There’s nothing like that fresh clean feeling you get when you brush your teeth. And we all know that effective brushing technique and consistent oral hygiene are essential for a happy, healthy mouth. But for a deeper clean, are you better using electric toothbrush vs manual?

We put both head-to-head to decide if there really is one winner.

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrush

The good news in the electric toothbrush vs regular debate is that, according to the American Dental Association, both types are effective at removing the plaque that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. But the question is – are electric toothbrushes better?

We take a look at the pros and cons of a battery-operated toothbrush compared to the manual variety to see if one comes out top in the dental hygiene stakes.

man using Electric Toothbrush

Electric Toothbrush Benefits

The electric toothbrush first hit the stores back in the 1960s and has come a long way since. From the straightforward rotating toothbrush to advanced models which have pressure sensors, timers and sonic technology, there’s now an electric device for all mouths and budgets. Here are the main benefits of choosing an electric toothbrush:

Easy to use – the electric toothbrush is user friendly; you just need to get it at the right angle in your mouth, press start and off you go! And as you don’t have to do too much hard work, electric toothbrushes are a good option if you have limited hand mobility.

Plaque removal – studies have shown that overall, electric toothbrushes can be highly effective at reducing the amount of plaque on your teeth, compared to many manual toothbrushes. And oscillating or rotating heads are better at plaque removal in those hard to reach places than electric toothbrushes that just vibrate as they clean.

Gentler on the gums – as long as you don’t use too much pressure, electric toothbrushes are gentler on your gums as well as the enamel on your teeth. Too much pressure can damage the surface of your teeth and potentially lead to receding gums. If you are heavy handed, then you can always opt for a battery operate toothbrush that includes a pressure sensor which lights up if you are pressing too hard.

Keep you focused – it’s thought that using an electric toothbrush means you are more mindful when you brush your teeth and so are more focused on the cleaning job at hand. This means you are more likely to do a thorough cleaning job on your precious pearly whites.

Built-in timers – even if time is tight, cutting short your brushing session will do your teeth no favors. And, as many electric toothbrushes have built-in timers, you can ensure your teeth get their required two minute clean.

Good for orthodontics – an electric toothbrush is a good investment if you wear braces or have other types of orthodontics fitted as it will make brushing your teeth and getting into all the tricky spaces easier. And pressure sensors on many models will ensure you don’t brush your sensitive teeth too hard.

They last longer – most electric toothbrushes are built to last. When the brush head does start to wear down, you only need to replace it, and not the whole toothbrush, meaning they have a longer shelf-life.

Electric Toothbrush Cons

But electric toothbrushes are not perfect, and have some cons to them too, including:

Price – electric toothbrushes are generally more expensive to buy than manual brushes and depending on the level of tech and functionality, can cost you up to $250. Then you need to pay for replacement brush heads, which is an additional expense.

They require a power source – unlike the good old manual, which brushes well under your own steam, electric toothbrushes require batteries or a plug-in electrical source. This means they are not as convenient and can run out of juice when you least expect it.

It’s an acquired sensation – not everyone will like the fast vibrating or rotating movements in their mouth and so using an electric toothbrush can take some getting used to. They can also be a bit messy if you accidently lift the head out of your mouth when it is still cleaning!

They come with baggage – unlike a manual toothbrush, which is a solo player, your electric toothbrush comes with baggage, namely a recharger or spare batteries and extra brush heads. This means they are not as convenient to travel with as the humble regular toothbrush.

woman putting toothpaste on toothbrush

Manual Toothbrush Benefits

Simple and straightforward, the manual toothbrush has been getting on with the job of cleaning teeth for many years and is the dental tool of choice for many. OK, they don’t have all the fancy features of an electric, but they have their benefits, including:

Readily available – from the drug store and gas station to the super mart or hotel lobby, you can also pick up a toothbrush so you should never be left short on your dental routine.

Affordable – you don’t need to lay out a lot of cash to buy a manual toothbrush either, a good quality brush will cost you no more than a couple of dollars. And they need no prior charging so are always primed and ready!

They can clean just as well – get your technique just right and don’t skimp on the brushing time and there’s no reason why a manual toothbrush shouldn’t clean your teeth and reduce plaque just as well as a more expensive electric toothbrush. You just need to pay a little more attention to what you are doing – and don’t press or rub too hard.

Good to go!  With no need for rechargers, batteries or replacement heads, the manual toothbrush is also your perfect traveling companion – simply pop in your travel bag along with your toothpaste and you have all you need to keep your smile healthy and bright.

A brush for everyone – from soft to firm bristles, large head, angled or comfort grip, you can find a manual toothbrush for every age, mouth shape and teeth sensitivities, without breaking the bank.

Manual Toothbrush Cons

But there are few negatives to consider when opting for a regular toothbrush:

Can be tough on your gums – press too hard or roughly as you brush or choosing bristles that are too firm can hurt the soft tissues in your mouth as well as potentially damage your teeth’s enamel.

Easier to cut teeth cleaning short – without a timer, you may find you are manually brushing your teeth for less time than the recommended two minutes.

You need to do the work! Unlike an electric toothbrush, where you let it do the cleaning for you, you need to power a manual toothbrush yourself, which is why the correct cleaning technique is so important.

Potentially more wasteful – it’s recommended that you change your toothbrush every three months, and as you have to throw away the whole manual toothbrush, it can be less environmentally friendly in the long run.


When looking at the pros and cons of an electric toothbrush vs a regular, it’s fair to say that they are both adequately up to the teeth cleaning job. But for them to work as they should, you need to have the right cleaning technique and ensure you brush for long enough.

When it comes to ease of brushing, we say that electric toothbrushes have the edge, but they are not as convenient as a manual brush in terms of storage, price or traveling. And it is difficult to definitively say if an electric brush is more effective at plaque reduction and management.

In short, the type of brush you choose – electric or elbow powered – is totally personal and needs to work with you, your lifestyle, your budget, and ultimately your teeth!