Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?

electric and manual toothbrush

by Bryony Firth-bernard |

Brushing your teeth is essential to ensure your teeth and gums stay clean and healthy. But with so many toothbrushes on the market it raises the question of which is better - an electric toothbrush or a manual?

Making sure you take care of your teeth correctly is super important to avoid tooth decay and gum disease, so we spoke to Dr Safa Al-Naher, Director and and Principal Dentist of Serene Dental and Facial Aesthetics, to find out which toothbrush is best.

Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?

When it comes to an electric or manual toothbrush, for Dr Safa it’s really a no brainer about which is best. “An electric toothbrush is better than a manual brush,” she says “ and the reason being is they take the hard work and the thinking out of the task. They're designed for the head to move in a certain way which removes the plaque and bacteria from the margin between your teeth and your gums, so as long as you're holding it in the right place it should be removing whatever you need and cleaning your teeth in the best way possible.

“The other reason is most of the newer electric toothbrushes are fitted with a pressure sensor, so if you're prone to brushing too hard or pushing too hard, and therefore wearing your gums away, it will give you a warning and buzz.

“In theory you should be able to brush the same with a manual or electric toothbrush, but with a manual toothbrush not only do you have to put it in the right position, but you also have to do the right wrist movement so that you're not brushing too hard, but also brushing the right amount. I also recommend an electric toothbrush for children as it can be difficult to get them to stand with their mouth open for long enough.”

According to the Oral Health Foundation, a new study, which has taken 11 years to complete, also found that those who brush their teeth using an electric toothbrush had healthier gums and less tooth decay, in comparison to those who used a manual toothbrush.

How long should you brush your teeth for?

woman brushing teeth with electric toothbrush

The advised time to brush your teeth is two minutes. “That's 30 seconds per quarter of your mouth,” says Dr Safa. “Most electric toothbrushes are timed for that, so it will do a little vibration every 30 seconds so you know when it's time to change to the next quarter.”

Are electric toothbrushes better for people with braces?

“Yes they are, especially if you can find an attachment for braces,” says Dr Safa. “People wearing braces are generally teenagers who at the best of times don't want to brush their teeth, so an electric toothbrush helps to shorten the time and help make sure you're getting a good clean. With a special braces attachment you can also get a good clean in between and under all of the wires.”

How to brush your teeth correctly

“Essentially you need to put your toothbrush at the junction of your tooth and your gum,” says Dr Safa. “Brushing the main body of the tooth is fine and that's great for stain removal, but where you really need to brush is in between your teeth and gums.

“Place the toothbrush head at that junction, so ideally the bristles are just poking into the gum, so not a 90 degree angle but a 45 degree angle into the gum and that helps to remove the plaque from that junction where it's going to cause problems and gum disease. Also, because it's an electric toothbrush and it does that movement on its own, you just need to hold it in place, you don't need to move it backwards and forwards, or scrub with an electric toothbrush, it just does its thing and then you jump onto the next area you need to clean, so that the brush head covers the next few teeth and repeat.”

Electric toothbrush recommendations

“Anything from the Philips Sonicare range is great,” says Dr Safa. “The Power Flosser from Philips is also amazing and is great to use alongside brushing. Obviously brushing doesn't remove the plaque in between your teeth, so using something like a power flosser is great to cover those surfaces again.”

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100

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This electric toothbrush claims to whiten your teeth in just one week. It has three different modes (clean, white and gum), so that you can specifically target your teeth's needs and comes with a sleek travel case, which also charges your toothbrush.

Philips Sonicare Cordless Power Flosser 3000 Oral Irrigator

Philips Sonicare Cordless Power Flosser 3000 Oral Irrigator, Black, HX3806:33

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Finish off cleaning your teeth with this Philips' flosser, which helps remove 99% of plaque in treated areas.

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