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Manual vs. Electric Toothbrush: Which Is Better?

Considering how important brushing your teeth is for your oral health and overall health, too, it’s surprising how little information you actually get about how to do it properly. Other than the two-minutes-at-a-time, twice-a-day recommendation, you’re basically left on our own.

But how you brush your teeth — and what you brush with — has an impact on how healthy your teeth, gums, and mouth are. Brushing whisks away plaque, a sticky film that can calcify into tartar. Tartar breaks down your tooth enamel and can cause gum infections, too.

Although the habit of brushing is the most important part of oral health, you can increase your benefits by brushing the right way with the best tools. Dentists recommend holding your brush at a 45-degree angle and brushing in a circular, sweeping fashion with a light touch. 

But does it really matter whether you use an electric toothbrush or a manual one? It does. Although any toothbrush is better than none, an electric toothbrush optimizes the experience. 

At DentAlign NYC, located in the historic Chrysler building in midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York, we recommend electric brushes for our patients whenever possible. Our dentist, Kenn Kakosian, DDS, PhD, wants your teeth to stay clean between your twice-a-year preventive care visits.

Why are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones? Following are several reasons. 

Electric toothbrushes help you keep your teeth 

According to an 11-year study of 2,018 patients, women and men who used an electric toothbrush had better oral health than those who used manual toothbrushes. Benefits included:

In fact, electric toothbrushes resulted in 22% less gum recession and 18% less tooth decay over the study period. Electric toothbrushes, in other words, may help you keep your teeth for life. 

If you want to avoid dental implants, bridges, and dentures, invest now in an electric toothbrush. Of course, you’ll still need to brush and floss twice daily, and see us at least twice a year for an exam and cleaning.

Electric toothbrushes clean more thoroughly

Plaque is a sticky film that develops over your teeth after you eat. Plaque harbors bacteria and produces acid that can erode your enamel, thus allowing the bacteria to infiltrate and cause cavities. Plaque can harden into tartar and also irritate your gums, causing gingivitis, an early form of gum disease that can develop into periodontitis.

Examined head-to-head, electric toothbrushes clean away plaque more efficiently than manual brushes. When compared over a three-month period, electric toothbrushes reduced plaque by 21% more than manual ones, and reduced gingivitis by 11%. 

Brushes with oscillating heads rotate as they clean, which breaks down plaque more efficiently. Sonic toothbrushes also use sound waves to break up plaque. Some sonic brushes are paired with apps so you can track your dental habits and health.

Electric toothbrushes guard against bad habits

Many electric toothbrushes have built-in timers so you’re more likely to brush for at least two minutes per session, as recommended, than without a timer. Some electric brushes break the two minutes into four 30-second timers so you address each quadrant for at least 30 seconds.

In addition, a few electric toothbrush models also have pressure sensors. If you have a habit of brushing over-aggressively, the sensor beeps to let you know to back off. Using too much pressure when you’re brushing may damage both your teeth and gums, and could cause gum erosion.

Electric toothbrushes are less wasteful

An electric toothbrush handle lasts years at a time. The only thing you dispose of and replace every three months or so is the small oscillating head. In contrast, if you have a manual brush, you usually must throw away the entire device, which puts more plastic in our landfills. 

Whether you currently use an electric or manual brush, you still need to see us for a thorough cleaning and preventive care at least twice a year. If you’re ready for a professional dental cleaning and exam, contact our friendly team today by calling or using our online form.

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