel regularly.

The vibrations of an electric toothbrush can cause problems for some people. If you have a sensitive mouth, sore gums or loose teeth, electric toothbrushes might be too rough, or even painful.

Manual toothbrushes: pros

Cheap, simple and available almost everywhere, manual toothbrushes are light, take up very little space, are convenient to travel with and store

If used with the right brushing technique, and for the minimum recommended time, manual toothbrushes can be just as effective as electric toothbrushes

You have more control over the way you brush your teeth. You control the speed and pressure of the brushing – perfect if you have a sensitive mouth, or dislike the buzzing of an electric toothbrush

Manual toothbrushes are available in a wide variety of designs and colours, so it’s easy to experiment and find the right brush for you.

Manual toothbrushes: cons

You must be committed to brushing with the right technique and be disciplined about the length of time you brush to match the performance of an electric toothbrush

Manual toothbrushes tend to have larger heads, so hard-to-reach places can be easily missed if you don’t pay careful attention

People with motor difficulties – arthritis or any other lack of dexterity – may struggle to manipulate a manual toothbrush as easily as an electric toothbrush

Manual brushes, although simple, light and easy, don’t have the same appeal to some people who might enjoy the latest gadgets, and they may not have the same appeal to children.


If you’re careful and diligent in your brushing technique, you brush your teeth twice a day for the right amount of time and have no motor or dexterity issues, manual toothbrushes can be just as effective as electric ones. If this is the case for you, it really is simply a matter of personal choice. However, an electric toothbrush takes care of all the thinking and effort for you – and that convenience and reassurance might just make it worth spending a little bit extra.

Just remember – as long as you opt for an electric, rechargeable toothbrush rather than a battery-operated one (which tend to have less power) – the electric toothbrush will probably do a better job of keeping your teeth and gums healthy than a manual one.

Don’t forget to book regular dental checkups as part of your oral health routine.