Oral & Vision Health Blog

Toothbrush Buying Tutorial: Electric, Power, Manual—and the Differences Between Them

Take a stroll down the toothbrush/toothpaste aisle in the grocery store, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So many choices. Do electric and power ones clean better than manual ones? You're left wondering: "What kind of toothbrush should I buy?"

Let’s start with the types:

Rechargeable electric. These are toothbrushes with a base you plug into the wall to charge it. You keep the handle and change out the brush head every three months. The motion of the bristles differs from brand to brand. Some features include:

  • Oscillating-rotating or sonic technology for thorough cleaning
  • Various brush settings for different needs (sensitive teeth, whitening, gum-massaging)
  • Alerts to tell you when to move to another quadrant of your mouth
  • Sensors that let you know if you’re brushing too hard

Battery powered. These toothbrushes are similar to traditional manual toothbrushes, except they take batteries (AA). They vibrate just enough for more cleaning action. Some features include:

  • Bristles in many different variations that pulse along with the vibration
  • Battery case built into the handle for easy replacement of batteries

Manual. Not much explanation is necessary with this one! These are the most common types that have existed for a long time. Some features include:

  • Textured, crisscrossed, hard/medium/soft, and many more types of bristles
  • Various head angles for hard-to-reach places
  • Tongue cleaning pads
  • Handles with different grips

So, what works best? An independent study showed that oscillating brushes remove more plaque and help reduce gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes. However, you need to choose a brush that works best for you. Talk with your dentist. He or she can explain proper brushing techniques to you and help advise you about a toothbrush that’s right for you.

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