Manual vs electric toothbrush: Power or precision

Table of Contents

The age-old question of manual vs electric toothbrush, which one to choose is still a topic of debate. With all these options for types of toothbrushes, it has certainly not become any easier to choose a good one. You already know in order to have and maintain your oral health, you need to build your brushing habits. And what better way to do that than choosing a high-quality toothbrush? Should you go with a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?

We are here to tell you that dental professionals say both of them are effective cleaning tools as long as you are using them with the proper technique. However, if you are still not sure and are wondering which to buy or even switch from a manual toothbrush, follow along. By the end of this article, you will have found your answer.

A side-by-side comparison of manual vs electric toothbrushes

Here, we are going to get into the nitty gritty of electric vs manual toothbrushes.

Manual toothbrush Electric toothbrush
Lower initial price $1-$10 Higher initial price $25-$200
Easy to travel with Challenging to travel with
42% reduction of dental plaque 63% plaque reduction
Basic teeth cleaning More thorough teeth cleaning
Plastic waste Plastic and electronic waste
Easy to use and user friendly Easier to use and more user friendly
No timer Timer
No pressure sensor Pressure sensor

With just one look at this table, you might think there is a clear winner in the manual vs electric toothbrush game. It might seem like that but at the end of it, your oral health is the most important. Whether you choose a manual toothbrush or an electric one as long as your dentist says your teeth are healthy and your plaque index scores are low, you are doing a great job!

Now we are going to expand on each of these aspects of manual toothbrushes vs electric.

Manual vs electric toothbrush: Cost and maintenance

Depending on your preference and where you are buying your manual brush from it can be as cheap as $1. Whereas the cheapest electric brushes are about $25, which are battery-powered toothbrushes. Other electric brushes can go as expensive as $200 depending on their brand and features.

Now let’s talk about maintenance. Both of these brushes require to be changed after 3 to 4 months. If you are using regular brushes you will need to replace the whole thing. As for powered toothbrushes, you will only need replacement brush heads. Replaceable head prices can range from $5 to $20 depending on the type that is compatible with your brush. Electric toothbrush users can use the same brush for 3 up to 5 years.

Manual toothbrush vs electric: Which is more travel-friendly?

Imagine you are going on a trip, and for the millionth time you are checking you have your phone charger and any other cable you need. Now add your electric toothbrush’s charger as well! Not only that, usually electric toothbrushes are bulkier than manual toothbrushes.

In this situation, manual toothbrushes are easier to travel with since they do not require any special cases or chargers. Even if you forget to pack your toothbrush you have a higher chance of finding manual toothbrushes in the market, and since they are cheaper, it is easier to replace when you are traveling.

Electric vs manual toothbrushes: The effectiveness showdown

Why do you brush your teeth? Yes, it could be to get rid of bad breath and have pearly whites, but the main reason is plaque removal. Scientists have done numerous studies to see which of the contestants of manual toothbrushes vs electric is the most effective in removing plaque buildup. You might think the answer is obvious, but dental professionals believe both of these brushes can get the job done perfectly if you use the proper brushing technique.

However, powered toothbrushes can tilt the scale in their favor. With powered toothbrushes, since there is less need for you to manually clean and brush your teeth, it could be easier to achieve a plaque-free mouth. Based on the studies, regular brushes are 42% effective in the removal of plaque. On the other hand, powered toothbrushes are almost 21% more effective in the overall removal of plaque.

Environmental impact: Manual vs electric?

The environment and your carbon footprint might not something that you would think about when deciding to buy a toothbrush. Whether you buy bamboo toothbrushes or a toothbrush with nylon bristles, there is plastic involved. Whereas, with powered toothbrushes, there is also electronic waste or E-waste.

The batteries and chargers or any other part of your electric toothbrush will be E-waste and it can leave a giant carbon footprint behind. From an environmental standpoint, this particular aspect may not be advantageous for those who choose electric toothbrushes.

User-friendliness: Electric vs manual?

When it comes to inclusivity powered toothbrushes would win the game. For people with disabilities and limited mobility such as seniors could be really challenging to keep up their oral health routine. Manual toothbrush users need to have a level of manual dexterity to achieve the correct brushing technique.

Since an electric toothbrush usually comes with a longer handle and the brush head moves and there are no needs for stroking or much movement it can be really convenient for people with limited dexterity. As for parents trying to build their children’s oral hygiene habits a powered toothbrush could do the trick.

Sometimes following an oral hygiene plan could be difficult for people who suffer from mental problems or depression. An electric toothbrush would be a good addition to their lifestyle. It would make brushing and cleaning their teeth easier and somewhat shorter.

Battle of the brushes: Additional features

Let’s compare additional features of manual vs electric toothbrush! 

Electric toothbrushes offer advanced features to improve oral hygiene, including customizable replacement brush heads and smart-powered devices to track technique. Now compare that with a manual toothbrush, you have to keep the time of your brushing by counting or a timer. Powered toothbrush users can benefit from the built-in timer which will let you know when the 2 minutes is up so you do not overbrush your teeth.

Last but not least are pressure sensors that will alert you to stop you from aggressive brushing. But with a manual toothbrush, you have to mind your gums and how much pressure you are using to brush your teeth. So it could be easier to hurt your gum health even if you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush.

The ultimate brush-off: Personal preferences

In case your dentist or dental hygienist has not recommended you to use an electric toothbrush whether, for your gingival health or tooth sensitivity, it is all up to you to switch the type of toothbrush you use. Of course, there are many benefits to an electric brush when it comes to cleaning your teeth. But if you have a good dental hygiene routine and go for your dental checkups regularly you do not need to spend extra on an electric toothbrush. Just make sure you are cleaning your teeth with the correct technique.

Well as we said you choose who is the winner in electric toothbrush vs manual. But if you are still looking to know whether an electric toothbrush is a good fit for you or not contact us! At Dentfix we will help you with anything dental!


Slot DE, Wiggelinkhuizen L, Rosema NA, Van der Weijden GA. The efficacy of manual toothbrushes following a brushing exercise: a systematic review. Int J Dent Hyg. 2012 Aug;10(3):187-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5037.2012.00557.x. Epub 2012 Jun 6. PMID: 22672101. Link

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